Free running or freerunning is a form of urban acrobatics in which participants, known as free runners, use the city and rural landscape to perform movements through its structures. It incorporates efficient movements from parkour, adds aesthetic vaults and other acrobatics, such as tricking and street stunts, creating an athletic and aesthetically pleasing way of moving. It is commonly practiced at gymnasiums and in urban areas that are cluttered with obstacles.
The term free running was coined during the filming of Jump London, as a way to present parkour to the English-speaking world. However, the term free running has come to represent a separate, distinct concept to parkour — a distinction which is often missed due to the aesthetic similarities. Parkour as a discipline emphasizes efficiency, whilst free running embodies complete freedom of movement — and includes many acrobatic maneuvers. Although the two are often physically similar, the mindsets of each are vastly different. The founder Sébastien Foucan defines free running as a discipline to self development, following your own way.
Parkour (sometimes abbreviated to PK), or l’art du déplacement (English: the art of movement) is the physical discipline of training to overcome any obstacle within one’s path by adapting one’s movements to the environment. It is a non-competitive, physical discipline of French origin in which participants run along a route, attempting to negotiate obstacles in the most efficient way possible. Skills such as jumping and climbing, or the more specific parkour moves are employed. The goal of a practitioner of parkour, called a traceur if male, or traceuse if female, is to get from one place to another using only the human body and the objects in the environment. The obstacles can be anything in one’s environment, but parkour is often seen practiced in urban areas because of the many suitable public structures available such as buildings and rails.
The term freerunning is sometimes used interchangeably with parkour. While freerunning is more to do with expressing yourself within your environment, parkour is aiming to get from A to B the fastest. However, there is some controversy over the exact definitions of the two terms. Though disputed, many “parkour purists” say that the biggest difference has to do with theatrics. Free-running involves a lot of trick moves, particularly aerial rotations and spins. Because these moves are merely showy, not economical, and do not actually help the participant to get from place to place, they are considered contrary to the nature of parkour. A free-runner may also move backwards in order to make a move as flashy as possible. This is contrary to the philosophy originally laid down by David Belle. Although Sebastian Foucan co-founded parkour, he is more often associated with the sport of free running.
Traceur / Traceuse:
These terms refer to male and female practitioners of the Parkour and Free Running art forms.