Author Topic: Parkour Vs. Freerunning: Once and For All Article  (Read 29370 times)

Offline Adam McC

  • Delicious
  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 2381
  • Karma: +208/-43
  • Level 1 Sexability Certified
    • View Profile
    • Lehigh Valley Parkour
Parkour Vs. Freerunning: Once and For All Article
« on: October 08, 2010, 10:25:59 AM »
Here's the deal. I'm completely done with seeing these posts about people claiming what Parkour is and what Freerunning is and being purists and expressing themselves. I've tried to individually explain this to these people, but to no avail. Maybe with some background and structure, people will understand. Please, if you consider yourself dedicated to this art we practice, take the time to read this article. It's time to end all these shenanigans.





The Art of Movement: Parkour vs Freerunning

    For the past few years, there has been and endless debate about the difference between Parkour and Freerunning. Now, people can't even agree on whether a video that someone shares is Parkour, or Freerunning, or either. If someone does a frontflip, is it still a Parkour video? If they do gymnastics or tumbling, is it still freerunning? If they do stuntwork, is it just streetstunts? If they are only conditioning, is it actually Parkour? How is it that we categorize our movement? We have names for techniques that make communication more clear, so why can't we do that with our art as a whole, as well? In this article I propose to solve the discussion of Parkour versus Freerunning and give us a universal idea of the movements that we do, and how to categorize our art clearly and concisely.

    To do this, we must take the time to understand the history of where the name of our art comes from. So, let us go back in time:

    First, we begin with the word "parcours". This word, which can be broadly translated as "route" or "course" from the French language, is where it all begins. Most have heard of the military obstacle course "parcours du combattant", which is the French military obstacle course, similar to what American soldiers train in during boot camp to improve their agility and strength in preparation for a battlefield. It is from this word "parcours" that all things originate. So imagine, if you would, a hierarchy of words, with "parcours" at the top.

    The next step we need to do is begin looking at the people involved in the beginnings of our art. For now, we will primarily consider David Belle, Sebastian Foucan, and the Yamakasi. Consider each of these three groups a branch off of "parcours". Yamakasi, a word from the Lingala language meaning "Strong body", "Strong spirit", "Strong person", was a collection of practitioners who dedicated themselves to betterment through the discipline of training their art. Anyone who has trained with the Yamakasi, or as a few of them are now known, "Majestic Force", will hear them refer to it as "ADD", or L'art du Deplacement, which translates into "The Art of Movement". Why? Because this is the name they gave the art. They studied movement, and considered it an art, thus, the Art of Movement.

    The second branch comes from David Belle himself. David Belle trained with, but did not stick with the group of the Yamakasi for long. We all know of David Belle because he made himself more known, and made the art that he trained more public and brought it to media attention through movies and through the internet. Because of his goals to share the art based on his personal philosophy on Parkour, he wanted to make the art more appealing to the public. Thus, he took the original word "parcours" and changed it. He removed the silent "s" at the end of the word, and changed the softer letter "C" to the harder letter "K", to give the word a more hard, urban edge. Thus, the same type of movement changed name from "parcours" to "Parkour".

    The third and final branch this article will go into comes from Sebastian Foucan. Seb was also one of the original "Yamakasi" but like David Belle, decided to make his own way through the media. Foucan made his major debut in "Jump London", a documentary responsible for a great amount of awareness of the art of Parkour in Europe and even America. The term "Freerunning" was invented specifically for this documentary to make the art more self-descriptive. A foreign word like "Parkour" or "L'art Du Deplacement" does not describe what the art is very well to English speakers, and so they created a new name, Freerunning, for the purpose of clear communication to the audience of the documentary.

    Thus, we can see that all three names of the art are simply titles that were given by different people at different times for specific purposes. They were not splits from the original ideal based on a conflict of movement or principle. They are simply the three different directions that three different people or groups of people went. But they all origin from the same thing.

    So how does this help us categorize what our art is now? Well, in explaining the reasons for the three branches, we also will answer how it is that we can think of our art.

    To make it simple, the reason that these three different names were invented was because of the difference in the individuals who practiced the art. David Belle had his own personal philosophy which differers from Foucan which differs from the Yamakasi, and thus each changed the art just slightly to adapt to their lives and their purposes. What this boils down to is that each person takes the art of what we are calling Parkour and uses it for their own specific purposes. Some train for exercise. Some train for the fun. Some train for the community. Some train for self-betterment. Some train for multiple, all, or none of these. Everybody has their own reasons why they train Parkour. And so, Parkour goes through small changes on an individual basis, in order to adjust to each person.

    The same concept applies to movement, as well as purpose. Even though there are specific movements in Parkour, every person moves differently. Every person has movements they prefer, and movements they do not prefer. Often, this is dictated by the environment that the practitioners live in. Also, there are previous experiences that come into play. Martial artists, gymnasts, breakdancers, track and field athletes, every person adds their own experience and background to the art of Parkour.

    What this means is that for each and every person, in both movement and purpose, Parkour is different. My Parkour is different from your Parkour, which is different from John Smith's Parkour. We all train the same thing, but in our own way; Just as we can all go over the same obstacle, but in our own way. Parkour is a completely individual art that adapts to the person, just as movements adapt to the environment.

    This gives us two options. The first option is to personally rename Parkour, just as Foucan and Belle did, so that each and every person has their own name for what they do. This of course, would make global communication very difficult, especially as we're trying to expand awareness of what Parkour is to the general public, so that our practice can become more accepted. The second option, which is of course the option I am proposing, is that we all agree to use the words Parkour and Freerunning and L'art du Deplacement as having one meaning, which is the practice of that individual art that we all ourselves train in, according to us. Some may flip, and some may not. Some may condition more, and some many condition less. Some may strive for self-expression, and some may strive for efficiency of motion. But we are all on a path of fulfillment of our own individual goals through movement; a path named Parkour.

-Adam McC

•Lehigh Valley Parkour Community Founder
•Level 1 A.D.A.P.T. Certified
•Urban Current Member

Offline Eli

  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 576
  • Karma: +19/-9
  • Wow, you guys still exist after all these years!
    • View Profile
Re: Parkour Vs. Freerunning: Once and For All Article
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2010, 10:41:49 AM »
Amazing article Adam. I completely agree. It seems to me that the newbies more often seperate the art based on name. It's like someone told me, as you progress, you start getting curious about other movements and may end up flipping. That doesn't mean you aren't a traceur anymore. It doesn't mean that you have become a free runner. It just means your movement style involves flips.

Anywho, you get an imaginary +9001
The Greatest Lesson A Traceur Learns
Quote from: Sai Chikine
Parkour spots are buried in random places.

Looking for me on the web?
Just Search for "SticktheFigure"

Offline Andrew Hull

  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 895
  • Karma: +31/-24
  • Curmudgeon
    • View Profile
Re: Parkour Vs. Freerunning: Once and For All Article
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2010, 10:49:47 AM »
AGAIN! The difference is the intent of training. Locomotion capability vs aesthetic expression both through physical motion and development. This is what happens when people limit training parkour movements instead of parkour. Like I ALWAYS say, martial arts is significantly less physical than it is philosophical and mental. The second you remove the intent of training, the culture of practitioners, and the purposeful origins of the movement, you get equivocation and Bubba Fu Karate schools.

It's the same reason all these beginners are having roll problems. They're flipping at the ground thinking "Okay, I know I have to tuck my shoulder and roll up so I'm going to do that as hard and fast as possible."
Everything changes when you get them to understand about the laying out of momentum and how the move ACCOMPLISHES that. This has become a community based around physical activity accomplishments instead of physical capability preparations. I'm sick of it.
Rely on yourself. Rely on your body. Rely on your training, instincts, and heart. Everything else is a crutch.

Quote from: Dan Kelley
Don't wear shoes.  Make the pavement bleed.

Offline Adam McC

  • Delicious
  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 2381
  • Karma: +208/-43
  • Level 1 Sexability Certified
    • View Profile
    • Lehigh Valley Parkour
Re: Parkour Vs. Freerunning: Once and For All Article
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2010, 10:52:31 AM »
AGAIN! The difference is the intent of training. Locomotion capability vs aesthetic expression both through physical motion and development. This is what happens when people limit training parkour movements instead of parkour. Like I ALWAYS say, martial arts is significantly less physical than it is philosophical and mental. The second you remove the intent of training, the culture of practitioners, and the purposeful origins of the movement, you get equivocation and Bubba Fu Karate schools.

It's the same reason all these beginners are having roll problems. They're flipping at the ground thinking "Okay, I know I have to tuck my shoulder and roll up so I'm going to do that as hard and fast as possible."
Everything changes when you get them to understand about the laying out of momentum and how the move ACCOMPLISHES that. This has become a community based around physical activity accomplishments instead of physical capability preparations. I'm sick of it.

So teach people the correct intent of training. That doesn't mean we need to split what we do into different fields. We all train the same thing. Some people just need to do it better, or more safely, or more responsibly. Read my article again, if you need to. Aesthetic expression, locomotive capability, all are reasons to train parkour, not the differences between Parkour and "x".

•Lehigh Valley Parkour Community Founder
•Level 1 A.D.A.P.T. Certified
•Urban Current Member

Offline Andrew Hull

  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 895
  • Karma: +31/-24
  • Curmudgeon
    • View Profile
Re: Parkour Vs. Freerunning: Once and For All Article
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2010, 10:57:37 AM »
I disagree entirely. I think it's a cheapening of what can be a specified and sharpened physical discipline. Most martial artists train multiple martial arts, but doing so does not change Karate into Hapkido or Kung Fu into Krav Maga. These are all essentially the same movements; punches and kicks and throws and blocks, but they are not all equivocal. They each have specific training methods and intents. And every person that does one of these arts will adapt it to their own physicality and mentality. That individuals actions do not change the art itself.
Rely on yourself. Rely on your body. Rely on your training, instincts, and heart. Everything else is a crutch.

Quote from: Dan Kelley
Don't wear shoes.  Make the pavement bleed.

Offline Andy Keller

  • Oh baby baby.
  • Administrator
  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 2145
  • Karma: +9012/-9006
  • Lancaster, PA
    • View Profile
    • My Facebook
Re: Parkour Vs. Freerunning: Once and For All Article
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2010, 11:00:56 AM »
I disagree entirely. I think it's a cheapening of what can be a specified and sharpened physical discipline. Most martial artists train multiple martial arts, but doing so does not change Karate into Hapkido or Kung Fu into Krav Maga. These are all essentially the same movements; punches and kicks and throws and blocks, but they are not all equivocal. They each have specific training methods and intents. And every person that does one of these arts will adapt it to their own physicality and mentality. That individuals actions do not change the art itself.

But Parkour and Free Running and ADD aren't martial arts, nor are they all that similar to martial arts. The martial arts you mention came from different places. PK/FR/ADD do not.

Personally I'm getting tired of people overusing the martial arts comparison. Sure, there are traits that are similar between martial arts and parkour, but that does not mean all traits/rules apply to both.
"Do it, do it well, do it well and fast."

Offline Andrew Hull

  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 895
  • Karma: +31/-24
  • Curmudgeon
    • View Profile
Re: Parkour Vs. Freerunning: Once and For All Article
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2010, 11:02:55 AM »
Also: http://www.freerunningtv.com/films/history-how-it-all-began/

Sebastien specifically referring to Parkour and Freerunning separately as well as 'Parcours' specific intent to reference obstacle courses. Obstacle courses having the inherent purpose of maximizing locomotor capability for efficiency and fastest course completion. Throw a flip on an obstacle course at basic training and see what happens. Please. Get it on tape.

But Parkour and Free Running and ADD aren't martial arts, nor are they all that similar to martial arts. The martial arts you mention came from different places. PK/FR/ADD do not.

Also, see above where Seb refers to the arts coming from different people. I would say geographic distance matters much less than perspective distance in this case since TRAINING INTENT is what I'm arguing. Besides I can name 3-4 martial arts from each major country. Want to make the come from different places argument again?
« Last Edit: October 08, 2010, 11:06:30 AM by Andrew Hull »
Rely on yourself. Rely on your body. Rely on your training, instincts, and heart. Everything else is a crutch.

Quote from: Dan Kelley
Don't wear shoes.  Make the pavement bleed.

Offline Alexz

  • Mangabey
  • ****
  • Posts: 461
  • Karma: +15/-4
    • View Profile
Re: Parkour Vs. Freerunning: Once and For All Article
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2010, 11:03:08 AM »
...Go outside and train.

Offline Andy Keller

  • Oh baby baby.
  • Administrator
  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 2145
  • Karma: +9012/-9006
  • Lancaster, PA
    • View Profile
    • My Facebook
Re: Parkour Vs. Freerunning: Once and For All Article
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2010, 11:09:50 AM »
Also: http://www.freerunningtv.com/films/history-how-it-all-began/

Sebastien specifically referring to Parkour and Freerunning separately...

And he says "the history of Freerunning is my own personal journey, the history of Parkour is my personal journey which I share with all the people."

Here, if you think about what he is saying, he explains that Parkour is what they all did - what we all now do - and that Freerunning is his one personal adaptation - exactly what Adam is referring to when he says about how we all train differently. Seb is not saying Parkour and Freerunning are totally different arts or disciplines.

Throw a flip on an obstacle course at basic training and see what happens. Please. Get it on tape.

This is irrelevant and simply makes it seem like you have something personal against flips.
"Do it, do it well, do it well and fast."

Offline Andy Keller

  • Oh baby baby.
  • Administrator
  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 2145
  • Karma: +9012/-9006
  • Lancaster, PA
    • View Profile
    • My Facebook
Re: Parkour Vs. Freerunning: Once and For All Article
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2010, 11:15:10 AM »
Also, see above where Seb refers to the arts coming from different people. I would say geographic distance matters much less than perspective distance in this case since TRAINING INTENT is what I'm arguing. Besides I can name 3-4 martial arts from each major country. Want to make the come from different places argument again?

Yes.

The "different places" argument does not specify different geographical places. Martial arts do come from different geographical locations for the most part, but they also come from different cultures, different time periods, different types of people.

I think it would help you understand if you stop comparing parkour to a specific martial art, and start comparing parkour to "fighting" or "self defense" instead, and seeing each individual's training methods as those specific martial arts in the analogy. Just because I train Capoeira and Adam trains Kung Fu does NOT mean we both don't train fighting or self defense. Right?
"Do it, do it well, do it well and fast."

Offline Andrew Hull

  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 895
  • Karma: +31/-24
  • Curmudgeon
    • View Profile
Re: Parkour Vs. Freerunning: Once and For All Article
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2010, 11:15:34 AM »
This is irrelevant and simply makes it seem like you have something personal against flips.
Its not irrelevant when you don't edit it out from the surrounding paragraph. Seb specifically says they called it Parcours equating it to "obstacle course" in france. The purpose of an obstacle course being... exactly what I said before you isolated my single line quote.
Rely on yourself. Rely on your body. Rely on your training, instincts, and heart. Everything else is a crutch.

Quote from: Dan Kelley
Don't wear shoes.  Make the pavement bleed.

Offline Mark Toorock

  • M2
  • Administrator
  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 3087
  • Karma: +302/-72
    • View Profile
    • American Parkour
Re: Parkour Vs. Freerunning: Once and For All Article
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2010, 11:17:44 AM »
To say that David and Seb did not train with Yamakasi very long is very misleading. They trained together for most of the formative period of Parkour.

David did not replace the C with a K, Hubert Kounde did - sometimes sited as having done it as a "screen name" - strikingly similar to how Freerunning term came about.

As you mention, the differences did not come about because of a difference in training style. The differences all came about AFTER the splits.

These misconceptions have been spread since about 2002 by people that weren't there and didn't train with them, and the political and friendship reasons that broke up the group will probably never be brought to public light, so some of this truth died right before the filming of "Rush Hour". Even in 2002 when I was trying to find my way around this wasn't discussed very much, and so since then it seems to have simply drifted further from the truth, perpetuated by whoever wants people to believe a certain side of it.



I know people will continue to argue about this until the end of time, and I will go on record once again as saying that what the terms have become is as important if not more important than where they come from, there are 100's of cases where the etymology of a word is completely lost however the word still carries a very strong meaning. There are 1,000's of "branches" of martial arts which derive from similar sources, and most are not branches at all but rather singular interpretations - is that where we want Parkour to go?

To say that Parkour and Freerunning are the same thing is simply not true, the two have come to mean different things. To say that Parkour is whatever I make of is is also not true nor particularly useful (as you pointed out) - so I will ask, what is wrong with the definitions that the APK community came up with for the two different activities?




Be Useful.
If I don't try to make the world a better place, who will?
Every person has a choice - live by your fears or live by your dreams

Offline Andrew Hull

  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 895
  • Karma: +31/-24
  • Curmudgeon
    • View Profile
Re: Parkour Vs. Freerunning: Once and For All Article
« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2010, 11:18:19 AM »
Yes.

The "different places" argument does not specify different geographical places. Martial arts do come from different geographical locations for the most part, but they also come from different cultures, different time periods, different types of people.

I think it would help you understand if you stop comparing parkour to a specific martial art, and start comparing it to "fighting" or "self defense" instead, and seeing each individual's training methods as those specific martial arts. Just because I train Capoeira and Adam trains Kung Fu does NOT mean we both don't train fighting or self defense. Right?
But thats EXACTLY the argument I've made TIME AND TIME AND TIME again. The term Movement Arts is appropriate for an encompassing genre just as Martial Arts is for self defense. Karate, TKD, Kung Fu, Capoeira are all Martial Arts. L'add, Parkour, Freerun, MA Tricking, and MN are all Movement Arts. The parallels are so obvious it actually PAINS me to have to explain it.
Rely on yourself. Rely on your body. Rely on your training, instincts, and heart. Everything else is a crutch.

Quote from: Dan Kelley
Don't wear shoes.  Make the pavement bleed.

Offline Mark Toorock

  • M2
  • Administrator
  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 3087
  • Karma: +302/-72
    • View Profile
    • American Parkour
Re: Parkour Vs. Freerunning: Once and For All Article
« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2010, 11:18:56 AM »
BTW - Adam I do have great respect for you - but I also wish I had a nickel for every person who started a "final discussion" thread on this subject :)
Be Useful.
If I don't try to make the world a better place, who will?
Every person has a choice - live by your fears or live by your dreams

Offline Andrew Hull

  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 895
  • Karma: +31/-24
  • Curmudgeon
    • View Profile
Re: Parkour Vs. Freerunning: Once and For All Article
« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2010, 11:20:16 AM »
To say that Parkour and Freerunning are the same thing is simply not true, the two have come to mean different things. To say that Parkour is whatever I make of is is also not true nor particularly useful (as you pointed out) - so I will ask, what is wrong with the definitions that the APK community came up with for the two different activities?
I have no problem with APK's definitions. It seems everyone else does. The recurring pattern seems to be people throwing hissy fits the second says something is "not parkour." Seems like everything else just WANTS to be parkour.

Edit: In fact, after rereading, I LOVE APK's definitions.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2010, 11:31:40 AM by Andrew Hull »
Rely on yourself. Rely on your body. Rely on your training, instincts, and heart. Everything else is a crutch.

Quote from: Dan Kelley
Don't wear shoes.  Make the pavement bleed.

Offline Anthony Ruiz

  • Mangabey
  • ****
  • Posts: 410
  • Karma: +15/-0
    • View Profile
    • Youtube account
Re: Parkour Vs. Freerunning: Once and For All Article
« Reply #15 on: October 08, 2010, 11:35:25 AM »
Sadly these arguments have convoluted what we do. There is a large difference between true parkour and Tricking and tumbling. Calling them the same would be like calling gatorade water, seeing as gatorade was made from the very essence of water does that make them the same. I think not.
There is no reason to have a plan B, cause all it does is distract from plan A

Offline Andrew Hull

  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 895
  • Karma: +31/-24
  • Curmudgeon
    • View Profile
Re: Parkour Vs. Freerunning: Once and For All Article
« Reply #16 on: October 08, 2010, 11:38:00 AM »
Sadly these arguments have convoluted what we do. There is a large difference between true parkour and Tricking and tumbling. Calling them the same would be like calling gatorade water, seeing as gatorade was made from the very essence of water does that make them the same. I think not.
+1
Rely on yourself. Rely on your body. Rely on your training, instincts, and heart. Everything else is a crutch.

Quote from: Dan Kelley
Don't wear shoes.  Make the pavement bleed.

Offline Eli

  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 576
  • Karma: +19/-9
  • Wow, you guys still exist after all these years!
    • View Profile
Re: Parkour Vs. Freerunning: Once and For All Article
« Reply #17 on: October 08, 2010, 11:44:48 AM »
Sadly these arguments have convoluted what we do. There is a large difference between true parkour and Tricking and tumbling. Calling them the same would be like calling gatorade water, seeing as gatorade was made from the very essence of water does that make them the same. I think not.
Yes, but calling parkour and freerunning the same is more of calling gatorade kool-aid. The only difference is the addition of a bit of salt.
The Greatest Lesson A Traceur Learns
Quote from: Sai Chikine
Parkour spots are buried in random places.

Looking for me on the web?
Just Search for "SticktheFigure"

Offline Andrew Hull

  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 895
  • Karma: +31/-24
  • Curmudgeon
    • View Profile
Re: Parkour Vs. Freerunning: Once and For All Article
« Reply #18 on: October 08, 2010, 11:50:11 AM »
Yes, but calling parkour and freerunning the same is more of calling gatorade kool-aid. The only difference is the addition of a bit of salt.
In gatorade vs. kool-aid dare we say the difference is INTENT? Salt for science's sake to have a specific beneficial physical purpose vs sugar and color for flavor.
Rely on yourself. Rely on your body. Rely on your training, instincts, and heart. Everything else is a crutch.

Quote from: Dan Kelley
Don't wear shoes.  Make the pavement bleed.

Offline Mark Toorock

  • M2
  • Administrator
  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 3087
  • Karma: +302/-72
    • View Profile
    • American Parkour
Re: Parkour Vs. Freerunning: Once and For All Article
« Reply #19 on: October 08, 2010, 12:10:46 PM »
Oh god now this is really going wrong. I'm going to ask that you stop the Gatorade comparison now. We have enough analogies floating around that we don't need to argue about more analogies.

Please, do it for the children.
Be Useful.
If I don't try to make the world a better place, who will?
Every person has a choice - live by your fears or live by your dreams