Seamlessly sliding through holes in walls, jumping over the tops of buildings, balancing on ledges and other gravity-defying movements may look easy to the naked eye, but to the practitioners of this urban acrobatics, it is a developmental art form. First called “Parkour” by founder David Belle, it is defined as moving for one place to another while simultaneously overcoming the obstacles in between in the most efficient manner possible. The ultimate goals of traceurs, or people who practice Parkour, are to focus on speed and to race time rather than perform neat tricks.
On David Belle’s personal website, he states that, “it’s a weapon in disguise. We train and then one day we encounter a problem and we know that we are able to use it. It can be the art of flight, of the chase, of helping someone with a problem, or something ordinary.”
Many people mistake the sport “free running” for Parkour because they both require physically demanding movements and usually take place in the same environment. But, the practitioners of free runnering put more emphasis on performing tricks while in transit regardless of the speed (although they still go very fast).
Sebastian Foucan developed free running after he split away from David Belle in order to concentrate on his interpretation of the sport.
Foucan explained to the Worldwide Jam that, “free running has developed over a number of years with many influences including the ways of indigenous tribes, natural child play, martial arts, and personal expression.”
Although Parkour has been around for longer than free running, both of the “sports” were recently brought to the media’s attention in 2006 after the infamous chase scene during the beginning of the 21st James Bond movie, Casino Royale.
2013 will mark the first year that the best free runners and traceurs will be able to compete against each other. The 3-day festival, called the Cross Urban Scramble, will take place in Miami, Florida sometime during March or April and will host 125 competitors from over 40 countries. The individual competitors will wear portable cameras in order to document their experience and will be broadcast on national television.
Now if only Sebastian Foucan or David Belle could race Usain Bolt. That’d be a sight.
Image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/geishaboy500/2911049059