Extreme sports comparison: Parkour vs Freerunning are they the same? 

Aug 28, 2020 BY Luke Rees

Unless you have been in a coma for the last couple of decades you are sure to be aware of parkour and freerunning. But are they the same or different activities? In this extreme sports comparison we look at parkour vs freerunning.

Extreme sports comparison Parkour vs Freerunning pexels royalty free image

If you like action movies you are sure to have spotted plenty of exciting chase scenes that involve parkour and/or freerunning. Taxi 2 in 1998 is credited as the first film to use the sports and now you rarely see a chase scene without it.

Movie franchises ranging from James Bond to Jason Bourne and Mission Impossible to Die Hard have all got involved. It is clear that parkour and freerunning are very popular, and very attractive to Hollywood.

Parkour vs Freerunning: Definitions

Many people use the terms freerunning and parkour interchangeably. It is understandable as they are very similar. However, for this extreme sports comparison we will look at the subtle differences.

Parkour definition

According to the Oxford dictionary, Parkour is ‘the activity or sport of moving rapidly through an area, typically in an urban environment, negotiating obstacles by running, jumping, and climbing.’

The name is French and comes from parcours du combattant (meaning obstacle course).

Parkour vs Freerunning are they the same PHhere royalty free image

Freerunning definition

Again this definition is from Oxford dictionary. Freerunning is ‘the activity or art of moving through a city by running, jumping and climbing under, around and through things in a way that shows expression and style’.

The term freerunning was first used in the documentary ‘Jump London’. Where they described it as an english translation of parkour.

But are they the same?

No they are not the same. If you look at the definitions they are very similar, but freerunning talks about ‘art’, ‘expression’ and ‘style’. The main difference is that parkour is about efficiency and freerunning is about making it look good.

Very simply freerunning is a form of parkour. Parkour is the original sport and its origins in the French military mean it includes elements of non-combative martial arts. Freerunning includes more flips and spins so has greater elements of gymnastics and acrobatics.

Parkour vs Freerunning: Movies

So when you see the likes of the Storror crew in movies such as 6 underground are they doing parkour or freerunning? Well very simply they are always doing parkour as freerunning is just an artistic subdivision of the sport. This is the same as if you are doing backstroke as you are still swimming.

The way to tell the difference in any movie is are they spinning or flipping when they didn’t need to? For example, if you were being chased across the rooftops would you just jump the gaps or add a somersault?

Once you start to embellish parkour with creativity it becomes freerunning. But that doesn’t mean standard parkour is without style. Far from it! The efficiency of the movement, displays of strength, balance and daring are jaw dropping even without the ‘art’ of freerunning.

But when it comes to movies, which are an artform, I think it is fair to say that the stunt men are freerunning. They may not be constantly flipping or spinning but they are making it look at good as possible. It is slick and stylish with artistic filming so it is freerunning.

In fact any youtube clips or ‘parkour’ movies you watch are always made to look stylish. So they are by definition freerunning. You could even argue that standard parkour only occurs if you are actually being chased in real life!

Extreme sports comparison: Conclusion

Of course if you are training in efficiency of movement across a varied urban landscape then this falls within the original definitions of parkour. So it is only by taking the sport back to its roots that you can eliminate the freerunning element.

Extreme sports comparison Parkour vs Freerunning are they the same PHhere royalty free image

This is why the terms freerunning and parkour are used interchangeably. Because essentially they are the same thing. If you are freerunning you are doing parkour, and any parkour non-participants get to see has an artistic element, which makes it freerunning.

We hope you sound this extreme sports comparison of parkour vs freerunning interesting. If you would like to get more excitement in your life then check out our adventure holidays.


extreme, movies, urban

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