Flips are not Freerunning

April 4, 2013 in Articles by indianparkourassociation

frI have felt this for a very long time and that is – the mere presence of a flip or a spin does not make the discipline ‘Freerunning’. Over time I’ve seen Flips themselves come to be associated with the word Freerunning, as if the term ‘Acrobatics’ had suddenly disappeared from the world’s vocabulary and they now had a cool new replacement word for it.

The appropriate name of the discipline for the mere presence of a flip would be ‘Acrobatics’ or ‘Gymnastics’. Or if a lot of spinning moves and martial arts moves like flying/spinning kicks are involved, the appropriate name of the discipline should be ‘Tricking’. If a person simply chooses to flip off anything and everything he can find like benches, telephone booths, a short flight of stairs, small structures, the discipline is called ‘Street Stunts’. (definitions derived from TK17′s Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Parkour)

Why has the mere presence of a flip come to mean ‘Freerunning’ where the true meaning of freerunning was simply movement around obstacles that did not focus on speed, efficiency and purposeful movement, but instead on finding your own way around said obstacles at your own pace, and on creative expression of self around the same obstacles. Ofcourse, going by that definition, a flip done off or around an obstacle, since it is not purposeful movement, can be defined as freerunning, but a flip in itself is not freerunning at all.

The only semantical difference between David Belle‘s definition of Parkour and Sebastien Foucan’s definition of Freerunning is that of purpose. One is purposeful, and the other lacks a definite purpose. If you move with purpose, it’s Parkour, if you move without purpose, it’s Freerunning. I think, expanding this definition, you might say that when training in the physical discipline of overcoming obstacles, even if you are one of the so-called ‘purist traceurs’, at the point of time of training itself, you are not doing Parkour, but Freerunning, since you are not moving from Point A to Point B with a sense of speed, urgency and purpose, but are probably discovering new ways to move around your given environment, and are also drilling your techniques over and over.

This problem mostly stems from the tons of videos out there that are labeled freerunning but are essentially tricking videos. It’s kinda like calling it ‘technically still a freerunning video’ even when a major portion of it contains just tricking and street stunts with very little footage of actual parkour and freerunning. Like when they sell egg and milk protein, even if the proportion of egg to milk is 10:90, they can still technically call it an ‘egg’ protein, when ideally for it to be called an egg protein it should have 90% egg and 10% milk.

Why are these people ashamed of calling a tricking video a tricking video? Is it because there is a stigma attached to the term ‘tricking’? Or is it because it is just cooler to call their tricking freerunning because freerunning relates to Parkour and Parkour is the hot new thing?

So bottom line – Flips are not Freerunning.

Or rather, some Flips are Freerunning, but all Freerunning is not Flips.

A Flip in itself is not Freerunning, it’s Gymnastics, and the absence of a Flip is not Parkour.

If you find a Flip to be useful in a situation, it does become a part of Parkour.

If you find a Flip to be a part of your creatively expressing yourself when moving around your environment while overcoming obstacles, it does become a part of Freerunning.

Personally I have nothing against flips or people who practice them, and that is not what I am trying to convey through this article. Heck, I practice flips myself. But as a part of gymnastic and acrobatic training. Or to improve my spatial awareness. Or just for the heck of it, because I find them fun. But I do not tag them as either Parkour or Freerunning where not necessary.

Parkour (and Freerunning) for life

- NOS on Oct 12, 2010


This article was written by Parkour Mumbai Reproduced here with permission.