What is the Difference Between Freerunning and Parkour?

Freerunning and Parkour are two popular urban sports that have gained immense popularity in recent years. Although they share similar roots and the names are often used interchangeably, they are two distinct disciplines with different techniques and objectives.

Discover the captivating history of parkour and freerunning, from their roots in military training to their modern-day popularity.

Let’s get into this!

parkour v freerunning

Table of Contents

A Brief History of Freerunning and Parkour

Parkour and freerunning may seem like modern sports, but their roots can be traced back to the early 1900s. In France, a man named Georges Hébert developed a training program for the French navy that focused on natural movements, including running, jumping, and climbing. Hébert believed that these movements were essential for survival, and his training program soon became known as the “natural method.”

The natural method influenced a young man named Raymond Belle, who later became known as the “father of parkour.” Belle’s son, David Belle, also became a prominent figure in the world of parkour and is often credited with helping to popularize the sport.

The philosophy behind parkour is to move efficiently through any environment, overcoming obstacles using only one’s body, and with the least amount of energy possible.

Freerunning, on the other hand, emerged in the late 1990s in the UK, developed by Sebastien Foucan, who was a friend and contemporary of David Belle. Freerunning builds upon the philosophy of parkour but incorporates a greater emphasis on creative expression and aesthetic movements.

The history of freerunning is closely tied to the history of parkour. The development of parkour in France in the 1980s and 1990s led to the formation of a group called the Yamakasi. This group of young men began to experiment with parkour, incorporating their own unique movements and styles. The Yamakasi soon became known for their incredible acrobatic feats, and their training methods and movements began to evolve into what we now know as freerunning.

Freerunning gained international exposure in the early 2000s when videos of the Yamakasi performing their incredible stunts began to circulate online. These videos inspired a new generation of athletes to take up the sport, and freerunning soon began to gain popularity around the world.

The Techniques of Freerunning and Parkour

Parkour techniques include jumping, rolling, vaulting, and climbing, and they are designed to help the practitioner overcome any obstacle in their path as quickly and efficiently as possible. Parkour is often compared to a military obstacle course, where the goal is to get from point A to point B as fast as possible.

As freerunning gained popularity, it began to diverge from parkour. While parkour focuses on efficiency and speed, freerunning places a greater emphasis on style and creativity. Freerunners often incorporate acrobatic and gymnastic movements into their routines, such as flips, twists, and spins.

Freerunners often perform these skills on the move, adding an element of difficulty and creativity to their routines.

The Benefits of Freerunning and Parkour

Both Freerunning and Parkour are excellent forms of exercise that require strength, agility, and endurance. They are also excellent ways to build confidence and mental toughness, as practitioners often push themselves beyond their physical limits to achieve their goals.

Moreover, Freerunning and Parkour offer practitioners an opportunity to explore and interact with their environment in new and exciting ways, developing a heightened sense of spatial awareness and a deep appreciation for the world around them.

Quick Comparison

ObjectivePass obstacles whilst traveling
from point A to B efficiently
Expressive movement of the body
Place of OriginParis, FranceFrance
CreatorSebastian FoucanDavid Belle
Basic Skill ListsVaults, precision jumps, wall runs, rolls,
cat leap, tic tac, underbar, lache
vaults, precision jumps, rolls, back flips,
front flips, cork, 540, 720, wall flips, aerial
FIG RecognizedYesNo
CompetitiveCompetition was originally discouraged.
But the FIG are trying to make Parkour an
Olympic sport
Began as a social rather than competitive
sport. Some events are now held. Chase Tag
has elements of Freerunning.


In conclusion, Freerunning and Parkour are two urban sports with a rich history and unique techniques that offer practitioners numerous benefits. Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, they are two distinct disciplines that have their own philosophies, techniques, and objectives.

We hope that this guide has provided you with a comprehensive understanding of Freerunning and Parkour, and how they differ from one another. If you are interested in learning more about these exciting urban sports, we encourage you to find a local gym or community and try them out for yourself.