Freerunning (or free running) is the art of expressing oneself in his or her environment without limitation of movement. It is a martial discipline founded by Sébastien Foucan, who wrote a book on the subject. Foucan started what he termed “free running” in 2003, which he developed as a more inclusive form of parkour.


The central principle of freerunning is that one should express oneself in the environment fluidly and without limitations of movement. Foucan expands on a number of basic principles of the sport in his book, Freerunning, with chapters entitled “Learn to overcome obstacles” and “Competition is a limitation and an illusion” and the like. Other practitioners have suggested other principles. For example, Daniel Ilabaca encourages people to think positively, suggesting that practitioners of freerunning will sometimes fall—largely because they think they might.

Origins in parkour

In Western Europe the idea of moving past obstacles for personal development or sport originated with Georges Hébert. He observed untrained native tribes in Africa with fantastic athletic ability and created the ‘natural method’ system to train people using the same ideas. His ideas eventually led to the parcours du combattant (‘assault’ or ‘obstacle’ course), which is now a standard of military training.

These ideas were picked up by a young Raymond Belle, who used them to practical effect while separated from his family during the First Indochina War. When he moved to France and started a family, he passed on these ideas to his son, David. 30 years later, other young people were attracted to these ideas and a small group formed, the “Yamakasi,” which included Foucan. This group trained together for several years and in 1997, through David Belle’s brother, Jean-Francois, they started to attract attention and be invited to perform at events. The Yamakasi eventually split apart, though, because some members sought to find more individual expressions of the discipline.

Further development

Foucan wanted to create a discipline that was more personal to the individual and more easily adapted to suit each person’s individual goals.[3] His idea was similar to that of Bruce Lee’s creation of Jeet Kune Do. Foucan wanted to take everything that he had found useful and that he liked from his parkour experiences and combine it into one sport.

Foucan’s early ideas were first spread through the Jump London documentary (2003) and its sequel, Jump Britain (2005). Foucan has appeared in other productions, such as Casino Royaleand Madonna’s Confessions Tour.[8] With each appearance both the discipline and Foucan himself increased in fame