Ailsa Harvey


Using obstacles such as buildings and environmental structures, freerunning is not just a sport but a form of expression. Freerunners interact with these obstacles, performing various moves. These commonly include flipping and spinning. Some movements are adopted from sports such as gymnastics and breakdancing, but new moves can also be created.

Freerunning is about showing creativity in an objective environment. It was developed from military obstacle course training which was preparation for getting from one point to another in complex environments as quickly and efficiently as possible. Because it originated from military training, there are some aspects of non-combat martial arts.

Compared to the military version, freerunning includes more acrobatic moves, to showcase the art of movement. Parkour UK, the national governing body for the sport, described freerunning as a physical discipline in which participants “move freely over and through any terrain using only the abilities of the body.”

Credit: Parkour and Freerunning World

Jason Paul, from Germany, is one of the most famous freerunners in the world. When he began freerunning, the sport was not official and “didn’t have any kind of structure”. For many like him, YouTube was a good way of connecting the freerunning community and sharing each other’s skills.

While many ‘lifestyle’ sports have been accepted into the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, freerunning is not an Olympic sport. Some within the community believe that one day this dream will become reality, as the sport’s potential is being compared to the likes of skateboarding. There are competitions in which skateboarders are free to showcase their skills and are awarded points for technicality. However there are concerns that ruling the sport in the Olympics could take away the ‘free’ element of freerunning.


Did you know…

  • The founder of freerunning, Sebastian Foucan, developed the sport as a more inclusive form of the military’s ‘parkour’. He is the president of Parkour UK and is most recognisable from his role as Mollaka in James Bond’s Casino Royale. In the opening scenes he is chased through a building site by Daniel Craig.
  • While the discipline was founded by France in the 1980s, the United Kingdom became the first to recognise fre erunning as an official sport in 2016.
  • There is no official list of moves. Style sets people apart.


Are you a freerunner? Let us know what you love about the sport by commenting on this post.