For some years, the urban sports Parkour and Freerunning, founded by the the French David Bell and Sebastien Foucan, are more and more trendy sports in the cities around the world.
In serveral métropoles an increasingly number of enthusiastics join existing Parkour- and Freerunning-Groups or create their own to train with each other.
The Urban Idiots are one of the top groups in Berlin. Their videos regularly inspire the masses and they were also successfully represented in international competitions.
A few days ago, I talked with Beau, one of the Urban Idiots members, who explained the difference between Parkour and Freerunning to me and how long you will need to be good as the boys.
Uac: Hey Urban Idiots! Can you explain what Parkour more or less exactly is?
Beau: Parkour is an urban sport and as a traceur (people practicing this discipline) you focus on moving from point a to point b as fast, smoothly and efficiently as possible. You are using the abilities of your body to surpass any obstacle in your surrounding whereby you are given complete freedom – physically and mentally.
Uac: What’s the difference to Freerunning?
Beau: Talking about free running you distance yourself from the ideal of efficient flow by using, more or less, acrobatic elements when moving from a to b. You start playing with your urban space an the obstacles in it – you get creative with it.
Uac: And which one are you doing?
Beau: We mainly practice free running, but by doing this you also practice the basics which are to be required for the exercise of parkour. The only difference then is how you employ your skills. Either you want to be as efficient as possible or you apply elements such as a flip, gainer and so on.
Uac: Why have you started running, jumping and rolling through the urban space?
Beau: Since I was a child I have been a big fan of Jackie Chan, this is why I started practicing Kung-Fu at the age of 10. In the dojo I met my team-mates Beau and Jay. Inspired by video/ films of David Belle, Joe Eigo, Jackie and so forth we started training flips after our Kung-Fu-lessons, went out to playgrounds and then practiced in the streets of Berlin starting early to film what we did. This is how the consolidated team Urban Idiots arose.
Uac: What’s so great about it?
Beau: You are not tied to any certain rule at all; you can free your mind and be/express yourself with no restrictions. Besides that you get to face situations in which you experience your boundaries, you lern to overcome obstacles/fears.
Uac: What does it mean to you?
Beau: First of all this sport means a lot of fun to me! You start looking at your city/area in a complete different way always on the move to explore and combine new routes/paths.
Uac: Some of the stunts you did in your videos look like special effects from „The Matrix“. Who thinks these moves out?
Beau: In our videos (and I surely guarantee that) we do not use any mats, wires or even special effects, which definitely is the case when looking at films like matrix. When we get to a spot where we want to shoot everybody gets in contact with the given environment/area and think about what oneself wants to and dares to do. Following that we speak about what should be filmed and how. But everybody gets to decide by himself what, where and how he does something.
Uac: How long will beginners need to get your skills? Are there any tricks?
Beau: This really differs and is up to the talent and engagement of a certain trainee. We are practising this sport for 5 years now. There are no tricks and shortcuts, but hard training and talent.
Uac: How can I train Parkour or Freerunning? How did you start?
Beau: Back then we used to look at internet-videos from which we learned and went out to try it out by ourselves. It was a learning by doing process, we were our own teachers.
Today there are often opportunities where you can take part in workshops. There you learn from skilled people. In Germany the situation is a little harder than in other regions of Europe. The higher officials cannot grasp the bandwidth of this sport and therefore government does not push this as much as it is needed. Some gyms might offer workshops. In the bigger cities there are networks of a steady growing community where you will probably find people to train with.
Uac: Are there international Parkour or Free Running competitions? If yes, how does it work?
Beau: Free running is a growing sport which already had its bigger competitions. Last year we had the Parcouring World Cup held in Hamburg with 10 different nation competing. There the crew members Amadei and Jay reached 2nd and 3rd place.
In may 2009 there was red bull’s art of motion in Vienna, which is the biggest and most important event in that sport-section at moment. The world’s best 27 free runners took part. Amadei of Urban Idiots got 12th place.