Street Free Running: A New Version of Tai Chi

October 28, 2011

There is a growing exercise trend called Street Free Running or Parkour. I came across this form of fitness the other day and noticed the some striking similarities between it and the Chinese martial art of Tai Chi Chuan. I used to practice Tai Chi quite regularly and actually taught the art locally at the Masonic Temple. The martial art incorporates fluid movements into the form and helps teach practitioners to adapt to their surroundings, whether that be a surprise attack from behind or the angry words of a co-worker.

History of Street Free Running

Street Free Running was founded by David Belle in France, and incorporates fluid movements into the practice. The arena in which you practice is pretty much anywhere but mostly takes place on the street. Below is a great video of street free running.

Similarities between Street Free Running and Tai Chi

You can see by the above video that street free running is very fluid and dynamic which is similar to Tai Chi. In comparison, take a look at a video of Tai Chi in a park in China.

Ok, I know what you’re thinking. That doesn’t look anything like Free Running. Well, stick with me on this for a second. The goal of free running is to be able to adapt to your surroundings no matter where you are or what comes at you. The reason free runners jump from buildings is to be able to practice how they land. If you watch them closely, you’ll realize that they do a roll at the end to break the force of the fall. Then they jump back up and continue running. Tai Chi is very similar. In Tai Chi Sparrking, called Push Hands, you practice moving with a force, in a sense breaking the force like a free runner would after a fall. See the video for an example of Push Hands.

You’ll see in the above Push Hands video that each person is moving with the force of the other person.

It’s kind of funny to think about how the proliferation of Tai Chi and the principles of Tai Chi into a new culture can help to create an entirely new art form such as Street Free Running.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this concept. While you’re thinking watch these great Street Free Running videos and visit these links.

Street Free Running Videos


Street Free Running Accident

Street Free Running Founder David Belle

Street Free Running Links

On Wikipedia

World Wide Jam

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