Free Running is a discipline of the body and mind. Free Running can be described as Urban Acrobatics with a mix of Tricking, Street Stunts and Urban Ninja. Free Runners use they're environment like city's and rural landscapes to perform this practice. Free Running was founded by Sébastien Foucan who also co-founded Parkour. UP, OVER, UNDER, THROUGH is the key term and adopted motto of Free Running for Free Runners everywhere.
Heavily influenced by Sébastien Foucan and inspired by Parkour which was founded by David Belle and their childhood friends, Yann Hnautra, Laurent Piemontesi and Chau Belle Dinh, free running embraces elements of tricking and street stunts, which are considered by the parkour community to be inefficient and not parkour (although certain communities believe otherwise). Initially, the term free running was used interchangeably with parkour. However, as free runners became interested in aesthetics as well as useful movement, the two became different disciplines. The term free running was created by Guillaume Pelletier and embraced by Foucan to describe his "way" of doing parkour. Foucan summarizes the goals of free running as using the environment to develop yourself and to always keep moving and not go backwards.
While free running and parkour share many common techniques, they have a fundamental difference in philosophy and intention. The aims of parkour are reach, the ability to quickly access areas that would otherwise be inaccessible, and escape, the ability to evade pursuers, which means the main intention is to clear their objects as efficiently as they can, while free running emphasizes self development by "following your way". Foucan frequently mentions "following your way" in interviews, and the Jump documentaries. He explains that everyone has their way of doing parkour and they shouldn't follow someone Else's way of doing it, instead they should do it their way. Free running is commonly misinterpreted as being solely focused on aesthetics and the beauty of the certain vault, jump, etc. Although a lot of free runners choose to focus on aesthetics, that is just "their way", the goal however is still self development. In free running you may employ movements of your choosing. You might also do certain movements solely for their aesthetic value and the challenge of execution. Free running is essentially complete freedom of movement.
However, it must be noted that not one of the founders and developers of the discipline, apart from Foucan, see two separate disciplines in parkour and Free Running. L'Art du deplacement, the original name, was practiced by the founders in the same way as it is practiced today by those same individuals. The discipline was not originally about 'moving from A to B' but rather was a way of testing oneself physically and mentally, to see if one was 'strong' (hence the Lingala term Yamakasi meaning 'strong man, strong spirit'). Parkour Generations, the largest global collective of first and second generation traceurs, explains in several articles and video interviews that while acrobatics is indeed a separate practice, parkour and free running and l'art du deplacement are all different names for one discipline. Is the same like "parkour" in french language.