Free Running Mixed Martial Arts

Parkour is a holistic training discipline using movement that developed out of military obstacle training. Practitioners aim to quickly and efficiently overcome obstacles in their environment, using only their bodies and their surroundings to propel themselves; furthermore, they try to maintain as much momentum as is possible. Parkour can include running, climbing, swinging, vaulting, jumping, rolling, quadrupedal movement, and the like, depending on what movement is deemed most suitable for the given situation.

It may be performed on an obstacle course, but is usually practiced in a creative, and sometimes playful, reinterpretation or subversion of urban habitat spaces. Parkour involves seeing one’s environment in a new way, and imagining the potentialities for movement around it. Also called Free Running, it is defined as the art of expressing oneself in his or her environment without limitation. It is a discipline that aims to incorporate everything that is useful. The central principle of freerunning is that one should express him/herself in his or her environment without limitations.

It’s practitioners are taught a number of other complimentary principles, including “Learning to overcome obstacles” and “Competition is a limitation and an illusion”.

Modern practitioners have suggested other principles. For example post-fall master/instructors encourage people to think positively, suggesting that people fall largely because they think they might. Like the ancient Jedi, there is no try in these lessons, there is only do. Or do not. Prior to the TITANs and the entierly new environments of Transhuman space after the exodus from the Earth, the idea moving past obstacles for personal development 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 ‘assault course’ which is now a standard of military training.

These ideas were picked up by a young Raymond Belle according to accepted historical records 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. Over time, other young people were attracted to these ideas and a small group formed, including Sebastien Foucan.

Sebastien Foucan wanted to create a discipline that was more personal to the individual and more easily adapted to suit each person. His idea was similar to that of Bruce Lee when creating Jeet Kune Do. Foucan wanted to take everything that was useful and everything that he liked and combine it into one discipline based on his existing Parkour practice.

History of Parkour/FreeRunning before The Fall

In Western Europe, a forerunner of Parkour was French naval officer Georges Hébert, who promoted athletic skill based on the models of indigenous tribes he had met in Africa. He noted, “their bodies were splendid, flexible, nimble, skillful, enduring, and resistant but yet they had no other tutor in gymnastics but their lives in nature.” His military search-and-rescue efforts reinforced his belief that athletic skill must be combined with courage and altruism. Hébert became a physical education tutor at the college of Reims in France. He set up a “méthode naturelle” (natural method) session consisting of ten fundamental groups: walking, running, jumping, quadrupedal movement, climbing, balancing, throwing, lifting, self-defense, swimming, which are part of three main forces: During the pre fall wars, Hébert’s teaching continued to expand, becoming the standard system of French military education and training. Thus, Hébert was one of the proponents of “parcours”, an obstacle course, which is now standard in military training and which led to the development of civilian fitness trails and confidence courses.

Born in Vietnam, Raymond Belle was the son of a French doctor and Vietnamese mother. He was cut off from his parents by the struggle for independence and sent to a military orphanage at the age of 7. Isolated there, he had to become stronger in order to survive. He took it upon himself to train harder and longer than everyone else in order to never be a victim. At night, when everyone else was asleep, he would be outside running or climbing trees. He would use the military obstacle courses in secret, but he also created courses of his own that tested his endurance, his strength, his flexibility. Doing this enabled him not only to survive the hardships he experienced during his childhood, but also eventually to thrive.

Raymond’s son, David Belle, was not gifted either physically or academically. He experimented with gymnastics and athletics, but became increasingly disaffected with both school and the sports clubs. As he got older though, he started to read the newspaper clippings that told of his father’s exploits and got more and more curious about what had enabled his father to accomplish these feats. Through conversations with his father, he realised that what he really wanted was a means to become truly useful, developing skills that would be useful to him in life, rather than just training to kick a ball or perform moves in a padded, indoor environment.

Eventually, through conversations with his father, he learned about this way of training that his father called ‘parcours’. He learned of the hours spent on obstacle courses, and of moving from branch to branch in the forest. He heard his father talk of the hundreds and thousands of repetitions he had done in order to find the best way of doing things. What he learned too was that for his father, training was not a game but something vital, something that enabled him to survive and to protect the people he cared about. David realised that this was what he had been searching for and so he began training in that way too. After a time, he realised it was far more important to him than schooling and he gave up his other commitments to focus all his time on his training.

Initially David trained on his own, however later he found other people (including his cousins) who had similar desires and they began to train together. Due to social media Parkour’s recognition and popularity began to increase.

Philosophy and theories

According to Williams Belle, the philosophies and theories behind Parkour are an integral aspect of the art, one that many non-practitioners have never been exposed to. Belle trains people because he wants “it to be alive” and for “people to use it”. He explains it is a “type of freedom” or “kind of expression”; that Parkour is “only a state of mind” rather than a set of actions, and that it is about overcoming and adapting to mental and emotional obstacles as well as physical barriers. In reality, its just jumping over a small wall.

A newer Post-Fall convention of Parkour philosophy has been the idea of “human reclamation”. This movement clarifies it as “a means of reclaiming what it means to be a human being. It teaches us to move using the natural methods that we should have learned from infancy. It teaches us to touch the world and interact with it, instead of being sheltered by it as we are in these artificial habitats.” “It is as much as a part of truly learning the physical art as well as being able to master the movements, it gives you the ability to overcome your fears and pains and reapply this to life as you must be able to control your mind in order to master the art of Parkour.”

Academic research on Parkour has tended to describe how Free Running provides a novel way of interacting with the (urban) environment, that challenges the use and meaning of urban space, metropolitan life, and morph embodiment.

“Parkour also influences one’s thought processes by enhancing self-confidence and critical thinking skills that allow one to overcome everyday physical and mental obstacles”. A study by the research group Neuropsychiatry of Childhood and Adolescence reflects that traceurs seek more excitement and leadership situations than do gymnastic practitioners.

A campaign exists to preserve Parkour’s philosophy against sport competition and rivalry. The belief among this faction is that “Competition pushes people to fight against others for the satisfaction of a crowd and/or the benefits of a few business people by changing its mindset. Parkour is unique and cannot be a competitive sport unless it ignores its altruistic core of self development. Since Free Running became a sport, it is hard to seriously teach and spread parkour as a non-competitive activity. This modern Free Running may be called parkour, but it dopesn’t hold its philosophical essence anymore.” “It is not fit to ask, ‘Who is the best at Parkour?’ any who ask this do so because they don’t understand what Parkour is; ‘Who is the best?’ is what you would say to a sport, and Parkour is not a sport, it is an art, it’s a discipline. That’s like saying, ’What’s the best song in the world?’” This seems to be a highly consensual opinion of many professional traceurs who view Parkour as a style of life more than a set of tricks, as has been popularized by the Mesh.

Parkour is a training method for warriors. “So many people try to train easy ‘Come do Parkour! It’s really cool!’ But if tomorrow I made you do real training, you would end up crying. That’s what you need to know: you are going to cry, you are going to bleed and you are going to sweat like never before.” Belle is an influential proponent of discipline and control in Parkour, saying, “Precision is all about being measured,” and going on to describe Parkour as an art that requires huge amounts of repetition and practice to master. Parkour to Belle is a method of self refinement and is to be used for learning to control and focus oneself.

A point has been made about the similarities between the martial arts philosophy of Bruce Lee and Parkour. In a highly viewed Mesh interview, David Belle acknowledges the influence of Lee’s thinking: “There’s a quote by Bruce Lee that’s my motto: ’There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. A man must constantly exceed his level.’ If you’re not better than you were the day before, then what are you doing—what’s the point?”.

Movement

There is no official list of “moves” in Parkour, however the way practitioners move often sets them apart from others. Some examples of the ways in which practitioners move:

running towards a high wall and then jumping and pushing off the wall with a foot to reach the top of the wall

moving from a position hanging from a wall-top or ledge, to standing on the top or vaulting over to the other side

Vaulting over obstacles

jumping and landing accurately with the feet on small or narrow obstacles

jumping and catching a ledge with the hands while the feet land on the vertical surface below.

using a rolling motion to help absorb large impacts

Risks of the competition

Free Running is widely practiced in dedicated public facilities. Some traceurs do not like the idea of pre-made facilities for training as it is contradictory to Parkour’s value of freedom. Traceurs practice Parkour in both rural and urban areas such as gyms, parks, playgrounds, offices, and housing structures. Concerns have been raised regarding trespassing, damage of property ( in the inner system), and the practice in inappropriate places. However, most traceurs will take care of their training spots and will remove themselves quickly and quietly from a public place if asked. One of Parkour’s values is to respect people and places as well as helping others. One of the first campaigns to preserve this sort of philosophy is the ‘Leave No Trace’ project, stressing the importance of training safe, respecting the environment and the people around you. The reputation of such practitioners is often higher than those unconcerned with the leave no trace movement.

Concerns have also been raised by law enforcement and fire and rescue teams of the risk in jumping off high buildings. They argue that practitioners are needlessly risking damage to both themselves and rooftops by practicing at height, with police forces calling for practitioners to stay off the rooftops. Some figures within the Parkour community agree that this sort of behavior is not to be encouraged. They are roundly considered, “Fags”.

Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a full contact combat sport that allows the use of both striking and grappling techniques, both standing and on the ground, from a variety of other combat sports. The roots of modern mixed martial arts can be traced back to the ancient Pre-Fall Olympics where one of the earliest documented systems of codified full range unarmed combat was in the sport of pankration. Various mixed style contests took place throughout Europe, Japan and the Pacific Rim during the early 20th century. The combat sport of vale tudo that had developed in Brazil was brought to the world with the founding of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

The more dangerous vale-tudo-style bouts of the early UFCs were made safer with the implementation of additional rules, leading to the popular regulated form of MMA seen today. Originally promoted as a competition with the intention of finding the most effective martial arts for real unarmed combat situations, competitors were pitted against one another with minimal rules. Later, fighters employed multiple martial arts into their style while promoters adopted additional rules aimed at increasing safety for competitors and to promote mainstream acceptance of the sport.

Regulation

In the pre-Fall years, the International Athletic Commission officially sanctioned Extreme Fighting under a modified form of its existing rules for Shootfighting. These rules created the 3.5 minute round, one-minute break format, and mandated shootfighting gloves as well as weight classes for the first time. Illegal blows were listed as groin strikes, biting, eye gouging, hair pulling, striking an opponent with an elbow while the opponent is on the mat, kidney strikes, and striking the back of the head with closed fist. Holding onto the ring or cage for any reason was defined as foul. While there are minor differences between these and the final Unified Rules used currently, notably regarding elbow-strikes, the IAC rules allowed mixed martial arts promoters to conduct essentially modern events legally, anywhere in the world.

In the years directly before the Fall, the IAC voted unanimously in favor of regulations that later became the foundation for the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts as they are used today.

In the decade since The Fall, the IAC held a meeting to discuss the regulation of mixed martial arts events. This meeting attempted to unify the myriad rules and regulations which have been utilized by the different mixed martial arts organizations across the many human habitats of the solar system. At this meeting, the proposed uniform rules were agreed upon by the broader commissions of the sport, several other regulatory bodies, numerous promoters of mixed martial arts events and other interested parties in attendance. At the conclusion of the meeting, all parties in attendance were able to agree upon a uniform set of rules to govern the sport of mixed martial arts for all mankind.

The rules for modern mixed martial arts competitions have changed significantly since the early days of vale tudo, Japanese shoot wrestling, and UFC 1, and even more from the historic style of pankration. As the knowledge of fighting techniques spread among fighters and spectators, it became clear that the original minimalist rule systems needed to be amended. The main motivations for these rule changes were protection of the health of the fighters, the desire to shed the perception of “barbarism and lawlessness”, and to be recognized as a legitimate sport.

The new rules included the introduction of weight classes; as knowledge about submissions spread, differences in weight had become a significant factor. There are nine different weight classes in the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts.

These nine weight classes include:

flyweight up to 125 lb-56.7 kg
bantamweight up to 135 lb-61.2 kg
featherweight up to 145 lb-65.8 kg
lightweight up to 155 lb-70.3 kg
welterweight up to 170 lb-77.1 kg
middleweight up to 185 lb -83.9 kg
light heavyweight up to 205 lb-93.0 kg
heavyweight up to 265 lb-120.2 kg
super heavyweight no upper weight limit

Small, open-fingered gloves were introduced to protect fists, reduce the occurrence of cuts (and stoppages of bouts due to cuts) and encourage fighters to use their hands for striking to allow more captivating matches. Gloves were first made mandatory in Japan’s Shooto promotion and were later adopted by the UFC as it developed into a regulated sport. Most professional fights have the fighters wear 4 oz gloves, whereas some jurisdictions require amateurs to wear a slightly heavier 6 oz glove for more protection for the hands and wrists.

Time limits were established to avoid long fights with little action where competitors conserved their strength. Matches without time limits also complicated the media distribution of live events. The time limits in most professional fights are three 5 minute rounds, and championship fights are normally five 5 minute rounds. Similar motivations produced the “stand up” rule, where the referee can stand fighters up if it is perceived that both are resting on the ground or not advancing toward a dominant position.

Victory

Victory in a match is normally gained either by the judges’ decision after an allotted amount of time has elapsed, a stoppage by the referee (for example if a competitor can not defend himself intelligently) or the fight doctor (due to an injury), a submission, by a competitor’s cornerman throwing in the towel, or by knockout.

Knockout (KO): as soon as a fighter is unable to continue due to legal strikes, his opponent is declared the winner. As MMA rules allow submissions and ground and pound, the fight is stopped to prevent further injury to the fighter.

Submission: a fighter may admit defeat during a match by:
a tap on the opponent’s body or mat/floor
a verbal submission

Technical Submission: the referee stops the match when the fighter is caught in a submission hold and is in danger of being injured. Often it is when a fighter gets choked unconscious; other times it is when a bone has been broken in a submission hold (a broken arm due to a kimura, etc.)

Technical Knockout (TKO):

Referee stoppage: The ref may stop a match in progress if: a fighter becomes dominant to the point where the opponent can not intelligently defend himself and is taking excessive damage as a result
a fighter appears to be losing consciousness as he/she is being struck
a fighter appears to have a significant injury such as a cut or a broken bone

Doctor Stoppage/Cut: the referee will call for a time out if a fighter’s ability to continue is in question as a result of apparent injuries, such as a large cut. The ring doctor will inspect the fighter and stop the match if the fighter is deemed unable to continue safely, rendering the opponent the winner. However, if the match is stopped as a result of an injury from illegal actions by the opponent, either a disqualification or no contest will be issued instead.

Corner stoppage: a fighter’s corner men may announce defeat on the fighter’s behalf by throwing in the towel during the match in progress or between rounds. This is normally done when a fighter is being beaten to the point where it is dangerous and unnecessary. In some cases, the fighter may be injured.

Retirement: a fighter is so dazed or exhausted that he/she cannot physically continue fighting.

Decision: if the match goes the distance, then the outcome of the bout is determined by three judges. The judging criteria are organization-specific.

Forfeit: a fighter or his representative may forfeit a match prior to the beginning of the match, thereby losing the match.

Disqualification: a “warning” will be given when a fighter commits a foul or illegal action or does not follow the referee’s instruction. Three warnings will result in a disqualification. Moreover, if a fighter is unable to continue due to a deliberate illegal technique from his opponent, the opponent will be disqualified.

No Contest: in the event that both fighters commit a violation of the rules, or a fighter is unable to continue due to an injury from an accidental illegal technique, the match will be declared a “No Contest”.

The practicalities of the sport of Free-Running MMA

The Traceur (A practitioner of Parkour is often called a traceur, with the optional feminine form being traceuse They are nouns derived from the French verb tracer, which normally means “to trace”, as in “tracing a path”, in reference to drawing. The verb tracer used familiarly means: “to buck up”.) competes as an artist, choreographing a showcase to the sounds of a DJ or preselected audio media. A panel of professional judges will critique and rate the performances. Prior to arrival in the arena. There will be Course materials sent to each respective team to allow them to conceptually plan out their rehearsed runs. These will include, but are not limited to, 3D computer models of the course, Course demo XP, and other material as requested. 2 rehearsal days will be allotted for all contestants, allowing them 30 minutes each to prepare their final competition showcase. Showcase runs can be no shorter than 3 minute and no longer than 6 minutes. Each individual must complete each of the four challenges. Failure to complete a challenge disqualifies from the overall competition award, but will still allow you to be qualified to win the individual challenges you participated in.

Judging is based on speed and successful execution based on Flow, Creativity, Difficulty of skill, Execution, Control, and Style. Judges will come from the freerunning and unarmed combat background, BUT also dance, music, acrobatics, gymnastics and the entertainment field. This competition is about putting on a show that displays your skills and love for the disciplines. Judges will score based on each events format. Fastest time, best skill executed, best flow run, and successful completion will be the winning criteria. Winners will be selected for each challenge and an overall winner will be named based on cumulative highest score

CHALLENGE 1: Accuracy Challenge

Rules:
A precision course will be designed and set up for the athlete to complete. The course will consist of various targets that must be landed on using feet only. Targets will consist of various platforms, rails, beams, and ledges. Some may be stridden across, others will require a “held or stuck” landing of no less than 3 seconds of controlled balance. All stages of this challenge are affected by the combat of the participants. Each Traceuse will be expected to attack the other in an attempt to disrupt the maneuvers of the opponent.

Judging:
Judging is based on speed and successful execution. Especially combat upsets of attempted feats.

CHALLENGE 2: Flow Attack

Rules:
The Flow Attack is designed to keep the athlete in constant motion. Each athlete will be given a specific area in which to move. Once the round begins she must not stop moving over, around, or through obstacles for the duration of the round. At each instant the athlete stops or stumbles, a stop watch will record her “still” time. Movements and examples of “still” time will be explained in further rule adjustments during play. Combat is expected to be used here in an attempt to sweep the opponent or temporarily stun them into inaction, thus adding to their still time.

Judging:
Judging is based on the athlete with the lowest recorded “still” time.

CHALLENGE 3: Speed Realm

Rules:
The Speed Realm will be a sectioned area of the course. Designed specifically for a speed trial. Athletes will have a set route and series of obstacles to traverse and they must do so as fast as possible. Boundaries may be set on certain obstacles to allow for uniform contact of the obstacle. However specific movements will not be imposed on the athlete during this round.

Judging:
Judging is based on the athlete with the lowest recorded time for completion of the course. Combat is not a factor of the judging of this challenge though it can affect the ultimate time of the race.

CHALLENGE 4: The Face Off

Rules:
This event puts the athlete against their opponent for single feats of power and explosiveness. Athletes will compete to out reach and out jump their highest wall run, distance jump, tic tac, vault distance, etc.

Judging:
Judging is based on numbers and the athlete with the furthest cumulative score for all challenges in the event wins.

Free Running Mixed Martial Arts

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