English for Upper-Intermediate Students by Prof. María Silvia Polinari
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Friday, 13 May 2011
Free Running /Urban Freeflow
Freerunning goes to war as marines take tips from EZ, Livewire and Sticky
Troops to be taught daredevil street moves to help urban combat.
The Guardian, Saturday 12 January 2008
Freerunning, the youth craze which involves daredevil leaps from buildings and acrobatic stunts from lamp-posts, has emerged as the Royal Marines' latest weapon of urban warfare.
A squad of professional freerunners going by the names EZ, Livewire, Sticky and Spidey has begun training marine commandos in gravity-defying moves such as the "kong vault", "running cat" and "crane" in an effort to improve troops' street-to-street fighting ability.
The jumping techniques - in which the walls, stairs and bollards of urban landscapes become an assault course - were showcased in the opening sequence to the last James Bond film. The rising popularity of freerunning, also known as parkour, means it rivals skateboarding as a street craze.
Senior physical training instructors from the marines' base in Lympstone, Devon, have received initial training on the concrete of the Heygate estate, Walworth, south London, and the South Bank Centre, a favourite stomping ground because of its high-level walkways, undercrofts and staircases.
They have taken the knowledge back to their training gym and from this month will receive regular training from the Urban Freeflow crew, a professional London outfit which advised on the choreography for Casino Royale.
Captain Sean Lerwill, a senior physical training instructor who is behind the collaboration, said freerunning moves were likely to be incorporated into battle training for qualified green berets and might be introduced into basic training for would-be recruits.
"We found some of the moves were relevant for battle," he said. "For them it is about artistic expression. For example, they will run along a wall keeping a low profile because it looks good, but we need to do the same thing in urban combat to stay safe."
Techniques for jumping from roof to roof and dropping from a height would be used to improve physical training drills to condition troops for urban warfare, he said. For example, the marines spotted that the freerunners' method of dropping from a height, rolling on to their shoulder, back and leg and running on in one smooth movement maintains running speed and could reduce the chances of commandos being shot.
Another improvement could come from landing from jumps with one foot. Marines have traditionally landed on both feet to reduce the risk of sprains on rough ground, but freerunning teaches the use of one foot on more stable urban surfaces to maintain momentum.
any, but not all, of the moves were manageable wearing combat dress and a rifle which could be held on a sling, Lerwill said. Since their initiation, the marines have practised on the streets of Exeter and established a Royal Marines Parkour Club.
An Admiralty spokesman said it supported the marines' decision despite freerunning's reputation as being subversive and counter-cultural. Some have even described its techniques as a manual for escaping burglars.
"I expected to find people who were a little bit lazy and maybe even involved in drug culture," admitted Lerwill. "But they were nothing like that." In fact, when the freerunners visited the Royal Marines HQ and tried their assault course wearing full kit and carrying a weapon, they recorded times quicker than those needed to qualify as a marine. EZ, the freerunner leading the training, said the marines had a voracious appetite for the vaults, flips and spins he taught them in their first two-day session in November. "They were fit, but I have to say they were very sore after the first day," he said.
"For years we have done our training in a certain way," said Lerwill. "It has taught people endurance and to deal with hardship, and much of it dates back to the Falklands war. For example, we do 20-hour yomps over Dartmoor ... it might be better to replace some of those generic exercises with others which will be better in an urban environment because of the work we are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan."
The initiative began as part of a recruitment drive for the Royal Marines called It's a State of Mind, which promotes the "sport, adventure and lifestyle" activities on offer to potential recruits, including skydiving, bungee jumping and mountain biking.
s part of the campaign the marines also tried coasteering - a sport combining swimming and cliff-scrambling to get around a rocky coastline - and were planning to film themselves cage-fighting to promote the diverse activities available, but this was cancelled on safety grounds.
There may be some officers who think the same should happen to the freerunning initiative. Corporal Ash Sleight, one of the marine PT instructors who trained in London, decided to practise the tricky "handstand to kong vault" move while on home leave. It didn't quite work and he broke his leg.
Leaps and bounds
reerunning began in the 1980s as a counter to the dull slog of jogging. It gained its alternative name, parkour, a corruption of the French term for obstacle course, in the Paris banlieues. Film directors are increasingly being drawn to its speed and style.
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) Matt Damon said freerunning leaps were the hardest part of the film's rooftop parkour sequences. Damon, rather than a stunt double, plays Bourne when he vaults off a building and in through a window.
Casino Royale (2006)
Freerunning co-founder Sébastien Foucan plays the terrorist Bond is pursuing in the opening sequence, in which Bond bounces off cranes in a construction site rooftop chase.
Breaking and Entering (2006)
Stars Jude Law and features a burglar who turns out to be a teenage free-runner, played by Rafi Gavron.
District 13 (2004)
The hero - played by one of parkour's founding fathers, David Belle - evades gangsters and drug barons in a Parisian slum. The film stunned audiences with acrobatics without using wires or special effects.
group of freerunners battle against the injustice of the Paris ghetto by using parkour techniques to steal from the rich and pay off medical bills for an injured friend.