Jump London Documentary.

Back in September of 2003, Jump London premièred 9th September at prime time on Channel 4. It was the most expensive documentary commissioned by the company for the whole year and gained major press coverage. The idea of following three Frenchmen around London as they performed the art of free running inside and on top of some of the city’s most prestigious landmarks had seemed ridiculous to most producers, and indeed, it could have been seen in the same light by Channel 4 viewers. It wasn’t, and free running was given a launch pad with which to capture the imagination of an entire country. The idea of exposing an underground discipline like Parkour/Freerunning to the more magisterial buildings of London is a good one, it also helped kick start the global phenomena which is so well practised today.


Sebastien Foucan.


Sebastien on the HMS Belfast.


Jerome being interviewed.

I had seen an advert for Jump London on Ch4 a week or so before it was aired and they really did promote it through constant advertisement. You saw snippets of what was going to be shown in the programme, mainly the action scenes of people jumping across roofs, and doing vaults. It was really strange to see adults doing such things but at the same time very compelling to want to watch to know more about it. I set a reminder and I had the video set up to record it, and began to watch in anticipation. After the main intro, I kept thinking to myself how can humans do these incredible things?! I would love to know what it is they are doing and be able to try it if it was at all possible.

The narration of the intro was perfect and you see Sebastian and Johann do a catleap on the roofs and then Seb striding across the roof tops which is an awesome shot. I remember being sat down with my family, all of us watching this documentary and we were all amazed at what we were seeing. The narration of ‘imagine having superhero abilities, being able to leap from rooftop to rooftop, as if nothing, not even buildings could stop you.’ It was true, it did seem like a superhuman ability and also made you think of spider-man. You then see the trio do a running precision between two rooftops watching in awe and thinking ‘wow! That is amazing!’ You then get informed they are practising Parkour/Freerunning – which played a key role later on when I wanted to research it on the internet.

Some purists and keyboard warriors will have a lot to say about how wrongly translated the definition of Parkour/Freerunning came across due to this documentary. I agree it was misinterpreted due to it being such a new discipline but you have to take it with a pinch of salt when watching. It was made with the right intentions at heart and you should bare that in mind when watching and listening to what is being said.  It’s only now when we know the true definitions that we can look back and criticize how wrong it was.


Sebastien Foucan – Explaining Freerunning.


Sebastien – Running Jump.


Johann – Running Precision.


A quote by MovNat’s Erwan Le Corre:

 ‘Competition pushes people to fight against each other 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. If Parkour becomes a sport, it will be hard to seriously teach and spread Parkour as a non-competitive activity. And a new sport will be spread that may be called Parkour, but that won’t hold its philosophical essence anymore.’

According to LeCorre, those who truly practice Parkour have the same mind aspect of each other, therefore it brings people to work together rather than compete, it allows them to be united internationally and forget the social and economical problems which separated them globally, ultimately leading one giant community working and growing together.

You see a rather young looking Sebastian starring in the Angry Chicken advert shown below. The advert in itself is a strange but funny one, showcasing movement from Sebastien Foucan. While a chicken, that is right a chicken, chases him around the city! It’s funny because in some shots it looks like the chicken has just been thrown into the shot with feathers flying all over as it rolls across the floor before correcting itself.

The same level catleap at 0:47 was crazy as it was more than a car width apart and I was thinking how on earth can a person jump and grab a wall from that sort of distance? I could only standing jump four of my own feet, which was hardly any distance at all. It was truly amazing to see this done as was all the other movements in the video. Have a watch of the video and see for yourself how ridiculous it is for advertising a pair of trainers.



You have Sebastien explaining his version of Freeruning which is the artform he created and practises (the very explanation which has been the start of many arguments about movement due to being translate/interpreted incorrectly as I stated in an earlier paragraph). You see him running along the rocks in a well known forest in France and as he speaks and you watch the clips of him training it makes you think, ‘I’ve always jumped, ran, balanced along objects as a child’. It states Parkour/Freerunning was formed in Lisses the Mecca of Parkour/Freerunning, which many traceurs travel to visit the area and practice and recreate the movements they have seen via the jump documentaries and other famous YouTube videos.

The other side effect of all this talking about the ‘discipline’ is it gets itself tied up in it’s own self importance. It becomes more than some guys jumping around, it becomes some form of spiritual journey (which for some they will argue it is more about that). Sebastien talks in depth about how he is freeing himself from obstacles designed to ensnare and entrap him and how it is more than just ‘playing’ and so much more mentally and physically. For each and everyone of us ‘Parkour/Freerunning’ can have a different meaning personally and so we can’t get too wrapped up in which persons view/belief is on the subject and instead we should accept and embrace it even if our own meaning is different to the one described.

Seb goes on to explain when they were younger there was nothing for them to do in the town and how and why they started and what they practised in the early days. It cuts to a clip of children playing and doing some basic movements on a circular stone structure which is made of two raised steps and again it makes you think of your own childhood and how you used to see the world as a child with lots of things to climb and vault. Sadly, as you grow older you lose that way of thinking and become more grown up, conformed to being normal and look at such things as childish and that you should not being doing that at all. ‘You just have to look and to think like children’ is a line which sticks in my mind the most from Seb and it is so true. Who looks at the world normally now as in those of us who practice movement and I’m sure on more than one occasion we have be told off for acting like kids and why are grown men jumping around?

Seb explains that at least one child would inevitably step on a small bollard, when they all congregate together, and that this is how all kids think and in a way this is how they think for training as he strides along them all, saying this is the Parkour vision as we know of it today. As anyone who practices will know, once you see your surroundings in Parkour vision it never leaves you and you can never revert back to seeing things in a normal way as a wall just being a wall. You will always see things as opportunities and ways to challenges for you to try and test you mentally and physically.


Balancing along a rail.


Jerome Running Precision.




The music kicks in and there is a famous sequence of them training in Lisses, Seb then explains they progressed with their skill until they were able to do such jumps as the famous same level catleap one at a school and this was the beginning of the big jumps. I looked at the gap and thought that isn’t possible! Then you see a clip of someone doing it and they were flying in the air and then grabbed the other ledge in cat position, that again amazed me how he was flying through the air for ages until he finally grabbed the ledge. It also showed precisions onto small thin walls, various vaults and a kong precision from a roof clearing a gap to another roof.

It looked astounding and I watched it with my jaw on the floor, trying to imagine how it must feel to do such feats. I couldn’t even begin to describe how I felt, these people were so free. They could do amazing things which seemed impossible, it wasn’t CGI there weren’t any wires, it was all them! They were professionals and I doubt anyone could just do it even me, I mean don’t get me wrong, I wished I could but that stuff looked too difficult to even try, never mind doing what I saw them doing! There must have to be some special coaching place to learn or have to be in the know to be able to be taught.

Seb speaks about the Yamakasi group and how they fractioned apart over time, people came and went, some grew up and lose interest. It also shows them training in a gym, you even see Johann run across a wall and do a full 360 spin as he is running along it. That again blew my mind, how someone could twist around a wall while running across it. I thought it had to be camera trickery surely? Johann then spoke about his experiences of how he got involved how he felt about everyone being so good. Again more gym footage was shown with even more gymnastic movements being done like flips. I thought to myself they must be former gymnasts or something to be able to learnt hat kind of stuff!

It speaks about how everyone comes to Lisses to try the moves they have seen from videos and the documentaries and how Lisses is reluctant to take its place in history as being the birthplace, it still is like that even today! I know most don’t enjoy foreigners invading their town just to practice Parkour. The mayor speaks about his views on it and it showed more footage of them training doing amazing things even roof jumps which looked so high and far, it was incredible no one has been seriously injured!


Reverse Vault.


Jerome – Kong Cat.


Sebastien – Running Strides.


It’s explained they will be doing Parkour/Freerunning in London and that they are staying in the UK for five weeks. It shows them all hanging onto a wall with their finger tips in the brickwork, which looked amazing and also again, impossible! It also shows Seb doing some rail precisions, the a backflip after it, again amazing to see someone do a flip outside! I have only ever seen people do that stuff in gymnastic facilities and in the Olympics inside. I can’t even comprehend how that must feel to be able to do something as stunning as that inside let alone outside, I would give anything to be able to do such a thing!

You next see them scoping out areas and locations and Seb explains with experience the eye comes to analyse things and knows which is a good place and which is a bad place for training (most of you will know some of the greatest places are the ones you least expect and most Council Estates are hidden gems for training). HMS Belfast is one of the locations and Seb proposes about jumping from two stories up down to the ground and roll again how is it possible that such a minor thing like a roll can stop you from breaking your bones, it makes no logical sense!

‘Practice is the most important thing in Parkour, without practice you can’t do anything.’ A line which most should take heed of, because so many people rush to do moves and forget to practice them over and over again to condition and get stronger and only think about being able to achieve such a move without working up towards it so the body, ligaments and tendons are strong enough to take what you are doing, much like building up on impact work.

It touches upon Stephane, the second Vigroux brother who had a serious injury he was still recovering from, which was a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ALC) in his knee. He explains that it is worse when he sees them training and that his injury happened one year ago (a long time for any on who trains). He was very tired and wanted to do a jump one more time, then on landing and rolling his ligament just tore. This injury had put him out for years, and it was sad to see him not be apart of Jump London. He did come back just like he stated when he starred in Jump Britain and a short documentary he was apart of when he was in UrbanFreeflow. The video which got a great buzz from the pk community (see below) and he currently works for Parkour Generations as do a lot of the founders of the movement.



‘People love to watch people being physical, people just can’t believe that, that is possible that the human body can move like that, be that supple, be that strong at the same time’. Another line which is so true in what we do, who doesn’t appreciate another’s training, strength and technique. We are all, after all, striving for the same thing, perfection.

Jerome talks about the harmony between you and the obstacle and with it being elegant, it makes it looks nice and that length and distance only add to the beauty and in some ways, this is so true. You don’t want to see someone do something incredible only for it to look really sloppy, as that only dampers what you have just seen.

It then kicks into the part I had been waiting for them doing various runs on all the landmarks and seeing the final production, which was featured on the commercials before this show was even aired. It was brilliantly put together and a joy to watch in awe. I guess over all the documentary is pretty lengthy as there is lots of talking about the history rather than just as much action as you only get to see that near the end and a few clips in between the talking. Either way it was a great insight into what they do and gave you a feel of what and how it is done. It had Bear Grylls and many other people, famous and non famous, explaining their views on Parkour/Freerunning and what they thought of it.

After it had finished I was still amazed and the following weeks watched the documentary over and over again. I could pretty much recite it word for word as I had seen it that much. I wanted to practice and do what they did yet I found it hard to find any source on the internet about it. The Jump London documentary for the ones who have not seen it is displayed below.




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