|This article relies too much on references to primary sources. (July 2012) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
Urban Freeflow (often abbreviated to UF) started as a UK-based limited company that was founded in 2003 and was active as the world's first Parkour and Freerunning related brand.
After the original founder lost his personal interest in promoting the values and principles of Parkour or Freerunning, four German Parkour athletes took over the brand-name and the official URL www.urbanfreeflow.com to re-emphasize the disciplines' altruistic values and the importance of creating community within the sports.
Established in 2003, Urban Freeflow (UF) was founded by Paul Corkery (known as Ez), a former boxer who saw an opportunity to connect the international Parkour community through an online forum. As the first mover, the company managed to be profitable as the momentum of parkour and its popularity grew. The reputation built at this time allowed them to grow to be the most prominent group within the scene at that time. The corporate structure of the group was compromised in 2005 when Companies House dissolved the trading company for failing to meet their statutory filing obligations. At this time, Ez and former partner Mark Toorock (M2) split and Ez formed a new company, Urban Free Flow.
Through the companies well established website, although the popular forums have been shut since 2010, the company sold branded clothes, many of which feature the Urban Freeflow trademarked Glyph logo. The Glyph logo today has undergone a rebranding to emphasize the new direction, while maintaining its core attribute - to build community. The Glyph logo had become recognised globally as the symbol of Parkour & Freerunning, yet many voices from within the community justly claimed that Urban Freeflow didn't influence the community as positively as its status had demanded.
Today, under a new management, Urban Freeflow is a strong advocate for creating a positive image for Parkour as movement discipline and tool that helps its practitioners to grow stronger, to be more useful in helping others.
Despite having over a million registered users on its website, Urban Freeflow has polarised opinion within the parkour and free-running communities for its self-appointed leadership of the movement and its commercialisation of what many consider to be a grass-roots movement. Due to its position as the largest UK based group, it is the popular choice for new traceurs, thus guaranteeing it a constant stream of new customers. However, many become disillusioned over time, and migrate towards other groups which better represent their ideals. It has been criticized over the years more than any other free running or parkour group. It stems from the fact that they claim to be the "Official Worldwide Freerun/Parkour Network", while the website is neither multilingual nor affiliated with David Belle, the founder of parkour. UF does however have some affiliation with Sébastien Foucan, the founder and lead ambassador of freerunning. Worldwide Jam may have also contributed to some of the criticism of Urban Freeflow because of an ongoing feud between UF and Worldwide Jam.
Many people in the worldwide parkour community also accused UF of distorting the image of parkour, associating it with the flips and artistic movements of freerunning and tricking. Because of this, in 2006 many UF team members walked out. Some critics have even gone as far as making public demonstrations against Urban Freeflow, such as burning UF memorabilia. Furthermore, Urban Freeflow was criticized for organizing freerunning competitions sponsored by Barclaycard. The critics believed that freerunning, like parkour, should be a non-competitive activity. There are also complaints of the corporate nature of the event, many freerunning sites saying that the introduction of merchandising and sponsorships would compromise the true nature of the sport. To this one of the founders of Urban Freeflow, Ez has replied "The people who are saying this are the ones who don't have any sponsorship,". However many people practicing parkour and freerunning believe that they are "free" disciplines and they don't belong to corporations, sponsors and medias. Sébastien Foucan has since commented on the matter, that free running is about following your 'own way,' and though he himself does not personally believe in competition, others might believe that to be their 'way.'
Promotions and Commercials: Toyota, Mercedes Benz, Adidas, Eckō Unltd., Redbull, Guinness, BT, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Barclaycard, Schwarzkopf, Ford, Snickers, Swatch, SAP, Canon, Speedstick, Relentless, Hewlett Packard
Live Performances: Toyota (3000 spectators), Royal Navy (10,000 spectators), Hewlett Packard (2000 spectators), Mercedes (2000 spectators), Microsoft (1000 spectators), World Freerun Championships (2000 spectators), Nokia (6000 spectators), Mayor's Thames Festival (750,000 spectators over two days - although it is highly unlikely that every visitor over the two days would have experienced the Urban Freeflow performance).
Jump Britain is a 2005 documentary about free running. Directed by Mike Christie and produced by Carbon Media, it is a sequel to Channel 4's Jump London. Two of the three free runners from Jump London, Sébastien Foucan and Jérôme Ben Aoues, appear alongside the members of Urban freeflow, as they interact with numerous famous landmarks all over Britain. Another section of the documentary sees various members of Urban Freeflow go on a 'pilgrimage' to Lisses, France, where parkour was founded. The trip includes a visit to the famous Dame Du Lac climbing wall.
The free runners tackle some of the UK's most iconic sites including Edinburgh Castle and the Forth Rail Bridge in Scotland, the Giant's Causeway and Derry's walls in Northern Ireland, the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle and the International Convention Centre in Birmingham.