How to Backflip in 7 Easy Steps


[box color=”lgrey”]Editor’s Note: You might be wondering what learning how to backflip has to do with anything “reality-based” or “functional”, as per what this blog is all about. Suffice it to say, that there are vast benefits to learning how to master and control your body. In defining Tactical Fitness, Scott Sonnon wrote “The late USAF Colonel John Boyd introduced in the realm of jet fighting, that the bigger, heavier or even faster jets cannot perform with the successful operational tempo compared to a lighter, more agile counterpart. The agile jet can observe, orient, decide and act faster than a more heavily armed and armored one, than even a much faster jet.

Also from Sonnon’s camp, “The ability to change energy state rapidly. To turn, rotate, or twist faster than your opponent. And most importantly, to sustain that high energy state in the gruelling turns that rapidly bleed out an opponent’s size, strength and speed advantages. The ideal fighter accelerates in rotation the quickest, and moves the fight into this rotation where he holds distinctly superior virtues.”

And so without further ado…[/box]

Say, are some of you out there having a lot of trouble learning a backflip (Mortal)? I say the first thing you must do is learn a macaco (hand-plant backspring), then a macaco solta (back handspring). It’s not easy, because if you try going straight over backwards at first your body’s natural reaction is to turn sideways and you’ll crash. I taught myself a standing backflip in my living room in 3 weeks, so you can take my easy 7-step program: (Be sure you know one step well enough so you can save yourself if you screw up in the next step.) And please, people, don’t try this if you’re grossly overweight, underweight, sick or missing limbs. I assume no responsibility for any damages you may inflict upon yourself, anyone to try these 7-steps should be responsible enough to take care of their bodies. If you’re not a martial artist but you want to try it, you should be in good shape, be getting regular exercise, be moderately flexible and pretty athletic.

Step 1 – The Macaco:

From a cocorinha (crouching position, see fig.1), place your hand behind you and go into a cartwheel.

Step 2:

Do the same as step 1 but hop into the cartwheel instead of just putting your hand down. This’ll help later around Step 4.

Step 3:

Do like step 1, but place your hand behind you and reach with your other hand OVER your head and kick your legs over. Once you reach overhead, your planted arm will naturally rotate with your body (if it was cemented where it is and couldn’t rotate, it’d pop your arm out of the socket.) So don’t root your planted hand directly where it is. It’ll move with the movement. And also use momentum in your hips to get you over, not just your legs. That’ll help also with the Macaco Lateral. It’s easier at first to reach over backward close to your planted hand (like a cartwheel), and slowly move it more overhead as you practice more and more. Once you can do it with your shoulders parallel to the ground, you’ve got the Macaco down. Keep in mind your legs aren’t the only thing that’s bringing you over, the combined reach and movement of your upper body and your hips/legs are. So don’t just push off with your legs and expect to go over. Put your whole body into the move. This takes practice so don’t expect to get it the first time. If you don’t get the drawing, then the Eddy picture below it should help

Step 4 – The Macaco Solta/Xango:

Do a Macaco, but hop into it. This is to help you get used to jumping and going over at least somewhat backwards. The more you practice it, the more courage you’ll build to making a stab at Step 5. Practice practice practice!

Step 5:

The transition from Step 4 to Step 5 is the hardest. Do the same as step 4, but start moving your planted hand more and more overhead rather than sideways on the ground. Keep doing it until you’ve got a kinda slanted back handspring. Once you feel ready, go over straight backwards. If you can find a friend, you can have them spot you by holding and pushing your back over to make sure you land it. Most folks have great difficulty in adjusting themselves to going straight backwards, but the more you practice the easier it will become over time to give it a shot. Getting over the initial fear of going straight back the first time is the hardest part, but sometimes you just have to suck up your fear and GO FOR IT. Once you can jump and reach both hands straight overhead, you’ve got the Macaco Solta down.

Step 6 – The Mortal:

Do your Macaco Solta as high as you can go. Jump up and reach back as high as you possibly can. Basically it’ll look like a Moonsault only you land your feet.

Step 7:

When you’ve done step 6 enough times, do the same thing but tuck you legs up close to your body. The landing will probably be rough at first, but you’ll get used to it. MAKE SURE YOU CAN SAVE YOURSELF. If midway through it feels like you aren’t going to make it, just put your hands down and save yourself. And don’t worry, if you jump at all in the first place trying to attempt this there is no way you’ll land on your head.

Once you can do a Mortal, practice practice practice! Enough practice and you can spread your legs in midair and land on one leg.

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