Sunday, January 16, 2011

First Time Flipping

“Just focus on the jump,” Coco said with determination. I looked at him unsure and I think he could tell I was a little nervous. He gave me a reassuring smile, and asked me what I was focusing on.
“The Jump,” I exclaimed.
“Good,” He said enthusiastically while grabbing the back of my shirt to spot me.
Coco, whose real name is Akram, had been doing flips for more than ten years, and runs a business teaching cheerleading teams how to do stunts and a whole lot more. However, he offered to teach me how to do flips when I told him about my assassin's workout guide. This was my first time ever trying a standing back flip and I was mentally petrified of landing on my neck.

Pain is usually a good deterrent to trying new things. A general rule that many of us follow is: If it hurts, don’t do it. I was ignoring that sage advice. I knew there were risks, but my determination to do back flips like Bruce Lee outweighed my fears… at least while Coco was spotting me. 

“Focus on the jump, focus on the jump.” I repeated this mantra over and over while Coco held tight. I practiced bending my knees slightly a few time and then I jumped up as high as I could towards the room like I was mimicking Superman. I kicked my knees back and tucked them in and all of a sudden became very disoriented. I was upside down, and I had no idea how I was going to land. I think my body knew it wasn’t supposed to be in the air, so it did what was natural, it braced for impact.

I felt my knees slam against the spring floorboard. My first attempt at a back flip was over. I had failed to land. I guess it wasn’t a surprise, but I had assumed it would have been a little more graceful.

“You opened up too early Jonathan,” Coco said while grinning, “You have to keep your knees in.” He paused and then repeated, “Knees in, focus on the jump.” If that was all it took to land a back flip then I was well on my way. However, I knew there was more to it than that. Mentally I wasn’t there. I didn’t feel comfortable jumping backwards. Risk of injury was still too great.

Facing Mental Challenges

I attempted the back flip that night about 15 times and only managed to land one correctly. However, I did gain more confidence on every attempt. If only that was enough.

Three days later I decided to go to a park near my house, and try a front flip on my own without any formal instruction. Coco had warned me not to try anything without him because, as he put it, “that’s how people get hurt.” However, I translated that to mean that he didn’t want me to try a back flip.

I was unjustly cocky that afternoon. I thought I could manage a front flip with no problem because I had landed one back flip during the course of two hours. However, I felt that after watching a few YouTube Tutorials I was qualified to try it. At worst I land on my butt.

When I arrived at the park, I practiced running and jumping. Stomping on the ground and then jumping. Running and jumping and tucking my legs to land. “This was going to be easy,” I told myself. But every time I went to do the flip, all I could do was see myself falling on my head, my back, and my butt. I hesitated each time, and pulled back before I even did anything. I realized my challenge wasn’t physical, it was mental. I tried visualizing myself successfully doing a front flip. How it felt, how it looked. These mental exercises usually worked for other things that were less dangerous, like talking to a girl.

I got a running start, and then at the last minute pulled back. I thought maybe a few failed attempts would wise me up. Maybe the pain wouldn’t be so bad. I used different rationales to convince myself that doing a front flip wrong wasn’t going to kill me… at least I hoped it wouldn’t. So once again, I began with a run. I felt the rush of blood to my head. I was upside down and felt my feet slam against the ground followed by the small portion of my back right above my butt. Even though I was on lush green grass it still caused quite a bit of pain. It had been an entire hour of physical and mental preparation just for one pathetic attempt. I was disappointed.

I walked home sore and realized that I was a long way off from being an assassin, but I also knew more pain would follow in the coming days.

The Basic Exercise For a Back Flip

So you want to physically prepare yourself for some flipping action. Coco mentioned two things that will allow any person to do a back flip. The Jump and kick back with your knees and hips. He gave me two exercises to solidify the motion in my mind and build strength.

Jumps: (2 sets of 20) 
I know this sounds obvious, but these are very specific jumps. This is done by starting with both arms at your side. Bending your knees only slightly, and then jumping as high as you can while keeping your back straight, and your arms flying up like superman. Don’t worry if you don’t get super high; just build those leg muscles up. You’ll need them when you’re jumping off rooftops.

Hip and Leg Lifts: (2 sets of 20)
I don’t know the name for this exercise, so I just called it this. The way it works is you lay on your back with your arms stretched out above your head like you're diving. You then kick and tuck your knees back into your chest while raising your hips and lower torso in. If you’re doing it right, you’ll feel it by the 10th rep.

The theory, at least from what I was told, is that combining these two exercises will give you the mental and physical know how to do a flip. You can try them at home. It’s pretty simple, and the second workout is a good one for your abs.

Danger Zone

These are the videos I watched on YouTube to learn how to do a flip. Try it at your own risk future assassin.


  1. It's great that despite being a bit fearful of doing the back flip you did it anyways. You kept trying. I like how your prepared yourself the best you could when it came to attempting the front flip. One of my favorite quotes by a former full time missionary is, "The Lord will not let me fail if I continue to try." What I see from this post is that you kept trying to accomplish something good through your faith and confidence in the instruction you received. Much like the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as we tread forth trusting in the instruction we receive in the scriptures, general conference, the Temple, church we will have our "...confidence waxed strong in the presence of God."(D&C I think's near the end)
    Anywho, yay way to go you did a back flip! =)

  2. As mentioned, you've discovered the most powerful secret to becoming an assassin...persistence. You may make a good assassin yet.