I know that there's a fair amount of debate in the community about the distinction between parkour (getting from point A to point B as efficiently as possible) versus freerunning (do impressive stunts while getting from point A to point B). Even among the more hardcore on the parkour side, it seems common to do a front flip when jumping from a high height before landing and doing the momentum-absorbing roll. Is there any actual parkour advantage to this versus just looking neat?

Possibilities I can think of

  • By rotating, you get a full view of your surroundings
  • Some of these jumps start out as dives, sometimes through narrow openings. If you're going to have to rotate to get back to your feet, it makes more sense to keep rotating forward, in the direction of the roll rather than trying to get your momentum the other way by bringing the legs forward to rotate backwards.
  • Relating to the last one, the front flip gets started into a forward momentum which makes it easier to transition into the roll
  • It's just general flip training as espoused by traceurs such as Amos Rendao which helps improve air awareness, making it more likely that you'll find a way to recover when a vault goes bad.

Yes, if you have running speed. Doing a dive frontflip is often very beneficial, because you get to land such that your feet are out in front of you as you land.

When you have a lot of forward momentum, if you land straight up and down (i.e. perpendicular to the ground), you're going to have way less opportunity for your legs to break the fall before you roll. By landing angled, where you're leaning backwards, your legs will have more time to catch up, and you will have less downward momentum left as you lean forward into the roll.

This is why you see traceurs often to the dived pike or superman frontflip as they jump down heights if they're running into it.

For straight-down jumps, with no forward momentum, the flip is pretty much useless, and it's easier to mess it up. A lot of what makes the frontflip managable, is diving into it with running speed.

As for the aesthetic aspect of the jump, the flip has an undeniable effect. But in my personal opinion, it's not the flip itself that looks the best. It's the dive into it, that looks most impressive. One then has the option to dive head-first into a roll (which is extremely advanced depending on the height), or front-flip out of it to land on your feet.

  • That makes sense. I'll give it a day or two for others to provide input, but your answer looks good. – Sean Duggan Apr 26 '15 at 1:18
  • @SeanDuggan - Yeah, that's fair. :) – Alec Apr 26 '15 at 9:46

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