By the time most of us are heading off to school, we have been exposed to the incredible world of acrobatics at least one, whether we realize it or not. Acrobatics surrounds many aspects of modern life, from gymnastics to skateboarding, from extreme skiing to high-flying circus acts. Acrobatics is something that inspires awe and wonder, a lot like magic tricks can do.
Many adults, as they grow older, look to the people who perform these incredible maneuvers in the air, from flips to somersaults, from ski jumps to the gravity-defying half-pipe work of professional skateboarders, and they wonder if they could ever consider doing something like. These same spectators then wonder how a person could make his or her body twist so much, how they could spin so fast in the air, and still land where they want to be and not be hurt.
The human body is arguably the most incredible piece of machinery in the history of the world and its ability to accomplish just about any feat imaginable has made the art and science of acrobatics a world phenomenon.
Acrobatics isn’t an American pastime. It doesn’t belong to the Chinese. The Russians haven’t perfected it above all others. Every nation in the world has citizens who perform acrobatic stunts on a regular basis. It is the quintessential common ground that many of these nations, sometimes friend, sometimes foe, can share.
The Russians are renowned for their acrobatic circus routines while the Chinese have long dominated the gymnastics front in world competitions, and the Americans are the leaders in extreme games, such as skateboarding and bike stunts. All of these activities are rooted in the foundation of acrobatics.
Learning to be an acrobat, whether you are a young child who dreams of one day competing in the Olympics as a gymnast or skateboarder, or you are an adult who wants to step into the world and wonder of acrobatics, then the possibility rests right there in front of you.
Flipping in the air and landing on your feet is an acrobatic stunt, but it isn’t the place to begin for a novice. Learning to balance while in motion is the most important first step. Once that is mastered (and there is more to that step than simply walking and staying upright), then the next aspects can come into play.
There is no age limit on learning acrobatics, but the tougher the activity, the stronger one will need to be. It is also a good idea to have healthy and strong bones structure because landing some acrobatic stunts will place an enormous amount of pressure on bones and joints. It is unwise for an eighty-year-old man to attempt to skateboard on the half-pipe, but there’s no reason why he couldn’t learn to do a cartwheel, or a jackknife dive into a pool.
Acrobatics takes physical effort and training. Both of those are attainable for just about everyone in the world.
The different and main activities in acrobatics are:
Acro dance / Acrobalance / Acrobatic gymnastics / Acroyoga / Adagio / Aerial tissu / Bossaball / Capoeira / Contortion / Corde lisse / Diving / Globe of death / Gymnastics / Handstand / Hooping / Hopak / Juggling / Parkour / Pole climbing / Salto del pastor / Skateboarding / Skiing / Snowboarding / Spanish web / Surfing / Synchronized swimming / Tightrope walking / Trampolining / Trapeze / Tricking / Tumbling / Wushu / Waterskiing
Hazards and Dangers
When a person mentions the word acrobatics, one thing that generally doesn’t come to mind is danger, but acrobatics can lead to many different types of injuries, from broken ankles and wrists to spinal cord injuries and even death. Acrobatics is not something that people should attempt without the proper guidance or safety equipment.
The young kid who is learning how to skateboard may not want to wear the protective gear, but it will ensure that every time he falls (and he will fall quite often), it won’t result in some injury. Brain injuries are some common injuries when performing acrobatic stunts when not properly supervised or wearing a helmet.
Take a walk around town, regardless of where you live, and you will likely see kids riding their skateboards or bikes without a helmet and without pads, trying to try different stunts and maneuvers in the air. This is a recipe for danger and while kids believe that they are invincible and that nothing bad will happen to them, parents should know the truth.
To learn how to perform acrobatic stunts, it is highly recommended that you seek out a trained and qualified professional who can offer the right guidance, tips, and information that you can use to best protect yourself from injury or your child.
From skiing to skateboarding to gymnastics, there are countless stories of injuries that didn’t have to happen, some of them catastrophic. An exuberant teenager who decides to work on a parallel bar routine in gymnastics decides to do one last quick routine without a spotter. He gets to the dismount after a flawless exercise only to spin too fast, landing on his toes with the momentum throwing him forward. He flies forward and tries to break his fall with his arms, instinctual. His arms shatter, ending his acrobatic life in an instant.
If he had waited for a spotter, this kind of injury would have been avoidable.
So the first rule of thumb to keep in mind when learning acrobatics, whether it is for yourself or your child or another loved one, is to make sure that they realize the importance of waiting for a professional to guide you through the process, no matter how skilled you or the person you know has become.
There are no second chances when it comes to injury and acrobatics will put the body at risk in more ways than one, so it’s important to at least understand and accept the inherent risks involved.
Where to Start Acrobatics
If you or someone you know is interested in learning acrobatics, the place to start can be at any number of locations. The thing that needs to be answered before this can be determined is what kind of acrobatics does the individual wish to do. If a person wishes to learn how to perform stunt tricks on a skateboard, then the person to seek out would be a qualified skateboarding professional.
There is no point in practicing somersaults in a gym in the hope of performing flips on the half pipe before the person, child or otherwise, knows whether he or she will even be any good at the sport or have the interest to follow through with it to that point.
Each activity, from skiing to surfing and everything in between will demand that the person master the basic skills involved before they would even begin to learn anything acrobatic involved in it.
A novice skier who is still struggling to make it down the easy trail without falling down a half a dozen times isn’t a likely candidate for taking off on a jump, or skiing the double diamond mogul trails through the woods. The individual who is still attempting to keep his or her balance on a surfboard when the wave is pushing them forward isn’t quite ready to attempt any spins of flips over the crashing waves.
Determine the activity that the person is truly interested in and seek out the right instructor to get him or her moving toward the stage where they are ready to learn some acrobatic stunts.
While this advice should hold for most of the activities listed earlier, one can still take a gymnastics course to start learning the most basic routines, from the balance beam to cartwheels and handstands. These are the basis for all other acrobatic abilities and before one can learn to do a flip, he or she must first learn to perform these other routines.
In most towns and cities across the world, there are numerous gymnastics centers. Unfortunately for many school districts, the idea of teaching children the basics has been discarded due to liability and potential injuries that can occur. This should deter you or your child from trying gymnastics, at least for a while.
What you want to look for in a gymnastics instructor is a person who has trained for many years, preferable someone who has won awards, and ideally an instructor whose students have gone on to win awards. These kinds of instructors will be more difficult to find in many communities, and will often charge more than other locations, but they are worth every penny.
Yes, nine times out of ten, a student will go to his or her lessons and come away without incident, but it’s that one time where something could go wrong that makes having the right instructor all that much more important.
When learning a new sport or activity that will ultimately require some acrobatic skills, combining the learning of the basics of these acrobatic skills with the instruction of that primary sport or activity will lead to a quicker learning curve and eventually more skills in the long run.
When someone has an interest in skateboard acrobatics, having him or her take gymnastics while learning to skateboard will get them ready to handle the pressure and the fear of performing stunts on the board itself. Far too many mishaps occur simply because an individual lacked the confidence needed to carry through the challenge completely.
Another benefit of working with gymnastics while learning another activity is that should interest in the latter wane –for example, the youth decides after a year of skateboarding that he would rather try BMX biking or even skiing- he or she is still learning the skills to be adept at these other activities as well.
Combining acrobatic activities is a great way to help a person learn the basic fundamentals that can be applied to just about any other physical activity that they partake in.
Even team and individual sports, such as soccer, football, and even tennis. Being able to maintain balance while on the run, in traffic, or chasing down a ball can give a person a significant advantage over other players who aren’t skilled in these acrobatic arts. Balance and being able to overcome situations that arise is a great gift to have.
Frequently Asked Questions
My child has expressed an interest in competitive ski jumping, would it be a good idea to enroll him in gymnastics?
Absolutely. The basis for ski jumping or any extreme skiing is rooted in acrobatics, so that if your child wishes to excel in this activity, learning the fundamentals of gymnastics will be an important step toward mastering the art of ski jumping as well as other routines that can present themselves while growing and learning the activity.
I always thought acrobatics was just about stunts, like circus acts. Is it really a part of skateboarding half-pipe performances?
Watching some of the best skateboarders in the world can certainly make it easy to forget just the amount of skill that is required to carry out those stunts and maneuvers and still make them look so easy. Maneuvering through a half-pipe and doing flips and other acrobatic stunts requires balance, timing, and incredible skill.
Just because a person isn’t in the center of a three ring circus, high up on a trapeze, it doesn’t mean that what they’re doing isn’t acrobatic in nature.
Do all of those professionals like skateboarders and surfers take gymnastics to learn those stunts?
No, of course not. Many of the world’s best performers practiced the hard way, through trial and error and a ton of bandages and ice. But it’s important to consider what they might be capable of had they had some other training in gymnastics, for instance.
Some of the best performers actually take on skilled gymnastic instructors when they reach a certain point in their skill level. These instructors help them learn the basics of flips and landing properly. So, in a sense, they do rely on professional gymnastics instructors; just not always in a gym setting.
Acrobatics surrounds so much of our daily lives and entertainment. From the athletes that compete in the most arduous and difficult sports in the world to world-class entertainers who carry out incredible routines on stage for our benefit, acrobatics is simply a part of life and has been for hundreds of years.
From the court jester who performed for the king to the modern extreme athlete who is trying to learn how to go higher, farther, and faster, all while doing it upside down or spinning end over end, the science and art of acrobatics has become an ingrained aspect in life.
For those that want to learn, it is really never too late. It just takes some practice, time, and the right instruction and you could be on your way to learning how to flip in the air and land on your feet.