The Twisted Physics Behind the Incredible Sport of ‘Tricking’

“Tricking” — the love child of martial arts, parkour, break dancing and gymnastics — looks like it should be impossible. The men and women who perform this high-energy combination of flips, spins and kicks appear to break the laws of physics.

“Tricking is very physical, but in a certain regard it’s just as much mental as it is physical,” says Emmanuel “Manny” Brown, a master tricker who teaches at the Brooklyn Zoo gym. Every trick is dependent on your entire body doing exactly what you need it to...

“What leads up to the jump is critical,” says John Di Bartolo, an applied physicist at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering. “It’s just as important, or more important than the jump itself — it’s giving them their angular momentum.”

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