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Getting a grip on tricking

The hybrid sport of tricking is a mind-boggling mix of tricks, tumbles and flips

Unlike parkour, tricking does not involve crossing obstacles.
Unlike parkour, tricking does not involve crossing obstacles.

Veeru Dhiwar’s passion and work make him put his body on the line—quite literally. The 22-year-old from Oshiwara, Mumbai, is a professional tricker, or trickster, who has been performing this hybrid sport for four years.

Tricking is all about speed, momentum and, then, lift-off. Tricking professionals use a mix of different martial arts to create their own moves—flips, turns, “corkscrews" (where the body rotates twice while in the air horizontally) and “flash-kicks", modified versions of the back flip. Imagine running at top speed on a grass field and then using your hands as a launch pad to propel your body into a series of cartwheels and backflips before landing neatly on your feet.

It is a whole new level of movement. “Tricking artists use other martial arts like wushu, taekwondo, capoeira, kung fu and gymnastics to devise their own flips. It is about creating a new trick," says Dhiwar on the phone. It’s easy to confuse tricking with other art forms like parkour and free running, but, unlike parkour, tricking does not involve obstacles.

Like any sport, it needs its own equipment. Most important of them all is a tumbling track, which is designed to absorb any pressure on the body and allows for comfortable landing and jumping. “Tricking also uses other equipment like katana swords and long sticks as props," he adds. Fitness is a key factor. Throw in some speed, agility and creativity, and your body is ready for tricking. “It’s very important to take care of the lower body, especially the legs. When we run, jump or land, a lot of pressure is applied on our ankles and knees. We do a proper, full-body workout, but there’s always more emphasis on the legs," says Dhiwar, who is associated with Red Bull and spreads awareness about the sport.

Tricking as a sporting discipline started gaining prominence in the early 2000s. Since then it has grown into a big global community, with tricksters learning and inspiring other performers. Apart from spreading the word through YouTube, professional tricksters have found opportunities in movies like 2010’s Tron: Legacy (combat scenes, choreography, etc.) and television. There are also contests and competitions across the world where tricksters are judged on the basis of style, kicking, execution, movement and difficulty of the trick.

With famous names like Anis Cheurfa, Jeremy Marinas, Daniel Graham and Matt Emig to look up to, the sport has also gained popularity in the US, Korea, China and Russia. “Apart from participating in championships, tricksters can also find opportunities in dance shows and martial art competitions.... Tricking is something different. It’s like an art that people want to learn," says Dhiwar.

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