Joe tries to do backflips

I’m doing a sponsored backflip to raise money for the International Autistic Research Organization.

How did this happen? I’m not totally sure, but if I recall it started in a conversation with Martin Gill, my manager, that went something like this:

J> Did you see the gymnastics and the olympics? It looked awesome!
M> Yeah. Bet you can’t do that.
J> How hard can it be? They make it look so easy. Bet I can learn to do a backflip.
M> Ok. When and where?
J> Uhmmm, four, no, six weeks. On the grass outside work.

Next thing I know, I’ve blabbed this to lots of people and the suggestion comes up that I get sponsorship to do it for charity.

So here I am, now 2 weeks into my 6 week task to learn to do a backflip. This backflip will take place unassisted on some flat grass. However, there was ambiguity in this challenge as there was disagreement about what a backflip actually is and it seems to vary from country to country.

In the UK, a backflip is where you jump backwards, spring on your hands and back onto your feet. The technical term for this is a back handspring. This is what *I* thought I’d agreed to. You know, like ninjas do down the street. QuickTime animation

In the US, a backflip is where you jump upwards, rotating a complete 360 in the air and land on your feet, without anything but your feet ever touching the ground. The technical term for this is a back somersault. QuickTime animation

So, to compromise the I’ve decided to give both a go. I will attempt three things:

1. A single back handspring.
2. Three back handsprings in a row.
3. A back somersault!

I’m asking for sponsorship for different amounts, depending on which of these I achieve. For example, Dan Bodart says he’ll sponsored me 10GBP if I achieve one handspring, 20GBP if I do three handsprings and 50GBP if I manage the somersault.

I’m learning this at home, with the help of Google (which has helped me find lots of online tutorials), a bouncy castle (a safe place to practice without breaking my neck), and Jaimie (my fiance who watches from afar and tells me what mistakes I’m making).

If you want to sponsor me, drop me an email ( my first name at truemesh dot com ) or leave a comment.

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  • Comments (56)
    • Robert
    • September 5th, 2004

    Just be careful. Seriously. My father worked with a man that broke his neck trying that stuff. My father manufactures wheelchairs. (I’m not kidding!)

    • Hani Suleiman
    • September 5th, 2004

    You know my condition for sponsoring you….get those tights ready!

    • Mike Cannon-Brookes
    • September 6th, 2004

    Would it be ironic to suggest that this is the first truly agile thing anyone has seen you do? ;)


  1. Wow! Hope you don’t break anything.

    • Kevin
    • September 6th, 2004

    … or if you do break something, just hope its from waist down so you can still use your hands and a computer!

  2. You don’t half walk in to these things, don’t you!

  3. Should we expect a video posting of the attempt?

    • Anonymous
    • September 6th, 2004

    If Joe breaks something below the waist he won’t have need to use for his hands and a computer any more!

    • Joe Walnes
    • September 7th, 2004

    Thanks for the concern everyone.

    There will be a video of my attempt, but only available to those who sponsored me. So, SPONSOR ME! :)

    To make it easier, copy and paste this little template into your email client and fill in the blanks.

    • TomG
    • September 7th, 2004

    I’ll match Dan Bodart’s rate, plus an additional 30 should you injure yourself in the attempt.

    • Jayt
    • September 7th, 2004

    Man backflip is real easy to do i can do backflips, frontflips, and twist the trick is not to be afraid to try to go backwards. try everyday you’ll get it.

  4. Yes, try everyday and eventually you’ll get it. Or you’ll die trying, literally :-D

    • Lance Lavandowska
    • September 8th, 2004

    I thought the difference between a backflip and a handspring was that in a true backflip the hands are not used (go from feet-to-feet). ?

    • Lance Again
    • September 8th, 2004

    Argh, that’s what I get for skipping a portion of the post after finding something I want to comment on. Oh, I also plead exhaustion!

  5. Better be careful ’cause you can seriously hurt yourself.

    (even pro’s do:

  6. You’re gonna break your neck, you crazy fool!
    Do some sponsored coding instead!

    • Ian M
    • September 13th, 2004

    Don’t know how you are training for this but a good way is to have a couple of friends spot you at first. have one person stand at either side of you holding the top of your pants – or belt if you’re wearing one – then when you jump they can give you support. It should also give more confidence in actually jumping backwards — which is the hardest part. Also – make sure you pull your knees up hard or you won’t have enough momentum to flip all the way over.
    Good luck – but be careful – see if you can train on mats initially.

    • Dan Mewett
    • September 13th, 2004

    Will you be doing this to music? Something along the lines of ‘The Sugar Plum Fairy’…..

    • robert jarman
    • September 13th, 2004

    hey this is cool i’m trying to learn a back handspring and somersult i got the bases of a handspring but i twist a bit, its just about trying it, but a somersult seams a bit more dodgie don’t like the idea of no support. i tried two backflips but on the second i landed on my face.

    • Johnny Q
    • September 16th, 2004

    A little inspiration for you. These guys are unbelievable…

  7. All this talk of handsprings and not one mobile computing/handheld pun – shocking. Anyway, you can bet I’ll be there with my video camera.

    • Holger Fiehn
    • October 7th, 2004

    Here goes my illusion that a handspring is where you do a somersault with nothing touching the ground but your HANDS…. but I believe what you’re going to do is athletic enough!

    • nixk baron
    • October 9th, 2004

    i have done a double back flip

  8. I always used to find that doing backflips was best practiced on a sand dune. Its relatively soft and the slope is great for learning on, you can work on your technique without needing so much height or power (hands are optional). Its an Australian thing…

    Like any adrenaline activity its all about commitment. Having spent many years as a skater i learnt that if you bail out you are much more likely to hurt yourself.

    Seriously though dude, good luck !

    • James
    • December 7th, 2004

    I try to do backhandsprings using the wall.

    • December 7th, 2004

    I have done lots of backflips and handsprings on trampoline. Which is a great way to practice your technique without needing the power immediately. And its relatively safe compared to doing it on concreet. I started out with backflip, i use my feet for momentum. This is best, because they are the strongest part of your body. Difference between back flip and handspring is, that backflip, you pull your knees up. handspring you keep your legs stretched. When you jump backwards, you thrust your knees into the air, this gives you the upper force, and some spin if you lean a bit backwards while jumping. So, the trick is, to get enough upward force, and the exact right amount of spin, else, you wont land properly. In extreme cases you can indeed break things and get hurt seriously. So i recommend the towels for support, or some ‘spotters’ how can also grab a hold of you while performing. Or if you can find one, a trampoline. Oh right, i first learned the back flip, then i started thinking about handspring. Which to me seemed way more scary than a backflip. Because you have to go to the ground with your head down. The trick is not to support yourself with your hands when you land with your hands on the ground. You should have enough momentum with your legs to result in minimum weight on your arms. (your arms aren’t that strong ussualy, so they are NOT built to just carry your full weight, atleast, its way harder) So on trampoline i learned a handspring, the exact momevent, without touching ground with my hands. SO that means i had enough momentum to make the flip without touching ground. From land, this is harder to do ofcourse. But to do a real handspring, you just reduce the amount of momentum, so that you can touch the ground, and just continue the momevent with a swift and not to forcefull push of your arms. Eventually i started handspringing from ground, onto the trampoline, which was a good next step. But i havent done it from solid to solid ground yet. Goodluck!! Im a poor student ( 19 yrs old ) so i cant support with cash. I hope i supported you with my experiences, maybe i will be able to see your attempts.. thanks, cya

    • Nick
    • December 29th, 2004

    i really want to do a backflip, ive been trying and trying but i gues i have ro try harder.I can just about do a front flip!!!!

    • NICK!!!
    • December 29th, 2004


    • Gues who(?)
    • December 29th, 2004

    if you can do all dat u da man!
    wat are u some kind of ninja. u goooooooooooooo!!!!!!.and right back wen u’ve done sometin else.

    from ur fan ……….(?)

    • Anonymous
    • December 29th, 2004

    All i have to say zoe is to be carfull coz u might breack ur neck or something.take care!!

    • Anonymous
    • December 29th, 2004

    sorry i meant joe


    • surajim
    • December 29th, 2004

    hello joe walnut. good luck

    • surajim
    • December 29th, 2004

    sorry joe i meant walnes on top im terribly sorry. be very carefull with those flips because as Robert (the first one to right here ) said this man that worked wiyh his father broke his neck trying all those things.Be careful and goodluck!!!

    • maltais
    • January 3rd, 2005

    Anyone know any good sites to learn how to do a frontflip with hands and a backflip without hands?

    • Dylan
    • January 3rd, 2005

    Don’t try this unless you know how to do them ok. I almost broke my neckk trying them before I was ready now i can do fulls

    • kevin
    • January 17th, 2005

    i learned to do a backflip in 5 hours

    • KID
    • January 28th, 2005

    trust me, backflips are easy as hell, go for one off a pic nic table in like a sandy area at like a park or something

    • Ivy
    • January 31st, 2005

    If you’re going to do a back handspring and a back somersault, I can tell ya that it’s much harder to do both from standing than from a round-off (run, hop-step, cartwheel landing on both feet facing backward from the direction you originally came). The round-off will give you sooo much more momentum – especially if you’re working up to doing three handsprings in a row.

    • otherwiseperfect
    • February 12th, 2005

    be careful when you try things!!!! I was doing a front tuck( flip), and landed straight legged,hyperextened my knees, got a brace and I had to sit out the rest of the season !!!! do back limbers, like the halfway ones where you kneel on the floor, and then reach back wards over your head, touch the ground, and do it ten times on each side! it’s supposed to help!~backwards stuff scares me~ good luck! just don’t hurt your self! waiting an extra day or two is much better then a few months, and having to remake all the muscle, and such. good luck,

    • nyiddle
    • February 27th, 2005

    Good luck! I’m working on teaching myself ninja-like moves too.
    Oh, and one more thing;
    Congratulations on getting on Google! You’re the first hit when you search “How to do a backflip”.

    • zach
    • March 6th, 2005

    dude that’s screwed up,i’d tell them to pay me a crap load of money . me and my next-door neighbor are trying to get the task of getting him to land a backflip (somersault) on his trampoline. i have already accomplished this goal about 2000 times (not kidding).but, i geuss it’s fine since he can land a double frontflip and i can’t.i mean i’m 13 and he’s 12 if we can do this crap than you should be able to do it. maybe not in 6 weeks but if you try anything is possible!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    • Nathan S
    • March 16th, 2005

    You should try to do a jumping catroll (Hap Ki Do move) over something extreme… like a car or something… even if you have soething high to take off…
    I also wonder if it’s easier to do backflips when your younger… because I could when I was 12 and then I stopped for a few years… Now that i’m 20 I had to go and re – learn the whole thing…
    Anyway… good luck with the move’s

    • ella
    • March 21st, 2005

    if i were u id just start on frontflips there so much easier i can do them.

    • Max
    • March 26th, 2005

    i learned how to do a backflip first on my rollerblades but it is alot different because the ramp launches you
    i just learen how to do a backflip on the flat ground also you just have to thrust your arms back kick back your feet and keep looking back waiting to spot your landing

    • Max
    • March 26th, 2005

    GOOD LUCK ._.

    • NEOdine
    • March 26th, 2005

    im 13 yers old and i can do a backflip on solid ground, but backhandspring is just impossiple to me, i dont know why is so hard do a bhs. my new trick that im training is gainer. gainer is that you doing backflip and going at the same time feels od when ur doing that, and its alot harder than backflip. dont hurt you selfs fellows and have fun:D

    • sam
    • March 28th, 2005

    good luck mate

    you can do it

    • kj
    • April 4th, 2005

    yeah umm….a lot of these people are the fuckin same person, and give the fuckin man some respect you asswholes…yeah actually joe, i have been doing backflips and bhs and frontflips since bout 4th grade but i had stopped for 2 years after 6th and just got back into them (im a freshman)…and so just yesterday, i watched that video somebody posted at and it got me back into backflips and bhs, cuz i stopped for 2 years cuz i kept hurting my wrist a few times doing bhs so i stopped but yesterday was my first time in 2 years doing one and if you have a REALLY fluffy couch that you can take the cushions off and everything, and have enuff space to jump up, it worked for me…i had someone standing there holding his hands behind my back incase i fell and after the 4th bhs i did it on my own…but were i first even learned to do a backflip and handspring was on a hill cuz its nearly impossible to land on your neck unless you puss out and just kinda turn 180 degrees and kill yourself, so what im saying is just dont be scared and look closely at videos and just watch how they do them…its a LOT easier than a frontflip even tho you may think that if you can roll over than you can do a frontflip, well if thats the case try it, cuz thats how i learned frontflips and it was easy (on a tramp) but i suggest not learning anything on a tramp because then you get used to having a spring to jump you up high…so a soft cushion is best…but a frontflip is hard to land on flatground werease a backflip is SO much easier…so just dont be scared and go for it with a friend beside you helping you…and GOOD LUCK

    • snapdragon
    • April 5th, 2005

    You come across some crazy stuff on the web
    …Anyways,I have been trying to learn/do a back/front somersault and a back/front handspring….without the whole trainer program. I’m not in one of those gymnastics classes at the YMCA though, and there’s no way in hell I’m going to join them (a bunch of 10-year old girls trying to do splits, no thanks). If you find any info on how to do these, please post it on your site.

    • jodi
    • April 5th, 2005

    for a tutorial guide on how to do a backflip go on, it gives you a step by step guide, and techniques, and what is people normally do wrong when doing a backflip and how to correct it, go on it, its amazing!!!!

    • JUSTIN
    • July 14th, 2005

    good luck on a back flip dont kill your self trying sounds like fun

    • andy milanonkis
    • August 16th, 2005

    show me how to do a back flip

    • some1
    • December 20th, 2005

    Just do it from a rooftop, if you fail you’ll die and you don’t have to worry about it anymore…

    • Jello
    • May 1st, 2006

    hey if you accomplished your flips, give me some tips on how to do the back handspring, cause i been trying for 3 weeks now and i still cant do it. And can you give me some instructions on how to jump properly and when my hands should touch the ground (i know that my hand should always be infront of my eyes and keep it like that until the flip is done). Thanks

  9. Meh, I’m trying to learn how to do a backflip right now (without the hands). I can do a frontflip with a good running start, and I’m eager to learn now that I’m not such a coward.

    • ProZac
    • October 18th, 2006

    All these backflips, frontflips and stuff are great and there are so many tricks to do…martial arts tricks.
    Go to to see some sick martial arts trickz…these guys are teh prooo.

    From you neighbour prozac….

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