This is where someone in a battle begins to jump around and preform gymnastic heavy moves in order to dodge bullets or other physical attacks. They will do back handsprings, push off of walls, do twists in mid-air and find safety without getting a single scratch. This does not make them invincible, just very hard to hit.
Usually seen with characters that are smaller in size, more flexible, and, more often then not, they will also have either a martial arts or some type of military background.
In fight scenes, this can be used to get characters from a position where they are at a disadvantage (usually out in the open) to a place of safety (behind a wall) or closer to their opponent for an attack. In addition, this style of movement is visually appealing and is used to add a bit of flair to combat scenes.
Sometimes this is used when a new character is introduced and they need to stand apart from the rest by having a unique skill set. If this happens, they may make an appearance as the Sixth Ranger, using this trope to show that they have considerable skill and coordination in comparison to other characters. Similarly, if this is a common tactic of a younger character (especially one that is hotheaded), the purpose is to demonstrate their physical capabilities and establish that this is someone with potential.
As this trope thrives on Rule of Cool, it may also involve use of Wire Fu and Bullet Time effects in live action shows and movies, to showcase every angle, and so the audience can keep up with all of the action.
Acrofatic characters and practitioners of She-Fu and Gun Fu are naturals at this trope. However, the character needn't be a martial artist to exemplify the trope, as the Gentleman Thief and Classy Catburglar are also prime candidates, when action oriented.
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Anime and Manga
Maki of Air Master; in her past she was a world-class gymnast. Unlike most instances of this trope, however, at least once it definitely loses a fight for her — after an astonishing spinning, flipping thing which basically whips her martial artist father, she sticks the landing by reflex. He takes advantage of that moment to get her in a lock and take the victory.
In Attack on Titan, the soldiers use 3-D Maneuver Gear to Building Swing and try to zip around and over the larger, deadlier, Titans. This trope with grappling hooks.
Casca from Berserk centers most of her offensive and defensive maneuvers around flipping about the enemy.
Rushuna Tendo of Grenadier uses this to dodge attacks with cartwheels and back flips.
Canaan in Canaan does this in addition to her gun fighting skills alongside her synesthesia powers, making her a formidable mercenary.
Valmet and Karen Low of Jormungand, they both use this style of striking and dodging with fancy spins and flips.
In Naruto, being ninjas, all the main characters relish in this trope when dodging or attacking. Every fight scene, is laced with stylistic flips and twists in addition to the consistent use of the environment and the people around them to fight.
In the anime Noir, Kirika is one of the two most lethal human beings on Earth. Her sheer ability to dodge bullets, and general use of acrobatics enter her into this category.
Kodachi Kunō of Ranma Ĺ. Ranma Saotome uses this sort of fighting stylein that he's prone to using a lot of flips, jumps, handstands, rolls and tumbles, all to either evade attack or beat on his opponent.
Death The Kid of Soul Eater is an expert at an Improbable Age, though being the Grim Reaper's son probably didn't hurt. He uses backflips to dodge attacks and create distance between him and his opponant.
In the manga and film Tekkon Kinkreet. The two boys, White and Black, have some incredible jumping skills when combat oriented.
Batman makes use of this. Especially in a confined space surrounded by thugs, at which time he is forced to twist, pounce, and preform somersaults and back handsprings to narrowly dodge attacks coming from multiple directions. Then once out of danger he makes a few attacks of his own to defeat them.
MAG ISA — Eman vs Kyle Round 1... FIGHT! This trope is used to dodge bullets with blurred backflips and summersalts
Nightwing is quite flexible and agile because of his circus background
Sin City gunfighters tend to have very standard action movie/crime noir moves except for Wallace. He tends to do a lot more hopping around and is probably the most skilled protagonist of the series.
This is Spider-man's specialty. As a consequence of his powers, he fights reflexively. However he is extraordinarily limber and agile, so by reflex he jumps, twirls, twists, and contorts all over the place to dodge blows and missiles. His only real weapons are his hands and feet.
It should be noted, however, that this doesn't really stop Spider-Man from taking severe blows. Indeed, almost every videogame starring him features a costume selection that is torn up and ravaged from all the damage he takes during the game. Because of his Spider-Sense, he's never really blind-sided, but his enemies just tend to be that fast and powerful.
Unlike her genetic father, Wolverine, X-23's fighting style is much more acrobatic and in many of her fight scenes she can be seen using flips and handstands to bring her foot claws into play.
From Balls of Fury, Maggie (played by Maggie Q) uses combat parkour when she takes on a group of martial artists.
In Batman Beyond: The Return Of The Joker, the Dee-Dee twins often tag teamed Batman and used flips and high jumps to get away from his attacks or find a better position behind him from which they would attack.
In Batman Returns, some of the circus acrobats use this ineffectively to come in close to Batman for an attack.
In Blade Runner, the android Pris ambushes Deckard and does a rapid series of somersaults to move in close to him in the fight.
Chocolate (2008). Zen, a small Thai autistic girl whose Disability Superpower is to absorb martial arts from movies and TV shows. The entire movie is her beating up hundreds of people larger than her with muay Thai. The actress supposedly spent 2 years learning enough muay Thai to make it look realistic. The film handled her smaller size well ** often, she uses it to her advantage by taking the fight into narrow spaces where her opponents have trouble moving. She and her opponents also and Combat Parkour in places when evading kicks and bouncing around the scenes.
Jen Yu from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, most memorably in the restaurant scene. She uses backflips and rebounds off pillars and walls to evade and strike her opponents.
Though not technically combat, Agent 99 uses nimble backflips and other gymnastics moves to thread her way through a laser web in the 2008 Get Smart movie.
Kick-Ass has Hit Girl uses this to cover ground between her and her opponantns with complex flips and spins.
In Star Wars this technique is used mainly by Jedi when they duel, each dueler trying to gain the upper hand by attacking from a different angle or trying to throw off their opponent by leading or chasing them into a new battleground.
Alice (Milla Jovovich) in the Resident Evil movies takes this to ridiculous extremes, with even an unpowered Alice sending full-grown adults (and zombies) flying with moves straight out of The Matrix. She enjoys making use of C Ombat Parkour mainly to dodge and evade attacks (and even lasers in Resident Evil 3.
Sucker Punch The main character, nicknamed Babydoll, uses this technique mainly to dodge knives and swords of her imaginary opponents.
3 Ninjas. The three main character used this in their fights and being ninjas they were master at using their environment to their andvantage in a parkour style.
Wendy Wu, Homecoming Warrior, this is used mainly to have cool fight scenes and has very little realistic value, but it is used a bit to dodge.
In the Discworld, the Guild of Assassins and the Guild of Thieves both teach edificeering to their students. This combines parkour with a sort of urban mountaineering and is used both for speedy stealthy movement, and to get the height advantage if it comes to a fight.
In Enderís Game all the students playing in the games must bounce off walls and use the environment to beat the opposing team
Matty Roh of The Heritage of Shannara has a strategy that relies on dancing around her opponents before going in for the kill. Makes things rather interesting when she teams up with the much more physically powerful Morgan Leah.
Nina from Reserved For The Cat; she's a trained ballerina, and knows that jumps, spins, and kicks can be useful both in dancing and fighting.
Live Action TV
Roy Harper in Arrow uses this in addition to his street-based hand-to-hand combat to give him an advantage over his adversaries.
One of Chuck's adversaries was a former gymnast who used this trope to escape from the protagonists. His mistake: he stuck the landing, whereupon Sarah shot his kneecap out.
Birds of Prey used this to dodge and create space between fighters.
Xena: Warrior Princess uses this occassionally, and yet she still takes plenty of punches. It is an established part of Xena canon, based on Word of God, that cartwheeling/backflipping across an area is faster than running the same distance, so this is largely justified in series.
Doctor Who. In "The Doctor's Daughter", Jenny can backflip her way though a corridor of deadly laser beams.
Dungeons & Dragons. In 2nd Edition, use of the Tumbling non weapon proficiency improved the user's armor class by 4 (making them harder to hit) and gave them a plus 2 to their chance to hit in unarmed combat.
Champions. Using Acrobatics skill gave the user a +1 to +3 on their Offensive Combat Value by surprising an opponent and making it easier to hit them.
DC Heroes. The Acrobatics skill allows the user to add his APs in the subskill Dodging to his OV when attempting to Dodge enemy attacks.
GURPS 3rd Edition. The Acrobatics skill allows the user to make an Acrobatic Dodge, a jump or roll that avoids an attack in a flashy way.
Bayonetta. Acrobatic backflips are her standard dodge, so expect to be doing this a lot since it triggers Witch Time. She can even do this in mid-air!
Jade from Beyond Good & Evil has a fairly impressive talent for backflips (and front-flips) in battle.
Alora, a Dark Jedi and The Dragon in Jedi Academy, moves very acrobatically the second time she's fought, even compared to the other Force users in the game, who can all or almost all do flips easily.
Deadly Alliance, Frost prefers to perform backflips. Several of the male characters (such as Shang Tsung and Hsu Hao) also use backflips to escape.
Devil May Cry III takes it to the next level. On a double jump, you can flip upside down, spin and shoot, flip back up, flip upside down AGAIN, spin and shoot, and flip back up in time to land on your feet.
Aqua in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. Her male friend Terra gets a long-distance forward dash, and her 'little brother' Ven gets the series-standard "Dodge Roll" somersault. Not Aqua. She cartwheels away from enemies.
Larxene as well. Her game play and battle style are full of this, especially in Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days. Flips, cartwheels, mid-air spins and mid-air drilling, somersaults, etc.
This was one of the original concepts for Mirror's Edge, as seen in this concept art◊. Even though, in the final game, it was replaced with more realistic free running it is still possible to do with a lot of practice.
In a very bizarre example from Monster Hunter, Rathian's special attack is a draconic air-backflip.
Mortal Kombat: Sonya Blade does this, despite having Kenpo and Tae Kwon Do as her fighting styles in previous games. Her signature move is doing a backflip, grabbing the opponent between her legs, and throwing them. She also uses this move to break Kano's neck in one of the movie versions, and in Mortal Kombat 4 she has a fatality where she does a handstand and tears the opponent in half with her legs.
There's also Li Mei.
Nitara's Unicorn Kick special is the deadliest cartwheel you'll ever see.
Unlike Sub-Zero, who slides around Iceman-style to escape from sticky situations
In Prototype2 James Heller, a former Marine, is infected with a special strand of virus that gives him superhuman abilities. In the game he can run up walls and preforms backflips which is meant for evasion or just really cool combat scenes.
Also in Resident Evil 4. Player Character Leon S. Kennedy performs multiple evasive backflips and wall-jumps. Then again, Ada and Krauser manage to top it off with even more backflips. Then, Leon learns Le Parkour...
Sheva and later Jill perform lots of acrobatic somersaults and cartwheels for their physical attack follow-ups in Resident Evil 5.
Red vs. Blue in the later seasons. This trope was used mainly to dodge and evade using back handsprings and other gymnastic styles along with bouncing off walls with Bullet Time Effects. Added mainly to create awsome fight scenes involving guns and hand to hand combat.
In RWBY this is Team RWBY's (and most other females) main shtick. they use their weapon's gun form's recoil to speed up their attacks and use their blade form's edge to hold on to obstacles or terrain to maneuver mid flight to allow for high speed attacks and movement. this is best shown during Players and Pieces. where they have to survive a fall to a forest using only their weapons.
Chaka of the Whateley Universe specializes in this style of fighting. Justified in that her ki powers make it extraordinarily easy for her to do so. In her first superhero fight with a bunch of ninjas, she drives her opponent up the wall by dodging his attacks with a series of flips.
In Avatar: The Last Airbender , Suki demonstrates great Parkour skill by running over people's heads, climbing up walls, swinging over railings and sliding under people, almost entirely avoiding direct confrontation until she reaches the warden of Boiling Rock. Also, the main character, Aang, uses parkour to evade attacks. See the first and second episodes.
Ty Lee has no Bending ability, she carries no weapons, she's a skinny perky cutie ... and she can totally incapacitate you by hitting you in the pressure points while remaining impossible to hit because of her acrobatic and gymnastic skills.
"Batman: The Animated Series: Robin" actually had a fighting style like this. He was a trapeze artist in a circus before becoming Robin.
Yumi from Code Lyoko frequently uses such moves when fighting in the virtual world, thanks to her increased agility and the low gravity of Lyoko. This allows her to use backflips frequently in combat.
The heroine of Cyber Six uses flips and wall pushes to evade and come in for attacks. It also makes for very cool movement in the scenes.
Kim Possible lives by it. Got her on the cheerleading team, too. She uses this trope mainly to dodge when in combat, using a series of flips and twists to get out of the way.
Dragons Fire And Ice has Kyra using loads of flips and kicks during her duel with Dev, who just uses archaic and brutish forms of "swing the sword in that general direction until something dies".
Ace Bunny of the Loonatics Unleashed rarely remains a stationary target in combat situations. This was best demonstrated when he was trapped in a railway car with a dozen military-grade Mecha-Mooks armed with Frickin' Laser Beams, and survived unscathed. Ace's partner Lexi Bunny has the She-Fu variant developed from cheerleading routines.
In Samurai Jack Jack uses this to dodge, evade, and attack his opponents. He utilizes the surrounding environment to change his direction or slow down his opponents.
Robin in Teen Titans uses this combat style to attack and dodge. His archenemy, Slade, is also quite deft at this, utilizing the technique mainly in dodging. Another enemy, Jinx, uses this to dodge and get more space between her and her opponent. Most commonly, she uses the back handspring to do this.
All four turtles in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles use this to attack and dodge, utilizing their weapons and parts of their environment to block attacks and change their direction.
RC and Smokescreen use this to dodge and attack, even in coordination with using their guns. The best example for Smokescreen is when we first see him and he does plenty of gymnastic moves to avoid getting hit by the Decepticon lasers.
Blackarachnia, being part spider, is consistently using the walls and ceiling around her to gain an advantage over her opponents, especially when they are larger than her.
Wheeljack uses this mainly in attacking
TRON Uprising: Beck fights a lot like Rinzler in TRON: Legacy (he seems to be chary of using his disc in tight quarters because of this).
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