Rolling is the first locomotive movement we learn as tiny baby the ability to move from our back to our belly is our first skill that moves us from on place to another, rolling from head to heels is a later development when a child is toddler and this ability to orient through inversion is fantastically exciting and fun for kids when they first learn it as my daughter is currently doing.
Rolling is fundamental skill in parkour, martial arts, and acrobatics.
In parkour it primary use is to dissipate forces during landings or falls, the shoulder roll is ideal for this because the wounding force of an impact is proportional to the area and time over which it is distributed, a roll allows us to distributed the force of landing across both our arms and legs and across our back in addition it allows us the increase the time of force absorption tremendously.
Rolling movements serve the same function combatives when we lose our balance, are thrown or knocked down. In addition during grappling rolling movements serves as escapes and transitions between positions.
In acrobatics rolling is the beginning of learning to develop orientation during inversion of the body that will later become flips, flips are rolls in the air.
Being comfortable with a wide range of rolling movements is great way to start developing good falling ability, flow for grappling, kinaesthetic awareness in a variety of positions and to start learning to flow and connect complex movement patterns.
Frosti Zernow one of the coaches at tempest freerunning and a brilliant thinker in flow and movement introduces the concept of flow by having people simple work on connecting rolls over a box.
The most useful general roll is the shoulder roll, Amos Rendao from apex movement has produced great series on this roll.
For a wider expression of rolls this systema video offers some interesting ideas.
I also want to share my good freind tom coppola’s drive rolling exploits.
Today work on developing a roll or work on exploring rolls and flow with rolls.