Sports & Games In China| 5 min read

It is inevitable that with such a long history and great culture China should have developed several unique and traditional sports and past times.

Although China has long been associated with the martial arts, sport in China today consists of a small variety of competitive sports played in China.

Chinese Kungfu (also called “Wushu”) has one of the longest histories of martial arts in the world, and with hundreds of styles, it is probably the most varied. The origins of Chinese martial arts can be traced over 3,000 years ago to self-defense needs, hunting activities and military training in ancient China.

Hand-to-hand combat and weapons practice were important components in the training of Chinese soldiers. From this beginning, Chinese martial arts proceeded to incorporate different philosophies and ideas into its practice—expanding its purpose from self-defense to health maintenance and finally as a method of self-cultivation.

Conversely, the influence of martial arts ideals in civilian society can be found in poetry, fiction, and eventually film. Chinese martial arts are now an integral element of Chinese culture.

Taijiquan or taiji is translated as “the great ultimate” and is understood to be the ideal of existence. Yin and yang represent the contrasting qualities of reality and experience. The “supreme ultimate” creates yang and yin, movement generates yang when its activity reaches its limit, it becomes tranquil.

Through tranquillity, the supreme ultimate generates yin. When tranquillity has reached its limit, there is a return to movement. Movement and tranquillity, in alteration, become each the source of the other. The distinction between the yin and yang is determined and the two forms stand revealed.

By the transformations of the yang and the union of the yin, the 5 elements (Qi) of water, fire, wood, metal, and earth are produced. These 5 Qi become diffused, which creates harmony, so Yin and yang produce all things, and these in their turn produce and reproduce, thus making these processes endless.

Chinese Acrobatics: Acrobatics is a performing art which combines physical strength and skill. Chinese acrobatics has long been used to promote cultural exchanges between Chinese people and people in other countries, like the Eastern Roman Empire, India or Japan etc.

Chinese acrobatics, music, and dance spread to other countries through both land and sea routes of the Silk Road as an important part of Chinese culture. Magic and acrobatic acts such as knife swallowing, fire-spitting, tree growing and tightrope walking were often performed at dinner parties held in foreigner royal palaces.

Traditional Chinese culture regards physical fitness as an important aspect, and, since the 20th century, a large number of sports activities, both Western and traditional Chinese, are popular in China.

  • Ping-Pong, table tennis is the biggest amateur recreational sport in China today, in the world with an estimated 300 million players and on at international professional level with the highest-ranked players.The sport played an important role in China’s international relations; in April 1972, the US table tennis team were invited to visit China, an event later called “Ping Pong Diplomacy“.
  • Another well established and popular recreational sport in China is badminton. Amateur leagues exist across the country.
  • Jianzi – This is the Chinese version of hacky sack and is a traditional Asian game in which players aim to keep a heavily weighted shuttlecock in the air using their feet and other parts of the body excluding hands. The game is usually played among a circle of players in a street or park with the objective to keep the shuttle ‘up’ and show off skills.If you are walking along Chinese streets, you can see bunches of people sitting on little chairs and playing games. Outdoor activities are an important part of Chinese culture.
  • Mahjong is a card game for four players that originated in China. It involves skill, strategy, and calculation, as well as a certain degree of chance. Mahjong in Asia is popularly played as a gambling game, where each player is dealt either thirteen or sixteen tiles in a hand (depending on the variation being played, different places of Asia have different rules and different variations of mahjong).On their turn, players draw a tile and discard one, with the goal of making four or five melds (depending on the variation) and one pair, or “head”. Winning comes “on the draw”, by drawing a new or discarded tile that completes the hand. Thus a winning hand actually contains fourteen (or seventeen) tiles.
  • Xiangqi – is a two-player Chinese chess board game. The game represents a battle between two armies, with the object of capturing the enemy’s “general” piece. Rules of Xiangqi are similar to the Western version of chess.Distinctive features of Xiangqi include the unique movement of the pao (“cannon”) piece, a rule prohibiting the (similar to chess kings) from facing each other directly, and the river and palace board features, which restrict the movement of some pieces. Xiangqi is one of the most popular board games in past times in China and also other places with significant ethnic Chinese communities.
  • In addition to these Chinese sports, it is also said that the origins of football came from China where a ball was kicked into a small net by the Chinese military during the Han Dynasty around and 2nd and 3rd centuries BC!

Rachel Yoon

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