What is Jianzi Sport?-Chinese Shuttlecock

The beauty of many things originating from China is the availability of records that we can refer to when we need to find out more about their history. This is the case with the Jianzi sport, a game that has been adopted in many regions all over the Asian continent and beyond. Today, the game that has variably been referred to as shuttlecock, kinja, or Chinese hacky sack has a formal Chinese government-run competitive game that has set rules, and many informal variations from all over the world.

What Is Jianzi in Chinese

jianzi ball

Jianzi, also known as ti- jianzi, jianqiu, or ti-Jian, is a traditional Chinese sport in which players use bodies other than their hands to keep a weighted shuttle cock in the air.

Jianzi History

        Jianzi Origin

Jianzi appears to have been a popular sport during the Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE). It is thought that the game was likely derived from Cuju, a football-like game used for military training, as it is mentioned in several ancient books from the era. Stores dedicated to shuttlecocks sales first appeared during the Tang Dynasty (618 CE-907 CE), and records show that shuttlecock kicking competitions were held during the Ming Dynasty (1368 CE-1644 CE). Shuttlecock games reached their pinnacle in terms of making technics and kicking skills during the Qing Dynasty (1644 CE-1911 CE)

As time went by, the sport spread across Asia, acquiring different names along the way. Variants to the Chinese Jianzi include the Da cau in Vietnam, Chapteh, and Sepak takraw which are popular in Thailand and Malaysia.

In 1936, the game was introduced to Europe by a Chinese athlete from Jiangsu province who performed a show at the Berlin Summer Olympics. People in Europe soon started to pick it up and play the game they now called shuttlecock. It was not long before it spread to America.

        Who Invented Jianzi

chinese jianzi game

The sport was invented and developed by the Chinese military during the Han dynasty as a way of promoting physical fitness and improving the resilience of the soldiers. 

How to play Jianzi

         Jianzi Rules

The objective of the game is to keep the shuttlecock in the air for as long as possible, controlling it by using only one’s feet and knees. You can play it informally, or formally with the rules changing only slightly depending on the play.

 The basic rules for playing jianzi are straightforward. You and one other person are all you need to play. You start by kicking the jianzi at your opponent. They receive it and try to keep it from touching the ground by using various delays, kicks, and other agilities without touching it with their hands. Whoever lets the shuttlecock touch the ground or uses their hands losses. You can agree to keep the jianzi in the air until several agreed kicks are reached.

How to make a Jianzi shuttlecock

You can easily make a jianzi shuttlecock and enjoy this game at home. All you will need is a half-dollar size metal washer, a second smaller rubber washer, some fuzzy feathers, duct tape, a drinking straw, and scissors.

Start by cutting the straw to the size of the washer’s width. Then cut slits on one end of the straw. Fold the slits outwards to make a fan shape to fit the metal washer. Duct tape the fan-shaped end. Put metal washer hole over straw, such that the fanned end is flat beneath the washer, and duct tape it. On the fanned straw side, stick double folded duct tape and place the rubber washer centrally on the metal washer.

The result should be a rubber washer at the bottom, holding the fanned side of the straw to the metal washer.

Take a few feathers and push them into the straw. Secure the feathers with duct tape around the straw, and your shuttlecock is complete.


Soccer or football as they call it in most parts of the world also developed from Cuju. For some reason, the game grew to heights that jianzi did not. It would be interesting to find out if with the growing attention jianzi is receiving now the game has a chance of becoming as big as soccer is someday in the future.

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