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Complete and Overall Introduction to Chinese Shuttlecock

Chinese Shuttlecock

General Introduction to Chinese Shuttlecock

Chinese shuttlecock (jianzi, 毽子) is a toy made by plugging cock feathers into round base. Shuttlecock kicking is one of the ancient folk sports games, originating in the Han Dynasty and becoming popular in the Tang Dynasty. Until now, it has been over 2,000 years. As a simple and easy exercise, it is very popular with youth and children in China, especially girls.
Chinese Shuttlecock

Chinese Shuttlecock History - Prototype

Chinese jianzi kicking has a long history. It is said that date back more than 3,000 years ago, in Shang Dynasty, there is a dance that kicks and dances; this may be the prototype of kicking shuttlecock. It is also said that kicking shuttlecock derives from Chinese ancient football (cuju, 蹴鞠). In 1913, in Nanzhang Village, Yubeitun, Jining city, Shandong Province, 23 stone paintings were unearthed in an East Han Dynasty tomb, showing eight people playing shuttle cock. Their movements were harmonious, stretched and natural.

The Development History of Jianzi Shuttlecock

In Ming Qing Dynasty 

Shuttlecock kicking was further developed during this period. In Ming Dynasty, there is a folk paper written by essayist mentioned shuttle kicking. Thus, it infers that kicking shuttlecock had become topic of folk songs. Furthermore, shuttlecock game has developed into a skilled sports which can be carried out by several people simultaneously.

Shuttlecock Kicking

In the Qing Dynasty, the shuttlecock kicking reached its heyday and has been participated by more and more people. It is not only used for physical exercise but also as a way to keep healthy. People regard kicking shuttlecock as equal important as writing, painting, playing chess, flying kites, raising flowers and birds, opera, etc. Mention that some people are proud of kicking shuttlecock. As a result, the activities of kicking shuttlecock became more widespread. In particular, youngster participants were more common. This was proved by a children’s song then. Chinese folk guys who loves kicking shuttlecock work very hard; they passed down shuttlecock kicking skill from generation to generation by mouth to mouth teaching. 

In 1930s

A group of nationally famous shuttlecock players emerged. The kicking technique has been improved on the basis of popularization. Various kinds of kicking methods have been created. The action of high difficulty refurbishment emerges in an endless stream. Different styles compete with each other and make the viewer dazzled and amazed. The traditional kicking exercise in China is increasingly perfect.

Benefits of Kicking Shuttlecock

Shuttle kicking (ti jianzi) is a folk sports game in china and a good systemic exercise. It doesn’t require any special site or equipment. As for exercise capacity, it can be large or small, thus it is suitable for both children and adults. It is especially helpful in cultivating people's sensitivity and coordination, and is conducive to the overall development of the body, enhance health. Because of the entertaining and flexible nature of kicking shuttlecock, it is favored by the people of the country and also by the people of other countries in the world. In recent years, many countries in Europe and Asia have carried out Chinese shuttlecock kick game.

Kick Shuttlecock

How to Kick Shuttlecock (ti jianzi, 踢毽子)

It does not require a lot of space, only a small piece of relatively flat open space, three or four square meters can be. The more skilled the player is, the less requirement to venue. For some skilled players, they only need a square meter; or, they even can stand on the bench to finish dozens of games.

The basic movements of kicking shuttlecock include four types: twist, knock, turn, and hop. Twist, mainly refers to the alternate kick with the inside of the two feet. Knock, mainly refers to bouncing a shuttlecock with knees. Turn, mainly refers to kicking with the outside of the foot. Hop, mainly refers to kicking with toes.

There are numerous tricks for kicking the shuttlecock, such as rotating kicks, kicking with the toes and knees alternately, kicking through the ring (i.e., passing through the circle surrounded by both hands of the player), far hanging, near hanging, high hanging, kicking, and back hooking. Player can make use of head, shoulders, back, chest and abdomen to hit shuttlecock to keep it not reaching the ground.


Kick shuttlecock using the inside of the foot alternatively. The knee joint is outward. Turn thigh outwards with slightly upwards. Relax the hip and knee joints, turn lower legs upwards and kick shuttlecock with ankle joint’s power. The height of the flying shuttlecock should not higher than lower jaw of the player. 

Twist Shuttlecock

Practice: Most person's left foot is not as flexible as right foot. Who did not kick the shuttlecock ever before, can also achieve one or two kicks with his right foot. It is more appropriate to start with the left foot. That is, firstly, kick with left foot vertically and catch shuttlecock with hand(s); then, kick with right foot and catch with hand(s). When you are skilled with that, kick with one of your foot continuously without catching with hands each time. When you can continuously kick with either foot, you can try to kick once with each foot (a single round) and catch with hands, kick twice (two rounds), kick three times (three rounds)…When you are skilled, you do not need to catch with hands, kick as many rounds as you can. The more kicks, the better.


Kick shuttlecock with the two knees alternatively. Relax the hips and knees, sag the lower legs naturally, and kick with the power of knee joint. Knee knocks the shuttlecock up and avoid thighs stretching or buckling. Similarly, the height of the flying shuttlecock should not higher than lower jaw of the player. 

Knock Shuttlecock

Practice: Throw up the shuttlecock and its height should not higher than your lower jaw. When it drop down to a proper height, kick it up with your knee. Then, catch it by hand. Just similar to twist method. When you are skilled, you can kick alternatively with your two knees, or, between foot and knee. Also, the more kicks the better.


Kick with the outside of the two feet alternatively. Relax thighs, turn foot backwards and upwards with power of lower leg and hook toe. Thighs should not move in front of the body and lower leg should not move too high, either backwards or upwards. Kick shuttlecock immediately when the outside of your foot reach it. Generally, the inside of foot should no higher than 30cm above the ground. As the height of the shuttlecock, there is no requirement. 

Turn Shuttlecock

Practice: The practice method is similar to twist method. In order to avoid mistakes, in practice, you can kick toward the wall or trees. The distance between your body and the wall is approximately the same as the body width. If you touch the wall or the tree while kicking, the action is wrong because the knee is not relaxed and the thigh is raised too high.


Kick shuttlecock by three-toed part of two feet alternatively. It is also possible to kick with a single foot. Hop can kick up shuttlecock that is about to hit the ground. The shuttlecock is hopped up by the force of the ankle, so this method is called hop. Thigh lifts forward, forming an angle of 150-160 degrees with body; lower leg swings forward; relax hip and knee joint. Shove upwards heavily with three-toed part of your foot immediately when your toes reach the shuttlecock. As the height of the shuttlecock, there is no requirement; just avoid unstable height to prepare for future skill. 

Hop Shuttlecock

Practice: The practice method is similar to twist method. Yet, the height of the shuttlecock should better be low, no higher than waist, thus you are more probable to kick more. Also, in order to avoid mistakes, you can face the wall or trees while practicing.

Maybe word description is not vivid enough, thus, you can learn from this video 

Chinese Shuttlecock Kick Game

Various sizes and various forms of competitions are often held in various places in china. As the criterion of shuttlecock kicking, some compete the number of kicks and some compete the tricks and difficulties. The way to carry out the game can be a single player, two players and group players in the game. Also, there is relay race (that is, one player kick to the next one, and if the next one fails to catch the shuttlecock and pass it to the third player, he loses). 

Shuttlecock Relay Race

Only complete kicking skill 

One foot touches the ground and the other kicks. The foot on the ground can move or not move (commonly known as "construction of piles"). The kicking foot can reach ground after the “kick” action each time or not to (commonly known as "hanging"). The players can play in turn. Participant who kicks most (cumulatively) wins. Or, player who first completes the task wins.

There is a type of competition called “pagoda”, in which the first person kicks once, the second player kicks two times, the third one kicks three times and make it a loop. Repeats, adds up, until one of them fails. The failed one throws shuttlecock to one player of the rest group and restart the game to fail out another player. Repeat like this until the last one keeps in the group, and he wins.

Complete kicking with tricks 

The most common is "jumping", which means the moment shuttlecock is thrown up, both feet jump up at the same time and kick the shuttlecock with one foot. You can jump continuously or jump and kick alternatively. There is also the "stealing", that is, a foot on the ground, the other foot "secretly" kick from the back; "making ring", feet jump up, one leg bent and the other kick; "tilting up”, the feet jump up, one leg stretch forward and the other kick; “cutting”, both feet jump up, and the legs move forward like scissors cutting, and one of them kick the shuttlecock. In addition, you can also deliberately kick with foot which one you are not skilled (Someone is left-handed, right foot is not skilled), or two-feet rotation kick ...

I know it’s extremely difficult for new beginners, an easy way is to throw shuttlecock in the air, kick it with any of your foot and keep it in the air.

How to Make a Chinese Shuttlecock?

Cock Feather Shuttlecock

Materials: a piece of jeans cloth, two pieces of shim, plastic straw and some cock feathers

Tools: scissors, cotton thread and sewing needle
Shuttlecock Making Preparations

1. Cut the cloth of the old jeans into two pieces.

2. Stack the two shims on one cloth piece. 

Stack Shims on Cloth

3. Put another piece on it and sew it into a circle along the shim with the sewing thread. Remember to sew firmly. Then, use scissors to cut cloth into circle along the shims.
Sew Cloth into a Circle

4. Cut the plastic straw to get 4cm, and cut one end into 3 flaps, about 6mm long. Separate the 3 flaps and paste them on the middle empty position of the wrapped shim. Sew the 3 flaps on the cloth to make a tripod. 

Sew a Tripod on Shim Center

5. Finally, insert the cock feathers into the other end of the straw and a cock feather shuttlecock is done! 

Cock Feature Shuttlecock

Tips: You can paint colors on the cock feathers as you like to make it colorful and beautiful.

Here is the similar video on YouTube

Wire Shuttlecock

Materials: ribbon, small iron ring

Tools: scissors or knife 


1. Cut the ribbon into several pieces with each about 20cm long, then tie the ribbon pieces around the iron ring.

Tie Ribbon around Iron Ring

2. Tear the ribbon into filament. 

Ribbon Shuttlecock

Tips: If you find shuttlecock with one iron ring light when kicking it, you can stack two and tie ribbon around them next time.

I made a shuttlecock when I'm a child using this method by my impression of the shuttlecock I had ever seen together with myself imagination. It was a success and the shuttlecock I made behaved well. PS. It's a white one.

Plastic Shuttlecock

Materials: a plastic bag (soft), 2-3 coins, rubber

Tool: scissors

1. Cut out a 20-cm square plastic sheet from the plastic bag.

2. In the middle of the plastic sheet, mark a coin-sized circle with a marker or sticker.

3. Fold the top, bottom, left and right ends of the plastic sheet to facilitate cutting.
Fold Plastic Sheet

4. Cut out the small pieces of about 1 centimeter wide on the four directions to the creases, but do not reach the creases.

5. Place a few coins (2-3 pieces) in the center of the plastic sheet.

Place Coins on Center of Plastic Sheet

6. Pack the coins and tighten them! 

Wrap Coins

7. Secure with rubber bands. Finally, a plastic shuttlecock is done! 
Secure with Rubber

Plastic Shuttlecock

Here is the similar video on YouTube

Tips: According to my own experience, the best one the shuttlecock brings to me is the first type I introduced above.

Where to Buy Chinese Shuttlecock?

If you do not have time to make a shuttlecock by yourself, or you still find it difficult to DIY, you can buy it and it is cheap. In China, you can buy it in a stationery or roadside stalls; yet, now is hardly seen in roadside stalls. Instead, online shopping is popular, so, you can get it in Amazon online stores. 

OK, Helen’s share about Chinese shuttlecock is that all. Thanks for reading!


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