Land Based Sports & Activities

Traditional Sports & Activities

Stepping on High (Gaoqiao)

In Hunnan Province the Miao and Tujia ethnic groups are very fond of a sport called 'gaoqiao' which means 'stepping on high'. The historical record shows that during the 14 - 15th century, the people living there were very needy and could not afford shoes. As there was a considerable amount of rain that made the ground very wet, people had to find a suitable method for walking about. They made short stilts from bamboo poles about 1-meter-high (3.3 feet). These would be strapped to their legs and what was a useful way of getting around has been developed into a skill and in traditional games people not only walk on these stilts but they run at speed demonstrating great feats of agility and balance. This is similar to the performance of 'stepping on high' in festivals of the Han People.

Throwing Silk Balls (Pao Xiuqiu)

The Chinese 'pao' means 'to throw' and 'xiuqiu' means 'a silk ball'. This is a traditional activity in festivals marking the blooming season or harvest time. For this joyous feast, young people will wear their fineries and throw 'xiu qiu' in two teams. The ball is sewn up by girls themselves and the shapes may be round, square, octagonal, crescent or even like a fish or duck. Each has a diameter of 6 cm (2.36 inches) with the grains or sand inside and usually weighs about 2 - 3 liangs in Chinese unit (equal to 0.22 - 0.33 pound). The balls will have flowery patterns on the surface, a colored cord on the top and fringes on the bottom. These fine 'xiu qiu' symbolize the beauty and wisdom of the girls.

There are various ways of playing this game. One way goes like this: the boys' team and the girl's team each appoint a judge, and begin to throw the balls to the opposing side. If the ball is dropped, the losing side will be required to sing or perform in other ways as a forfeit. In another game a 10-meter-high (32.8-foot-high) pole is erected with a board at the top, through which a hole with a diameter of 60 centimeters (23.6 inches) is cut. Two teams of boys and girls stand beside the pole facing one another and throw 'xiu qiu'. The players toss the colored balls by means of the attached cords so that with accuracy, the ball will go through the hole. The winners are the team that throws 'xiu qiu' through the hole the most times.

Firework-Catching (Qiang Huapao)

This is the sport of catching fireworks. It is said that the sport has a history of near one hundred years amongst the people of Zhuang and Dong ethnic groups. A Qiang Huapao race is usually held on the third day of the third month in Chinese lunar calendar - the Firework Festival.

The traditional fireworks used in this contest are round iron rings with the diameter of about 5 cm (1.97 feet). Red cloth or silk is twisted around the ring which is positioned into a firework transmitter which has been set with powder. Once lightened, it sends the firework into the sky. When it falls down on the ground, players run to snatch and try to throw it into the basket to gain one point. In a limited time the team that gains the most will be the winner. Since the firework is so small, it requires very good skills to catch and throw them - this game fully mirrors the wit of the people!

'Snatching fireworks' is acknowledged as the 'Chinese Soccer'. On the field of 60 meters (65 yards) long and 50 meters (54 yards) wide, each side will send out 8 players. A game is played over a period of 40 minutes in two 20-minute halves with a ten minute break. Players are allowed to pass, duck and intercept and holding and locking, etc.

For safety reasons, when the ethnic groups now meet together for games an electronic device is used to launch the 'firework' but the sport other wise remains unaltered.

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