Chuiwan: ancient golf
In ancient China there was another sport, in which a stick was used to hit a ball. At first there were two ways to play: on horseback or on foot. The first resembles polo, a sport as popular as cuju in the Tang Dynasty. The second is like field hockey today, a highly competitive contest calculated by the number of goals.
In the Song dynasty, a new method, called Chuiwan (捶丸), was invented. There were two main differences between chuiwan and the previous game: first, the ball was not hit into the goal but into a hole; second, direct confrontation was changed to indirect confrontation.
The game of chuiwan consisted of two teams hitting the ball with a stick into the holes previously dug in the ground. Those who hit the ball the least number of times to get it into the holes or those who had the most goals were the winners.
Chuiwan can be played individually or as a team. The distance between the batter and the holes differed from 10 to 20 meters. When one hit the ball and got it into the chosen hole in three strokes, one won a point.
The sticks used in chuiwan were made of wood and had different shapes on the bottom depending on whether they were used in different conditions and stances. Some resembled a ladle, and others were triangular.
The hitting part of the sticks was made of solid wood wrapped with ox tendons, and the handle was made of bamboo, hard and elastic. The ball was made of tree knot, ox horn, or agate, and its size was little larger than an egg.
In 1282, during the reign of Zhiyuan of the Yuan dynasty, Ning Zhi wrote a book about chuiwan, detailing the history, court, facilities, number of players, methods and rules. You can see the similarities between chiwan and modern golf, although there are also real differences. For example, in golf, the batsman grips the club with both hands, while in chuiwan, he only uses one hand.
In Chinese history, there is a shooting record that has stood for more than two thousand years.
According to historical records, Yang Youji, who was outstanding in archery since his childhood, and Pan Hu, another archer, also good at shooting, decided to compete. The target was about 50 paces away.
Pan's three arrows hit the target, which drew applause from the audience. It was Yang's turn: he took a look around and said, "The target is too close and big, let me shoot at the willow leaf a hundred paces away." To do this, he asked to dye a willow leaf red, and with one arrow he hit. Pan Hu was surprised, he did not believe what he had seen.
He approached the willow, chose three leaves and dyed and numbered them for Yang to shoot again.
Yang Youji hit the targets one by one with the arrow, arousing immense applause. Pan Hu was convinced and from then on, Yang Youji became the first archer of ancient China.
This story is somewhat legendary, but when you consider it, there is something logical about it. Bows and arrows that served for hunting in ancient times were later used as weapons on the battlefield.
Targets moved, so it was more useful to practice with moving targets. 2000 years have passed and Yang Youji's name may have been forgotten, but the person of Yang inspires many Chinese to constantly improve their skills in their work. With this story a sport emerged in China, the willow shooting contest.
This contest is practiced on horseback. First, on both sides of the road are placed two rows of willow each with a piece of 30 cm without the green bark to be an efficient part of the shot.
Each archer tied a handkerchief on a twig making it his target. The archer shot an arrow and had to break the branch marked with the handkerchief.
According to the rule, those who broke the branch and caught it with their hand won; those who only broke the branch but failed to catch it did not win completely; those who failed to shoot lost. It was a seemingly simple competition, but it was very difficult to perform without skill, as the horse ran very fast and sometimes the branches swayed in the breeze.
This contest became one of the main exercises of military training in the Song dynasty. After the second half of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), it gradually disappeared, which may have something to do with the appearance of firearms.
Jiaodi: sumo and wrestling
Jiaodi (角抵) was, in ancient times, a sport to show the monarch's valor originating from the wars of the early society with the two tribes led by Huangdi and Chiyou respectively. Chiyou was fierce and used to wear two ox horns on his head to attack enemies. Although he did not win the final victory, his fighting manner impressed later generations, and in northern China there was the Jiaodi opera featuring Chiyou with two horns on his head.
During the Qin Dynasty 2,200 years ago, the Jiaodi opera was introduced to the court by Emperor Qin Shi Huang.
After the reunification of the country, in order to consolidate his power and prevent people's rebellion, he confiscated all weapons in the society and promoted the jiaodi, but without wearing ox horns.
Later, jiaodi became a sport that combined strength and skills, a competitive and spectacular sport. In the Han dynasty, jiaodi was very popular, and official large-scale competitions were often held in cities where spectators came from far and wide.
The rulers of the Yuan Dynasty were Mongolian. During that time, both men and women were fond of wrestling and were also interested in this sport.
The Italian Marco Polo recorded in his book that a Mongolian noblewoman wanted to choose a husband in the jiaodi competition, but no one could beat her. Although she failed to find the right man, she did win an official prize of 10,000 horses.