Ethnic games expected more public concern

08:59, August 25, 2010      

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A school girl from Shijingshan District performs Kongzhu at the 8th Beijing Traditional Games of Ethnic Minorities on August 22, 2010. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com/Li Bo]

Pearl ball, Kongzhu, spinning tops and shuttlecock, all of which are rarely seen in common sports events, can be found at the 8th Beijing Traditional Games of Ethnic Minorities from August 21 to 28 in Beijing's Fengtai District.

During the 8-day competition, players representing different districts of Beijing will strive to reach the top in 14 different ethnic games. One third of players on each team are minorities. To get a glimpse of the event, reporter Li Bo watched three different games in one day.

A retiree from Shijingshan District participates in the senior group of "Kongzhu," which uses different spool shapes and strings based upon the user's preference. He explained that the Kongzhu is composed of a spool which is whirled and tossed on a string tied to two sticks; the player can control the spool by holding the two sticks their hands. The youth prefer the double strings which causes the spool to spin fast, but quick reflexes are necessary. The elders, on the other hand, like to use a single string, which looks gentler but steady control and patience is needed.

He said that he began practicing Kongzhu when he retired from his job. The hobby was meant to enrich his daily life and maintain a healthy body, but he later became more interested. Kongzhu is not easy to learn in the beginning; however, once he figured out the essence of the game, it became irresistible. He feels something is missing if he does not practice every day. Through practicing Kongzhu, he has made several new friends. Meeting other players allows him to learn new tricks from other, more experienced players.

Kongzhu has become more popular in recent years, according to the senior's eyes. Besides being part of ethnic games, Kongzhu- themed community activities have been organized in many neighborhoods. In schools, it is included in physical education classes. Some well-trained players also perform in acrobatics shows, which increases public interest in Kongzhu.

One of the highlights of this event is that it is open and free to the public. A resident from Chaoyang District took the bus to Fengtai to watch the game. He thought it was a good idea to hold such an event. Not only do these events promote the ethnic games to the public, it also enriches the daily lives of those watching the events. He plans to return to watch other games in the next few days.

Differing from Kongzhu, the competitors on the pearl ball team are mostly professional basketball and handball players. It is also considered as the most intense competition in this ethnic games. " Pearl ball is basically a basketball game mixed with some football game rules, which is difficult for the handball players because they have to limit their steps to three when holding the ball in a pearl game, while four steps are allowed in the handball game," The head referee briefly explained.

This game was deduced from the pearl capturing activities among the fisherman of Manchu, aiming to preserve the traditional livelihood activity. However, most of the teams were composed primarily of basketball and handball players in local Institutes of Physical Education. After a short period assembled training, the players take part in the competition. The team will be dismissed when the event completes.

Some strong teams, for example The Capital Institute of Physical Education, are routine pearl ball teams that are composed by selecting some talented basketball players. But this is rare in Beijing, even the boards and net used in the game are difficult to find in the market. Most of the public is not familiar with this event.

A similar situation is seen in the spinning tops field. Although spinning tops is common for most residents in north China, the development of the game needs to be strengthened. A competitor from The Central University of Nationalities told the reporter that it is popular in China's S.W.Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Yunnan province. The rules for spinning tops in the ethnic games also follow the rules from the upper regions. The performance level of spinning tops in Beijing is quite low and needs to be enhanced.

This attempt is a good chance to introduce these traditional games to the public. Interest in these games is expected to grow among the large population of Beijing residents. The amateur players from the public have the potential to do well in the games.

The Beijing Traditional Games of Ethnic Minorities is an event held every four years. The last game was held in July, 2006 in Beijing's Dongcheng District. The 8th is the largest one in history with over 8,000 competitors joining the event. The games are ongoing during the week, and the winners will be announced at the closing ceremony on August 28 at the Beijing World Park.

About the games

Pearl Ball

Pearl ball was listed as an official game at the ethnic games in 1999. Seven players from each team fight for a handball and shoot at the fishing net in the opposite court. The rules are similar to a basketball game, mixed with some football rules. Whichever team scores more in 30 minutes wins the game.

Spinning tops

A spinning top is a toy that can be spun on an axis, balancing on a point. The top that is used in the match is made by wasted wood pulp with a nail in the top. The competitors either hit the opposing top out of the central circle or make their top spin faster to get a high score. The team that gets higher scores after four rounds wins the game.

Kongzhu

Kongzhu, or "diabolo" in western countries, is a popular game in Beijing's residents, especially among kids and retired locals. The materials consist of a spool which is whirled and tossed on a string tied to two sticks, one held in each hand. A large variety of tricks are possible using the sticks, string, and various body parts. Multiple spools can be spun on a single string.

Source: CRI online


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(Editor:王千原雪)

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