|Couple playing Ti Jianzi|
Photo Credit: Janus Jacquet
Photo Credit: Fang Hsieh
Make your own shuttlecock
We started off by making our Jianzi the old fashioned way: with feathers, washers (not sure where to find ancient Chinese coins) and twine. Tying it all together was a feat of imagination. Twine, twist, knot, go in, go under. I ended up doing my own, Elle's, and finishing off Pea's. We took them outside, and started playing Ti Jianzi. Although we had a great time, after about twenty minutes, the washers were hanging from the feathers, and since they were bundled together with no rhyme or reason, it was not easy putting it back together.
So we made our new and improved versions :) using a piece of fabric to bundle it all together. This way, when it does need fixing - as any homemade toy that's been kicked about is bound to need - it will be quite easy.
You will need:
- four to five feathers
- 2 washers
- fabric, cut into a 3"x3" square
- Tie the two washers together.
- Wrap around the washers with twine.
- Tie the feathers tightly together near the base with twine, leaving only a small amount of the bottom tips - you want the ends to be long enough that the bundle feels secure, yet not so they're jutting out sharply.
- Insert bundle of feathers into the washers, place in the center of your square of fabric.
- Gather the fabric up over the washers, and secure tightly, very tightly, with twine around the base of the feathers. I took the twine, tied it once, wrapped it around the base, tied it again, wrapped it around once more, then triple knotted it.
Then get outdoors and play!
We "played" for over an hour, which for Pea to remain outdoors and active (other than hiking) is something close to a miracle. And by "playing" I mean attempting to kick the shuttlecock, and occasionally getting it on the first try, and sometimes even getting it with the right amount of force to the person it was aimed at. More often it zoomed past someone, sending one of us scurrying to get it. Elle's enthusiasm had her kicking it as though she were trying to kick a football across a field, and I, being the natural athlete that I am, kept covering my face and cowering when it came in my direction. When Hubby joined in, who it turns out played hacky sack as a kid, the success rate did improve, resulting in the shuttlecock remaining in the air, on occasion, for two foot strikes!
I can see why this game was used in military exercises - it requires concentration, agility, and good hand-eye coordination.
Clearly we need a lot of practice - and with summer coming, and knowing the girls enjoyed this so much, we will. Practice. And I'm sure it will continue to be a source of much laughter!