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December 09, 2020 3 min read

Discover Jianzi the ancient Chinese game that inspired a soccer company 

This article is about one of the games that inspired Kickit; Jianzi - read on to learn more about this innovative and ancient Chinese game! It is important to note that Kickit did not invent this game and that the concept of kicking a shuttlecock has been around for centuries. Kicking a shuttlecock has origins in several countries in addition to China. Kickit developed a durable kickable shuttlecock as a soccer training device as it has been found to improve coordination and dexterity for soccer players. It is important to celebrate the inspiration and history behind all new technology so here is Jianzi!

Did you know David Beckham has played Jianzi?!

What is Jianzi?

Jianzi is a traditional sport in China that uses a weighted shuttlecock which must be kept in the air by the player’s bodies except for the hands. Jianzi is a favorite pastime in China and has been enjoyed by children and adults for centuries as well as evolving into a competitive sport. The rules of Jianzi vary based on the level of play, from competitive to recreational.

Jianzi itself was derived from another Chinese sport called Cuju, in which a ball must be kicked through an opening into a net, and the use of hands is not allowed. Jianzi doesn’t use a ball and, in fact, is named after the weighted, feathered shuttlecock that is used to play the game. In addition to China, the game of kicking a shuttlecock also has origins and variations in countries like Vietnam, the Philippines, and in recent years, the concept has even gained a following in the USA, Europe, and other countries. It is estimated that the history of Jianzi goes back two thousand years.

Basic Game Play

The jianzi or shuttlecock is kept from touching the ground using various parts of the body except for the hands. Primarily, the jianzi is balanced and propelled through the air using the feet or parts of the leg. Skilled players may employ the use of impressively acrobatic and powerful overhead kicks. In China, there are two ways to play an informal or recreational game:

  • Circle - 5-10 people play against each other standing in a circle
  • Duel - 2 people or 2 sides play against each other

Competitive Game Play

Government-run competitive games are called “hacky-sack” and are played on a rectangular court that is 6 by 12 meters and divided by a net, very similar to badminton. In 2009, a brand new game called Chinese JJJ was invented and has become the most popular competitive form of the game. The most interesting fact about Chinese JJJ is that it applies soccer’s goal shooting techniques for each side to attack each other over a low middle net.


Recreational Play

Recreational games involving two players or two sides often have the objective of keeping the Jianzi in the air until an agreed target of 100 kicks is reached. In circle play between multiple people, the objective of the game is usually to keep play going. In all forms, a skillful display is the key component of the game!

Just look at how amazing this is!


Whether you play the ancient game Cuju, the ancient game Jianzi, or the soccer version Kickit, you will enjoy several physical benefits including better coordination, aerobic exercise, and improved balance. Kickit, inspired by four similar sports including Jianzi, was designed for the modern soccer player and fan to enjoy as a fun, skill-building game.