Traditional Ethnic Sports

Traditional sports are an important part of China’s sports activities, as well as a precious cultural heritage. Many of the traditional sports activities are not only good for health but also have high artistic value, and rich recreational and educational functions. Since the founding of New China, the government has attached great importance to the development of the traditional sports of national minorities, amounting to about 1,000 kinds, such as Mongolian wrestling, horsemanship and archery; kicking the shuttlecock and tug-of-war of the Hui; Tibetan yak racing; the Miao people’s swinging and dragon-boat racing; the Zhuang people’s throwing balls made of colored silk; Korean swinging and see-sawing; Manchu skating; walking on stilts of the Dong people; whipping tops of the Yao people; kite-flying of the Gaoshan; girl chasing of the Kirgiz; and sepak takraw of the Blang. Dragon boat racing, flying kites, yangge dancing, weiqi, qigong and taijiquan are traditional sports popular among both Han people and people of national minorities.


Young amateurs of Chinese martial arts.

Team members having fun after an international
dragon boat race held in Fujian.

The dragon is the symbol of the Chinese nation. Boats are made in the shape of dragons by Chinese people of va-rious ethnic groups. Dragon-boat contests are popular in southern areas with many rivers and lakes.

Kites were invented in ancient China, the earliest man-made aircraft in the world. Kites made in Beijing, Tianjin, Weifang in Shandong Province and Nantong in Jiangsu Province are unique in their styles and famous all over the world. On April 1 every year, the Kite Festival is held in Weifang. Kite lovers from all over the world come here to share their enthusiasm for kites and strengthen ties of friendship.

Yangge is a kind of folk dance accompanied by music with strongly accented rhythms. It is popular in many areas of north China. Nowadays, it is a keep-fit activity. It is especially popular among middle-aged and elderly women.

Weiqi originated in China, and was already a popular game during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods. Then it found its way to Japan, Korea, and European and American countries. After the founding of New China, it was listed as a competitive sports event.

Wushu, or martial arts, has been practiced for several thousand years by people in China for physical training and self-defense. It is practiced in various types of set exercises, either empty-handed or with weapons.

Taijiquan is a branch of Chinese martial arts with a history of three or four hundred years. It grew out of the health maintenance exercises of ancient Taoism combined with the theories of yin and yang and main and collateral channels. It originated in Chenjiagou in Wenxian County, Henan Province. There are different schools, including the Chen style, Yang style, Wu style and Sun style. In this art it is essential that the mind guide the body’s movements and, at the same time, follow the body’s graceful, gentle and firm movements.

Qigong, with a history of several thousand years, is a unique system of exercises aimed at controlling the mind and regulating the breath to keep fit, live long, overcome disease, and strengthen the physiological functions. Wushu and qigong have won followers all over the world.

Sports meets of national minorities are held regularly in China.

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Last updated: 2000-07-13.