David Beckham takes up new lockdown hobby: How to play Jianzi

Marie Claire Dorking
·3-min read
David Beckham has taken up a new hobby in lockdown, pictured in February 2020. (Getty Images)
David Beckham has taken up a new hobby in lockdown, pictured in February 2020. (Getty Images)

David Beckham has revealed he has taken up a new hobby in lockdown.

While most of us have been binge-watching Netflix, the former professional footballer has been spending his time at home practicing the Chinese sport of Jianzi.

Sharing a video to Instagram of him trying to perfect his new skills, Beckham explained he’s discovered a real love for the game.

“Practising Jianzi for the first time, I love it,” he wrote. “Thanks to my fans in China for getting me into this new game.”

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What is Jianzi?

According to the International Shuttlecock Association Jianzi, or “Shuttlecock” as it is also known, is a traditional Asian game in which players aim to keep a shuttlecock (or feather ball) in the air using their feet and other parts of the body, but not their hands.

Perhaps that’s why Beckham has taken to it so quickly, because in that sense it is similar to football.

The main aim of the game is to try to keep the shuttlecock in the air in order to get as many kicks in as possible without dropping it.

The primary origin of Jianzi is a Chinese ancient game called cuju, which the Shuttlecock Federation of Europe says can be traced as far back as the Han Dynasty (206BC - 220AD).

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Now various versions of the game go by many names in different countries including đá cầu in Vietnam, and sipa in the Philippines.

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What are the different styles of Jianzi?

Jianzi or Shuttlecock has several styles: artistic, freestyle and competition. “In competition, it's played on a court with a net in the middle similar to badminton and volleyball,” the ISA explains.

“In artistic and free styles, it’s with a single player or among a circle of players in a street or park, with the objective to keep the shuttle ‘up’ and show off skills.”

According to a British Library’s Asian and African Studies blog, in recent years Jianzi has been transformed from a folk leisure activity into a formal competitive sport, which is played internationally.

Not only are there strict rules, but the game is now also played over a net and utilises some of the goal-shooting techniques of football.

No wonder Beckham is a natural!

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“The shuttlecock is kicked towards the other side and points are scored when the opposing team is unable to return it, as in the case of volleyball or badminton,” the blog post explains.

“The game has singles and doubles tournaments for men, women and mixed teams.”

But if you don’t think your future lies in becoming a Jianzi champion, you could still make like Becks and spend lockdown 2.0 practice your solo shuttlecock skills, particularly as they’re readily available via Amazon.

With gyms closed and sporting activities on pause during lockdown, it could provide the perfect alternative to that YouTube workout.

Well if it’s good enough for Beckham!

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