CUJU the ancestor of football

Cuju , ancestor of football

Football is a global sport, played all over the world and which brings together impressive crowds. It unites people, unleashes passions, arouses emotions, love, pride, tears and a lot of joy. Its origins are very distant. Even if the form we know today is of British origin, older ball games are ancestors of football.

Since JugglePro aims to discover exotic or little-known sports played with the feet, it is natural to start this adventure with CUJU , an ancient Chinese ball game considered by FIFA to be the ancestor of today's football.

The origins of Cuju蹴鞠

The oldest traces of cuju – read Tsudju – date back centuries before the common era. Etymologically, Cuju is a traditional Chinese word; “Cu (蹴)” means “kick” and “Ju (鞠)” means a leather ball stuffed with feathers. The Cuju theme literally means “hitting the ball with your feet”. It appears during the Warring States period, a period extending between 476 and 221 BC. Originally, it served as a training sport for army troops, particularly cavalry. Other forms of Cuju were also found as an entertainment sport in rich and noble cities like Linzi. A few years later, with the advent of the Han dynasty between 206 BC. BC and 220 AD, Cuju left the circle of the military and the courts of the nobles to spread. It is more and more formalized, because it is now governed by rules. The Han emperor Wu Di, who greatly appreciated Cuju, had a field built inside his palace exclusively designed to host the matches.

Cuju saw improvements over the following years. The ball which was filled with feathers is replaced by a ball filled with air and the posts are now covered with nets.

It continued to flourish during the Song dynasty (960 to 1279) and was now practiced by all classes of society. The game becomes formalized and develops. It is becoming so popular that some players are making a living out of it.

Cuju declined under the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) because it suffered a bad reputation. Cuju had started to be practiced by prostitutes to attract more clients. Also, some officials neglected their work as Cuju players, which led the founding emperor of the Ming dynasty to ban the sport.

How to play Cuju ?

After the 17th century, Cuju completely disappeared. It only reappeared in 2004 when, under the leadership of Sepp Blatter, then president of FIFA, it was recognized as the ancestor of football. Cuju can still be played in certain provinces of China (notably Shandong), even in schools. Competitions are organized during traditional festivals such as Qing ming.

To play Cuju you will need a standard soccer ball or a leather soccer ball and a goal. For the objective, get a net and some sticks and make a 0.6 meter diameter hole in the middle. You can also mount a child-sized hoop on two poles with tape 5 to 8 feet off the ground. Once the goal is ready, set it up in the middle of your field.

Create two teams to play Cuju in ZhuQiu mode (the most common way to play during festivities and other ceremonies at the emperor's court). The goal of each team is to pass the ball through the center goal on their side of the field using any part of the body except the hands. Each time the ball passes through the goal, the team scores a point. Play with a set number of points or set a time limit. At the end of the game, the team with the most points wins.

You can also launch a challenge by playing Cuju according to the rules of Baidi: each player takes turns trying to score a goal while showing their skills. The player can touch the ball with any part of the body except the hands. Get creative by taking inspiration from Manchester City star Bernardo Silva, who tries his hand at CUJU in the video below.

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