the study of the kicking components within sports

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Old School Kicking, part 1

Ancient Greek Football Player
Before the days of the straight-ahead kickers... 
before the times when players wore leather helmets or even no helmets... 
before the terms football, soccer and rugby had been coined... 
before the English language even existed... 
humans were making balls (from whatever was available) and kicking them about.

2500 B.C. The ancient Egyptians played a game involving kicking a ball. It is believed that the balls were typically made from seeds wrapped in linen and that the games were part of fertility rituals involving a very large number of participants. 

2500 B.C. The Chinese game of Tsu Chu (or Cuju) is documented in military manuals of the Han Dynasty which started in 

206 B.C. Although many historians believe it may have originated several centuries early. Tsu translates as "to kick the ball with feet" and Chu as "a ball made of leather and stuffed." The game involved two teams trying to kick the ball through an approximately 12” diameter hole in silk nets strung between two 30 foot tall bamboo poles. Use of hands was not allowed. 

1600 B.C. Discovered in Mexico, the oldest Mesoamerican ball court dates back this far. The Mayans adopted the earlier game of Pitz as Pok-A-Tok, which involves trying to get a rubber ball through a small vertical stone hoop approximately 23 feet in the air without the use of hands. After a game, the captain of the winning team was sometimes beheaded. The ritual sacrifice was a highly desirable and honorable goal, and possibly served as a shortcut to heaven. 

1000 B.C. Australian Aborigines have played the game of Marngrook for a long time, although no one has a clear idea of just how long. The game involves trying to catch a kicked ball. 

500 B.C. The rules of the ancient Greek game of Episkyros are unclear, but it apparently allowed the use of hands. Some suggest it may have been similar to Rugby. Two teams played on a field and it involved a ball. Another ancient Greek game, Harpaston, was played on a field with a center line and end goal line. The object of the game was to pass, kick, or run the ball past the opposing team's goal.

50 B.C. The Roman game of Harpastum likely evolved from the similarly named Greek predecessor. The word means "the small ball game". The object of the game was to pass the ball, either by hand or by foot, across the opposing team’s goal line. Another version involved a team trying to keep the ball on its half of the field as long as possible. Tackling was allowed. Julius Caesar utilized the game for military training. Harpastum remained popular into the 6th century A.D. It may have influenced subsequent ball games throughout Medieval Europe. 

300 A.D. The Japanese game of Kemari was a non-competitive sport using a ball made of deerskin stuffed with sawdust. Players tried to keep the ball from hitting the ground by juggling it with their feet and passing it from one to another. The playing field, Kikutsubo, was marked at the corners by four different trees: cherry, maple, willow and pine.

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