CHINLONE – Asia have the skills that pay the bills

I have heard football be described as many things – a social thing with mates, an excuse to go to the pub, a place of debate, a passion and even have heard it described as a play.
The latter is something that I definitely have to agree with, because when you go to the theatre, you sit and pay attention to the whole thing until the interval, have a chat about it and then return to watch the second half. It’s exactly the same but without the dodgy chicken shops, chanting and booze sloshed shirts.
You could even go deeper into the comparison by comparing players through the decades as heroes and villains – but – I’m not going to do that.
Instead, what I am going to bleat on about is Chinlone – and no, it’s not something that you expect to find on a black market behind the Golden Lake chip shop.
It is a form of sport and dance, possibly derived from the ancient Chinese sport Cuju, which FIFA calls the oldest form of soccer in the world. I’m sure that the video has been doing the rounds of soccer blogs and sports sites for months, however, there is nothing new about Chinlone; it’s been played for over fifteen centuries and has developed a highly formalized, almost ritual set of customs and rules.
If you look it up on Wikipedia it reads like this:
A team of six [chinlone] players pass the ball back and forth with their feet and knees as they walk around a circle. One player goes into the centre to solo, creating a dance of various moves strung together. The soloist is supported by the other players who try to pass the ball back with one kick. When the ball drops to the ground it is dead, and the play starts again…
Chinlone is over 1,500 years old and was played for Burma royalty. Over the centuries, players have developed more than 200 different ways of kicking the ball. Many of the moves are similar to those of Burma dance and martial art. I could go on about the concept for an age, so check out the video below instead:
The game is non-competitive—there’s no opposing team, and the object is to play beautifully and achieve a particular mind-set. It seems to exist right at the point where sport converges with art, as a combination of football, dance, martial, meditation, and a kind of wooden hacky-sack.
Chinlone was the subject of a documentary called Mystic Ball that was released in 2006, and that’s apparently the source of this footage. It’s on DVD, and don’t know anyone who has seen it either – I for one would love to get the sponsorship together and do my own documentary about it…
…any funders out there?


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