Shuttlecock (毽子) is a folk sport with national characteristics among the Chinese people. According to historical records and archaeological relics which have been unearthed, shuttlecock kicking originated in the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), and began to become popular in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Shops making and selling shuttlecocks were found at the fairs. In the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), there were formal shuttlecock kicking competitions. The sport reached its peak in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and the making and kicking techniques became more sophisticated. A grand shuttle kicking demonstration was held outside Di'anmen in Beijing in 1912, and a shuttlecock kicking organization was set up.
The method of making traditional shuttlecocks is as follows: Rooster feathers are tied together and inserted into the square hole of a coin which is then tightly wrapped by cloth and sewn. There are different kinds of shuttlecocks, some made of rooster feathers, some of hair, some of paper strips, and some of woolen threads.
There are essentially four kicking techniques: "kicking with the inner side of the foot, with the leg bent inside; kicking with the outer side of the foot, with the leg bent outside; kicking backward with the heel; and kicking forward with the instep." Competitions are organized on the basis of the kicking technique. The traditional matches include number play, time play and variety play. Shuttlecock kicking is a good exercise for strengthening the whole body. It requires no special venue or equipment. The amount of physical exertion can vary from person to person. It is a good game for people of all age groups for improving flexibility, coordination and fitness.
The first formal Chinese shuttlecock kicking tournament was organized by the Guangzhou Municipal Sports Commission in 1956. Simple rules were formulated. The formal Competition Rules for Shuttlecock were published in the spring of 1984. They were based on the characteristics of shuttlecock kicking and some of the rules for ball games.