Kite flying is an extremely popular sport in China, India, Japan, Thailand and several other countries. ‘Kite fights’ are held in numerous countries, where kite fighters try to cut competitors’ kites down or tear them if possible. Kite fighters pass their strings through an amalgam of glue and ground glass powder, making it more potent and liable to cut the strings of competing kites. This practice can be hazardous, since the strings also have the potency to injure people.
A kite competition is known as bazinga “Gudiparan Bazi” in Afghanistan. Before the start of the war in the country, “Gudiparan Bazi” was a hobby for many Afghans. From the beautiful designs of the kites, which came in several shapes, to the making of the “tar” (wire), it was a matter of prestige to compete for the title of the best kite fighter in the neighborhood. This sport became a means of escapism for Afghans during the troubled times of the war.
In India, the festival of Makar Sankranti is involved with flying kites. Celebrated every January 14, you can see million of kites all over North India. It is particularly popular in the state of Gujarat, where the festival is a public holiday.
The Japan Kite Association organizes a gathering of kite fliers every year at Uchinada. The “”traditional”” festivals here are centered on one geographical area and one type of kite. This festival, however, attracts kites and fliers from all over the country.
The kite-flying event at Weifang, China, attracts competitors from all over China, and some from the rest of the World. This festival witnesses an amazing diversity of handcrafted kites. Numerous international competitors are also present.
The Thai Kite Heritage Group organizes a kite-flying event of international stature every two years on the Royal Palace’s polo field. It is no overstatement to call the festival “majestic”.
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Baji quan, meaning open-gate eight-extremities, uses powerful short-range attacks, and is well-known for devastating elbow strikes. Originally from the Northern China Province of Hebei, it spread quickly to Taiwan, and other locations.
In its infancy, Baji quan was named bazi quan (rake fist), because practitioners held their fists slightly open and loosely, and struck downwards in a rake-like manner. It was later changed to baji quan, because the locals considered the former to be crude. The word baji is derived from the classic Chinese word Yijing, which means “extensions of all directions”; and translates as “the universe”, or “including everything.” The first known master was Wu Zhong, who lived around 1712. Other well-known masters include, Li Shuwen and Wu Xiufeng. Li Shuwen trained men like Huo Dian Ge, who was the body-guard for the last Emperor of China.