Wednesday, December 20, 2006

great chinese inventions--giants let fly students--bozons and kleptoks

As everyone knows, the modern game of soccer was invented in China sometime during the Spring and Autumn period (770 BC - 476 BC), except the Chinese version of the game was called 蹴鞠 (cuju), and did not resemble modern soccer at all. It was created at around the same time the Chinese were busy inventing other things, such as: computers, trees, food, and the Irish.

Since soccer was invented in China, it follows that the Chinese have the most advanced soccer programs in the world, which is why their national team has won so many World Cups. I often like to go out and play with the Chinese at my university's field, so I can get a taste of this 2500 year old game in the very place of its origin. Now, after nearly two years of soccer playing experience in China, it still remains a unique experience, and something I willingly put myself through on a weekly or even daily basis.

So, Bob, you may be wondering, what's it like playing soccer in China? Do you ever eat rubber or hurt your face? Well, let me give a short introduction to the experience, followed by some short essay questions.

As we all know, China has too much of everything, so the field is always packed with people, pick-up games, and rubber pellets (which I'll get back to later). Sometimes the games even spill over onto the track, where they get in the way of old ladies who walk around the field and hit themselves on the back (they do this because old ladies in China hate their backs). At my university there are two types of games--the ones in which the university students play, and the ones in which non-students play. Keep in mind this is a technical school so, as you may imagine, there is quite a bit of difference in the skill levels between the two groups.

Some of the players who are not university students are honestly quite, quite good. One of them, whom my friend Brandon and I nicknamed "Gigantor," is literally about two-times larger than your average technical student. Playing with Gigantor is always a special treat. He's both incredibly talented and a great passer, so having him in a game immediately improves its quality and makes it that much more fun. Plus, although he appears to be quite gentle, when he gets angry he's been known grab one or two of the students, whip them around his head, and then send them flying into the old ladies. It's always really funny and we laugh a lot, but it's also useful, as it clears the field of a few more players and saves the old ladies some work in abusing their backs.

The field itself is unique. It is composed of a concrete base covered by a thin carpet of green threads that, over time, have been beaten down by all the players, exposing patches of concrete which are then covered by thick smattering of miniscule rubber pellets. These pellets are great fun, especially when they get stuck in your shoe and on your sweaty skin. Evidently putting a rubber pellet on skin is like putting something really, really, really sticky onto something else. Sometimes I actually have to scrape them off in the shower. Fun! Plus, sometimes when you fall down on the field, they fly into your mouth. If you love eating rubber, you'll love falling down on this field.

But the best part of this whole experience is that you cannot play soccer on this field without getting hurt. The ground is too hard. The ground is too slippery. The ground has too many divets and weird ditch like things that zigzag across it. Plus, the Chinese players are very grab-happy and kick-your-shins-happy. So essentially what the Chinese have done is invent something that yet again the world can imitate--an open-air factory that produces injuries. Playing here I have injured my groin, my wrist, my left ankle, my right ankle, a number of my toes, my shins, my face, as well as other parts of my body that I didn't even know existed until I got them injured, such as my bozon and my kleptok.

Anyway, all in all, playing soccer in the place of its birth has been a truly rewarding experience. I recommend that all of you try it at least once. But if you end up not liking it, don't blame me, blame yourself, because you're likely a pessimist and depressed.

ADDENDUM: I stole the Cuju pic from another website. But I'm living in China, where it's legal to steal. .



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember how happy the boys were when they play soccer in my high school days. The conditions of the playground were bad bad bad, maybe worse than the one described in your article. But, the thing pops up in my mind when recalling that period of time, is their pleasant feeing I felt.

8:06 AM  
Anonymous Suexilin said...

Haha, you write great! I found your site thru Sinosplice, and read everything. Been laughing non-stop for at least 30 min:) Love your style:):) I put you on my live bookmarks.

9:00 AM  
Blogger KMM said...

anonymous--everyone still seems to be very happy, except when they are fighting. although they usually recover from that pretty fast, and are quickly are all smiles again. well, unless blood was drawn.

suexilin--thanks a lot for the complinents, i'm glad you like the writing.

8:13 PM  
Anonymous PiPi said...

"But I'm living in China, where it's legal to steal." Not only is it legal, it's also encouraged a National Pastime and will included in the next Olympics where they will almost certainly win the (fake) gold medal.

7:16 PM  
Blogger KMM said...

Where is the next Olympics going to be, anyway? I haven't heard a thing about it since I got here.

7:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

are there any references that cuju might have been borrowed from the steppes (maybe related to polo)? just a thought

2:16 AM  

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