With roots tracing back to the seventh century, Chinese jump rope is an ancient game which still challenges and delights children around the world. In America, this playground game was most popular from the 1950s through the 1980s. Yet its simple rules and endless variations continue to make it a great game for children to stay fit and active during school recess or on a sunny summer day.
Unlike a traditional jump rope, which has handles on either end, a Chinese jump rope is made from a connected loop of stretchy rope. The game is typically played with three people: two to hold the rope (known as holders or enders) and one to jump. Players take turns being enders and jumpers until everyone has had a chance to jump.
There are many variations in the rules for Chinese jump rope. The basic idea is that the enders face each other with the rope held around their ankles and step their feet apart until the rope is taut. The jumper then performs a pattern of jumps on and around the parallel rope lines without making a mistake.
A common starting pattern for jumping has the jumper complete the following steps
1. Jump both feet inside the ropes
2. Jump both feet outside the ropes (so both ropes are between their feet)
3. Jump feet on either side of one of the ropes
4. Jump feet on either side of the other rope
5. Jump feet onto the ropes (pinning them to the ground)
6. Jump both feet inside the ropes
7. Jump both feet outside the ropes (so both ropes are between their feet)
While jumping the pattern, the jumper usually chants the movements as they go, saying: in-out-side-side-on-in-out. When the jumper makes a mistake, her turn is over. She takes the place of one of the enders, and they become the new jumper.
If the jumper completes the pattern without any mistakes, she goes on to the next round. There are many variations for subsequent rounds, but the basic pattern is usually repeated with changes to how the rope is held. Enders can widen or shorten the distance between their feet, moving the ropes further apart or closer together. They can also begin moving the rope higher, from their ankles to their calves and up to their knees.
Another variation for a challenging round is to criss-cross the ropes so they form an X between the enders. The jumper then has to jump one foot inside each of the two diamond shapes for "in" movements and onto the center X for "on" movements. Other rounds may have the jumper close her eyes while jumping, or have the enders jump their feet forward and back in a scissors motion while the jumper is trying to complete the pattern.
The many variations in Chinese jump rope make it a fun game for any group to play. Players can agree on the types of rounds to play before they begin, making the game more challenging with each new round. However you customize your game, Chinese jump rope is a great playground game that makes it fun for kids to stay fit and active.