FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 in 2022, like a fire in winter, ignited the passion of fans who had been dormant for four years. Modern football originated in England, but as a sport, its embryonic form originated in China. In ancient China, there was a sport similar to a football match, which was cuju.


Cuju originated in barracks at first.

Kick, creep, and step (step). "Take a step against the foot." The words "Nie", "Ta" and "Tread" all mean stepping from top to bottom. Reverse pedaling is equivalent to kicking and jumping from bottom to top. Cuju is to kick the ball, but it is different from the current football kicking method. The main form of Cuju is actually to kick the ball, which is similar to kicking shuttlecock. It can be played by one person or by many people in formation, mainly from bottom to top to prevent the ball from landing. Of course, there are also competitions in which two teams are divided to kick the ball into the goal to win, similar to modern football matches.

It should be noted that there was another ancient ball game called "bow-beating", which had little to do with football, but was the prototype of polo and prevailed in the Tang Dynasty.

Cuju, written in different ways in ancient Chinese, is also called kicking, kicking, kicking, kicking, kicking and so on. The earliest ball is made of wool, so the ball is also called "wool pill", which is written as "cave" or "ball" Later, people filled skins with hair to make spheres, so the ball was written as "bow", which means a ball made of leather by bending. Guo Pu notes the cloud in "Three Cangs": "Mao Pills can make the performers bow." Inflatable rubber balls didn’t exist until the Tang and Song Dynasties. In the Tang Dynasty, Xu Jian and others compiled a comprehensive book "The Book of Beginners", which recorded: "In ancient times, it was tangled with wool, but now it is done with skin and cells (possibly animal bladders) as the lining, and it is done with a sigh of relief." "Toe" is related to the foot, mainly from the part of the human body that touches the ball.

According to Ji Yuan of Things, Cuju originated in the era of the Yellow Emperor and was originally invented to train soldiers in battle. Mawangdui’s silk book "Sixteen Classics" records that the Yellow Emperor defeated Chiyou and "filled his stomach and thought that he bowed, so that people could hold on to it, and those who were more rewarded". Liu Xiang said to Bielu: "Cuju players are rumored to have done what the Yellow Emperor did, or, from the time of the Warring States. When you are squatting, the military situation is also good. Therefore, when you practice samurai, you know how to be talented, and you practice it because of playing. " There are 25 pieces of Cuju among the thirteen military skill schools in Hanshu Yiwenzhi. It can be seen that Cuju originally originated from barracks, and it is probably a sport that soldiers play in their spare time during military training, which can relax their body and mind and also train teamwork. The original ball games were related to leather, which also confirmed this point. Because in ancient times, the closest contact and user of leather was soldiers, so "soldiers and leather" were connected in Chinese.

From the perspective of literature, Cuju first appeared in the Warring States Period. "Historical Records" and "Warring States Policy" both recorded the popularity of cuju in the State of Qi in the Warring States Period: "Linzi is very rich and real, and all its people play the lute, drum instruments, percussion, playing the piano, fighting cocks, walking dogs, six blogs and stumbling."

Cuju was popular in Han and Tang Dynasties, and reached its peak in Song Dynasty, forming a professional Cuju group called Qiyun Club or Round Club, similar to today’s football clubs. In the Ming and Qing Dynasties, Cuju gradually declined. For fear of being discouraged by playthings, Zhu Yuanzhang, the Emperor Taizu of the Ming Dynasty, once ordered officials and warriors to ban cuju, "kicking round, unloading feet", and even "bowing round kills nine families". Ming Xizong also ordered that folk football be prohibited. However, Cuju was not banned among the people, and there were still concluding works. The Ming Dynasty wrote "Cuju Atlas" and "Cuju Spectrum", which recorded the methods and rules of Cuju competition from the Tang and Song Dynasties to the Yuan and Ming Dynasties, as well as the forms and specifications of courts and goals. For example, there are ten ways to kick the ball, such as shoulder, back, turn, take, control, drag, hold, knee, racket and moon, and ten kinds of "no kicking tactics" which are not suitable for kicking the ball, such as "after drinking", "before the banquet", "under the muddy water" and "under the lamp and candle". These works also record more than 40 kinds of ball brands and more than 100 cuju clubs.

At the beginning of the Qing Dynasty, the Eight Banners also made it popular to play football at the grassroots level. However, in the Qing Dynasty, Shizu Shunzhi made an edict that "it is forbidden to play football immediately" on the grounds that "this dynasty always studies art, and its leisure time is related to book history". Emperor Qianlong even banned cuju on the grounds of gathering people to make trouble. Cuju inevitably declined under the official ban of the two dynasties.


Liu Taigong is not happy without the ball.

The literature recorded the popularity of Cuju in Qilu during the Warring States Period. After the King of Qin swept Liuhe, the troubled times at the end of Qin Dynasty and the struggle between Chu and Han, the tradition of Cuju was still not cut off among the people. By the time Liu Bang established the Han Dynasty, the world was reunified, and Cuju won the "endorsement" of Emperor Liu Taigong, the emperor fans like Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty and Wei Wudi emerged, and the general stars like Huo Qubing and Liang Ji emerged. Cuju was quite popular in the Han Dynasty.

The reason is probably that Cuju, a sport similar to fighting chickens and running dogs, is quite in line with the civilian characteristics of the Han Dynasty.

Liu Bang, the Emperor Gaozu of the Han Dynasty, was the first commoner in history. He retained many characteristics of common scoundrels. For example, when Chu and Han were contending for food, Xiang Yu caught Liu Bang’s father, Liu Taigong, tied him to a high chopping board, and set up a big pot next to him. The water in the pot was boiling hot. Xiang Yu threatened Liu Bang to kill Liu Taigong like an animal and throw him into a pot to cook broth for the soldiers to satisfy their hunger. Liu bang had the cheek to say to Xiang Yu, you and I are brothers who become sworn brothers, and my dad is your dad. You have to cook your dad. If you are lucky, please share with me. Liu bang is such a rogue, but this rogue is a bully who can effectively restrain the aristocratic family.

Liu bang was born in a common town, and his father Liu Taigong was also a common man. Liu Taigong was the first real emperor’s father in history, Qin Zhuang Xiang Wang’s "emperor’s father" was sealed by Qin Shihuang, and Liu Taigong was the first emperor’s father who lived to enjoy the actual treatment. Liu Taigong "lay down" all the way to become the emperor’s father, entered the capital Chang ‘an (now Xi ‘an, Shaanxi Province) and settled in the magnificent palace, but he was unhappy. Liu Bang is a dutiful son. Seeing his father unhappy, he asked people around him to find out why. It turns out that Liu Taigong is not used to the life in big cities. According to "Miscellanies of Xijing", Liu Taigong "lived a good life, killing teenagers, selling cakes with wine, and fighting cocks for pleasure". He likes to associate with some butchers and vendors, and takes pleasure in selling wine, cakes, cockfighting and playing football. Now he is trapped in the deep palace and has no life.

After Liu learned about it, he ordered Wu Kuan, a craftsman, to build a new city in Liyi, modeled after Fengyi (now Fengxian, Jiangsu Province), a hometown of Pei County, and even the old temple of Fengyi was moved to the new city. When Liu was young, he once offered sacrifices to the God of Yuyu Society in the temple. The layout of streets and lanes and the scenery of utensils in the whole new town are all copied from the old ones, and even all the folks in Fengyi have been relocated easily. The hometown is full of elements, which can be called a replica of a hometown. After the men, women and children of Fengyi came to the new town together, they could recognize their houses at a glance when they walked in the streets, and even the chickens, ducks, dogs and sheep brought by the villagers were scattered on the road, so they could find their own homes.

When Liu Taigong arrived in the new town, he saw that the meat sellers, wine sellers and cake sellers in the city were old friends from his hometown. Besides, there were many recreational activities such as cockfighting and playing football, and he was still familiar with the street life, so he was really happy. In July, the tenth year of Emperor Gaozu (197 BC), Liu Taigong died. In memory of his father, Liu Bang renamed Liyi Xinfeng (now Xinfeng Street, Lintong District, Xi ‘an City, Shaanxi Province). Zhang Shoujie’s Historical Records of Justice in the Tang Dynasty quoted a cloud from Kuozhi: "The old city of Xinfeng is located in the southwest of Xinfeng County, Yongzhou, and the Xinfeng Palace in Han Dynasty." The reason for building the city is the same as that recorded in Xijing Miscellanies.

In Chinese, there is an idiom "Chicken and dog know the new wind" or "Chicken and dog know the new wind", which means that you can still be as familiar and happy in a foreign country as in your hometown. When Su Shi first arrived in Huizhou, he wrote a poem, including two lines, "It seems as if he had traveled in a dream, and he was glad to know the new scenery", expressing a feeling of deja vu and revisiting the old place.


Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty and Cao Cao are "fans"

Cuju was endorsed by the Emperor Tai in the Han Dynasty, and was naturally deeply loved. According to the biography of Han Dong Fangshuo, Dong Yan, Toy Boy of Liu Piao, princess royal, was distinguished for a while, and no one dared to call him by his first name. Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty regarded him as the "master". Dong Yan is famous all over the world, and the dogs, horses, cuju and swordsmen in the county are gathered in Dong Yan’s mansion like spokes on the hub.

Not only does Dong Yan like playing football, but Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty is also a "fan". Dong Yan often watches cockfighting, dog fighting, horse racing and cuju competitions with Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty. When Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty was happy to watch the game, he ordered Mei Gao, the son of Mei Cheng, to write a poem to record the game and the fun of watching it.

Huo Qubing, a general in title of generals in ancient times, likes playing football. He was successful as a teenager and showed no sympathy for foot soldiers. When he was fighting outside the Great Wall, the soldiers were hungry and listless, but he drew a stadium on the ground and played football.

Emperor Cheng of Han also likes to play football. The Miscellanies of Xijing records: "Emperor Cheng loves cuju, and the ministers take cuju as their labor, which is not suitable for the supreme." After the admonition of his ministers, Emperor Han became fond of playing chess with less exercise.

Liang Ji, a powerful minister in the Eastern Han Dynasty, was an all-around player in game sports, and playing football was also a sport he was proficient in. "The Biography of Liang Ji in the Later Han Dynasty" said, "(Liang) is addicted to alcohol, and can play full, play chess, play five or six games, play cuju and care for money."

Cao Cao also likes watching football. During the Jian ‘an period of the Eastern Han Dynasty, Tianshui Kong Guangui (the word Shu Lin) was good at playing football, and he loved flattery. Wei’s Spring and Autumn Annals called him "knowing the game, stumbling and bowing", "being proud without virtue, but getting rich without success", and Wei Lue called him "good at cuju, so Mao loved it, and he went in and out with followers every side". For this reason, Cao Pi and Wei Lue. (Cover journalist Wen Kanglin)

(Source: Huaxi Dushi Bao December 12, 2022 A15)

Source: Huaxi Dushi Bao