Gymnastics (体操 Tǐcāo)

ZHANG Ling 张玲

Even ancient artistic styles demonstrate how gymnastics and acrobatics have long been a part of Chinese culture. Photo by Joan Lebold Cohen.

Gymnastics has a long history in China. During the Spring and Autumn period 春秋 (770–476 BCE) and the Warring States period 战国 (475–221 BCE), Chinese people practiced Dao Yin Shu 导引术 (medical gymnastics), which was similar to modern gymnastics and was practiced to heal illnesses and to keep the body healthy. Fitness gymnastics, such as Wu Qin Xi (five-animal exercise), Ba Duan Jin 八段锦 (eight fragments), and Yi Jing Jing 易经筋 (muscle-bone strengthening exercise), all practiced by the ancient Chinese, are still practiced by many Chinese today. In addition, ancient Chinese literature and paintings contain many records of such acrobatic gymnastics such as swing, handstand, somersault, and throw and catch, which were similar in execution to modern gymnastics.

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