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How to Make a Chinese Feather Shuttlecock (Jianzi) for Kicking

Lady Rain works as a daytime stock trader and writes about crafts and travels. She spends her weekends doing papercraft models and painting.

Learn how to make a Chinese shuttlecock.

Learn how to make a Chinese shuttlecock.

What Is a Chinese Shuttlecock (Jianzi)?

Many of us are familiar with the shuttlecock used in the game of badminton. The Chinese use another form of shuttlecock called the jianzi in a traditional game that requires kicking the shuttlecock with their feet. The art of shuttlecock kicking is called ti jianzi, which means 'kicking the shuttlecock' in Chinese.

The concept of the Chinese shuttlecock is similar to the badminton shuttlecock. One end of the shuttlecock is weighted, while the other part is made up of several feathers to help it propel forward in a projectile path.

How to Make Your Own Kicking Shuttlecock With Feathers

In the olden days, the Chinese make their own free shuttlecock toys by wrapping a coin with a piece of cloth, tying up a bunch of chicken feathers, and then inserting them into the hole of the coin!

You, too, can make your own shuttlecock toy.


  • Craft feathers, chicken or bird feathers
  • Chinese coin
  • Cardboard, plastic sheet from an old folder, or thick paper
  • Strong bonding glue


  1. Draw about 20 circles on the cardboard and plastic sheet. The circles should be a little bigger than the Chinese coin.
  2. Cut out the circles to round discs.
  3. Stack the discs together to check the thickness. You'll need to have a stack of round discs about 1cm thick. Cut more circles if required.
  4. Set aside the first disc. Punch a hole in the middle of all the cardboard and plastic circles.
  5. Stack the discs on top of each other, with the first disc at the bottom of the stack.
  6. Put the Chinese coin in between the discs. You can use more than one coin to make the shuttlecock heavier. The heavier the shuttlecock, the faster it will fall and the harder you will have to kick to keep it in the air!
  7. Apply glue in between all the layers as you stack up the discs. Continue stacking until the stack is about 1cm thick.
  8. Tie a few feathers together with sticky tape. I am using bird feathers for this project. My white pigeon, Birdie, sheds off a feather or two every now and then, and I have collected many of her feathers over the years.
  9. Put some glue in the middle of the round stack and insert the feathers into the hole. Apply more glue if necessary.
  10. Allow the glue to dry and check that all the parts are securely attached together before playing with the shuttlecock.

How to Make a Shuttlecock Without Feathers: Plastic Bag Method

If you do not have any craft feathers for the shuttlecock, you can also use a plastic shopping bag to make one at almost no cost!

  1. Cut the plastic bag into a large rectangular sheet measuring 15cm by 40cm.
  2. Fold the plastic sheet a couple of times lengthwise towards the top, but do not overlap the top edge leaving 2cm of material at the top.
  3. Cut the plastic sheet into strips along the width up to 2cm from the top end.
  4. Fold the plastic sheet several times at the uncut end until it is small enough to be inserted through the hole of the Chinese coin.
  5. Use more coins for added weight. You can also use a washer if you do not have a coin.
  6. Pass the folded end of the plastic over a flame, so it melts. Press down on the coin to flatten the molten plastic under it. Be careful! The coin might be hot to touch! Continue melting the plastic over the flame and flattening it until it forms a hard piece of plastic under the coin.
  7. Cut out a piece of fabric and cover the coin. Use sticky tape to hold the fabric in place.

How Do You Play the Chinese Shuttlecock Kicking Game (Ti Jianzi)?

A game of shuttlecock kicking can be played by a group of several players. The players are required to keep the shuttlecock in the air by kicking or propelling the shuttlecock in any direction to prevent it from landing on the ground. The shuttlecock can come in contact with any part of the body except the hands.

  • The main idea of the game is to propel the shuttlecock with the ankle, toe, heel, sole, knee, or any part of the body except the hands.
  • When the shuttlecock is with a player, he can kick the shuttlecock as many times as he can without dropping it on the ground.
  • The player can pass the shuttlecock to another player anytime or when it goes out of their reach.
  • The game continues until the shuttlecock touches the ground, and the players will begin another round of this fun game.

While the Chinese kids are playing this popular game around their neighbourhood, shuttlecock kicking competitions are being held at national levels in China and other countries around the world. Since 1999, many countries have joined the International Shuttlecock Federation and Shuttlecock Federation of Europe, where enthusiastic shuttlecock kickers come together to compete and display their skills.

Benefits of Shuttlecock Kicking

Shuttlecock kicking is a game for both the young and old in China. It can be played anywhere in a small open area on level ground, in the backyard, or at the park. It provides entertainment, great fun, and promotes teamwork.

Most important of all, it is a form of physical exercise for the shuttlecock players. Some of the older Chinese players are in their seventies, and they have been kicking the shuttlecock since they were kids!

Birdie didn't look too impressed with what I've done with her old feathers.

Birdie didn't look too impressed with what I've done with her old feathers.

© 2014 lady rain


lady rain (author) from Australia on January 19, 2014:

randomcreative, I'm glad you like the homemade shuttlecocks! Thanks for the comment :)

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on January 18, 2014:

What an inspired idea to make your own shuttlecocks! I love it. Thanks for the creative tutorial.

lady rain (author) from Australia on January 15, 2014:

TurtleDog - yes, it is! Thank you for stopping by.

TurtleDog on January 15, 2014:

Very unique craft!

lady rain (author) from Australia on January 15, 2014:

RTalloni, this is a great game for children and adults. As you can see in the videos, the adults were having so much fun with the game. Thank you for commenting and pinning this hub.

lady rain (author) from Australia on January 15, 2014:

Glimmer Twin Fan, there are other similar kicking games and Hacky Sack is one of them (without the feathers :D) Yes, Birdie is my pet. She's free to fly around with other wild birds outside but she prefers to come into the house and sit next to me. She loves photo sessions!

lady rain (author) from Australia on January 15, 2014:

ChitrangadaSharan, thanks! I hope you'll be able to make a feather shuttlecock, too!

RTalloni on January 15, 2014:

Reading about this game was interesting, seeing the vids was amazing. Thanks for highlighting it here with the instructions for making and playing. Pinning to my Children's Activities/… board.

Claudia Porter on January 15, 2014:

This is really interesting. The game looks like Hacky Sack (not sure about the spelling) that is played. I'm going to show my daughter this. Just that your bird? How did it you get that great pose with the feathers? Awesome hub!

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on January 15, 2014:

These are so beautiful and so creative!

Nicely done hub with elaborate and helpful instructions and pictures.

Thanks for sharing, voted up!