Where Badminton Came From

Badminton is popular the world over, but especially so in Asia. A wealth of disinformation appears to exist as to where the game really comes from, so I did a bit of research and thought I might attempt to set things straight. It is really quite a fascinating story.

Many say that the English invented Badminton, but we can actually trace it back to about 500BC in Ancient China. There was a game named Ti Jian Zi, which involved a ball with feathers – like contemporary shuttlecock – but no rackets were utilized. We also know that by the time Christ was supposedly born, a game named Battledore and Shuttlecock has been played in China, Japan and Greece. The game bears a bit more similarity to the Badminton but was actually only a paddle and shuttlecock, the notion of the game being to hit the shuttlecock back and on the most times.

From the 16th century, badminton had evolved into a kids’ game, then by the 17th-century upper-class individuals over Europe had become quite fond of this game also. It had been known by today under the French title of “jeu de volan” though.

Meanwhile, in India, a game named Poona was growing which closely resembled the modern day game. The British officers stationed in India were attracted to the game and learned the principles, taking them back to England. The game was introduced into the nobles and royal society from the Duke of Beauford in his mansion in Gloucestershire, England.

The estate was called Badminton House. While playtesting the game, the nobles would string a length of rope or make a partition of sorts between the two players, and each would attempt to knock the shuttlecock from their region. Soon the first “badminton club” was formed, which literally wrote the rulebook into the match we still follow today.

The match exploded, and in 1899, the first-ever national tournament was played. In 1934 the Worldwide badminton association was formed, originally with members from England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, Holland, Canada, New Zealand and France. India joined in 1936, and an increasing number of championships and global tournaments were created. In the 1970s the game was passionately pursued by the Asians, especially Chinese girls. Asian teams, particularly Chinese, continue to dominate the game to this day.

Badminton eventually became an award Olympic sport in the 1992 Barcelona events.

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