Where Does Badminton Come From?

Badminton is popular the world over, but particularly so in Asia. A wealth of disinformation seems to exist as to where the sport actually comes from, so I did a little research and thought I might try to set things straight. It’s actually quite a fascinating story.

Many say that the English invented Badminton, but we can actually trace it back further to around 500BC in Ancient China. There was a game called Ti Jian Zi, which involved a ball with feathers – similar to modern shuttlecock – but no rackets were used. We also know that by the time Christ was supposedly born, a game called Battledore and Shuttlecock was being played in China, Japan and Greece. The game bears a little more resemblance to today’s Badminton, but was in fact simply a paddle and shuttlecock, the idea of game being to hit the shuttlecock back and forth the most times.

By the 16th century, badminton had evolved into a children’s game, then by the 17th century upper class people over Europe had become quite fond of the game too. It was known by now under the french name of “jeu de volant” though.

Meanwhile in India a game called Poona was developing which closely resembled the modern day sport. The British officers stationed in India were drawn to the game and learnt the rules, taking them back to England. The game was therefore introduced to the nobles and royal society by the Duke of Beauford at his estate in Gloucestershire, England.

The estate was known as 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 try to knock the shuttlecock away from their area. Soon the first ‘badminton club” was formed, which literally wrote the rulebook to the game that we still follow today.

The game exploded, and in 1899, the first ever national tournament was played. In 1934 the International badminton association was formed, initially with members from England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, Holland, Canada, New Zealand and France. India joined in 1936, and more and more championships and international tournaments were created. In the 1970s the sport were passionately pursued by the Asians, particularly Chinese women. Asian teams, especially Chinese, continue to dominate the sport to this day.

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

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