Chinlone: Playing the Sport Beautifully

Chinlone: Incredible Burmese Freestyle Football

If you feel that playing football and soccer is getting old, maybe it’s about time to leave the field and look for other sports that could pique your passion and interest once again. Why not familiarize yourself with chinlone, a popular Burmese sport?

Chinlone is a non-competitive traditional sport originating in Burma (Myanmar). It is a merger of dance and sport and usually played by a team with no opponent team. The term means “rounded basket or basket-rounded”.

The Chinlone ball, which is made from rattan, creates a unique clicking sound whenever the players kick it. Historians believe that this sport is more than a thousand years old and were originally played by Burmese royalty. Chinlone games have become a huge part of numerous Buddhist festivals in Burma every year.

The sport is played with a team of six players passing the ball in a circle using the knee, heel, outer and inner sides of the foot, sole and toes. People can play this game by wearing chinlone shoes or barefoot. The usual playing circle measures about 6.7 meters in diameter and the surface must be dry dirt but other flat surfaces can also be used as a place for the game.

Adults, children, men and women like to play chinlone. A player at the center of the circle creates dance moves and he is called the “soloist”. He is supported by other team members who will try to pass the ball back to him with just a kick. If the ball drops, it will be called “dead” and the game will begin over again. A solo style of the sport, known as “tapandaing”, is carried out by women.

Over 200 styles of kicks have been developed by players throughout the existence of the sport. Several of these styles are likened to Burmese martial arts and dances. There are some really difficult moves in chinlone and these include kicking the ball at the back without seeing it.

Having the right form is the key to successfully playing the chinlone. You should develop the proper position of the head, arms, hands and torso while moving. Players can only consider a move if it were accomplished with a good form of the body.

For a successful chinlone game, the entire team must concentrate and focus on their movements to keep the ball from dropping on the ground. Players usually experience a strongly focused mind state that is similar to the one achieved in meditation for Zen. This state of mind is called “jhana”. The game’s ultimate goal is neither losing nor winning, but the aesthetics of playing chinlone. Members of the team need to work together to create a wonderful and beautiful dance with a rattan ball and exquisite movements.

Burmese people take pride in chinlone because they claim that you could never find such astonishing foot skills and agility combined with a good level of spirituality and artistic expression in any other sports. If you have a little bit of an inclination to aesthetic creations and to sports, then this is the perfect sport for you.

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