My wife ordered something strange from Amazon a week or two ago. I will try to describe it. A small bunch of colorful feathers are all connected to a single point on a weighted base. The feathers are about 5 or 6 inches long. The base is a stack of discs – like large, lightweight coins. Some of the discs are thin metal. Some are plastic. The very bottom one is textured rubber. When set on a table, it looks a little like a whimsical paperweight. It is a 毽子 (jiàn zi), which translated to English is “shuttlecock”. The name 毽子 is for both the object and the game with which it is played. The game is simple and will be instantly recognizeable to folks my age from back in college. It is like playing hackey sack with a badminton birdie.
The object of 毽子, like hackey sack, is to keep the shuttlecock in the air by hitting it with your feet. My wife says she used to play this game when she was younger. From what I have read online, it is still popular today. Several East Asian and Western European countries compete at a professional level. The Vietnamese are reputed to be among the best.
The 毽子, unlike a ball or even a badminton birdie, is a relatively harmless object. It's not going to hurt or damage anything it hits – unless you were to get hit right in the eye. It is light and doesn't fly very fast. It's difficult to have a place to exercise when you're stuck home all the time. But 踢毽子 can be played without much space and without worrying about hitting things. Yes, it would be better to play outdoors, but a bedroom will do. I'm sweaty after 15 minutes of practice.
It's nice to discover a new activity to help pass the quarantime. 毽子 is a fun, inexpensive option.