Stunt kite-flying is a fashionable sport, and quite a physical one, requiring much strength and energy. It was for these reasons that Li Jianzhong, a Nanjing university staffer, opened up the Kite Association of Nanjing University to students in 2016.
It was through kite competitions that the Nanjing University association first learned about stunt kite-flying. Stunt kites are very different from traditional kites, and their competitive challenge attracted some of the members in the association, including Li. There they began their journey with stunt kites.
“Since the association was founded, we have participated in many national competitions. We won third place in a group competition in Jiangsu Province when we first teamed up, after which we gradually earned some reputation in the Jiangsu kite circle”, says Li.
The members are mainly sophomores. They all knew nothing about stunt kiting before joining the club. But they have all fallen in love with the sport since they started. “It’s so cool that you can control the kite and make it do anything you want in the sky”, said student Li Guangxu, a member of the team.
“It’s fascinating, and only those who have tried it could appreciate its magic.”
The team consists of eight students. They usually get up at 7:00 and go to the sports field for training. Sometimes they will also go out on weekends, to play in a more open space, and a coach will go along to help them improve their skills. “When I joined the team, I just want to have a leisure sport and fly the traditional kite. I have never known that it will lead me to the stunt kite”, Pan Rui, the captain said.
The stunt kite has experienced a long evolution in foreign countries, yet it was not introduced to China from Europe and America until the 1990s. Though China is the birthplace of kites, the development of the sport is still in its infancy.
Stunt kite-flying has received great support from the school and enthusiasm from members, but it is still a minor sport in Nanjing University, and indeed in all of China. The reasons are many and varied. First of all, a good stunt kite may cost up to ¥10,000 yuan, which is unaffordable for many Chinese. The stunt kites the association own are ¥1-2,000 each. Secondly, there is a high requirement for wind conditions. It happens from time to time that everything is ready but the weather unpredictably turns bad. Finally, a suitable site; one that is free from power lines, trees, homes, roadways and lots of people; can be difficult to find.
But all these difficulties cannot offset the charm of stunt kite-flying. So while to some, kite flying may seem to be an old-fashioned way to kill time, Li Guangxu and Panrui, the two top players on the Nanjing University kite team, prepare and practice their kite-flying pairings; they want to make a strong showing in an upcoming competition.