Vaulting at the World Equestrian Games 2010

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If you thought riding a horse was difficult enough, equestrian vaulting will seem like an impossible feat. Still, it’s practiced worldwide, and it’s even an event at the World Equestrian Games.

Equestrian vaulting is best described as gymnastics and dancing on horseback. Its origins are pretty unclear, with some saying it originated in ancient Rome, and other claiming it came from he island of Crete. One thing is for certain – horseback vaulting has been around for over 2,000 years, and it’s still a entertaining and exciting sport. Vaulting is particularly popular in countries like Germany and France, but it’s gaining a lot of followers in other parts of the world, like Brazil Australia or the United States.

In competitive equestrian vaulting athletes compete by themselves or in teams of two or more. Both the vaulters and the horse are judged according to their performances and receive scores from 0 to 10. Beginners perform their routine during the horse’s walk, while experienced vaulters perform on the horse at a canter. Horses used for vaulting are trained especially for this kind of events, and they are controlled by a lunger who keeps them moving in 15-meter circles.

The components of a vaulting exercise include a mount and dismount, as well as various maneuvers like kneeling, standing, handstands, flips, and tossing teammates into the air. While the vaulting horse is not saddled, it does wear a surcingle fitted with special handles that help vaulters.

The latest vaulting exhibition took place at the World Equestrian Games 2010, and was won by the US team. You can see an entire vaulting routine, in the video at the bottom.

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Headis – Table Tennis Played with the Head

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A hybrid of football and table tennis, headis is a fun, easy-to-play sport that’s becoming more and more popular with each passing day.

As you probably already guessed, headis is pretty similar to table tennis, only you have to hit the ball with your head. All you need to play headis is a regular tennis table and a special rubber ball with special bouncing properties, and that is probably the main reason why the sport is played by more people every day.

Headis was invented in 2006, by René Wegner, a sports science student at the University of Saarbruecker, in Germany. Because the football field was occupied, Wegner started hitting a football back and forth on a tennis table, with a fellow student. That’s when he got the idea for a new sport that soon spread throughout Germany.

While it may seem very similar to table tennis, headis is actually more comparable to badminton. Since players have to get behind and underneath the ball, they workout all parts of the body, at all times.

 

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Traditional Football in the River Match Played in Burton

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The annual Burton-on-the-Water football match is an old tradition that still manages to draw the interest of thousands of football fans.

No one really knows how the unusual football tradition began, but one thing is for sure – the Burton-on-the-Water match has been played for over 100 years, in the ankle-high waters of River Windrush, in Burton, Gloucester.

Two teams of six compete in the unique football match: the Burton Rovers First Eleven and the Burton Rovers Second Eleven. The two teams have to follow the rules of a normal football game,while they try to control the ball through the shallow waters of the river. Spectators are advised to wear waterproof clothes if they wish to watch the game from the side of the “pitch”, as the teams tend to make a splash.

The 2010 edition of the Burton-on-the-Water football in the river match was held on Monday, August 30, and was watched by over 1,000 spectators.

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Ear Pull – A Manly Game That Will Test Your Ears

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One of the most difficult games I’ve ever heard of, Ear Pull is an old Inuit tradition that has competitors test the strength of their ears.

The Ear Pull is as simple as it is painful. Two contestants sit down in front of each other with their legs straddled and interlocked, place a loop of twine around one of their ears, and at the referee’s signal, start pulling back until one of them either yields or the loop of twine comes off from one of the ears.

It may sound like a horrific display, to some of you, but the Ear Pull is a registered sport practiced at the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics. Competitors’ faces contort, their ears turn bright red and crumple as the string cuts deeper into the cartilage, and some of them even require stitches. And for what, some of you may ask. Most ear pull competitors say they do it to endure pain, but the old Inuits used to practice this bizarre game as training for enduring ear frostbites.

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Shaolin Soccer in Real Life

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Remember the comedy “Shaolin Soccer” starring Stephen Chow? It was an over-the-top film that featured a mix of soccer and Shaolin kung-fu. Well, believe it or not, Shaolin soccer exists in real life!

The younger students of the Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng City, China have found an original way of practicing their kung-fu and enjoying themselves at the same time. Whenever they’re not busy meditating, studying or working around the temple, the boys, aged 15 to 18, engage in a spectacular game of Shaolin soccer.

Just like in the above mentioned film, Shaolin soccer features both soccer and kung-fu moves, combined in a very entertaining way. The young monks leap through the air, kick the football like it’s an opponent, and even sit on their heads,while holding the ball. As you can imagine, every one of their Shaolin soccer games draws quite the local crowd.

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Chinese Football Fan Trains Team of Roosters

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China’ may not have been present at the World Cup 2010, in South Africa, but its team of football playing roosters would probably win any competition.

Zhang Lijun has always been a big fan of football, but he decided to take his passion for the sport to a whole new level three years, when he started training his roosters to handle a ball. Now, chickens aren’t exactly famous for their intelligence and ability to learn new things, but Zhang’s roosters have developed mad football skills.

The unusual football team is made up of only two players, and they recently had to go head to head in a mock World Cup match, on the city streets, in Liaoling Province China. Zhang Lijun played the role of the referee, while the two roosters used their feet and wings to handle the ball. Passers-by gathered to watch the bizarre spectacle and were surprised by the bird’s dribbling skills.

Maybe Zhang’s roosters should play in the national football team, or may be he could be the new coach. Either way, China would have a higher chance of qualifying next time.

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Beauty Mud Cup 2010 Held in China

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With the eyes of the entire world on the Football World Cup, in South Africa, local authorities from Changsha, China had to come up with something better, yet related to current events.

And what’s better than football? Mud football, played by barely dressed gorgeous models, of course. So they set up a small football pitch, filled it with mud, brought in  models from various Chinese cities, and got the Beauty Mud Cup 2010 under way. In the photos below, teams from Hunan and Hubei go head to head, in one of the first matches of the competition. I don’t know the score, and neither do most of the male spectators who resumed to roars and cheers every time any of the girls kicked the ball through the mud.

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Jallikattu – India’s Answer to Spanish Bullfighting

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In the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, people don’t need red capes and sharp swords to tame bulls, they do it with their bare hands, in a sport called Jallikkattu.

The ancient sport of Jallikattu pits crowds of brave young men against angry bulls who will tear anyone apart, if they get in the way. The name of the sport comes from the words “salli”, which translates as “coin”, and “kadu”, which means tying the coin to the horns of the raging bull. The goal of Jallikattu players is to tame the bull long enough to claim the prize.

But that’s is a lot harder than it sounds, especially since the bulls used for Jallikattu are extremely aggressive, and the players aren’t allowed to defend themselves with anything else but their bare hands. The bravest of the young men will try to grab the hump of the bull, and hang on, while the beast will most often grab him with its long horns and plunge him into the ground.

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Quidditch Becomes Top University Sport in America

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What started out as a silly dorm sport has now become a national phenomenon, with over 400 registered Quidditch teams, all over the country.

Should the lack of real magical powers prevent us from playing the fun sport we discovered in the wonderful world of Harry Potter? “Hell no!” said the students of America, who put a broom between their legs and started chasing each other across the field, trying to score points.

Muggle Quidditch follows the main rules, described in J.K. Rowling’s book, apart from the flying part, of course. Teams are made up of seven players: three chasers, two beaters, a keeper and a seeker. Chasers try to throw the ball through one of the three hoops, while trying to avoid bludgers and dodgeballs, thrown by beaters. If they’re hit, they must drop the quaffle. Keepers guard the hoops, while seekers have to catch the snitch, a tennis ball wrapped in a sock and hanging by a person’s waist (usually a really fast dude dressed in gold). The catching of the snitch adds an extra 30 points, and ends the game.

Quidditch players should keep the broom between their legs, at all times, or they are penalized with yellow and red wands. It’s a bit harder than it sounds, but people find Muggle Quidditch an intense and enjoyable game. Even prestigious universities like Harvard and Standford have their own Quidditch teams.

via Daily Mail

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Mallakhamb – Extreme Indian Pole Dancing

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Modern pole-dancing may be attractive to look-at, but in terms of difficulty, it’s nothing to the old Indian sport of Mallakhamb.

Mallakhamb originated in Maharastra, India, during the 12th century, as a form of training for wrestlers. The word “Malla” means wrestler, while “khamb” translates as pole. This old art had almost been lost throughout the centuries, but it’s become increasingly popular, in recent years, mainly due to the efforts of coaches like Uday Deshpande.

The sport of Mallkhamb has athletes climb up a wooden pole, 55 cm in diameter,at the base, and 35, at the top, and perform various poses and feats. The pole is most often made of teak, because of its sturdiness, and before exercises begin, it’s rubbed with castor oil, to prevent friction.

Even though Mallakhamb is yet to be recognized as an official sport, in India, it has been embraced by visually-impaired boys. This art is about feeling and understanding the strength and balance of one’s body, and that’s why blind Mallakhamb athletes are just as good as those with perfect eyesight.

Mallakhamb

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Sujet Salee – Thailand’s Blind Boxing Champion

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Sujet Salee is a 29-year-old Thai boxer who fought his way to becoming a champion, despite being blind, since birth.

Sujet began his boxing career in October of 2008 and since ten has won 5 fights and drew once. He fights against other boxers, who are blindfolded to even the scales. According to his trainers, Sujet Salee has an edge over his opponents, because of his heightened remaining senses. As soon as he makes contact with his opponent he begins attacking, often knocking him down with an elbow hit.

The blind champion’s father was a Muay Thai fighter, and, in spite of his handicap, Sujet wanted to walk in his footsteps. At first, he admits he didn’t think he could handle it, but after years of training, he has become a season fighter, able to fight anyone in a match of blind Thai boxing.

Cherdchai Sangketkij, owner of the boxing camp where Sujet Salee trains, has been blind for 20 years, and understands Sujet’s desire to succeed. He hopes, one day blind, Thai boxing will become a national sport for the blind, and not be perceived as a violation of the rights of the handicapped.

Photos by REUTERS via Reuters

Sujet-Salee-blind-boxer

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Soccer Tournament for the Blind

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If you thought there was no way blind people could play soccer, think again. There are even official soccer tournaments for the blind, held between national teams.

The latest tournament took place in the Sokolniki district of Moscow. Four international teams gathered for a series of matches “in the dark”. It’s hard to understand how you can play a game like soccer without seeing a thing. All the players, with different degrees of blindness, have their eyes stuck shut with a kind of band-aid and covered with a night mask that provides protection and puts them all on equal footing.

But just because their vision is impaired, doesn’t mean they can’t use their other senses to coordinate. Their developed hearing helps them locate the ball and their team-mates and guides them towards the opposite goal. The ball itself is not the kind used in normal soccer matches, it’s a lot heavier, doesn’t bounce and produces a rattle noise to alert the players to its location.

The game lasts for two 25-minute halves, in which the players, guided by their coaches and team-guides, people who sit behind opposite goal and direct players on how to approach and score. One of the most interesting things about soccer for the blind is the goalkeepers aren’t blindfolded, so they can see where the ball is going. Still, goals are scored regularly, unlike in the Eton Wall Game.

Don’t imagine the game looks anything like the normal soccer games, the players hardly ever pass long or use their heads, they mainly stick to dribbling, short passing and shooting at the goal.

Photos via Drugoi

soccer-for-the blind

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Unicycle Sports Performed at UNICON 2010

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Over 650 unicyclists from 23 countries, and even more spectators gathered in Wellington, New Zealand, for the 15th 15th International Unicycle World Championships and Convention (UNICON XV).

UNICON is held every two years and welcomes anyone who can ride a one wheeled-bicycle. This year, the 10 day event took place between December 27, 2009 and January 7 2010 and hosted  all sorts of fun competition, performed on unicycles, of course. There were 30 different events, of which the most interesting were MUni (mountain-uni-cycling), Road Racing, Track and Field, Unicycle Hockey and Unicycle Basketball.

Yup, basketball and hockey played while riding a unicycle. Maybe you’ve seen this kind of display before, but it’s definitely new to me. I found some photos from UNICON 2010 and added a couple of videos, so you can better understand the game.

I guess these fall in the same weird category as underwater rugby.

UNICON-Unicycle-Championships0

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Boxing on Floating Ice

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Boxing in the hockey ring seems dangerous enough, but the Chinese take it one step further.

Wearing nothing but a pair of shorts and sneakers, a group of winter swimmers entertained passers-by during a series of boxing matches performed on a block of floating ice. Held in Harbin City, the wacky competition had contestants punch each other with over sized boxing gloves while struggling to keep their balance on the slippery ice.

One of the ice boxers lost his temper when the referee tried to stop him from hitting his downed opponent and knocked the “official” in the ice-cold water surrounding the ring.

It’s a crazy event, but the Chinese don’t even come close to the neon-fighting Japanese.

via ImagineChina

Ice-boxing0

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The Eton Wall Game

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From the country that brought us rugby and soccer comes one of the oldest, hardest and weirdest ball games in the world, the Eton Wall Game.

It’s not clear when the Eton Wall Game was invented, but the first recording of a game dates back to 1766. Its rules were changed several times up to 1849, but have remained unchanged ever since. The game originated at Eton college, along a slightly crooked brick wall, built in 1717. The most important game is played on St. Andrew’s Day, between a team of Collegers and Oppidants.

People kicking a ball along a brick wall sounds a little like soccer, but the 5-meters wide, 110-meters-long pitch makes the Eton Wall Game special. Each ten-player team tries to get the ball to the far end of the opposite side and score a goal, without handling the ball, hold or hit their opponents or get caught offside. As you can imagine, scoring a goal under these conditions can be rather difficult. In fact, the last one was scored 100 years ago, in 1909.

Eton-Wall-Game

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