This video from the US National Archives, shows historical footage of Chinese practicing different types of sports; traditional martial arts, archery, basketball, diving, swimming, and ice skating.

The video was shot in 1937, during a tumultuous time in Chinese history when the Chinese Nationalists and Communists were joining forces against the Japanese (in the so-called War Against Japanese Resistance, or Second Sino-Japanese War, 1937–1945). We can see men and women practicing martial arts (also known in the West as Kungfu), which has been around in China since ancient times. Boys and girls are playing basketball, which was brought to China from America only several years earlier. The audience is captivated by the game, and enjoys watching the young men and women play. On sunny days, people flock to the swimming pool, diving and floating around. During the winter, ice skating appeared to be popular, and here we see many people skating together on a frozen lake.


Character Pinyin English
体育 tǐyù sports (N)
运动 yùndòng sport, athletics (N); to move around, to exercise (V)
锻炼 duànliàn to exercise (V)
身体 shēntǐ body (N)
健康 jiànkāng health, physique (N)
手臂/胳臂 shǒubì/gēbei arm (N)
shǒu hand (N)
tuǐ leg (N)
jiǎo foot (N)
武术 wǔshù martial arts, Kungfu (N)
dāo knife, sword (N)
射箭 shèjiàn archery (N), to shoot arrows (VO)
篮球 lánqiú basketball (N)
to hit (V)
打(蓝)球 dǎ (lán) qiú to hit a ball (V)
to kick (V)
踢球 tīqiú to kick a ball (VO)
观众 guānzhòng audience, spectators (N)
游泳 yóuyǒng to swim (N)
游泳池 yóuyǒngchí swimming pool (N)
跳水 tiàoshuǐ to dive (VO)
滑冰 huábīng to (ice) skate (VO)

Related Articles

Sports (from the Encyclopedia of China)
Martial arts