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A piece of wood with a string, a small wooden spinning top of a few hundred grams, is all it takes to play tops. And even if, today, young Chinese children are more interested in the screen of their parents ‘ smartphone than by a small top, we still see in the parks some young fathers who try to introduce their children to the art of the spinning top that they practiced themselves when they were toddlers.

Young kid playing small spinning top in Kaifeng

However, playing top with a stick is not an activity reserved for young children and in some provinces, adults also practice spinning top with a stick. Thus, in cities such as Wuhan (Hubei province) or Guiyang (Guizhou province), one swears by the stick and if you are seen arriving with your whip, one will make you understand that you are at wrong address.

Of course, these are no longer sticks of 50 cm, nor spinning tops of 300 grams but the principle remains the same: spin the top by hitting it with a stick with a rubber strap or a rope of the same length.

On the practical side, the handling of the stick has nothing to do with that of the whip; With a stick of 50 to 80 cm, the gesture would be closer to the whip shot you give riding your favorite horse. On the other hand, with sticks of more than a metre, the gesture is closer to that of the golf, with the precision in less. Indeed, in this case, one use the stick with two hands, which makes working, the arms, the shoulders and the back, and it is also the best way to wrinkle the back if one attacks a big top without warming, (as I did recently). When one is not born with a top and a stick in the hands (like most Chinese children) learning the stick is not obvious and it takes, depending on the length of the stick, a few minutes or long hours of practice before getting a good result.

Different lengths

In the Wuhan area, most people play with medium sticks (1 – 1.2 meters), except for players from YanJiang Park who use sticks of more than one metre fifty. In competitions of Chinese spinning tops, players use sticks of one metre eighty to two meters, but in this case, it is matter of hitting more than 800 kg tops. On the other hand, in the province of Guizhou, people prefer to use sticks less than one metre with a 2 or 3 kg spinning top which is often placed on a platter (see article).

Choose your stick

In short, if the stick technique tempts you, you will wonder which length to adopt. To play “cushy” on your deck with your 2 or 3 kg top, take a short stick (less than one meter). If you are looking for a more sporty practice, opt for a medium stick (between 120 and 130 cm), you will immediately feel the difference. Finally, if after one or two years of practice, you want to fight with a 5 kilo top and more, you will choose a long stick whose length is equal to your size. Note that the choice of the stick also depends on the space you have. For sticks of more than one metre, a minimum of 20 square metres must be provided; For a two-metre stick, you will need 64 m2!

Long stick for spinning top
Long stick for spinning top (detail)