Sunday, May 05, 2013
Gateball: Tougher, Timed, Team Techno-Croquet
Gateball is a variation of croquet developed in Japan. It started after WWII as a sport for young people when rubber for making balls was in short supply, but soon became the quintessential sport for old people, such that "salary men", and women, are thought to morph into gateball players upon retirement.
The major differences appear to be that gateball is played with a smaller number of hoops, only three instead of 6 or nine in croquet, to facilitate the use of a smaller playing field. The smaller field means that reaching the goal pole can be achieved too easily for that to be the final object of the game, so games are timed, with the winning team being that which scores the most points in 30 minutes. While croquet is played individually or typically in pairs, gateball is more often played in teams of up to five. Perhaps due to the limited playing area again, one can hold ones own ball fixed in position when playing the bash-your-opponent's-ball-off-the-field gateball ball equivalent of the croquet shot. This can make the gateball croquet shot or "spark," even more ruthless but it is played with typical oriental equanimity. (But, click here for a photo and demonstration, with laughter, in Japanese).
The timed nature of the game, and the Japanese love of technology, results in the use of score watches, the computers that these players are wearing on their forearms, showing the number of points achieved by each of the five balls in each of the two teams.
Gateball mallets are made of carbon fibre and aluminium or titanium.
These differences make gateball a more ruthless, high-tech, high-speed, mini-croquet played by thinner players in larger teams. Like croquet, gateball is played by men and women on an equal footing.
This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.