Xinjiang has been inhabited by many ethnic peoples since ancient times. Geographic features and ethnic cultures have greatly contributed to the development of local ethnic sports. Wrestling is popular among the ethnic minority nationalities, especially among Uygurs, Kazaks, Mongols, Kirkizs, and Xibos while horse racing and sheep tussling are most popular among Kazaks, Mongols, Kirkizs and Tajiks, whose cultures are nomadic ones.
In the past, horse racing was organized specially festivals but at present time it is held not only on the occasion of festivals but also for popular sports and tourist performance. As soon as the race starts, riders in their ethnic costumes mount their horses as soon as possible and raise their whips to speed. Meanwhile, the audiences shout and jump for joy and encourage the riders. If it is for competition, it includes hurdle racing, field racing, polo and shooting on running horses.
“Girl chase” is a traditional sports game and entertainment popular among young Kazak people. It is also a unique occasion for them to express mutual admiration and love. Girl chase is held on the spacious and even grassland. The game begins with pairs of young people riding out leisurely shoulder to shoulder from a starting point to a designated goal - about 200-300 meters. If the young woman does not mind the young man’s verbal advances and feels the same about him as he feels about her, she will wave her whip over his head, touching him lightly. But if the young woman does not like the young man she will actually whip him as she overtakes him on horseback amidst the roaring laughter of the spectators. However, all that “horseplay” will not harm their friendship. Usually, girl chase is held in summers but is also held on the occasion of festivals and celebrations. Except for girl chase, shoot on a running horse is a traditional sport among many ethnic minority people, especially among Xibos.
Darwaz, meaning “walking on a rope in the air” in the Uygur language, is one of the traditional sports of the Uyghur people. The performer holds a pole to keep balance and to do various thrilling poses on a rope 20 meters above the ground. On June, 22, 1997, Adili, a young Uygur, performed Darwaz over the torrents of Three Gorges. He crossed the whole distance in only 13 minutes and 48 seconds, setting a new world record. In addition, he broke the Genis Record of living in the air AT the Beijing Miyun Reservoir. Therefore, he was crowned “the air prince”. The Darwaz became a worldwide sport. The annual Kashgar Darwaz festival attracts more and more visitors.
Nadam , a Mongolian traditional festival, means “amusement and entertainment, or game”. horse racing , wrestling and archery are three of the most popular and traditional activities of the fair, while singing and dancing in traditional style are also a great highlight. At the start of every Nadam Festival, herdsmen and herdswomen will converge from all directions in new national costumes and they greet with each other and prepare delicious food for visitors. Every July, Nadam held in Bayinbluk Grassland of the Bayinbluk Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture and at Sayram Lake of the Bortala Mongolian Autonomous Prefectures are the two largest festival.
Additionally, there are other ethnic sports games with strong ethnic flavors, such as camel racing, sheep flight and rooster flight. They are enjoyed by the local ethnic peoples.