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The Hacky Sack Origin: Its Ancient Beginnings

Footbag games such as Hacky Sack involve kicking a small bag back and forth with friends. 1972 marked the beginning of the modern game. This article discusses the origin of the hacky sack from its ancient beginnings.

Hacky Sack is a novel concept in which all body parts except your hands and arms are used to intercept an object in flight. This is done to keep it airborne. Our modern-day kicking game has its roots in ancient Eastern cultures, as surprising as that may seem.

Kenmari ancient soccer game from japan


Chinese Emperor Hwang Ti invented the first kicking game in 2597 BC, according to hacky sack origins. The kicking object Ti used was constructed from leather and filled with hair. It was oblong in shape.

This primitive kicking object was called ‘Mari,’ and the game was called Kemari. Besides being enjoyed by fun-seeking Chinese, Kemari was also used by the Emperor’s military to train and condition its soldiers.

chinese style shuttlecock
Chinese Style Shuttlecock

More than 2,000 years have passed since shuttlecocks were first played in China, Japan, and Korea. In this game, players kick and pass a feathered disc between them. There have been subtle differences between the shuttlecocks used.

There was a wide variety of thicknesses and sizes of flat bases, but most were approximately 1.5 inches in diameter. Military officers formed clubs and standardized rules for the game in ancient Japan. To keep their feet warm in cold weather, shopkeepers and street vendors in Korea play the game for practical reasons!

Close up of sepak takraw ball and game in background

Sepak Takraw

The national sport of Malaysia is a foot game called sepak takraw that has been played for over a thousand years. Takraw balls, which measure approximately 6 inches in diameter and are made of woven rattan, are used for kicking. Sepak Takraw is played on a 44 x 20-foot court with a 5-foot high net.

The game of sepak takraw is very similar to the game of footbag net in our sport. One of the oldest kicking games is the most popular sport on the planet, soccer. There are more countries than members of the United Nations that play soccer, known more commonly as football, outside North America.

By modernizing ancient kicking games using the origins of hacky sack, a few differences remain, such as the object and use of the upper body. It is difficult to control a footbag because it is considerably smaller than a soccer ball.

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Regulation play does not allow contact with the upper body except for hacky sack freestyle. However, another cultural kicking game has never prohibited the upper body. Therefore, athletes are encouraged to use their neglected lower bodies by enforcing this rule.

Kicking is practically a part of the culture in soccer-influenced countries, while in the United States, upper-body sports (such as baseball, basketball, tennis, etc.) dominate.

The sport of hacky sack has become one of the most viable sports families in the world thanks to its venerable kicking history.

Hacky Sack first design

The Original Hacky Sack

Mike and John made and hacked this square beanbag sack in 1972.

second version of the hacky sack

They experimented in 1973 with a round shape, internal stitching, and material from Mike’s couch for the cover.

third version

This thick cowhide leather pancake-style was tested halfway through 1973 by the two inventors for its toughness.

hacky sack fourth version

His wife, Linda, found this gem in Mike’s flower bed. It is their first attempt at the now classic 2-panel baseball cut design. For John and Mike, this 2-panel leather footbag with internal machine sewing set new standards in 1974.

2-panel, leather

A few 2-panel models were hand-stitched between 1974 and 1977 to satisfy the craze that had just begun.

The official “Made in Haiti” package was introduced in 1977. However, it was discontinued in 1992 after an illustrious 18-year run.

In 1992, Hacky Sack Magic introduced a rounder 8-panel, synthetic suede footbag that ushered in a new era in footbag design.

a player doing hacky sack tricks

Physical education teachers were given a natural teaching aid for a hacky sack with the Slo Sak in 1996. Its softball size, lightweight nylon outer cover, and foam chip filler made learning fun and easy.

A unique pattern and packaging style made the Hacky Sack Pro a hit in 1997.

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