"Every winter, districts in Kabul held a kite-fighting tournament. If you were a boy living in Kabul, the day of the tournament was undeniably the highlight of the cold season. I never slept the night before the tournament. I'd roll from side to side, make shadow animals on the wall, even sit on the balcony in the dark, a blanket wrapped around me. I felt like a soldier trying to sleep in the trenches the night before a major battle. And that wasn't so far off. In Kabul, fighting kites was a little like going to war" (Hosseini 43).


The History of Kite Running

By: Julie Knapp

Just about every little boy and girl has flown a kite during childhood, but kite running takes it to the next level with duels in the sky. Afghanistan's deep history of kite running is now well known in the United States, thanks to the book and subsequent 2007 movie The Kite Runner, but kite running is popular in other countries across the globe, too.

How It Works
The goal of the sport is to pull your opponent's kite out of the sky by wrapping your kite string around the other kite's string. In order to cut a kite's string you need special twine that's coated with an abrasive coating. Then once the kite is cut loose, the real battle of kite running begins. While the kite is falling from high above the city or park, everyone races to be the first to retrieve the fallen kite as his or her prize. Buildings, trees, power lines can all make the kite's path to the ground more interesting and the capture more challenging.

external image kiterunning+pic.jpg Kite fighting is not just flying a kite in the air and trying to cut down your opponents. There is a lot of strategy and there are many different components to make a kite successful at kite fighting. There is the unit, the kite, the wire (tar), the drum (charkha), the Fight (Jang), and Azadi Rawast.
The first step of how to kite fight is developing the unit. The unit consists of two people, one person to fly the kite and the other one to keep track of the wire. Each is of equal importance. If a good unit is formed, it is a greater chance the kite will come out victorious. All though the unit is important, the kite and wire are the most important elements on how to kite fight.
The specific design of the kite and wire is the key to kite fighting. “Kites were most commonly made of thin paper and the skeleton was supported by bamboo wood.” This was the most common design because of the malleability and flexibility the design gave the kite... The smoother the wire, the easier it was to cut an opponent’s wire. The drum held the wire inside. It was made of wood and it assured a fast release of the wire.
The Fight could last anywhere from a split second to thirty minutes... Azadi Rawast is the opportunity that arises when the kite is first released and taken by the wind. This is the best time to go for a strike during a fight.

Winter is when fighting really begins. Schools are closed for the holidays and the winds are usually at their peaks which also makes the tradition unsafe. Kite running or kite fighting in is one of the oldest traditions in Afghanistan along with many other nations. Kite fighting is its own art form and has become not only the fastest growing popularity, but a national obsession since the end of the Taliban regime. Main events are held in the city of Kabul and the streets are lined with stores displaying beautifully colored kites for sell. “Afghan kite fighting often depends on the quality of the wire, or string, and how it is prepared” (Kite Culture). The kites are hand made from tissue paper and bamboo. Most fighters also make their own Tar, cutting-edge line, for their kites. The lines usually weigh around nine pounds and the wing span of the kite is between one foot and five feet.


ABC Video on Kite Running

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