I thought I would combine my favorite subject—history—with the subject of my latest book—jump rope—and write a blog about the history of jump rope. However, I should warn you that I could make up just about anything in this blog and you’d be hard pressed to prove me wrong. It turns out there’s little real evidence about the history of skipping rope.
The Jump Rope Institute speculates that the sport began in Egypt where skilled athletes jumped over vines.
The International Rope Skipping Federation says that jump rope originated in ancient China where ropemakers played at game called Hundred Rope Jumping as part of their New Year’s celebrations. (The Traditional Chinese Game League confirms this – more or less. They say jumping rope was called “jumping 100 threads” because a rope circling through the air looked like it had been split into 100 separate ropes. But most of their discussion of the “tradition” involves a Chinese Jump Rope which is a large elastic loop that is nothing like a “western” jump rope.)
The National Double Dutch League suggests that the style of jumping known as Double Dutch, where long ropes are turned toward each other while one person jumps in the middle, originates with ancient Phoenician rope makers. (more…)