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The games where the act of jumping is an essential part are divided into main groups. The first is made up of these where one or more participants bend down in a position that is usually called a frog and the others jump over them. These games were traditionally the realm of boys and their rules are very simple. A certain level of skill and quite a lot of strength are required.

The second group were made up of games involving jumping a rope. They are more typically played by girls and generally in groups, but sometimes individually. In recent decades, a version has been introduced which will be discussed at the end, where both the way of skipping and the item used for game have changed as the rope has been replaced by an elastic rope. These activities require great skills by the participants.

We will end by describing a set of very widespread games where even though jumping is important, it is not their defining characteristic. They are played using shapes drawn on the floor, divided into squares, and a stone or something similar is needed to play these games. They consist of hopping from square to square following a pattern and without making any mistakes.

Leapfrog games

The expression “leapfrog” is used to describe a play activity consisting of a child jumping over one that is bending down and is called a frog. The jumper usually leaps over with their legs spread and balancing with their hands on the back of the child bending over.

This is the easiest way of playing. However, it can be made more complicated in very different ways. The game is sometimes made more difficulty by means of jumping in different positions or from a line whose distance from the frog is increased progressively. The players sometimes recite or sing verses, sometimes just saying them and sometimes acting out the lyrics.

This way of developing the games does not usually require more than one player bending over, unlike others such as chorro-morro where there are several frogs in a line. Such a distinction, which is rather arbitrary given that intermediate versions are known, helps us to classify those games.

Skipping games. Soka-saltoka

Skipping games basically consist of jumping within the ellipsoid created by a rope that is turned. The ends of the rope can be held by the same girl who skips or by two participants in addition to the one jumping. In the first case, the game is individual, while in the second it requires at least three girls to take part. Often many more.

Unlike the case of leapfrog games, skipping games nearly exclusively are played by girls. In small communities, as is the case of other forms of playing, children of both sexes would take part.

The most common names in Spanish for skipping are “A la cuerda”, “A la soga”, “A la comba” and “A la carde”. In Basque, it is called “Karneka” (Bermeo-B), “Kordetan” (Izpura-Ip), “Saltasoka” (Beasain-G), “Soka-salto” (Garagarza-Arrasate, Elgoibar and Zerain-G), “Soka-dantza” (Gorozika-B), “Soketan” (Zeanuri-B), “Sopletan” (Goizueta-N) and “Jauzteka” (Uharte-Hiri-Ip).

The children usually skip in the street and as it does not require much space, they can do it indoors on rainy days.

French skipping

French skipping is perhaps the most recent of those classified as jumping games, but has become popular very quickly. In Murchante and Garde (N), they recalled that it began to be played in the 1960s; in Lezaun (N) in the 1950s; in Aramaio (A), they said around two decades ago and in Allo (N) and in Portugalete (B), women who are now over 30 had not played it when they were children. In the last decade, the girls of Beasain (G) have switched from skipping with a rope to French skipping. Mainly girls took part in some locations and in other exclusively.

It only needs several metres of elastic rope, of a certain width that the girls buy from stores by the metres and then sew the ends together. It is the same elastic band used in the waistbands of breeches, trousers, skirts, etc.

A minimum of three players are needed, two to hold the elastic rope and the other is the one who skips. That number is considered to be the ideal. However, that is not always the case: in Bilbao (B), two hold the elastic and another two skip; in Murchante (N), they also play in small groups; in Monreal (N), four or five take part, and in Zamudio (B), they think that the number of participants must be more than two but no greater than eight.

Hopscotch. Txintxirrika

Hopscotch (known as truquemé locally and as rayuela or infernáculo outside our area of study) is a very common form of entertainment and is widely played. Broadly speaking, it consists of throwing a small stone or piece of slate on a set of squares drawn on the ground while hopping.

The basis of this game and the outline drawn on the ground for it to be played are relatively simple. However, there are a great variety and diversity in its specific forms[1].

The object used for the game is usually a small flat stone or a piece of polished slate, along with pieces of tiles, slabs or marble. The polished stones from the river bed were also used for this purpose.

It is played on a shape divided into squares and drawn on the floor. A hard floor is nearly always preferred. If the game is played on stone slabs, the outline does not need to be drawn as the edges of the slabs can be used. When it is essential to draw it, a piece of tile or brick, or of chalk are used. A stick was used when the game was played on earth.

  1. One of the oldest known diagrams is the one on the floor of the Rome forum. During the expansion of the Roman Empire, the cobblestone roads between the different European enclaves were an ideal surface for this game, which the soldiers taught to children in much of Europe. Frederic V. GRUNFELD. Juegos de todo el mundo. Madrid, 1978, p. 165.