The basic idea of flying fighter kites is pretty much the same the world over. The last kite in the air wins, and this is usually achieved by cutting the flying lines of the other kites. By friction against other flying lines, not with scissors!
However, a pair of scissors did make an appearance during one highly irregular Rokkaku Battle. That was during a South Australian kite festival some years ago, here in Adelaide! So a little birdie told me.
Most other fighter designs are actually unstable in the air while there is low tension in the flying line.
For example, Indian fighters like the Patang over there in the photo. Handling one of these fighters well is quite a skill so it's not just 'kids stuff'.This George Peters' Indian Fighter Kite on Amazon is a design made from modern materials, but it looks very similar to the traditional Indian version.
At a recent kite festival, we took a video of a small fighter being expertly handled over the sand...
As mentioned earlier, flying fighters is not necessarily 'kids stuff'. However, huge numbers of kids in the countries with a kite-fighting culture do participate. The skills, in both construction and flying, have been passed down for generations. In addition to Japan's Rokkaku, a number of other countries have one or more distinctive local fighter kite designs. Here are the main examples, followed by the name of the traditional kite:
Here is a picture of all 5 types, in order corresponding to the points above:
Now, getting back to those child fliers, in all cultures... The kids make fairly crude designs from whatever materials are available. Crude in comparison to what can be bought from the local kite makers...
Kite masters or designers and their assistants turn out extremely neat and well-balanced fighter kites for sale. Often these kites are exquisitely attractive to look at too! The smallest and cheapest of these are often flown by kids. Bamboo still dominates as a great traditional spar material, but the traditional sail materials of tissue and silk are starting to give way to more modern materials such as nylon, mylar and plastic.