Buck buck

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For the game where one team jumps onto the backs of another, see High Cockalorum.
College students playing the game in Turkey

Buck buck (also known as Johnny-on-a-Pony, or Johnny-on-the-Pony) is a children's game with several variants.[1] One version of the game is played when "one player climbs another’s back" and the climber guesses "the number of certain objects out of sight."[1] Another version of the game is played with "one group of players [climbing] on the backs of a second group in order to build as large a pile as possible or to cause the supporting players to collapse."[1]

As early as the 16th century, children in Europe and the Near East played Buck, Buck, which had been called "Bucca Bucca quot sunt hic?".[2][3] Pieter Bruegel's painting "Children's Games" (1560) depicts children playing a variant of the game.[4][5]

A similar game is played in South Korea, where it is called Malttukbakgi.[1] There is even a statue in Uijeongbu which depicts the game.[2] Malttukbakgi (말뚝박기) is a game that both Korean girls and boys play up until high school.

Game play[edit]

In Malttukbakgi, there are two teams. Team A has one person stand up against the wall and the rest of the team bend over in a line with their heads placed between the legs of the person in front of them. This forms what looks like a large horse. The members of Team B then jump onto the human horse one by one with as much force as possible. If anyone from either team falls to the floor, that team loses. If everyone stays up, then the person against the wall and the person in front will play a game of Gawibawibo (Rock—paper—scissors) to determine the winner.

The Turkish version of the game is called Uzun Essek, or "Long Donkey." The person standing up is called the Pillow, or the Referee. One team bends over, then the other team jumps on the "Donkey" one by one. If the Donkey can stand the pressure, the first member of the jumping team to jump holds up one or two fingers. If the donkey can guess the number of fingers which are held up, they get to jump. If the jumpers fall to the ground, it is the donkeys turn to jump. If the donkey falls, the jumpers jump again.

In popular culture[edit]

Bill Cosby's 1967 album Revenge includes a track "Buck, Buck" in which he describes playing the game as a child. He mentions that in his hometown of Philadelphia it was called "Buck Buck," while in New York City it was known as "Johnny on the Pony." This track introduces Fat Albert, "the baddest Buck Buck breaker in the world," who "weighed 2,000 pounds" and could cause earthquakes when he ran down the street. The character would later become the basis for the cartoon series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids which includes a buck buck episode (season 1 episode 6). The same story, in a slightly different form, is also included in Cosby's book Childhood.

In the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, the heroes use a game of buck buck as an attack that is key to their defeat of the main villain.[6]



  1. ^ a b c "buck buck". Dictionary of American Regional English. Retrieved 20 January 2010. 
  2. ^ Spadaccini, Stephanie and John Farnsworth (2005). "Johnny Ride a Pony". The Big Book of Rules: Board Games, Kids' Games, Card Games, from Backgammon and Bocce to Tiddlywinks and Stickball. Penguin. pp. 221–222. ISBN 978-0-452-28644-3. 
  3. ^ Hindman, Sandra (September 1981). "Pieter Bruegel's Children's Games, Folly, and Chance". The Art Bulletin. LXIII (3): 470–471. 
  4. ^ "Game: Johnny On A Pony (Detail from Brueghel's Painting)". Elliot Avedon Virtual Museum of Games: Young Folk At Play (Children's Games). University of Waterloo. February 9, 2010. Retrieved 2011-11-15.  External link in |work= (help)
  5. ^ Clements, Rhonda L. (1995). Games and Great Ideas: A Guide for Elementary School Physical Educators and Classroom Teachers. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-313-29460-0. 
  6. ^ M. Enois Duarte, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) (Dolby Atmos)", High-Def Digest (December 17th, 2014).