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Updated on August 21, 2014

Kabaddi: Origin, Format and Internationality

Kabaddi is a word derived from two Sanskrit words "Kar" and "Badhi" that literally means holding hands. It is a game played widely in the Indian subcontinent, but its popularity has spread to Southeast Asia, Japan and Iran. The game originated in the state of Tamilnadu in India where it was initially known as "Sadugudu," and is now the national game of Bangladesh where it is called "Hadududu.".

The game involves two teams with seven members each with each side occupying half of a 10mx13m field for men and 8mx12m field for women. Each team has three players in reserve and the game is played for 40 minutes with a break of five minutes in between.

Basically, a member or a "raider" from a team will inhale and hold his or her breath, cross the dividing line between the two teams, and try to touch as many players of the opposing team that he can while holding breath and chanting "Kabaddi" continuously as evidence that the "raider" is holding on to his/her breath. The opposing players that he makes contact with prior to returning to his side of the field are declared as out of the game. However, if he/she happens to exhale prior to crossing the dividing line or is pinned down by opposing players within their side of the line, he/she is declared to be temporarily out and the raiding team earns a point. The goal of the game is to have as many opposing players out of the game as possible. When an entire team is out of the game, the opposing team earns a "lona" or a bonus of two points and with each member out of the team a point is won. At the end of the stipulated 40 minutes, the team with the most points wins the game.

Kabaddi was demonstrated as a sport in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. It is now a regular sport in the Asian Games, and is also played in Canada and England other than Iran, Southeast Asia, Korea and Japan. Kabaddi has become a league sport in India recently with teams being owned by popular filmstars as well to add that extra coverage to the sport.

Kabaddi is a game that encourages team building, enhances greater understanding between participants, lays the foundation of mutual respect, and encourages physical fitness of participants. It is gaining popularity internationally, and will perhaps be included as a regular Olympic sport in the years to come.


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    • Dip Mtra profile image

      Dip Mtra 3 years ago from World Citizen

      Thanks. It is widely played in the subcontinent and is steadily gaining popularity after it is being played in the league format with celebrities owning teams consisting players that are auctioned. Thanks again for stopping to read.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      This is the first I have ever heard of this. Thank you for describing it in detail.