For other uses, see Kabadi (disambiguation).

Kabaddi is a contact sport that originated in ancient India. It is known by its regional names in different parts of the subcontinent, such as Kapaddi or "Chadukudu" in Tamil Nadu,[1][2] Kabaddi in Karnataka, Telangana, hadudu in Bengal, bhavatik in Maldives, kauddi in the Punjab region and chedugudu in Andhra Pradesh.


Women playing Kabaddi in Tamil Nadu

Kabaddi is an ancient game played in many parts of India.The mention of the sport dates back to ancient times and is traced in Indian mythology. Generally, raiders are considered as bulls who play against the defenders. The essence of the game is the holding of the raiders by the defenders.[3][4][5] Some forms of the game originated in Tamil Nadu and southern India whilst other forms of Kabaddi originated in northern parts of India.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12] Though variations emerged and rules were framed, the game’s principal objective remained unchanged.[13]

Modern kabaddi is therefore a synthesis of the game played in various forms under different names.[14] Kabaddi received international exposure during the 1936 Berlin Olympics, demonstrated by India. The game was introduced in the Indian National Games at Calcutta in 1938. In 1950 the All India Kabaddi Federation (AIKF) came into existence and framed the rules. The AIKF was reconstituted as The Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) in 1972 and the first national tournament for men was held in Chennai.[15]

Kabaddi was introduced to and popularised in Japan in 1979 by Sundar Ram of India, who toured Japan on behalf of Asian Amateur Kabaddi Federation for two months to introduce the game.[16] In 1979, matches between Bangladesh and India were held across India. The first Asian Kabaddi Championship was held in 1980 and India emerged as champion, beating Bangladesh in the final. The other teams in the tournament were Nepal, Malaysia, and Japan. The game was included for the first time in the Asian Games in Beijing in 1990 where seven teams took part.



A kabaddi court
External video
Video explanation of the rules of Kabaddi, Starsports (2016)

In the international team version of kabaddi, two teams of seven members each occupy opposite halves of a field of 10 by 13 metres (33 ft × 43 ft) in case of men and 8 by 12 metres (26 ft × 39 ft) in case of women.[17] Each has three supplementary players held in reserve. The game is played with 20-minute halves and a five-minute halftime break during which the teams exchange sides.

The teams take turns sending a "raider" into the other half. To win a point, the raider must take a breath, run into the opposing half, tag one or more members of the opposite team, then return to their home half before inhaling again.[14] The raider will chant "kabaddi, kabaddi" with their exhaling breath to show the referee they have not inhaled.[14] The raider will be declared "out" and will not gain the point if they inhale before returning to their side, or returns without touching an opponent.[14] The tagged defender(s) will be "out" if they do not succeed in catching the raider who tagged them.[14] Wrestling the raider to the ground can prevent them escaping before they need to inhale.[14]

Defenders may not cross the centre line (the "lobby") of the field and the raider may not cross the boundary lines. However, there is one bonus line which can grant extra points for the raider if he manages to touch it and return successfully. Players who are out are temporarily sent off the field. Each time a player is out, the opposing team earns a point. A team scores a bonus of two points (called a "lona"), if the entire opposing team is declared out. At the end of the game, the team with the most points wins. Matches are categorised based on age and weight. Six officials supervise a match: one referee, two umpires, a scorer and two assistant scorers.


Circle Kabaddi

There are four major forms of kabaddi played in India which are recognised by the amateur federation. In Sanjeevani Kabaddi, one player is revived against one player of the opposite team who is out – one out. The game is played over 40 minutes with a five-minute break between halves. There are seven players on each side and the team that outs all the players on the opponent's side scores four extra points. In Gaminee style, seven players play on either side and a player put out has to remain out until all his team members are out. The team that is successful in ousting all the players of the opponent's side secures a point. The game continues until five or seven such points are secured and has no fixed time duration. Amar style resembles the Sanjeevani form in the time frame rule. But, a player who is declared out doesn’t leave the court, but instead stays inside, and the play goes along. For every player of the opposition touched ‘out,’ a team earns a point.[18] Punjabi Kabaddi is a variation that is played on a circular pitch of a diameter of 22 metres (72 ft).[19]

Notable competitions

Asian Games

Pictogram of kabaddi

Kabaddi has been played at the Asian Games since 1990. The Indian team has won all seven Gold medals. The next most successful team is Bangladesh,

Asia Kabaddi Cup

The Asia Kabaddi Cup has been held twice in consecutive years. The inaugural tournament was held in 2011 in Iran. In 2012, the Asia Kabaddi Cup was held in Lahore (Pakistan) from 1 to 5 November. In the 2012 ASIA Kabaddi Cup, Pakistan won against India with a technical win after Indian team forfeited the match following a dispute.

Kabaddi World Cup

Kabaddi World Cup was first played in 2004, then in 2007 and then annually from 2010 onwards. A circle format is followed from 2010 World Cup onwards.[20][21] India is the unbeaten champion winning every edition held so far. The 2016 Kabaddi World Cup contested from 7 to 22 October 2016 in Ahmedabad, India, with twelve countries competing in the tournament was won by team India under the captaincy of Anup Kumar. India defeated Iran with score 38-29 in final match. India is by far the most successful international Kabaddi team in the world. Bangladesh has won three bronzes in Kabaddi.

Women's World Cup

The first Women's Kabaddi World Cup was held in Patna, India in 2012. India won the championship, defeating Iran in the finals.[22] India retained the title in 2013, defeating debutants New Zealand in the finals.

Pro Kabaddi League

Main article: Pro Kabaddi League

The Pro Kabaddi League was established in 2014; the league modeled its business upon that of the Indian Premier League of Twenty20 cricket, with a large focus on marketing, the backing of local broadcaster Star Sports, and changes to the sport's rules and its presentation to make it more suitable for a television audience.[23] The PKL quickly became a ratings success on Indian television; the 2014 season was watched by at least 435 million viewers over the course of the season, and the inaugural championship match was seen by 86.4 million viewers.[24][25]

UK Kabaddi Cup

Kabaddi received major recognition in the United Kingdom during the 2013 UK Kabaddi Cup. It featured the national kabaddi teams from India, England, Pakistan, the United States, Canada, and a local club team sponsored by SGPC. The UK Kabaddi Cup hosts the Punjab circle style of kabaddi.

World Kabaddi League

World Kabaddi League was formed in 2014.[26] The league includes eight teams from four countries Canada, England, Pakistan, and the United States and plays the Punjabi circle style of kabaddi.[27][27] Some of the teams are owned or part owned by actors Akshay Kumar (Khalsa Warriors), Rajat Bedi (Punjab Thunder), Sonakshi Sinha (United Singhs) and Yo Yo Honey Singh (Yo Yo Tigers). The inaugural league season was played from August 2014 to December 2014.[28] United Singhs (Birmingham, England) won the finals defeating Khalsa Warriors (London, England) in the first season.[29][30]


Kabaddi is a popular sport in South Asia. The Kabaddi Federation of India (KFI) was founded in 1950, and it compiled a standard set of rules. The governing body for kabaddi in Pakistan is Pakistan Kabaddi Federation. In Bangladesh, a variation of kabaddi called Ha-Du-Du is popular. Ha-Du-Du has no definite rules and is played with different rules in different areas. Kabaddi is the National Game of Bangladesh and the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of Bangladesh was formed in 1973. In Iran, the Community of Kabaddi was formed in 1996, in same year they joined the Asian Kabaddi Federation and in 2001 they joined the International Kabaddi Federation. The Iran Amateur Kabaddi Federation was formed in 2004.

Kabaddi is one of the national sports of Nepal. Kabaddi is played and taught at a very early age in most primary schools beginning in the third grade or so in most Nepali schools. Kabaddi was also played by the British Army for fun, to keep fit and as an enticement to recruit soldiers from the British Asian community. Kabaddi was brought to the United Kingdom by Indian immigrants and Pakistani immigrants. The governing body for kabaddi in the United Kingdom is the England Kabaddi Federation UK.

Films depicting kabaddi
Anime depicting kabaddi


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