A Complete Guide to Kabaddi

Kabaddi is synonymous with the spirited and athletic pride that India has when it comes to sports. This is a real sport for those who love thrills and get a constant adrenaline rush while sweating on the field. Rooted in Indian tradition, Kabaddi dates back centuries and is one of the most popular sports played on Indian soil.

What is Kabaddi?

Kabaddi is a contact sport that requires two teams to compete in a match. The game has its origins in ancient Indian history as it was first conceived in South India.

The game is governed globally by the International Kabaddi Federation, while domestically the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) serves as the governing body. There are two major forms of the game; International and Indian. There are 4 main styles in the Indian format; Sanjeevani, Gamini, Amar and Punjabi.

Kabaddi is played in Asian and South Asian sports. Apart from this, there are many international Kabaddi tournaments including Women’s Kabaddi World Cup, Men’s Kabaddi World Cup, World Kabaddi League along with domestic level Pro Kabaddi League which is very popular in India. Some of the legends of the game are Rakesh Kumar, Anup Kumar and Manjeet Chillar.

Kabaddi in a nutshell

Kabaddi is a game that is not for the faint of heart. Being part of a team requires lung capacity, presence of mind and plenty of muscle strength. A Kabaddi match is generally played between two teams consisting of 7 players on each side.

The farm is divided into two parts; Players on the defensive side are classified as opponents and players on the offensive side are classified as raiders. In this game, attacking is an individual process, while defending involves a collective effort.

The main objective of the game is for the raider to attack the opponents while chanting ‘Kabaddi Kabaddi’ or taking a breather. If the breath is broken, the opposing team gets a point, and if the raider succeeds in chanting and tagging the players of the opposing team, the raider’s team gets a point. A raider wants to attack and reach the field safely on his team’s side without breaking the spell. For the anti, it is important to prevent the raider from tagging them. The roles of raider and anti keep changing depending on which team is attacking.

History of Kabaddi

  • Kabaddi is a contact sport that originated in India. Its concept as a sporting event to be precise can be traced back to Tamil Nadu, where group hunting and village defense techniques gave rise to the first form of the sport.
  • The game further developed in the northern part of India with Punjab being the most prominent region.
  • An organized version of Kabaddi was first played in Maharashtra and standardized rules for the game were also drawn up between 1950-1920. Although the game has been diversified, the main objective of the game remains unchanged.
  • Countries such as Bangladesh and Nepal play Kabaddi as their national sport, and it is played at the state level in the Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Punjab.
  • There are two main types of this game, International and Indian. Although the rules for both are slightly different, there are various styles of Indian Eka; Sanjeevani, Gamini, Amar and Punjabi.
  • The game is commonly known as Hadudu in Bangladesh, Baibala in Maldives, Chedugudu in Andhra Pradesh, Sadugugu in Tamil Nadu and Hututu in Maharashtra.
  • Kabaddi first gained international recognition at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. It was also introduced in the Indian National Games held in Calcutta in 1938.
  • The All India Kabaddi Federation (AIKF) was formed in 1950 which gave the sport nationwide recognition. Later, it was reorganized as Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) in 1973.
  • Kabaddi was popularized in Japan in 1979 by India’s Sundar Ram, who toured the country for two months on behalf of the Asian Amateur Kabaddi Federation.
  • In 2004, the International Kabaddi Federation (IKF) was formed and many Western nations such as Canada and Germany joined as members, taking the sport to a global level.
  • India has one of the best and most successful kabaddi teams internationally; Winning every Kabaddi World Cup and Asian Games title till 2015 (in both men’s and women’s categories).
  • In 2016, Gujarat is expected to host the Kabaddi World Cup

Kabaddi – Rules and Regulations

Kabaddi can be played indoors as well as indoors and has two main types, International and Indian which have slightly different rules.

The international version has two teams in a match. Each team has a total of 7 players and both teams occupy opposite sides of the field.

The defensive team is known as the Antis and the offensive team is known as the Raiders. The role keeps changing depending on which side is attacking. Field dimensions are 10m X 13m for men and 8m x 12m for women. Each team has the right to retain three players who are sitting out of the field.

If a player is injured and unable to continue playing, they can be used as substitutes. The game is played in 20 minute halves with a 5 minute break, after which the teams switch sides.

The main objective of the teams is to send raiders into the opposing teams half (opposing). To score a point the raider must take a breath before entering the opponent’s half and chant ‘Kabaddi Kabaddi’ without exhaling. A raider is expected to tag a member of the opposing team and return to his half while chanting. In the process, if the player exhales or fails to tag a member of the opposing team, he or she will be declared ‘out’ by the referee.

The role of the tagged player is to prevent the raider from reaching his half of the field. This can be done by wrestling the raider to the ground until the spell is broken or out of breath. 

If the tagged defender fails to catch the raider, the tagged player will be declared by the referee. Defenders must be careful not to cross the center line of the field known as the ‘lobby’ when attempting to catch a defender as doing so may result in a foul. There is a bonus line for raiders that can be touched and an extra point is awarded if the raider successfully returns to his half.

A player is obliged to sit out of the field after being declared out. The opposing team scores a point each time a player is declared ‘out’.

Knocking out the entire opposing team gives the team three points which is known as ‘lona’. This is usually done if the raider manages to tag the entire team or manage some form of contact with the opposing team while safely returning to his half of the team.

The team that scores the most points is declared the winner of the match. Kabaddi matches are usually categorized by age and weight. A team of six officials attends the match; One umpire, two umpires, one scorer and two assist scorers.

The Indian version of Kabaddi has 4 main types:

  • Sanjeevani  : The rules of this edition are same as International with a slight difference. In this version, a player from the opposing team is revived if they knock out another player from the opposing team. The game in this version lasts 40 minutes with a 5 minute break at half time. Each team has seven players. However, in this version a team can score 4 extra points if they can eliminate the entire opposition team.
  • Gamini  : In this version, each side has a total of 7 players and if a player is declared out, he or she has to stay out until the entire team loses the match. There is no scope for revival of the players. The team that manages to eliminate all the players from the opposing team scores a point. The game has no fixed duration and the game continues until a team successfully scores 5-7 points.
  • Immortal  : This version has the same game duration as Sanjeevani. However, if a player in this format is dropped, he can remain in the field even while the game is on. The more players a raider can touch, the higher the opposing team’s score on the score board.]
  • Punjabi  : This version is basically played on a 22 meter diameter circular pitch. Its rules are more or less same as other editions.

Kabaddi – Details

Players usually wear shorts and t-shirts with their team colors and names displayed on the front and back when playing sports. Apart from this, no equipment is required to play the game.

Governing bodies for Kabaddi

In 2004, the International Kabaddi Federation was formed to give the sport a prominent international presence. As of 2015, the federation has membership of 31 nations.

Janardhan Singh Gehlot is the founder of this federation and is originally from India. Many tournaments and International Kabaddi World Cup are organized by this federation.

In India, the Kabaddi Federation of India (KFI) serves as the governing body. It was founded in 1950 and was instrumental in establishing standardized rules for the game. Later in 1973 it was reshaped as the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) and affiliated to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to further popularize the sport.

With the help of AKFI, the face of Kabaddi has changed and national level competition for junior and sub-junior boys and girls has become a regular occurrence in India. It has also helped recruit new talent to represent India on the international platform.

Kabaddi Championship


Asian Games:  The Asian Games are held once every four years, where Kabaddi has been a regular fixture since the 1990 Asian Games held in Beijing, China. As of 2015, India has won a total of 9 gold medals in the sport and has always played a dominant role in the Asian Games when it comes to Kabaddi. Bangladesh has the most medals after India; Total 7 with 3 silver and 4 bronze medals.

Kabaddi World Cup:  The World Cup first started in 2004, but did not become effective until 2007. Since 2010, it has been an annual event. The shape of the World Cup is slightly different as the field is circular in shape. Till 2014, India have won all the World Cups, with Pakistan being the second runner-up. The two nations have played against each other in several World Cup finals, the only exception being Canada in 2011.

Women’s Kabaddi World Cup  : India had the honor of hosting the first Women’s Kabaddi World Cup in Patna in 2012. A total of 16 countries participated in the tournament, including the Western nations of the United States, Mexico and Canada. India became the champion while Iran reached the second runner-up position. In 2014 too, India retained the title by defeating New Zealand in the final.

South Asian Games:  This multi-sport event brings together athletes from all over South Asia. The organizing body is South Asia Sports Council which was established in 1983. As of 2015, there are 8 countries; Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have actively participated in these games. Kabaddi was introduced at the 2010 South Asian Games in Dhaka where India won both the men’s and women’s categories.

World Kabaddi League  : It is the biggest Kabaddi tournament in the world. There are a total of 8 teams from 4 countries; USA, Canada, Pakistan and United Kingdom. In this league, matches are played in a circular field. The league started in 2014. Khalsa Warriors, Yo Yo Tigers, Vancouver Lions, Punjab Thunders, Lahore Lions, United Singhs, California Eagles and Royal Kings participated in the league. United Singhs won the final in 2014 defeating Khalsa Warriors by a narrow margin.

Domestic Kabaddi

Pro Kabaddi League:  This league started in 2014 with 8 major teams located in different Indian cities. Competing teams were; Jaipur Pink Panthers, U Mumba, Bengaluru Bulls, Dabang Delhi, Puneri Paltan, Telugu Titans, Bengal Warriors and Patna Pirates. The format of the league was a caravan format which meant teams had to travel to 8 locations to play a total of 60 matches during the tournament. These teams continued to play in the 2015 as well as 2016 Pro Kabaddi League.

A famous person in Kabaddi

Rakesh Kumar:  He is a professional kabaddi player who has played in many kabaddi teams; Chillar Club, U Mumbai and Patna Pirates. He made his debut in the Indian national team in 2003.

He was part of the Indian Kabaddi team that participated in the 2004 and 2007 Kabaddi World Cups and won gold medals in both. His performances were impeccable in the 2006 and 2010 Asian Games where India won gold medals in both the Games. In 2011, he was awarded the Arjuna Award by the Government of India for Kabaddi. In the first Pro Kabaddi League,

He was the only player for whom Patna Pirates made the highest bid of 12.8 lakhs and was also made the team captain. He was joined by U Mumbai for the 2016 Pro Kabaddi League.

Anup Kumar  : He is a professional kabaddi player who has also played for the Indian national team. He is the captain of U Mumbai in the Pro Kabaddi League. He started his career with the Haryana Police before turning to Kabaddi. He was part of the team that won the gold medal at the 2014 Asian Games held in Incheon. He has also received Arjuna Award from Government of India in 2012 for Kabaddi. As a kabaddi player, he is agile on the field and has impressive captaincy skills.

Manjeet Chillar  : He is also a professional kabaddi player and an all-rounder on the field. Chillar has graced India on several occasions, winning gold medals at the 2010 and 2014 Asian Games and gold medals at the 2010, 2011 and 2012 National Championships. He is an active player for Bengaluru Bulls, a part of the Pro Kabaddi League.

Kabaddi is not just a game; It is a great way to exercise body, mind and spirit. If your child is very interested in Kabaddi, our experts and coaches at YoGems can help pave the way for your child’s dream!

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