Kabaddi is a high intensity contact sport, with seven players on each side; played for a period of 40 minutes with a 5 – minute break (20-5-20). The core idea of the game is to score points by raiding into the opponent’s court and touching as many defense players as possible without getting caught; in a single breath. One player, chanting Kabaddi!! Kabaddi!! Kabaddi!! Charges into the opponent court and tries to touch the opponent closest to him, while the seven opponents maneuver to catch the attacker.
This is kabaddi, the match of one against seven, known as the game of struggle. The players on the defensive side are called ‘Antis’ while the player of the offence is called the ‘Raider’. The attack in Kabaddi is known as ‘Raid’. This antis touched by the raider during the attack are declared ‘out’, if they do not succeed in catching the raider before he returns to his home court. The ‘out’ player returns on court : if his team’s raider successfully tags an opponent, or his remaining team members succeed in catching the opponent’s raider.
The origin of the game dates back to pre-historic times, played in different forms. The modern Kabaddi game was played all over India and some parts of South Asia from 1930. The first known framework of the rules of kabaddi, as an indegenous sport of India, was prepared in Maharashtra in 1921 for Kabaddi competitions, combining the patterns of Sanjeevani and Gamini. Thereafter a committee was constituted in 1923, which amended the rules framed in 1921. The amended rules were applied during the All India Kabaddi Tournament in 1923.
The All India Kabaddi Federation was formed in 1950 to look after the promotion of the game and the Senior National Championship started in the year 1952. The new body, Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) came into existence from the year 1972 affiliated to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) with a view to popularize the game in India and neighbouring countries of Asia. After the formation of this body, kabaddi took a new shape and National level competitions started for Junior and Sub-Junior boys and girls. A separate competition, the Federation Cup, was introduced for men and women for the elite teams (best eight) of the country.
Kabaddi was included as a regular sports discipline in the 11th Beijing Asian Games 1990 where india won a gold medal for Kabaddi – its only gold medal at Beijing. The Indian team continues to create history by winning the gold medal at each succeeding Asian Games held thereafter : Hiroshima 1994, Bangkok 1998, Busan 2002, Doha 2006, Guangzhou 2010 and Incheon 2014.
For the first time in the history of the Asian Games, a separate indoor stadium was built for Kabaddi competitions, and training, for the 15th Asian Games held at Doha (Qatar) 2006. The training/warming up courts and main field of play was equipped with a giant public screen, which displayed replays and the running score. Two tissot plasma scoreboards, info terminals for the presentation crew, the ceremony crew and the media were also provided.
The 15th Asian Games at Doha provided an excellent opportunity to showcase Kabaddi to many Europeans and Australians, who were responsible for organizing the Games. A large number of spectators belonging to European countries, USA, Australia, Western Asia and the Mediterranean countries, experiencing the game for the first time, were very impressed with the simple rules and the thrill of the sport and desired to introduce the sport in their countries. This had given Kabaddi a very good and positive exposure for its future development in the continents of Europe, USA, Australia and Africa.
Kabaddi has been included as a major discipline in the 2nd Asian Indoor Games that was held at Macau from 25th October to 3rd November 2007 and in the Asian Beach Games hosted by Indonesia in 2008, which are major landmarks in the history of the game.
There has been a gradual but significant change in trends of the game over the past fifty years. What was once considered a game of brawn is not so now. The introduction of mats, shoes, new techniques and changes in rules has made the sport infinitely more athletic and interesting. The modern, international, competitive avatar of Kabaddi has evolved into a spectacular, hugely popular sport in an ever-growing list of countries from around the globe.