Kabaddi game
Highest governing body International Kabaddi Federation
Nicknames Kaudi, Pakaada, Hadudu, Bhavatik, Saadukuda, Hu-Tu-Tu, Himoshika, sadugudu
Contact Permitted
Team members 7 (per side)
Mixed gender Yes, separate competitions
Type Team sport, Contact sport
Equipment None
Venue Kabaddi court
Country or region Indian Subcontinent
Olympic Demonstration sport : 1936 Olympics

Kabaddi is a contact team sport. Played between two teams of seven players, the object of the game is for a single player on offence, referred to as a "raider", to run into the opposing team's half of a court, tag out as many of their defenders as possible, and return to their own half of the court, all without being tackled by the defenders, and in a single breath. Points are scored for each player tagged by the raider, while the opposing team earns a point for stopping the raider. Players are taken out of the game if they are tagged or tackled, but can be "revived" for each point scored by their team from a tag or tackle.

Two major disciplines of kabaddi exist; Punjabi kabaddi, also known as "circle style", refers to traditional styles of the sport that are played on a circular field outdoors. The "standard style", played on a rectangular court indoors, is a discipline primarily played in major professional leagues, as well as international competitions such as the Asian Games.

It is popular in the Indian subcontinent and other surrounding and South Asian countries, such as Pakistan and Central Asian such as Iran. Although ancient accounts of kabaddi appear in the histories of both modern-day India and Iran, the game was popularized as a competitive sport in the 20th century by India; it is the state game of the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh. It is also the national sport of Bangladesh.[1]

The game is known by its regional names in different parts of the Indian subcontinent, such as kabaddi or chedugudu in Andhra Pradesh, kabaddi in Karnataka, Kerala and Telangana, hadudu in Bangladesh, bhavatik in Maldives, kauddi or kabaddi in the Punjab region, hu-tu-tu in Western India, hu-do-do in Eastern India, chadakudu in South India, kapardi in Nepal and kabaddi or saduguda in Tamil nadu. The word "kabaddi" is derived from the Tamil word "kai-pidi” (கைபிடி, "to hold hands").[2]


The exact origins of Kabaddi are disputed, with theories suggesting that Kabaddi originated from Tamil Nadu of Indian history. The first ever kabbadi match was held in Tamil nadu(madras)(renamed chennai).The game was said to have been popular among the Yadava people, an abhang by Tukaram stated that the god Krishna played the game in his youth, while the Mahabharata contains an account of Arjuna similarly being able to sneak into hostile areas and take out enemies unscathed. There are also accounts of Gautama Buddha having played the game recreationally. Despite these conflicting claims, India has been credited with having helped to popularize Kabaddi as a competitive sport, with the first organized competitions occurring in the 1920s, their introduction to the programme of the Indian Olympic Games in 1938, the establishment of the All-India Kabaddi Federation in 1950, and being played as a demonstration sport at the inaugural 1951 Asian Games in New Delhi. These developments helped to formalize the sport, which had traditionally been played in villages, for legitimate international competition.[3][4][5]

After being demonstrated again at the 1982 Asian Games in Delhi, kabaddi was added to the Asian Games' programme beginning in 1990.[6]


Standard style

In the international team version of kabaddi, two teams of seven members each occupy opposite halves of a court 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. Each has three supplementary players held in reserve. The game is played with 20-minute halves, with a 5-minute half break in which the teams exchange sides. During each play, known as a "raid", a player from the attacking side, known as the "raider", runs into the opposing team's side of the court and attempts to tag as many of the seven defending players as possible. For a raid to be eligible for points, the raider must cross the bob line in the defending team's territory, and return to their half of the field without being tackled. Whilst doing so, the raider must also loudly chant the word "kabaddi", confirming to referees that their raid is done on a single breath without inhaling. A 30-second shot clock is also enforced on each raid.[7][8][9][2]

A point is scored for each defender tagged. If the raider steps beyond the bonus line marked in the defending team's territory, they earn an additional point. If the raider is successfully stopped, the opposing team earns a point instead. All players tagged are taken out of the game, but one is "revived" for each point a team scores from a subsequent tag or tackle (bonus points do not revive players). Players who step out of the boundary or lobbies are also out. A raid where no points are scored by the raider is referred to as an "empty raid". By contrast, a play where the raider scores three or more points is referred to as a "super raid". If a team gets all seven players on the opposing team out at once ("All Out"), they earn three additional points, and the players are placed back in the game.[7][8][9][2]

Additional rules are used in the Pro Kabaddi League; if a team has two empty raids in a row, the next raider must score a point on their next raid or else they will be out ("do-or-die raid"). Additionally, when a defending team has fewer than four players left on the field, tackles are worth 2 points ("super tackle").[7][8][9][2]

Circle Style

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. The game is played over 40 min with a 5 min 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.[10] Punjabi kabaddi is a variation that is played on a circular pitch of a diameter of 22 metres (72 ft).[11]

International competitions

The following competitions are played in standard format, for that of circle style kabaddi, see Punjabi kabaddi.

Kabaddi World Cup

The standard style Kabaddi World Cup is an outdoor international kabaddi competition conducted by the International Kabaddi Federation (IKF), contested by men’s and women’s national teams. The competition has been previously contested in 2004, 2007 and 2016. All the tournaments have been won by India. India defeated Iran by 38-29 in the final of the championship game to clinch the title of 2016.

Asian Games

Kabaddi has been played at the Asian Games since 1990. The Indian team has won seven Gold medals, with Iran being second most successful at the game with one gold medal.

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 presentation to make it more suitable for a television audience.[12] The Pro Kabaddi League quickly became a ratings success; 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.[13][14]

Super Kabaddi League

The Super Kabaddi League is a professional standard style kabaddi league in Pakistan. It was established in 2018, with 10 clubs based on city franchise structure. SKL boasts as being the second biggest kabaddi league in the world. Its first season was a resounding success.[15]

Women’s Kabaddi Challenge

Women’s Kabaddi Challenge is a Kabaddi league in India started like Pro Kabaddi League for women’s. Three teams took part in the inaugural season in 2016 and the league was played across seven cities in India.

The first season was played in 2016, from 28 June to 31 July and was broadcast by Star Sports in India. The final was scheduled along with men’s version on 31 July.

Final was conducted between Storm Queen and Fire Birds. Storm Queens produced a last-second turnaround to defeat Fire Birds 24-23 in the final.

Asian Kabaddi Championship

AKC's tenth season was played in Gorgan, Iran in 2017 in which India won 10th gold by defeating Pakistan in the finals.

Kabaddi Masters

The inaugural edition of the Kabaddi Masters was held in Dubai from 22nd to 30th June 2018. It was the first Kabaddi tournament to be held in the UAE. It featured 6 teams. India won the tournament by defeating Iran in the final with a scoreline of 44-26.

Neo Kabaddi league

An Indian 2nd professional kabaddi tournament.


Kabaddi is a popular sport in India and surrounding nations. 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 the 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 and Pakistani immigrants. The governing body for kabaddi in the United Kingdom is the England Kabaddi Federation UK.

Films depicting kabaddi
Anime and manga depicting kabaddi
Dramas depicting kabaddi

See also


  1. Faroqi, Gofran (2012). "Kabadi". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. Ha-du-du was given the name kabadi and the status of National Game in 1972.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Everything you need to know about Kabaddi". The Indian Express. 2016-01-30. Retrieved 2017-10-29.
  3. "The kabaddi question - whose game is it anyway?". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2018-08-20.
  4. Sen, Ronojoy (2015-10-27). Nation at Play: A History of Sport in India. Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231539937.
  5. "A tale of kabaddi, Bangladesh's national sport". Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  6. Pioneer. "Kabaddi goes international". Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  7. 1 2 3 "Rules of Kabaddi". International Kabaddi Federation (IKF). Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  8. 1 2 3 "Kabaddi World Cup 2016: A handy guide to the format, rules and how the sport works". Firstpost. 2016-10-05. Retrieved 2017-10-29.
  9. 1 2 3 "Kabaddi 101: Raid, defend, revive, repeat". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2017-10-29.
  10. "Kabaddi In India: Origins, success and current pitiable state". Sportskeeda.com. 7 March 2014. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  11. Kissa 2 Kabaddi da. Sarwan Singh Sangam Publications. ISBN 93-83654-65-1.
  12. "Kabaddi gets the IPL treatment". BBC News. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  13. "Pro Kabaddi league viewership second only to IPL". The Hindu. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  14. "Simple, visceral, fun: why the ancient sport of kabaddi is enjoying a resurgence". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  15. https://www.geo.tv/latest/194785-faisalabad-sherdils-face-gujrat-warriors-in-super-kabaddi-league-final
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