Kabaddi (/kəˈbædi/,[2] /ˈkʌbədi/)[3] is a contact team sport played between two teams of seven players, originating in ancient India.[4] The objective of the game is for a single player on offence, referred to as a "raider", to run into the opposing team's half of the court, touch out as many of their players as possible, and return to their own half of the court, all without being tackled by the defenders in 30 seconds. 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 touched or tackled, but return to the game after each point scored by their team from a tag or tackle.

Kabaddi being played at the 2018 Asian Games
Highest governing bodyInternational Kabaddi Federation
NicknamesChedugudu, Sadugudu, Kaudi, Pakaada, Ha-du-du, Bhavatik, Saadukuda, Hu-Tu-Tu, Himoshika
Team members7 (per side)
Mixed-sexNo, competitions are separate for male and female
TypeTeam sport, Contact sport
VenueKabaddi court
GlossaryGlossary of kabaddi terms
Country or regionIndian subcontinent[1]
OlympicDemonstration sport: 1936 Olympics

It is popular in the Indian subcontinent and other surrounding Asian countries. Although accounts of kabaddi appear in the histories of India, the game was popularised as a competitive sport in the 20th century. It is the national sport of Bangladesh.[5] It is the second most popular and viewed sport in India after cricket.[4][6] It is the state game of the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh.[7]

There are two major disciplines: "Punjabi kabaddi", also called "circle style", comprises traditional forms of the sport that are played on a circular field outdoors, and the "standard style", on a rectangular court indoors, is played in major professional leagues and international competitions such as the Asian Games.

This game is known by numerous names in different parts of the Indian subcontinent, such as: kabaddi or chedugudu in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana; kabaddi in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala; kabaddi, komonti or ha-du-du in West Bengal and Bangladesh; baibalaa in Maldives, kauddi or kabaddi in the Punjab region; hu-tu-tu in Western India, ha-do-do in Eastern India; chadakudu in South India; kapardi in Nepal; kabadi or sadugudu in Tamil Nadu; and chakgudu in Sri Lanka.[8]



The raider is required to execute each raid on a single breath; in order to prove that they are not inhaling, they are required to repeatedly chant the word "kabaddi", in a process referred to as a cant.[9][10][a]

Kabaddi is one of the many traditional Tamil sports that have been played by Tamil people since long ago. Before preparing for competitions (attacking and defending), Tamil people engage in training sessions, known as Kabaddi, for a considerable period. The term Kabaddi is a Tamil word composed of "Kai" and "Pidi".[11]


A commemorative stamp depicting kabaddi's first appearance in the Asian Games in 1990

Ancient era


Origins of Kabaddi are not clear. The sport is said to have existed in the Indian subcontinent since prehistoric times.[4]

Ronojoy Sen speculates in his book Nation At Play that kabaddi originated during the Vedic period (between 1500 BC and 500 BC).[4] There are accounts of Gautama Buddha and Lord Krishna having played an ancient form of the sport.[12][13][14]

According to another version of the sport's origins, kabaddi originated in Maharashtra.[15] It was reportedly common among the ayrani maharashtrian people who lived in the Pune geographical region of ancient Maharashtra. But it is believed that it was played by royal peoples. It is generally told in some parts of Tamil Nadu that princes used to play this game to impress princesses of other kingdoms so that they might marry them.[16][17]

There are also accounts of kabaddi having been played in Iran 2,000 years ago.[18][19]

Modern era


Modern kabaddi is a synthesis of the game played in various forms under different names in the Indian subcontinent.[20] India has been first credited with having helped to popularise kabaddi as a competitive sport, with the first organized competitions occurring in the 1920s,[21] their introduction to the programme of the Indian Olympic Games in 1938, the establishment of the All-India Kabaddi Federation in 1950,[21] and it 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 on muddy surfaces in villages,[22][23] for legitimate international competition.[12][13][14]

The first framework of rules for the sport was prepared in Maharashtra in the 1920s, with English sports serving as a model for this formalisation.[24] One of the earliest modern tournaments of the sport, the All India Kabaddi Tournament in 1923, was played according to these amended rules.[4] After being demonstrated again at the 1982 Asian Games in Delhi, Kabaddi was added to the Asian Games programme beginning in 1990.[25]

The advent of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) in 2014 revolutionised the standard style of the sport, with various rule changes being made; for example, whereas previously raids had no time limit,[b] the PKL rules introduced the concept of a standard 30-second time limit for every raid.[10]



Standard style (Indoor)

A kabaddi court at the 2006 Asian Games

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.[21] Each has five supplementary players held in reserve for substitution.[21] The game is played with 20-minute halves with a 5-minute half time break in which the teams exchange sides.[21] 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. The raider must cross the baulk line into the defending team's territory, and then return to their half of the field without being tackled. (If an attacker touches a defender and hasn't yet reached the baulk line, they do not need to reach the baulk line to score points and may return to their half of the court.)[26] While raiding, the raider must loudly chant kabaddi, confirming to referees that their raid is done on a single breath without inhaling. Each raid has a 30-second time limit.[27][28][29][30]

A point is scored for each defender tagged; tags can be made with any part of the raider's body and touching any part of the defender's body.[31][32] If the raider steps beyond the bonus line marked in the defending team's territory when there are six or more players, they earn an additional point known as a bonus point (the bonus point is only scored if the raider's trailing foot is in the air while they step over the line).[10] If the raider is successfully stopped (tackled), the opposite 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 are out. There are two strips on either side of the court known as "lobby areas"; they are part of the out-of-bounds area at the start of each raid, and only become part of the field of play once the raider touches an opponent.[10] 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 ("All Out"), they earn two additional points and the players are placed back in the game.[27][28][29][30]

In the event of a tie, PKL rules stipulate (for playoff matches) that each team is to perform five raids on the other team, with no time limits involved, no players being dismissed or revived, and the baulk line being simultaneously treated as a bonus line.[33]

Circle style (Outdoor)

A circle kabaddi match being played in Bhimber

There are four major forms of Indian kabaddi recognised by the amateur federation.[8] In Sanjeevani Kabaddi, one player is revived against one player of the opposite team who is 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 each side and a player put out has to remain out until all his team members are out. The team that is successful in outing 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 stays inside the court while play continues. For every player of the opposition touched "out", a team earns a point.[34]

Punjabi kabaddi is a variation that is played on a circular pitch of a diameter of 22 metres (72 ft).[35]

Major competitions


Kabaddi World Cup


The Kabaddi World Cup is an outdoor international standard style 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.[36][37]

After the establishment of a new kabaddi organization named World Kabaddi Federation,[38] a 2019 Kabaddi World Cup was held in April 2019 at Malacca, Malaysia. It was the largest world cup in kabaddi history, consisting of 32 men's teams and 24 women's teams.[39]

Asian Games

(video) Kabaddi being played in Japan, 2015

Kabaddi was played as a demonstration event at the First Asian Games in 1951,[12][13][14] and again in 1982,[25] before becoming a medal event for the first time in 1990.[25]

The Indian national team won every men's and women's kabaddi competition in the Asian Games from 2002 through 2014. At the 2018 Asian Games, Iran became the first country other than India to win gold medals in kabaddi, with India's men's team winning bronze, and India's women's team being beaten by Iran to win silver.[40]

Pro Kabaddi League


The Pro Kabaddi League was established in 2014.[41] 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.[42] The Pro Kabaddi League 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 98.6 million viewers.[43][44]

Bengal Warriors, Bengaluru Bulls, Patna Pirates, Tamil Thalaivas, UP Yoddhas, Gujrat Giants, Haryana Steelers, Puneri Paltan, U Mumba, Jaipur Pink Panthers, Dabang Delhi KC, and Telugu Titans are the 12 teams that play in the Pro Kabaddi League.

The organisers of the Pro Kabaddi League change the sport's rules and its presentation to make it more suitable for a television audience. All players in the league must be strictly under 85 kg in weight. When the raider scores 10 or more raid points in a single match, it is called a super 10, and they earn an extra point. If the defender successfully manages to tackle the five raiders in a single game, it is a high 5, and the team will be awarded one extra point.[1]

Additional rules are used in the Pro Kabaddi League to encourage scoring: when a defensive side has three or fewer players remaining, tackles are worth two points instead of one. Furthermore, if a team performs two empty raids in a row, the next raider must score a point ("do-or-die raid"), or else they will be declared out and the opposing team will score a point.[27][28][29][30]

Indo International Premier Kabaddi League


The inaugural edition of the IIPKL was on 13 May at Pune, India.[45] The title for the inaugural season was won by the Bangalore Rhinos.[46]

Super Kabaddi League


In May 2018, the Super Kabaddi League was first held in Pakistan, as part of a larger push to promote renewed interest in the sport in Pakistan.[47][48][49]

Asian Kabaddi Championship


AKC's tenth season was played in Gorgan, Iran, in 2017 in which India won its tenth gold by defeating Pakistan in the finals.[50]

Kabaddi Masters


The inaugural edition of the Kabaddi Masters was held in Dubai, 22–30 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, with the Indian Defense outperforming the Iran Defense.[51]

Junior World Kabaddi championship


The inaugural Junior Kabaddi World Championship was held in Kish island, Iran, 11–14 November 2019. It featured 13 teams.[52] Iran won the tournament by defeating Kenya in the final, 42–22. Team India did not participate in this tournament.[53]

Yuva Kabaddi Series


Yuva Kabaddi Series (YKS) is a franchise-based junior-category kabaddi tournament in India.[54][55] It is for players who are under 23 years old and below 80 kg (180 lb).[56][57] The inaugural Yuva Kabaddi Series was conducted in Jaipur in June 2022,[58] and was broadcast on OTT platform FanCode.[59][60][61] It is the second-largest kabaddi tournament in India, and the largest tournament in India in terms of number of matches played per year.[62]

Four seasonal editions are held every year.[63] Three tournaments were conducted in 2022: Summer Edition in Jaipur, Monsoon Edition at Ranchi,[64] and Winter Edition at Pondicherry; and two in 2023: the KMP YKS[65] in Maharashtra[66] (which was won by Ahmednagar) and Summer Edition Mysore.[67] For the first time in the history of Indian kabaddi, players from the North East will be playing in a tournament of this stature.

Each edition is contested over several rounds, with teams eliminated in each round, and the Summit Round acting as the playoffs of the tournament and leading to the final.[68][69][70] Several players who started off in YKS have gone on to play at higher levels of kabaddi competition, such as the Pro Kabaddi League (through the New Young Player initiative)[71] and the Junior Kabaddi World Cup.[72][73][74]

Yuva Kabaddi Series was founded by uMumba CEO Suhail Chandhok and Vikas Kumar Gautam.[75]

South Asian Games

Kabaddi was introduced in the 1985 Games. There were no Kabaddi tournaments in the inaugural 1984 edition. India is the most successful team.[76]

European Kabaddi championship


The first edition of European Kabaddi Championship was held in Scotland in 2019. The final match was between Poland and Holland, Poland won the tournament. Final score was Poland 47–27 Holland.[77] The second edition was held in Cyprus in 2021 which was organized by World Kabaddi Federation. Poland retained their title by beating hosts Cyprus in the final, 29-15.[78] Italy was set to host the third edition in 2022,[79] but it was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, eventually happening in 2023. Poland beat England in the final to retain their title.[80]



Kabaddi is a popular sport in the Indian subcontinent.[81] The governing federation for kabaddi in India is the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI), which was founded in 1973 and compiled a standard set of rules. Kabaddi is the second-most popular sport in India, with the Pro Kabaddi League being watched by hundreds of millions of people each year.[82]The governing body for kabaddi in Pakistan is Pakistan Kabaddi Federation.

In Bangladesh, Kabaddi is known with a different name called "Ha-du-du". Ha-du-du has no definite rules and is played with different rules in different areas. Kabaddi is the national sport of Bangladesh, given official status in 1972.[83] The Amateur Kabaddi Federation of Bangladesh was formed in 1973.

Kabaddi is among the national sports of Nepal. Kabaddi is played and taught in most primary schools beginning in about the third grade 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 United Kingdom by Bangladeshi, Indian, Pakistani, Nepali and Sri Lankan immigrants.

See also



  1. ^ In modern variants of kabaddi, such as the Pro Kabaddi League, raids are limited to a duration of 30 seconds.
  2. ^ The only way for a raid to end in pre-PKL kabaddi without the raider escaping or being captured in the defensive team's half of the field was if the raider failed to hold his breath.


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Further reading