Kabaddi is a popular, fast-paced contact team sport, played between two teams of seven players, with millennia of history in ancient India and South Asia.

The goal of the game is for a single offensive player, known as a “raider,” to run into the opposing team’s half, touch as many of their defenders as possible, and return to their own half of the court, all without being tackled by the defenders

The "raider" may only remain in the opposing half for the length of a single breath – and is required to chant “kabaddi, kabaddi” to demonstrate that they are not breathing in!

The Rules of Kabaddi

The basic kabaddi rules were formalized in India in the early twentieth century and published in 1923.

Individual players take turns crossing over to the opposing team’s side while repeating “kabaddi, kabaddi”. Points are scored by tagging as many opponents as possible without being caught or taking a breath before returning to one’s home territory.

Each player tagged by the raider earns a point, while the opposing team earns a point for stopping the raider. Players are removed from the game if they are touched or tackled, but they are reintroduced for each point scored by their team as a result of a tag or tackle.

Kabaddi players frequently rub their hands with soil to improve their grip on their opponents. It counteracts sweaty palms and allows them to tackle the opposing team more successfully.

History & Origins

Tamil Nadu, India

Kabaddi has been written about since ancient times.

According to legend the sport originated in the Tamil Nadu region of India over 4,000 years ago.

The game is thought to have originated in prehistoric times, when the development of human reflexes was critical for self-defense and hunting.

The Buddha was a fan, as were the princes who played to show off their strength and win their brides. Kabaddi was being played at a competitive level on a global scale.

Where is Kabaddi Played?

Kabaddi is popular all across the Indian subcontent and is even the national sport of Bangladesh. You can get of sense of where Kabaddi is taken seriously on a national level by taking a look at the current international rankings:

India are currently world #1

1. India
2. Iran
3. Pakistan
4. South Korea
5. Bangladesh
6. Sri Lanka
7. Kenya
8. Nepal
9. Thailand
10. Indonesia

International Competition

Kabaddi World Cup

The Kabaddi World Cup is an outdoor international standard style kabaddi competition. The competition took place in 2004, 2007, and 2016 … with India winning all of these tournaments. In 2016 India won the finals after defeating Iran 38–29 points.

In 2019 the world cup was held in Malacca, Malaysia, which was the largest world cup in kabaddi history, with 32 men’s teams and 24 women’s teams competing.

The Olympic Games

Kabaddi gained international attention when an Indian sports organization demonstrated it to the world as part of the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.

Any it was even briefly an olympic sport! … kabaddi was included as an event in the Indian Olympic Games held in Calcutta (now Kolkata) two years later in 1938.