Kabaddi History
Though kabaddi is primarily an Indian game, not much is known about the origin of this game. There is, however, concrete evidence, that the game is 4,000 year old. It is a team sport, which requires both skill and power, and combines the characteristics of wrestling and rugby. It was originally meant to develop self-defense, in addition to responses to attack and reflexes of counter attack by individuals and by groups or teams. It is a rather simple and inexpensive game, and neither requires a massive playing area, nor any expensive equipment. This explains the popularity of the game in rural India. Kabaddi is played all over Asia with minor variations.

Kabaddi is known by various names viz. Chedugudu or Hu-Tu-Tu in southern parts of India, Hadudu (Men) and Chu - Kit-Kit (women) in eastern India, and Kabaddi in northern India. The sport is also popular in Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Japan and Pakistan.

The Game

In Kabaddi, two teams compete with each other for higher scores, by touching or capturing the players of the opponent team. Each team consists of 12 players, of which seven are on court at a time, and five in reserve. The two teams fight for higher scores, alternating defense and offense. The court is as large as that for a dodge ball game. The game consists of two 20-minute halves, with a break of five minutes for change of sides. The kabaddi playing area is 12.50m x 10m, divided by a line into two halves. The side winning the toss sends a 'raider', who enters the opponents' court chanting, 'kabaddi-kabaddi'. The raider's aim is to touch any or all players on the opposing side, and return to his court in one breath. The person, whom the raider touches, will then be out. The aim of the opposing team will be to hold the raider, and stop him from returning to his own court, until he takes another breath. If the raider cannot return to his court in the same breath while chanting 'kabaddi', he will be declared out. Each team alternates in sending a player into the opponents' court. If a player goes out of the boundary line during the course of the play, or if any part of his body touches the ground outside the boundary, he will be out, except during a struggle.

Types of Kabaddi
In India, Kabaddi is recognized in three forms:
1. Surjeevani
2. Gaminee
3. Amar - This form of Kabaddi is played in Punjab and Punjabi Diaspora overseas
  • Surjeevain - The 'Surjeevani' form of Kabaddi is played under the Kabaddi Federation of India, and is governed by its rules and regulations. In the 'Surjeevani' form of Kabaddi, one player is revived against one player of the opposite team who is out. i.e., one out, one in. The duration of the game, the number of players, the dimensions of the court, etc. have been fixed by the Kabaddi Federation of India.
  • Gaminee - In the 'Gaminee' type of Kabaddi, there is no revival. When all the players of team are out, the game ends. So there is no time limit in this category.
  • Amar - In the 'Amar' form of Kabaddi, whenever any player is touched (out), he does not go out of the court, but stays inside, and one point is awarded to the team that touched him. This game is also played on a time basis, i .e the time is fixed. This form of kabaddi is played in Punjab, Canada, England, New Zealand, USA, Pakistan and Australia. In the Amar form of Kabaddi, each team consists of 5-6 stoppers and 4-5 raiders. At one time, only 4 stoppers are allowed to play on the field. Every time a stopper stops the raider from going back to his starting point, that stoppers team gets 1 point. on the other hand, every time the raider tags one of the stoppers and returns to his starting point, his team gets one point. At one time, only one of the stoppers can try to stop the raider. If more than one touch the raider, an automatic point is awarded to the raider's team. If the stopper is pushed out by the raider or vice versa, then the team whose member is still in the field gets a point. If both the raider and the stopper go out, the result is a common point, where nobody gets a point. There is a 30 second time limit for the raider from the moment he leaves until he returns to his starting point. This rule was only recently introduced (1994) after controversy with some raiders abusing the old system where they were able to struggle through a point until they ran out of breath from repeating the word kabaddi.

The first World Kabaddi Championship in the history of the game, was organized in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, when more than 14,000 people packed the Copps Coliseum, to watch the top players from India, Pakistan, Canada, England, and the United States compete.

In kabaddi dominated countries such as India and Canada, it is played on a professional basis with top players earning $25,000 and more for a 2 month season. The player who has made most out of the game is Balwinder Phiddu, who started playing in 1975 and only recently retired after the 1997 World Cup.

Important dates in the history of Kabaddi are noted below :

Demonstration match first played at Berlin Olympics Kabaddi first became officially recognised.

All India Kabaddi Federation established
Kabaddi rules formalised.

First Kabaddi Indian National Championships held in Calcutta
It was here that women played competitively for the first time.

All India Kabaddi Federation re-launched new mandate to take sport out of villages and into cities.

Included in Asian Games at Beijing. Eight countries took part including China, Japan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Kabaddi is played in many states and territories of India and Pakistan, each having their own Kabaddi Association. Universities, Schools and local club teams have developed as well as a National Team. Several Teams abound within the Services (i.e. Army, Police, Railways) as well as in large Private Companies.


Due to tension between India and Pakistan as neighbouring countries, the people in UK tended to keep their distance. The Indians were able to organise the game quicker due mainly to financial backing provided by the GURDWARA (Temples) whereas the Pakistan's (probably due to being the poorer counterpart) gave a more laid back approach to the game. It was the spirit of Kabaddi however that helped towards uniting the two countries and provided respect amongst players.

Kabaddi was brought to the UK. Approximately 25 to 30 years ago by Indian and Pakistan-borne players. The game was developed through second generation (i.e. UK borne) children of these Asian descendants, bringing fresh perspective to Kabaddi. A seasonal sport, Kabaddi is played mainly in the summer outside in the parks.

The dates below plot Kabaddi progress in the UK, with particular reference to the West Midlands.  

Birmingham, Blackburn, Bradford Kabaddi Clubs founded.

Explosion of other clubs developed (i.e. Spark hill) due to increased numbers.

Balsall Heath Carnival in Birmingham held Kabaddi fixtures for three years running.

Kabaddi tournament held in Blackburn, Bradford, Birmingham and Blackburn entered teams, the latter having two  players brought specifically from Pakistan to enhance team strength.

Alexander Stadium Birmingham held Circular Kabaddi tournament for UK clubs.

Another Circular Kabaddi tournament held at Alexander Stadium Birmingham.

National Kabaddi Association (NKA) formed pledging to promote both versions of the game.

First World Indoor Kabaddi Tournament held at National Indoor Arena Birmingham. 6 teams competed 4 from India and 2 from Pakistan with a demonstration match by a selection of UK players.