A Complete Guide to Kabaddi


Kabaddi is synonymous with the energetic and athletic pride that India possesses when it comes to sports. It is in fact the perfect game for those who love thrill and a constant adrenalin rush while sweating it out on the field. With its roots in the Indian tradition, Kabaddi has been around for centuries and is one of the most popular sports played across Indian terrains.


What Is Kabaddi?

Kabaddi is a contact sport which requires two teams to compete in a match. The game has its origin in ancient Indian history as it was first conceptualized in South India.

The game is governed by the International Kabaddi Federation at a global level, whereas at a domestic level the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) acts as the governing body. The game has two major formats; international and Indian. Within the Indian format there are 4 main styles; Sanjeevani, Gaminee, Amar and Punjabi.

Kabaddi is played at the Asian and South Asian Games. Besides this, there are several international kabaddi events that include the Women’s Kabaddi World Cup, Men’s Kabaddi World Cup, World Kabaddi League along with the domestic level Pro Kabaddi League which is quite popular in India. Some of the legends in this sport are Rakesh Kumar, Anup Kumar and Manjit Chillar.


Kabaddi In A Nutshell

what is kabaddi

Kabaddi is a sport which is not meant for the weak hearted. In order to be a part of a team one has to have good lung capacity, presence of mind and a lot of muscular strength. A Kabaddi match is generally played between two teams consisting of 7 players on each side.

The field is divided into two halves; players on the defensive side are categorized as antis and the ones on the offensive side are categorized as raider. In this sport, attacking is an individual process while defending involves group effort.

The main objective of the sport is for the raider to attack the antis while chanting ‘kabaddi kabaddi’ i.e., without breaking the chant or taking a break to breathe. If the breath is broken the rival team gets a point and if the raider is successful in chanting and tagging players of the opponent team, raider’s team gets a point. The raider has to attack and get safely to its team’s side of the field without breaking the chant. For the antis, preventing the raider from tagging them is crucial. The role of the raider and antis keep getting switched depending on which team is attacking.


Kabaddi’s History

kabaddi history

  • Kabaddi is a contact sport that originated in India. To be precise its concept as a sporting event can be traced back to Tamil Nadu, where group hunting and village defense techniques gave birth to the first form of this sport.
  • The game further developed in the northern parts of India with Punjab being the most prominent region.
  • An organized version of Kabaddi was first played in Maharahstra, and between 1950-1920 standardized rules were also formulated for the sport. Even though variations were introduced in the sport, the prime objective of the game remained unaltered.
  • Countries like Bangladesh and Nepal play Kabaddi as their national game and in Indian states like Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Punjab it is played at a state level.
  • The sport has two main forms, international and Indian. Even though the rules for both only differ slightly, the Indian one has various styles; Sanjeevani, Gaminee, Amar and Punjabi.
  • The sport is commonly known as hadudu in Bangladesh, baibalaa in Maldives, chedugudu in Andhra Pradesh, sadugugu in Tamil Nadu and hututu in Maharashtra.
  • Kabaddi first got international exposure at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. It was also introduced at the Indian National Games held in Calcutta in 1938.
  • The All India Kabaddi Federation (AIKF) was created in 1950 which gave the sport nationwide recognition. Later, it was reorganized as Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) in 1973.
  • In 1979, Kabaddi was popularized in Japan by Sundar Ram of India who was touring the country for two months on behalf of Asian Amateur Kabaddi Federation.
  • In 2004, the International Kabaddi Federation (IKF) was formed taking the sport to a global level with several western nations like Canada and Germany joining in as members.
  • India has the best and one of the most successful Kabaddi teams at international level; winning every Kabaddi World Cup and Asian Games title till 2015 (in both men’s and women’s category).
  • In 2016, Gujarat is expected to host the World Cup Tournament for Kabaddi


Kabaddi – Rules And Regulations

kabaddi rules

Kabaddi can be played outdoors as well as indoors and has two main forms, International and Indian the rules for which differ slightly.

In the international version there are two teams that contest in a match. Each team has a total of 7 players and both teams occupy opposite halves of the field.

The defensive team is known as the antis and the offensive team is known as raider’s. The role keeps getting switched depending on which side is attacking. For men the field dimensions are 10 m X 13 m and for women 8 m X 12 m. Each team has the right to reserve three players that are sitting outside the field.

These can be used as substitute if a player gets injured and is unable to continue playing. The game is played in 20 min halves with a 5 minute break in the middle, after which the teams change sides.

The main objective for the teams is to send a raider into the opposite teams half (antis). To score a point the raider must take a breath before entering the opposite team’s half and chant ‘kabaddi kabaddi’ without breaking the breath. The raider is supposed to tag a member of the opposite team while chanting and return back to his half. If the player breaks his breath in the process or is not successful in tagging the opponent team member, he or she will be declared ‘out’ by the referee.

The role of the tagged player is to catch the raider preventing it from reaching its half of the field. This can be done by wrestling the raider to the ground till the chant is broken or a breath is inhaled. If the tagged defender fails to catch the raider, the player tagged will be declared out by the referee. Defenders must be cautious enough not to cross the centre line of the field known as ‘the lobby’ while trying to catch the defender as doing this can lead to a foul. For raiders there is one bonus line which can be touched, and if the raider returns back to his half successfully an extra point is granted.

When a player is declared out, it is mandatory to sit out of the field. Each time a player is declared ‘out’, the opposite team scores a point.

A team has the possibility of scoring three points which are known as the ‘lona’, if the entire opposite team is ousted. This is usually done, if the raider manages to tag the entire team or manages some form of contact with the opposite team while safely returning to its team’s half.

The team that manages to score most points is declared as the winner of the match. Kabaddi matches are usually categorised by age and weight. A team of six officials are present at the match; one referee, two umpires, a scorer and two assistant scorers.

In the Indian version of Kabaddi there are 4 main forms:

  • Sanjeevani: The rules for this version are similar to the international one with only a slight variation. In this version, one player of the opposite team is revived, if they manage to oust the other player of the rival team. A game in this version lasts for 40 minutes with a 5 minute break during half time. There are seven players on each team. However, in this version a team can score 4 extra points if they can manage to take out the entire opposing team.
  • Gaminee: In this version, there are a total of 7 players on each side, and if a player is declared out, he or she has to stay out till the entire team loses the match. There is no scope for revival of players. A team that manages to oust all the players of the opposing team scores a point. The game has no fixed duration and continues till a team can successfully score 5-7 such points.
  • Amar: This version has the same game duration as Sanjeevani. However, if a player in this format gets out they can still stay inside the field while the play continues. The more players a raider can touch, the score of the opposite team increases on the score board.]
  • Punjabi: This version is basically played on a circular pitch with a diameter of 22 meters. The rules for this are more or less the same as the ones in other versions.


Kabaddi – Specifications

Players usually wear shorts and T-shirts while playing the game with their team colors and names represented on the front and back side. Apart from this, no equipment is required to play the sport.


Governing Bodies For Kabaddi

In 2004, the International Kabaddi Federation was formed giving the sport a prominent international presence. Till 2015, the federation has a membership of 31 nations.

Janardan Singh Gehlot is the founder of this federation and hails from India. Several tournaments and international Kabaddi world cups are organized by this federation.

In India, the Kabaddi Federation of India (KFI) acts as the governing body. It was founded in 1950 and has played a crucial role in establishing standardized rules for the sport. Later it was reshaped as the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) in 1973 and also got affiliated with the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to popularize the game further.

With the help of AKFI, the face of Kabaddi has changed and within India National level competitions for junior and sub junior boys and girls have become a regular event. This has also helped in recruiting fresh talented individuals to represent India on international platforms.


Kabaddi Championships

On An International Level

Asian Games: The Asian games are held once in four years, where Kabaddi has been a regular event since the 1990 Asian Games held in Beijing China. Till 2015, India has won a total of 9 Gold medals in this sport and has always played a dominant role in the Asian games when it comes to Kabaddi. After India, Bangladesh has the highest amount of medals; 3 Silver and 4 Bronze getting the total tally of 7.

Kabaddi World Cup: The World Cup first began in 2004, but was not effective till 2007. From 2010 onwards, it has been an annual event. The format in the World Cup is slightly different as the field is circular in shape. Till 2014, India has won all the World Cups, with Pakistan as the second runner up. Both nations have been pitted against each other at many World Cup finals, with Canada being the only exception in 2011.

Women’s Kabaddi World Cup: India had the honour of hosting the first Women’s Kabaddi World Cup in 2012 in Patna. A total of 16 countries took part in this event including western nations such as United States, Mexico and Canada. India ended up being the champion with Iran as the second runner up. Even in 2014, India retained the title by defeating New Zealand in the finals.

South Asian Games: This multi sport event brings together all the athletes from South Asia. The organising body is the South Asia Sports Council which was formed in 1983. Till 2015, there are 8 countries; Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka that have actively participated in these games. Kabaddi was introduced at the 2010 South Asian Games in Dhaka where India won in both men’s and women’s category.

World Kabaddi League: This is one of the biggest Kabaddi events in the world. There are a total of 8 teams from 4 countries; USA, Canada, Pakistan and United Kingdom. In this league the matches are held in a circular field. The league first started in 2014. Some of the teams that featured in the league were Khalsa Warriors, Yo Yo Tigers, Vancouver Lions, Punjab Thunders, Lahore Lions, United Singhs, California Eagles and Royal Kings. United Singhs won the finals in 2014 beating the Khalsa Warriors by a slim margin.

Domestic Kabaddi

Pro Kabaddi League: This league started in 2014 with 8 major teams based in different Indian cities. Teams that competed were; Jaipur Pink Panther, U Mumba, Bengaluru Bulls, Dabang Delhi, Puneri Paltan, Telgu Titans, Bengal Warriors and Patna Pirates. The format in this league was caravan format which meant teams had to travel to 8 venues to play a total of 60 matches during the tournament. The teams have continued to play in the 2015 as well as 2016 Pro Kabaddi League.


Famous Personalities In Kabaddi

Rakesh Kumar: He is a professional Kabaddi player who has played in several Kabaddi teams; Chillar club, U Mumbai and Patna Pirates. He made his debut in the Indian national team in 2003.

Rakesh Kumar Indian Kabaddi Champion

He was also part of the Indian Kabaddi team that competed in the Kabaddi World Cups of 2004 and 2007 and won gold medals in both. His performance was impeccable at the 2006 and 2010 Asian Games where India won gold medals in both the games. He has been awarded the Arjuna Award by the Government of India in 2011 for Kabaddi. At the first Pro Kabaddi League, he was the only player that had the highest bid of 12.8 lakhs by the Patna Pirates and was also made the captain for the team. For the 2016 Pro Kabaddi League he was roped in by U Mumbai.

Anup Kumar: He is a professional Kabbadi player who has also played for the Indian national team. In the Pro Kabaddi League, he is the captain of U Mumbai. He started his career in the Haryana police before he made the switch to Kabaddi. He was part of the team that won the gold medal in the 2014 Asian Games at Incheon. He too has received an Arjuna Award by the Government of India in 2012 for Kabaddi. As a Kabaddi player, he is quick in the field and has impressive captaincy skills.

Manjit Chillar: He too is a professional Kabaddi player and is an all rounder in the field. Chillar has made India proud on several occasions by winning a gold medal in the 2010 and 2014 Asian Games and gold medals at the 2010, 2011 & 2012 National Championships. He is an active player in the Bengaluru Bulls that is part of the Pro Kabaddi League.

Kabaddi is not just a sport; It is a great way to exercise one’s body, mind and spirit. If your child has a keen interest in Kabaddi, then our experts and coaches at YoGems can help pave the way for your child’s dream!



Varsha Singh is associated with Yoachievers as a Content Writer.