Iran men's national kabaddi team 13970602000432636707284535394012 98208.jpg

A kabaddi match during the 2018 Asian Games.
Highest governing body International Kabaddi Federation
Nicknames Kaudi, Pakaada, Ha-du-du, Bhavatik, Saadukuda, Hu-Tu-Tu, Himoshika
Registered players Arbadi Bad
Contact Permitted
Team members 7 (per side)
Mixed gender No, there are separate competitions for male and female
Type Team sportContact sport
Equipment None
Venue Kabaddi court
Country or region Indian SubcontinentAsia
Olympic Demonstration sport1936 Olympics

Kabaddi is a contact team sport, played between two teams of seven players each. 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 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 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 are brought back in for each point scored by their team from a tag or tackle.

It is popular in South Asia and other surrounding Asian countries. Although accounts of kabaddi appear in the histories of ancient India, the game was popularised as a competitive sport in the 20th century. It is the national sport of Bangladesh.[1][2] It is the state game of the Indian states of Andhra PradeshBiharHaryanaKarnatakaKeralaMaharashtraPunjabTamil NaduTelangana, and Uttar Pradesh.[citation needed]

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

The game is known by numerous names in different parts of South Asia, such as: kabaddi or chedugudu in Andhra Pradeshkabaddi in MaharashtraKarnatakaKerala and Telanganakabadi or ha-du-du in Bangladeshbhavatik in Maldiveskauddi or kabaddi in the Punjab regionhu-tu-tu in Western India, hu-do-do in Eastern India; chadakudu in South India; kapardi in Nepal; and kabadi or sadugudu in Tamil Nadu.


Although unverified, theories from religious believers state that Kabaddi originated from either the Vedic period of ancient India, or the Sistan region of present-day Iran. 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 being able to sneak into hostile areas also take out enemies unscathed, which they are claiming that parallels the gameplay of kabaddi.

There are also accounts of Gautama Buddha having played the game recreationally.[citation needed]

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 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 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]

Variations of Kabaddi

Standard style

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. Each has five supplementary players held in reserve, i.e. for substitution. 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 far as possible for a raider. For a raid to be eligible for points, the raider must cross the baulk line in the defending team’s territory, and return to their half of the field without being tackled (note that if an attacker touches a defender and hasn’t yet reached the baulk line, they don’t need to reach the baulk line to score points and may return to their half of the court[7]). While 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.[8][9][10][11]

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 known as a bonus 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 two additional points and the players are placed back in the game.[8][9][10][11]

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, because the next raid is a “do-or-die” raid. In this raid, the player must either get a point or be out. If the raider does not get a point then the opposite team will get a point and the raider will be declared out. Additionally when fewer than four players left on the field, tackles are worth 2 points (“super tackle”).[8][9][10][11]

Circle style

A circle kabaddi match being played in Bhimber.

There are four major forms of Indian kabaddi 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 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.[12] Punjabi kabaddi is a variation that is played on a circular pitch of a diameter of 22 metres (72 ft).[13]

International competitions

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

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.[citation needed]

After the establishment of a new kabaddi organization named World Kabaddi Federation, a world cup in 2019 at MalaccaMalaysia will be organized. It will be the largest world cup in kabaddi history, consisting of 32 men teams.[citation needed]

Asian Games


(video) Kabaddi being played in Japan, 2015

Kabaddi has been played at the Asian Games since 1990.[citation needed] The Indian national team had won every men’s and women’s kabaddi competition in the Asian Games from 1990 through 2014. At the 2018 Asian GamesIran became the first country outside of 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.[citation needed]

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 its presentation to make it more suitable for a television audience.[14] 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.[15][16]

Indo International Premier Kabaddi League

The Inaugural edition of the IIPKL was on 13 May at the Pune, India[17]. The title for the inaugural season was won by the Bangalore Rhinos [18]

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.[19][20][21]

Women’s Kabaddi Challenge[edit]

Women’s Kabaddi Challenge is a women’s kabaddi league. The first season was played from 28 June to 31 July 2016 and was broadcast by Star Sports in India. Three teams took part and the league played across seven cities in India[citation needed]. The final was played alongside the men’s version on 31 July. The Storm Queens produced a last-second turnaround to defeat the Fire Birds 24-23.[citation needed]

Asian Kabaddi Championship[edit]

AKC‘s tenth season was played in GorganIran in 2017 in which India won its tenth gold by defeating Pakistan in the finals.[citation needed]

Kabaddi Masters[edit]

The inaugural edition of the Kabaddi Masters was held in Dubai from 22 to 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 out performing the Iran Defense[22].


Kabaddi is a popular sport in the subcontinent. 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, there is a variation of Kabaddi called Ha-du-du, going back to ancient times. 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.[2] The Amateur Kabaddi Federation of Bangladesh was formed in 1973.

In Iran, the Community of Kabaddi was formed in 1996 (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 IndianBangladeshi and Pakistani immigrants. The governing body for Kabaddi in the United Kingdom is the England Kabaddi Federation UK.

In popular culture

Films depicting kabaddi
Anime and manga depicting kabaddi
Dramas depicting kabaddi