Kabaddi is a team sport originally from South Asia. It is popular throughout South Asia and Southeast Asia. It is the national game of Bangladesh, and the state game of Punjab and Andhra Pradesh in India. The name — often chanted during a game — derives from a Hindi word meaning "holding of breath", which is indeed the crucial aspect of play.
In the team, or international, style of kabaddi, two teams of seven players (wearing socks and boxer shorts, sometimes briefs) occupy opposite halves of a field of 12.5m x 10m (roughly half the size of a basketball court). Each team has five additional players that are held in reserve. The game is organized into two 20-minute halves, with a five-minute half-time break during which the teams switch sides.
The teams take turns sending a "raider" across to the opposite team's half, where the goal is to tag or wrestle ("capture") members of the opposite team before returning to the home half. Tagged members are "out" and are sent off the field. The raider must not take a breath during the raid, and must prove it by constantly chanting (called 'cant' or 'dak') during the raid. The chant-word is kabaddi in India and Pakistan, hađuđu in Bangladesh, do-do in Nepal, guddu in Sri Lanka, chado-guddo in Malaysia, Zoo in Iran, and techib in Indonesia.
Meanwhile, the defenders must form a chain, for example by linking hands; if the chain is broken, a member of the defending team is sent off. The goal of the defenders is to stop the raider from returning to the home side before taking a breath. If the raider takes a breath before returning to the home side, the raider is out and is sent off the field.
A player can also get "out" by going over a boundary line during the course of the play or if any part of the player's body touches the ground outside the boundary, except during a struggle with an opposing team member.
Each time a player is out the opposing team earns a point. A team scores a bonus of two points, called a lona, if the entire opposing team is declared out. At the end of the game, the team with the most points wins.
Matches are staged on the basis of age and weight. Seven officials supervise a match: one referee, two umpires, two linesmen, a timekeeper and a scorer.
The Punjabi style of kabaddi is also known as circle kabaddi, or ring kabaddi. In this version, played in a circular field, a single raider crosses to the opposing semi-circle where four "stoppers" await, arm in arm. The raider must tag one, and only one, of the stoppers and then run back across the dividing line of the circle, usually between two markers along that line, to receive one team point. If the tagged stopper can tackle the raider, or push the raider out of bounds, the stoppers' team receive the points. Raids occur alternately between the teams. The first raid of the match is worth 1 1/2 points, though, to prevent the possibility of a tie.
While many maintain that Kabaddi has its origins in the game of Kubb, there is a popular belief that Kabaddi originated in the Indian state of Punjab and some others believe it to be originated in the state of Tamil Nadu and is called as sadugudu in tamil.
Kabaddi is very famous and popular in Punjab. Some consider that the main place where it originated from the ancient Punjab (which included present day Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Rajasthan and even as far as Afghanistan). There is a belief that the game has its roots in the way Abhimanyu was killed in Chakravyuha by the Kuravas.
The Kabaddi Federation of India (KFI) was founded in 1950, and it compiled a standard set of rules. The Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) was founded in 1973. The AKFI has given new shape to the rules and it has also the rights of modification in the rules. The Asian Kabaddi Federation was founded under the chairmanship of Sharad Pawar.
In 1979, a return test between Bangladesh and India was held at different places of India including Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Punjab. The Asian Kabaddi Championship was successfully arranged in 1980 and India emerged as the champion and Bangladesh as the runners-up. Bangladesh became runners-up again in 1985 in Asian Kabaddi Championship held in Jaipur, India. The other teams included in the tournament were Nepal, Malaysia and Japan. The game was included for the first time in Asian Games held in Beijing in 1990. Eight countries took part including India, China, Japan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh. India won the gold medal and has since won gold at the following three Asian Games in Hiroshima in 1994, Bangkok in 1998 and Busan in 2002. India won the gold medal in the recently concluded 2006 Asian Games at Doha.
Noted players include Balwinder Phiddu, who started playing in 1975 and only recently retired after the 1997 World Cup. This large framed man considered a hero from Punjab to the rest of the world made vast amounts of money during his many travels for the sport predominantly being to England and more recently Canada.
The World Circle Kabaddi Cup has been held at Hamilton, Ontario, Now recently has been held in Surrey, British Columbia, which hosts the first all Kabaddi Stadium.