A traditional team game played in its main form between two sides of twelve players, though only seven are in the playing area at any one time; the three traditional variants, of which the modern form is a synthesis, are surjeevani, gaminee, and amar. It is a contest based on pursuit, with no equipment, and in which touch and movement are the basis of scoring, points being gained by putting opponents out of play. It is known as the ‘game of the masses’ in India, and other prominent bodily practices such as yoga are connected to it, as the individual raiding the defensive zone of the opposing team must make the move holding a single breath, while chanting the word ‘kabaddi’. Cultural historians and sociologists have linked the sport to the notion of Ahimsa, which represents the separation of the self from injurious or violent acts, and material possessions.
The sport was organized and standardized into its modern form in Baroda, India, in the early 1920s, and it has been claimed that it featured as a demonstration sport at the 1936 Berlin Olympics (the official report of the 1936 Games mentions only baseball and gliding as demonstration sports). It was amended into a nationally accepted form across the subcontinent in the mid 1940s, when a standard mode of playing was accepted by the Indian Olympic Association. In 1950, an All India Kabaddi Federation was established, as the governing authority for the sport; university and school professional associations promoted the sport in the early 1960s, and men's and women's national championships were staged in the early 1970s after the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India took over authority for the sport in 1972, and the National Institute of Sports began training and certificating coaches in 1971. The sport was promoted as an indigenous cultural practice and as a form of resistance to colonial culture from 1915, and it has been linked to militant Hindu politics (Allen Guttmann, Sports: The First Five Millennia, 2004). The growth in recognition and popularity of the sport has been marked, though, and along with running it has provided Indian women with a route towards sport stardom in the later 1980s and the 1990s.
Subjects: Sport and Leisure.