Kabbadi for Dummies

One of the greatest sports of all-time has burst onto the world scene in recent years. Every year around June the sporting world gets really shit - The NBA, NFL and NHL are all in their off-seasons, while baseball is enjoying its stupid mid-year break. All us sports nuts are stuck with two options – Tour De France (genuinely the last sport I’d want to watch – fuck me it is boring) or Pro Kabaddi. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the future of sports. So step on to the luminous purple courts with me and get involved.



The first time I watched I had no idea what was going on; it was just a bunch of people going full-tilt towards each other and an umpire who looked as clueless as I was. Here’s what I’ve figured out so far:

They can definitely score points, and the umpire shows some serious energy when he gets to award them. Definitely no ball – had to watch intently for a few minutes to figure that one out. So you send one of your fellas or lasses down to the other end of the ‘court’, the opposition crowd around them like a seagull outside Squiddies, and then I’m pretty sure they just dance around? This is fucking confusing.

Then there’s the handholding. The defenders team up in tandem and, for some reason, hold hands while jockeying around the ‘raider’. This practice is reflective of Indian culture as a whole, where it's customary for two blokes to walk down the street hand-in-hand. Great culture. I rate it highly.



How good are the team names though?! You’ve got the likes of your Bengaluru Bulls and your Jaipur Pink Panthers, but I was fizzing like a Mentos in a Coke can when the Pune Purple Beards graced my TV screen with their presence. Origin unknown, but desperately needed.



This was almost as confusing as the rules – the commentators just kept screaming ‘raid’, ‘super tackle’, and ‘scorpion’. So I had a Google, and it turns out a ‘raid’ is where the attackers try to touch the defender (the unit who sent it to the other end), ‘super tackles’ are worth two points (a real boomfa sort of situation I’m assuming) and a ‘scorpion’ is when a player scorpion kicks the opposition for points. I’ve heard it’s the signature move of the star player, Jasvir Singh. You couldn’t make this shit up.

So you’ve probably ended this article just as clueless as me. One of the main rules of Kabaddi requires the ‘raider’ to hold his breath when he runs into the opposition half to tag the other team. He even has to chant 'kabaddi, kabaddi' with his exhaling breath to prove he's not cheating. Look mate, I’m just as breathless as you after watching this. What a show.

This article first appeared in Issue 26, 2017.
Posted 11:43am Sunday 8th October 2017 by Charlie Hantler.