We’ve seen Kabaddi re-invent itself over the last two Seasons of Pro Kabaddi and it’s certainly put India’s own sport on a fantastic new platform.
Most of us have certainly tried our hand at the game at some point in our lives, but the addition of a few innovative transformations at Pro Kabaddi have only raised the bar and made this unique, high impact sport even more electrifying.
With Season 3 all set to kick off, it’s a great time to refresh our minds with the rules and also to what makes this sport so very unique.
Requiring absolutely no equipment to play the game, the name “Kabaddi” is said to originate from the Tamil term “kai-pidi” meaning “to hold hands”.
Two teams consist of 7 players each on the mat, but it’s perhaps the only sport where attacking (raiding) is an individual attempt and the lone raider is faced by a challenge of a 7 man defensive unit. It is also the only sport where chanting / speaking (the “Cant” of Kabaddi uttered in a single breath) is actually mandatory when the 30 second raid is in play and shows the referee that the raider is exhaling and not holding his breath.
The first goal of the raider though is to get cross the midline and then go past the Baulk line in the opposing half, making the raid valid.
The high intensity contact sport with two halves of 20min each revolves around the raider’s (attacker) second goal of touching as many opposition players as possible before returning to his own half without being tackled and also within the 30 sec raid clock ticking down.
A raider has many arrows in his quiver to get the job done: toe touches, hand touches, kicks, reverse kicks or by escaping a tackle and reaching the midline.
The number of players tagged equals the number of points scored, all whilst repeatedly chanting the word “Kabaddi”. A raid is which a team scores three or more points is called a “Super Raid” and is the equivalent of a massive six in cricket.
The raider can also score an additional “Bonus” point when there are 6 or 7 defenders on court by placing his forefoot over the Bonus line with his other trailing foot in the air.
The Bonus point though, does not bring about a player revival and raiders run the risk of going too deep into the opposition half, giving the defense a chance to pounce.
The two yellow tramlines down the sides of the court are known as the “Lobby” areas, which are essentially extended areas of play that get activated after a touch or a struggle between raider & defender, giving both extra room to make an escape or shove the raider off court.
It is a game of 1 vs. 7 however and the defenders don’t let the raider off easy. The defense’s goal is to stop the raider from returning to his own half, through the midline. Just as with the raiders, the defenders too possess skill sets they use to keep the raiders down like an ankle hold, thigh hold, a running “dash” off court, a block, a chained tackle, a dive or a back hold (grabbing the trunk of the raider from behind).
When the raider is kept down or thrown off court before getting back to his own half, the raider is forced out onto the sitting blocks temporarily until revived and the defending team earns a point.
If a team eventually loses all seven men on court, the result is an All-Out giving the team that enforces it an additional 2 points following which all seven eliminated men are revived from the sitting blocks once again.
The new rules of Pro Kabaddi reward gutsy defending too & a team is awarded 2 points for a “Super Tackle”, when three defenders or less keep a raider down in any raid. The “Do-Or-Die Raid” is another great new rule to add more intensity & increase scoring rates.
If a team has two successive Empty raids (i.e. they score zero both times), the third potential empty raid is a Do-Or-Die raid and failure to score in this third raid in a row results in the raider being out until revived.
There aren’t many sports that give you a second chance and while Sachin Tendulkar would have loved to be called back when dismissed in the nineties, Kabaddi gives a raider the opportunity to strike back during the course of the game and often within minutes.
The revival is an integral part of the game, and is brought about when a raider has been tackled or a touch point has been scored to revive one of the successful team’s own players. Players are revived and brought back onto court in the order they were ruled out.
Kabaddi is perhaps the ultimate game of cat and mouse, as the defenders have to be far enough from the raider to not be touched but close enough to initiate a tackle and attempt to pin the raider down when he darts for the midline.
It is a constant battle of Raider vs. Defender and while the defense called the shots in Season 2, I suspect things might change a touch this time around!
As Season 3 kicks off with an absolutely incredible double header, I certainly hope I’ve simplified things a little.
If you still need a bit more and want to dive deeper into this magnificent sport, I’ll be calling the shots from some of the best seats in the house in the commentary box from 7.50pm so I guess I’ll see you all then!