Kabaddi is an explosive, high-contact sport where players have to constantly think on their feet. Survival is paramount, and raiders and defenders are armed with multiple weapons to counter the opposition.
With the Kabaddi World Cup only a few days away, we take a look at the many moves and counter-moves in the game:
India and U Mumba captain Anup Kumar made the move famous with near-perfect execution during the inaugural Pro Kabaddi season. It can be done either on complete stretch, where the raider is almost in a modified split position, or lunging the back leg deep into enemy territory in search of, as the name suggests, a touch on a defender’s toe. It is a surgical strike. Not ballet, but this needs toes pointed. Toe touch has become especially important since the introduction of the bonus line.
Running hand touch
This requires mental and physical agility. The raider has to accelerate in one direction, stretch the arms to brush against a defender and then scoot out of danger. A great wingspan can be an ally, but a raider also requires the balance to pivot and change direction while on the run. It is one of the bread and butter moves for raiders, yet still tests various parameters of athleticism.
Also known as the ‘Scorpion kick’ for its late sting. Derived from martial arts, it needs the raider to kick backwards. The raider bends down on one knee, snaps the other leg back towards an opponent’s chest or face, and usually has his hands on the mat ready to spring back to the mid-line. It’s an important weapon in a raider’s arsenal because it lets them go on a surprise attack while maintaining distance from the defenders. In Pro Kabaddi, Jaipur Pink Panthers’ Jasvir Singh, who is one of the shortest players in the League, has stung many a defender with it.
One of the most explosive moves you will see on the mat. Propelling your body upwards from a dead stop itself requires great athleticism. And this move, much like a frog springing through its rear legs, sees raiders jump almost 4-5 feet in the air, leapfrogging their opponents to return to safety. It is an extreme move, used when the raider needs to evade danger and has very little lateral space. In India, it is also known as the ‘Hanuman jump’. Former Indian captain, Rakesh Kumar has made this his signature move and has had many victims over the years.
— ProKabaddi (@ProKabaddi) August 9, 2016
The exact opposite of the frog jump, it is also an evasive move where the raider weaves under a chain of defenders, just like a swimmer taking a dip under water, thus giving it the name 'dubki'. Patna Pirates’ Pardeep Narwal has been the best proponent of it in the League. It has very little margin of error and requires quick reaction time.
It is an individual defense skill used against raiders going for a toe/foot touch or a leg thrust. The defender has to anticipate the move and be ready to grab on to the ankle. With the bonus line coming into play, raiders are becoming bolder with foot touches or leg thrusts, and this is one of the most important counters. It is usually used by the corner defenders. Since it is a single joint hold, it requires great grip strength. The defender basically has to hold on to and pull the raider back, by just grabbing on to the ankle long enough and strong enough. A move usually mastered by corner defenders, India's Surender Nada has one of the best ankle holds in the game.
— ProKabaddi (@ProKabaddi) August 11, 2016
Similar to the ankle hold, this is when a defender counters a raider by holding on to the thigh. But it gives the raider very little space to escape. It can be used as a surprise move, usually when the raider is on the move, by any of the antis. It can also be used to bring down raiders trying to frog jump over the defenders. Very similar to the thigh hold, is the knee hold. Puneri Paltan skipper and Indian team all-rounder Manjeet Chhillar has this move in his arsenal and few raiders have an answer to Manjeet's thigh hold.
Also called the waist/back hold it is usually used to trap the raider from behind. Even though it is one of the most reliable defense skills, it requires a great deal of power to halt the momentum of the raider. An individual defender is entrusted with holding on to the opponent and pulling him back, giving him very little chance to escape.
High-risk, high-rewards. It is usually used as a last resort by defenders after the raider has struck and has already begun retreat. The defender/s rush at the raider who is usually positioned towards the flanks of the mat, using forward momentum and power to send the raider hurtling out of the field of play. The defender/s also need to be mindful of keeping their feet grounded and inside the playing area.
Literally blocking the raider sprinting towards the mid-line. The defenders have to escape the attention of the raider, finding the perfect angle to blind him and create a road block in his path. India all-rounder Manjeet Chillar uses his upper body strength effectively to block opponents.
A co-ordinated move where multiple defenders form a chain to restrain a raider. Usually put into use to bring down a tall, powerful raider. The position of the defenders and hand grips go a long way in deciding how the chain hold is executed