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Exotic Sports Dictionary

If you haven't already, take our Exotic Sports Quiz. If you have, learn about the international array of sports we've uncovered. You may find your next favorite sport among our exotic finds.

1. Kabaddi ( Kabbadi) - Though Kabaddi is primarily an Indian game, not much is known about its origins. There is, however, concrete evidence that the game is 4,000 years old. It is a team sport, which requires both skill and power and combines the characteristics of Wrestling and Rugby. It is a rather simple and inexpensive game, requiring neither a large playing area nor expensive equipment. This explains the popularity of the game in rural India. Kabaddi is known by various names: Chedugudu or Hu-Tu-Tu in southern India, Hadudu (men) and Chu- Kit-Kit (women) in eastern India and Kabaddi in northern India. The sport is also popular in Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

In Kabaddi two teams compete with each other by touching or capturing the players of the opponent team. Each team consists of 12 players, of which seven are on court at a time. The two teams alternate playing defense and offense. The game consists of two 20-minute halves, with a break of five minutes for a change of sides. The playing area is 12.50 meters x 10 meters, divided into two halves. The side winning the toss sends a "raider," into the opponent's court chanting, "kabaddi-kabaddi." The raider's aim is to touch any or all players on the opposing side. Any person the raider touches is out.

The unusual aspect to this contest is that the "raider" touching the players on the other team has to do so in ONE BREATH! The winning team is the one with the most players left. The aim of the opposing team will be to hold the raider and stop him from returning to his own court until he takes another breath. If the raider cannot return to his court in the same breath while chanting "kabadi," he will be declared out. Each team alternates in sending a player into the opponent's court.

2. Pentanque - is more popularly known as Boules, which originated in France around 1907. It is very popular in Europe but is rapidly gaining a following in America. It is played outdoors and can be played by everyone regardless of age or athletic ability. The equipment consists of a small ball called a jack, six larger balls called boules, a measure and a carrying case. Players divide up into two teams composed of one, two or three players. The first player throws the jack, which is the target the players aim for, from a designated throwing spot. The other players then try to throw their boules as close to the jack as possible. After all the boules are thrown the team with the closest boule receives a point for each boule that is closer to the jack than their opponents. The first team to earn 13 points wins the game.

In the sport of Pentanque the rules of the game are easy. The challenge comes in trying to master your throwing skills.

3. Sagol Kangjei - The British learned the sport of Sagol Kangjei in the 19th century in the state of Manipur, India, and after refinement it was introduced to other countries as Polo. The "PUYAS" trace it to the mythological age when the game was played by gods.

The game is now played in two styles - the "PANA" or original Manipuri style and the international style i.e. Polo. The ponies are decorated fully with various guards protecting the eyes, forehead, flanks etc. It is played with 7 players mounted on ponies on each side. The ponies are often not more than 4 to 5 feet in height. Each player is outfitted with a polo stick made of cane having a narrow angled woodenhead fixed at the striking end. The ball, 14 inches in circumference, is made of bamboo root. It is exhilarating to see the Manipuri players in their sixties and even seventies riding ponies at full gallop and playing Sagol Kangjei with gusto. The mounted players hit the ball into the goal.

Khong Kangjei is another sport similar to Polo, also popular in the state of Manipur.

4. Underwater Rugby (UW Rugby) - is a strange concept and an even stranger game! It is a ballgame played in a swimming pool approximately 12 feet deep. The playing "field" consists of the entire 3D-watermass. Each team consists of 11 players. The goal is to put the ball into a round metal basket on the bottom of the pool at the opposing team's end of the "field." The ball used does not float!

One thing that makes this sport especially unique is the 3D aspect. While introducing more freedom of movement to the game by playing it in water, the tactics become more complex. Players are equipped with a diver's mask, snorkel, fins and water polo hoods with ear protectors. Underwater Rugby is a contact sport, but the rules and environment of water prevent serious injuries.

The sport originated as a result of diving clubs' need for exercise in the water during the cold winter months. Players today are a mixture of very serious and active sportsmen and women and divers who want to keep in shape. This sport is most popular in Norway and the other Scandinavian countries, but also has adherents in Germany, Austria, Tchekkia, Slovakia and Columbia.

5. Kang Shanaba - is played on the day between Manipur's New Year's Day and the Ratha Jatra festival. The kang is an oblong, oval object made of lac or lead with a spot of ivory in the middle. Manipuris believe that the kang playing field represents the "Field of Life." The seven players on each side represent the seven days of the week. The chekphei and lamtha kangkhul are 15 in number on one side and both sides represent 30 days, making a complete month. The first chekphei stands for darkness and the second chekphei represents the day. During the game, the lamtha should be pushed by each player along his own track (kangkhul). When the kang crosses the last boundary, it crosses the boundary of life, and a player who does this is considered dead (shiba) for a particular type of push. Each player uses his own kang. The kang used in pushing or throwing is called the kangkap. The kang used as the target is called the kangkhil. The court is a rectangular area (36' by 16 1/2'), divided into four sub-courts.

The game begins with a chekphei, in which the player throws the kang from a standing position. For lamtha, the player pushes the kang from a sitting position. The number of throws and pushes, as well as the number of hits on the target, makes up the score. A point is scored when hitting the kangkhul (target) by two chekpheis and one lamtha continuously. Each player is given one opportunity to throw. The side with the most hits, wins. The game's duration is four and one-half hours. Manipuri religiously adhere to this time-frame as popular belief holds that if the game is played beyond its given limit, evil spirits invade the minds of both players and spectators.

6. Yubi Lakpi - This is a form of Rugby played in the Manipuri State of India. Manipuri Rugby and its name come from "Yubi," - the Manipuri word for coconut and "Lakpi," meaning snatching. Contestants play in teams of seven on either side, and the object of the game is to score goals in order to win. Yubi Lakpi is played in a field that is about 45 x 18 meters in area. One end of the field has a rectangular box measuring 4.5 x 3 meters, one side of which forms the central portion of the goal line.

To score a goal, a player has to approach the goal from the front with his oiled coconut and pass the goal line. The coconut serves the purpose of a ball and is offered to the judges who sit just beyond the goal line. The game is usually played on palace or temple grounds.

7. Chula-PakPao (Kite Flying) - This type of kite flying is the most popular sport during the hot season in Thailand. The kites, designed specifically for aerial fighting, are of two kinds: first, the Pak Pao, square in shape with a long tail and secondly, the Chula, a much stronger and bigger kite that is star-shaped and requires strong winds. The target of the fight is to force the opponent down according to set regulations. This Chula-PakPao kite flying is in fact a betting game that has been carried on since ancient times to the present day.

8. Canopying - This is a recent addition to adventure sports in Costa Rica and other parts of the world. It involves flying through the treetops, at over 40 yards from the ground, in the tropical rain and cloud forests. It originated from rappelling, which itself is derived from mountain climbing. Safety-climbing harnesses and ropes are used to propel the participant from one inaccessible point to the next.

The technique was actually developed by scientists doing research in the canopies (tree tops) in an effort to not disturb the natural wildlife, which would be the case using ladders and other climbing equipment. As one can imagine, it is an incredibly exciting and sometimes frightening activity.

9. Tchoukball - was actually the brainchild of Dr. Hermann Brandt in the 1960's. A medical doctor from Geneva, Dr. Brandt treated many athletes who had been injured while practicing their sport. He began to notice that many injuries resulted from athletes performing movements contrary to their physiology and from the aggression inherent in some sports. He consequently conceived of the sport of Tchoukball as a result of his research into team sports.

Tchoukball is a mixture of Basque Pelota, Handball and Volleyball. It is a team sport played with a ball and two rebound surfaces (frames). It was conceived to entice individuals to practice sport, regardless of age, sex or physical ability and is characterized by the suppression of any form of corporal aggression between the opponents.

10. Hurling - Hurling is one of the most unique sports in the world and is also regarded by many as the fastest, even faster than Ice Hockey. It is Europe's oldest field game. Each team tries to score goals by directing the ball into the opponent's net. Hurling is similar to hockey in that it is played with a small ball and a curved wooden stick. When the Celts came to Ireland as the last ice age was receding, they brought the game of hurling with them. The stick, or "hurley", is curved outwards at the end to provide the striking surface. The ball or "sliothar" is similar in size to a Hockey ball but has raised ridges.

Hurling is played on a pitch approximately 137meter long and 82 meter wide. The goalposts are the same shape as on a Rugby pitch, with the crossbar lower than a Rugby one and slightly higher than a Soccer one. You may strike the ball on the ground or in the air. Unlike Hockey, you may pick up the ball with your hurley and carry it for not more than four steps in the hand. After those steps you may bounce the ball on the hurley and back to the hand, but you are forbidden to catch the ball more than twice. To get around this, one of the skills is running with the ball balanced on the hurley. To score, you put the ball over the crossbar with the hurley or under the crossbar and into the net by the hurley for a goal. Each team consists of fifteen players. Players may switch positions on the field of play, but this is usually on the instructions of team officials.

11. Footbag or Hacky-Sack - Footbag is practiced mainly in the United States and Canada. The game is frequently referred to as "Hacky-Sack" and has existed as a competitive sport in several different forms since the 1970's. The most popular footbag sports are Footbag Net and Freestyle. The ball is a 32-panel vinyl or leather ball. Footbag Net is a single or doubles court game where players use only their feet to kick the footbag over a five foot high net. Players are allowed three kicks per side and must alternate kicks in doubles. In singles, players are allowed only two kicks per side. The footbag cannot contact a player's body except below the knee.

Footbag Net combines the court strategy of Tennis with the set and spike strategy of Volleyball. Footbag Freestyle is the artistic form of the sport. The variety of different moves makes freestyle competitions very difficult to judge. Competitors are judged in four areas: choreography, difficulty, variety and execution. Players choreograph their routines to music and are also judged on how well the choice of music matches their moves. Players must also perform specific moves that contain specific elements exhibiting leg dexterity, spins, fliers and blind moves, delays, cross body moves and moves involving unusual body surfaces. Execution is judged by smoothness, confidence and most of all the ability to keep the footbag off the ground.

12. Korfball - originated in Holland and claims to be the fastest growing sport in the world. The word Korfball means Basketball in Dutch but the game is more commonly described as a cross between Basketball and Netball with its own rules. It is the only competitive mixed team sport in which males and females play alongside each other on the court.

Each team consists of 8 contestants, 4 female and 4 male. The court is divided into 2 halves with 2 of each sex at either end. One half of the team attacks, while the other half defends, until either team has scored 2 goals. Then everyone swaps ends and positions – the attackers become the defenders and vice versa. Goals are scored by shooting a ball into a korf (basket), but the shooter must be free from his or her defender in order to shoot. A korf looks like a Netball post, except higher, with the game played on a full-sized court as in Basketball. In proper matches the game lasts about an hour, but in general a game lasts about 15 minutes. The team with the most goals at the end of this period wins.

13. Orienteering - This is a sport in which participants called orienteers use a detailed, accurate map and a compass to find specific points on a landscape. A standard orienteering course consists of a start, a series of control sites', which are marked by circles, connected by lines and numbered in the exact order they are to be found, and a finish. The control sites circles are centered around the feature to be found at that site; each particular feature is defined by control descriptions (also called clues). On the ground, a control flag marks the control site. To verify finding the control site, the orienteer uses a punch hanging next to the flag to mark his or her control card. Different punches distinguish different control sites. The route between the controls is not specified, however, and is entirely up to the choice of the orienteer.

This particular element of route choice and the ability to navigate through the woods are the essence of Orienteering. Most competitive Orienteering events use various formats such as staggered starts, relays and events in which an orienteer must find as many controls as possible within a specified time.

14. Curling - This sport has Gaelic origins. Curling is played on ice with approximately 42-pound granite stones. The size of the playing surface (called "a sheet") is 138 feet long by approximately 14 feet wide. The goal is, after all 16 stones are played (8 by each team), to have a stone of your team's closest to the center of the house, called the "tee." This is accomplished by sending the stone to rest in scoring position (a "draw"), by knocking the opponent's stones out of a scoring position (a "takeout") and by guarding your own stones with others. The team with the closest stone inside the house, scores a point or more if they also have the second closest stone and so on.

Each round is called an "end" and consists of 2 stones delivered by each player on each four-player team. The stones are delivered from the "hack" on one side of the "sheet" to the "house" on the opposite end. This consists of the player pushing off from the "hack" with the stone and releasing it with a spin, or "curl," which gives the sport its name.

15. Barefooting - Barefooting is Water Skiing without the aid of skis or any other device attached to the skier's bare feet. Speed is an extremely important factor since barefoot skiing necessitates greater speeds than when using wood or fiberglass skis. Competitive Barefoot Water Skiing falls into four events. In the slalom event, the competitor has to cross the wake of the tow boat as many times as possible within 2 x 15 second passes. Points are awarded for the number of whole or partial crossings completed. Each skier makes one pass in the forward barefoot skiing position, the other in the backward position. Crossings may be on one or two feet.

Coordination is primary in the trick event. Each trick must be executed to the satisfaction of the judging panel riding in the towboat, who operate under strict guidelines laid down by the International Water Ski Federation. Some examples of tricks are: tumbleturns, toe holds, toe turns, line steps, 180 and 360 degree turns and for the top skiers, 540 and even 720 degree combinations are possible. Again, each skier receives 2 x 15 second trick passes. The Australians were the first to really take Barefooting seriously and make it a competitive sport.


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