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The Art of Ha-du-du: Bangladesh’s Ancient Sport

Many Asian countries celebrate national champions in the fast-paced contact sport of kabaddi. But for Bangladesh, the implications go far beyond. Bangladesh’s national sport, Kabaddi (sometimes spelled ha-du-du), has deep roots in the country’s history and culture. 

Kabaddi gained popularity among adults and children in rural Bangladesh, although rules for the sport varied from one area to the next. This article will discuss, however, the efforts now underway to increase the sport’s visibility in the United States.

It’s also noteworthy that the game’s popularity has exploded beyond Asia and into every corner of the globe. The Kabaddi World Cup and India’s Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) are two significant tournaments contributing to the sport’s meteoric rise in popularity worldwide. Popular bookmakers allow gamblers to place bets on their favored kabaddi teams and players, leading to a flurry of betting activity on these competitions at home and abroad.

Origin and History of Kabaddi in Bangladesh

Kabaddi’s various legends go back to Tamil Nadu, India, some four thousand years ago. Some have described it as a physical preparation for soldiers and young men to launch and defend against mass attacks. Others said it gave them the extra strength, intelligence, and reflexes they needed on the hunt. 

However, one of the most well-known Kabaddi origin stories may be found in various Hindu myths. The Mahabharata, a work of ancient Indian literature, has a scene in which the astute Arjuna uses his kabaddi knowledge to sneak into enemy camps, unleash attacks, and leave without being discovered. 

The game was introduced to Bangladesh by the Mughal Empire, and it quickly became a popular pastime in the rural areas. However, modern rules, equipment, and skilled officials and contests have transformed Kabaddi into a professional sport in the country.

Kabaddi Gameplay

The fast-paced game of kabaddi puts each player’s strength, speed, agility, and cerebral strategy to the test. Each team has seven players, and the court is ten by 13 meters tall. A “raider” from one team will try to touch an opponent or many opponents by entering the opposing team’s half of the court, holding his breath, and chanting “kabaddi” constantly. 

If the raider can tag an opponent and safely return to their half within 30 seconds, their team gets the point. If he is tackled, the opposition team scores a moment, and the raider is out of the game for that particular raid. The game progresses with alternating attacks until all of one team is eliminated or the allocated time has elapsed. 

Asian Games 

Kabaddi was first included as a showcase sport during the 1982 Asian Games held in New Delhi. Bangladesh earned the silver medal in the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing when the sport was finally recognized as a medal event despite Bangladesh’s loss to India in the final. Previous seasons saw Bangladesh capture bronze medals (1998, 2006, 2010, and 2014) and silver medals (1994 and 2002). 

Bangladesh has competed in the South Asian Games, the World Cup Kabaddi, and the Asian Games. Unfortunately, despite winning several silver and bronze medals in international competitions, Bangladesh has not yet won a gold medal.

This is expected to change, though, since preparation for the next Asian Games in May 2023 is of paramount importance. The original date of 2022 in Hangzhou, China, was moved because of the arrival of Covid-19 in the area.

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The Bangladesh Amateur Kabaddi Federation

After the All India Kabaddi was established in 1950 and standard rules were established for the sport, kabaddi quickly became prominent in India. As a result, the sport’s popularity spread across Asia, and in 1973, the Bangladesh Federation was established. 

This group first implemented standard rules that aligned with the AIKFs. Its mandate is to oversee and foster the growth of sports in Bangladesh. The organization is also committed to developing new talent and expanding Kabaddi at the grassroots level nationwide.

Bangladesh’s first test match was played against India in 1974, only a few years after the BAKF was founded in 1973.

In 1979, the teams met in India for a second test at Bombay, Punjab, and Hyderabad. After the BAKF joined the Asian Federation in 1978, the first Asian Kabaddi Championship was held the following year, in 1980. India took first place, while Bangladesh settled for second. Again in 1988, Bangladesh came in second place in the Championship, which was held in Jaipur, India.


Kabaddi is a sport played in Bangladesh. It’s been around for a long time and serves as a cornerstone of national pride and identity. Bangladesh has established itself as a significant sporting power by garnering medals and accolades in major championships. The Bangladesh Kabaddi Federation has been instrumental in promoting and developing the sport throughout the country.

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