Invented around 500 years ago, in Malaysia, Sepak Takraw remains one of the most spectacular sports in the world. It combines elements from football, volleyball and martial arts, and is real fun to watch.
It is believed Sepak Trakaw is based on the Chinese game of “Cuju” (kick-ball), after it was introduced to Southeastern Asian countries like Malaysia and Thailand, by early traders. By the early 1400s, the game had already become very popular and was played mainly by men and boys standing in a circle and kicking the ball back and forth. Earliest historical mentions date back to the 15th century, when, according to an important historical document, it was very popular at the court of the Malacca Sultanate. In Bangkok, murals at the Wat Phra Kaeo show Hanuman, the monkey king, playing Sepak Trakaw with a group of monkeys.
Sepak Takraw is played on a court similar to that of badminton, between two teams made up of three players, each. The ball used is bigger than a tennis ball, but smaller than a volleyball, and weighs between 170 and 180 grams. The goal of the game is to send the ball into the opponents’ half so that it touches the floor, while using only your legs and head. It’s kind of like volleyball, only no hands are allowed. A game of Sepak Takraw consists of two sets, each played until one team reaches 21 points (unless the other team has 20 points, in which case a two-point difference is required, to win). If each team wins a set, a tie-break round is played, until one team has 14 points.
As you can imagine, Sepak Takraw is not the easiest sport to play, especially when you’re facing seasoned players with genuine martial arts skills, but that only makes it more enjoyable to watch. Players must master a few basic moves, like the serve, the inside kick, and the header, in order to be able to really play Sepak Takraw
Photos via Netsports