Word of the Week (109): KABADDI (probability 29960), by David Sutton

Following on from the mention of BUZKASHI at the end of last week, I promised to look at further exotic outdoor sports from around the world. KABADDI is a team sport of Asian origin. The invaluable Wikipedia describes it thus: 'Two teams occupy opposite halves of a small swimming pool/field and take turns sending a "raider" into the other half, in order to win points by tackling members of the opposing team; then the raider tries to return to his own half, holding his breath and chanting the word "Kabaddi" during the whole raid. The raider must not cross the lobby unless he touches any of his opponents. If he does so then he will be declared as "out". There is also a bonus line which ensure extra points for the raider if he manages to touch it and return to his side of the field successfully.'

I find some of this a bit puzzling. I have tried chanting 'Kabaddi' while holding my breath, and it's not easy, and I wasn't sprinting round a field at the time. Tough lot, these Asians.

I wonder how KABADDI compares with other sports on the scale of viciousness. Of course, any sport has the potential to become somewhat rough, especially, I find, when you get women involved: croquet, for example, brings out the absolute worst in human nature. I have wondered about SHINTY or SHINNY, a Gaelic game similar to hockey, though the idea that the name has some connection with hacking shins is almost certainly wrong, and it is more likely to derive from the Gaelic sinteag, a bound or pace. The Irish hero Cuchulain used to play it using the severed head of an enemy for a ball, but I believe that this practice is now frowned upon. The club used is called a CAMAN and the Gaelic name for the sport is CAMANACHD. The ball is similar to the SLIOTAR used in hurling.

Note that SHINTY can also be used as a verb, meaning to play the game.


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