Sepak takraw

Sepak takraw

This is what happens when you fuse volleyball, soccer and kickboxing. With all it’s back-flipping and fly-kicking, sepak takraw is the sort of sport you’d imagine ninjas to play. Not so coincidentally, it’s a very popular sport in South East Asia and is growing in popularity across the world.

Origins

As with Wolverine’s origin story, the history of sepak takraw is long, often conflicting and wrought with drama. The earliest mention of sepak takraw comes in the 15th century Malaysian historical text, “Sejarah Melayu” (Malay Annals), which describes Raja Muhammad, a son of Sultan Mansur Shah, being hit by a rattan ball by Tun Besar, a son of Tun Perak, while playing sepak takraw. Raja Muhammad, apparently a sour sport, then stabbed and killed Tun Besar. Tun’s family retaliated and a war was started.

There are also mentions of sepak takraw in 16th century Indonesian texts, 18th century murals in Bangkok and in Philippine oral history. The actual invention of the sport, however, is difficult to discern.

Playing sepak takraw

Sepak takraw is played on a court of 13.4 by 6.1 metres with a 1.52 m-high net in the middle.

The ball is 42–44 cm in circumference and traditionally made out of rattan but is now usually made of synthetic rubber.

Each team has three players on the court at one time: two players at the front and one at the back (Tekong). A point is won when the other team faults. Winning the game means winning the best of five sets.

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