Sepak Takraw, or simply kick volleyball, is an extremely popular game indigenous to Southeast Asia. Unlike the more common footvolley, Sepak Takraw differs in the utilization of a volleyball with a long pole whose length is almost as long as the player. This makes the volleyball much more difficult to catch, much less hit. It also makes it a much harder and bruising sport for the participant.
The game of Sepak Takraw is unique in that it is played entirely on one’s feet. The rules of the game are very simple: Each player receives two passes from their opponents along with a volley from their own team mate. Once the player’s second pass is made, they can then volley the ball toward their opponents goal. They may also choose to kick the ball backward instead. The winner is the player with the most successful volley or kick toward the opponent’s goal.
The beauty of Sepak Takraw is its simplicity. There is no doubt that badminton players from different countries have been playing it for years but with few exceptions, these players all have one thing in common. Their kicks or volleys must originate from the inside of the court to have any chance of going over the net. In other words, the goal of every player has to be able to strike the ball from inside the sepak takraw court.
To understand why this particular sport has become such a popular sport in Malaysia, one must first understand why it originated in Malaysia in the first place. Historically, sepak takraw was actually known as simply “hand-woven ball” before it was formally introduced as a national sport in Malaysia in 1957. It was created by Malaysian National Sports Commission (MANS) as a response to the growing popularity of the game in the country. Two teams were eventually formed: Malay, comprised of Chinese, Indian and other foreign players; and East Coast, which included both Malays and Chinese. Both teams met in a central sports arena in central Malaysia every Friday evening for a game. This was the first step toward what would become a highly popular sport in Malaysia.
Today, sepak takraw has blossomed into a highly competitive sport that incorporates kicking, wrestling and punching techniques from various sports. Two teams of up to 12 players can take on each other in an effort to win a match. Each player in a team has an assigned choreography in order to best perform their individual roles in the game. Since the game is arranged on a circular platform above the ground, players must make sure that they are always moving in a coordinated fashion to keep themselves safe from being launched off the court.
The game itself is very unique as it combines aspects of many other games. For example, the Malaysian kick ball (keen mas) is similar to that of Australian and Asian football and American football. The kick ball has been modified to incorporate the deadly sphere technique, which involves using the entire body as a weapon. A player can use his hands, legs and head as weapons in order to attack the ball with great force. Many of the traditional kicks are done with the entire body and this was one of the main reasons why the game took such a while to catch on in Southeast Asia until it was properly introduced onto the international stage.
Another interesting characteristic of Sepak Takraw is the “ball aloft” spike. Traditionally, this technique was used to increase height and to increase the vertical height of a jump. This method was originally initiated by Malaysian martial arts expert Subangith before he passed away in 2021. He taught the spike to his students and was very happy that they were able to successfully implement it into their own methods of play. When the ball aloft technique was first developed in Sepak Takraw there were only two schools that practiced it: Subangith and the school named Pekerbal.
The implementation of the spike was revolutionary as it not only provided a vertical jump boost but also helped increase the strength in the legs and lower body. This improved strength in the legs increased the ability of the players to slam dunk the ball on the floor, something that could not be achieved if they did not have strong legs. Many athletes in other sports have incorporated the ball aloft technique and it has helped them to reach the level of success that most athletes are aiming for: world class competition in volleyball and badminton.