Boys in a Government School in Haryana, India playing kho-kho
|Team members||12 players per side. 9 in the field|
Kho Kho is tag sport played by teams of twelve players who try to avoid being touched by members of the opposing team, only 9 players of the team enter the field. It is one of the two most popular traditional tag games of South Asia, the other being Kabbadi. Apart from South Asia (mainly India and Pakistan), it is also played in South Africa.
A Kho-Kho playground(or pitch) is rectangular. It is 29 meters in length and 16 metres in width. There are two rectangles at the end. One side of the rectangle is 16 metre and the other side is 2.75 meters. In the middle of these two rectangles, there are two wooden poles. The central lane is 907.50 cm long and 30 cm X 30 cm on the lane. There are eight cross lanes which lie across the small squares and each of it is 500 cm in length and 70 cm in breadth, at right angles to the central lane and divided equally into two parts of 7.30 cm each by central lane. At the end of central lane, two posts are fixed. They are 120 cm above the ground and their circumference is not less than 30 cm and not more than 40 cm. The post is made of wooden poles which are smooth all over. The posts are fixed firmly in the free zone tangent to the post-line at a height between 120 to 125 cm.
One of the major attributes of hjja successful animal life is "ACTIVE CHASE" which is a cardinal principle of the Indian game known as KHO-KHO, synonymous with the phrase "Game of Chase." It won't be incorrect or erroneous to state that KHO-KHO was a recognized sport in ancient times even earlier than the oldest mythological writings of the classics, "gujarat." The game of chase was then also a legend as it is used in literary phraseology as "putting KHO to someone's active chase meaning putting an effective block and stopping the progress," like we use the phrase "it isn't Cricket" meaning it is unfair and so on. The present appearance of the game was an adoption about the time of World War I in 1914, but lacked exacting rules and regulations that govern the modern games. There were neither any dimensions to the playground nor the poles which demarcate the central line. Time factor was also missing.
The Deccan Gymkhana of Pune, so named and baptised by the great Indian leader Lokmanya Tilak drafted the first ever rules and regulations which symbolised the metamorphosis of the game soon to follow. This initial stage marked the limitation of the playground and yet sadly lacked the poles demarking the central line in the field. Instead, two less calibered players were posted squatting at the place and chasers to run around them to return to the midfield.
But even then the game caught imagination of the experts in field games. The experts took no time to realise that the game demanded highest degree of quick and brisk movements, very high grade of nerve reflexes and tremendous stamina which all characterise a supreme athlete. The year 1919 saw the game delimit an elliptical field with 44 yards long midline and 17 yards width of the ellipse.
The midline was obliterated by transverse cross lines at eight different places. 3 yards 6 inches from one another. Poles came into existence and defenders were prohibited to touch the squatting chasers one sitting at each cross line but facing opposite sides alternately. The game with its fast pace so fascinated the spectators that the Governor of Bombay Presidency H.E. Lord Willingdon also admired the merits and potentials of the game.
The years 1923-24 saw foundation of the Inter School Sports Organisation, and Kho-Kho was introduced to develop at the grass roots and consequently popularise the sport. The move certainly showed the results and the game of Kho-Kho mainly owes it to the efforts taken by the Deccan Gymkhana and Hind Vijay Gymkhana.
To develop skills and expertise in Kho-Kho,then prevalent games of langdi and Atya-Patya were the supporting factors, especially Atya-Patya which was very popular because of its subtle skills of defending. Legends and giant personalities in Pune like the Grand Old Man of Indian cricket Prof. D.B. Deodhar, Persian language scholar and redoughted research historian Mahamahopadhyaya D.V. Potdar and the dozen of Indian games Dr. Abasahib Natu all played Atya-Patya with rare skill.
The Akhil Maharashtra Sharirik Shikshan Mandal (Physical Education Institute) was founded in 1928 when Dr. Abasahib Natu of Pune, Shri. Mahabal Guruji of Nasik, Shri. Karmarkar Vaidya of Miraj and Dr. Mirajkar of Mumbai, spared no efforts in consultation with Kho-Kho experts and drafted the rules and regulations of the game which differed but just a little from the existing rules of the Federation today. Hind Vijay Gymkhana, Baroda and Deccan Gymkhana, Pune had their own codes of rules which were in variance with each other.
Experts from sixty Gymkhanas came together and evolved a joint code of rules under the banner of Akhil Maharashtra Sharirik Shikshan Mandal in 1933 which was circulated all over and with a few suggestions and alterations. A "new code" was adopted in 1935.
The initial scoring system (1914) offered 10 points for every opponent getting out and each innings lasted for nine minutes. In 1919 it was made 5 points per opponent, and innings lasted for eight minutes. If the whole team was scored out before time, then the chasers were allotted a bonus of 5 points for every spare minute left unplayed.
1935 saw the major change. Elliptical playground became a rectangle, the distance between two poles shortened to 27 yards and the free zone beyond each pole a rectangle 27 yards x 5 yards also known as the 'D' zone. The free zone had no barriers for the chaser who could move to any direction irrespective of change of direction.
The rules had scoring as 10 points per opponent and 2 minutes deduction for every foul committed. But this encouraged tendency to get opponents out even by unfair means, committing fouls of high timing, etc. So also 'Kho' was to be rendered by touching the back of the squatting chaser that was often overlooked and done without synchronization and the foul was neglected by the chasers who contemplated getting 10 points at the cost of one of two fouls.
At a time only two defenders took to the field and only one was replaced as one got out. And if all nine defenders got out within the time limit, they had to defend again with a loss of time and with same serial number as before.
The end of 1935 saw again some changes and reforms in the rules based on the experience gathered in adopting the code.
1936 was the golden opportunity for the game of Kho-Kho when the Berlin Olympic Games featured an exhibition of Kho-Kho in the main stadium. The Hanuman Vyayam Prasarak Mandal of Amravati were the proud exhibitors.
1938 saw one step forward when Akhil Maharashtra Sharirik Shikshan Mandal organised zonal sports which attracted tremendous response from the budding enthusiasts as well as organizers. This needed yet another few reforms which were adopted in 1943 as well as 1945.
The major change was that the defenders came in the field at a time in batch of 3 and the next three came in when all of the previous batch were scored out. So also the chaser was obliged to render 'Kho' when new batch was to come in. Fouls were dealt with severely to curb the tendency of unlawful attack-chase and was compelled to render 'Kho' in the opposite direction to that of the defender. Consequently the 'deduction of 2 points rule' was scrapped. Scoring was simplified by awarding only one point for chaser on scoring each defender.
The panel of officials so far had one referee and one scorer. Now two Umpires, one Chief Referee a scorer constituted the panel. The poles in the playfield were raised to the height of 4 ft. with a maximum circumference of 13 inches.
In case of tie an extra inning of 7 minutes each was scheduled. If the tie was not resolved then the whole match was to be replayed. So also, the former rule of playing out the remaining time only of a match halted for some uncontrollable obstruction, was replaced by a new rule of playing the whole tie as "Replay" and not only the "remaining part" as before.
Today rules stand a little different in that, if the tie is not resolved in an extra inning each, then a rule of "Minimum Chase" is applied for scoring 'one point' by each team.
1942 saw Brihan Maharashtra Sharirik Shikshan Parishad of Delhi accommodate Akhil Maharashtra Sharirik Shikshan Mandal in their organisation and thus fostering the game of Kho-Kho commenced on an All India basis and the game started with new enthusiasm and zeal.
During World War II times, Dr. Nash, a renowned U.S. sports organiser, technician, and expert, visited India and saw the game of Kho-Kho. Impressed to the fullest of the coze, Dr. Nash uttered that India should regard Kho-Kho as its National Sport. In that chunk of time the Hind Vijay Gymkhana and Jumma Dada Vyayam Shala in Baroda, the Sanmitra Sangh and Arya Kridoddharak Mandal were the renowned Kho-Kho teams in Pune. Hind Vijay Gymkhana organised the zonal sports.
Inter Varsity Sports Body includes Kho-Kho in their schedule of annual tournaments in 1952. The untiring efforts of Shri. Bhai Nerurkar and his colleagues saw Kho-Kho Federation of India come into existence in 1955. Andhra Pradesh politician leader Shri. Gopal Reddi as the President, Shri. S.K. Dubey of Athletic Federation and Kabaddi Federation as Vice-President, Shri. Roy Choudhari of Football Federation as the Hon. Treasurer and Shri. Bhai Nerurkar as the Hon. Gen. Secretary. The meeting of Federation at Kolhapur drafted the first ever code of rules and regulations to be followed in all states of India.
1959 saw the Sanmitra Sangh of Pune open yet a new vista for Kho-kho. The Sanmitra Sangh conducted a first ever match of kho-kho in artificial lighting. The match featured Vijay Club, Mumbai and Madyasta Ramal of Baroda.
Period-wise Para vision of Kho-Kho shows, earliest Kho-Kho features Shri. Shankarrao Patankar, Dr. Abasahib Natu, Dr. K.N. Jejurikar of Arya Kridoddharak, Shri. V.N. Joshi of Joshi Garagestorm the Kho-Kho fields by their extra ordinary displays. 1940 to 1955 featured Shrikant Tilak, Khanderao Date, Dr. A.C. Lagu, as stalwarts of Sanmitra Sangh and Dr. V.T. Athavale, D.K. Joshi took the fields to tumultuous roars from appreciative crowds. Haribhau Sane, Pandurang Palwankar were dreaded chasers. So also was Rajabhau Vaidya. The decade 1950-60 saw Adv. Nandu Ghate, Raju Khondke storm the Kho-Kho fields by their performance. Avinash Bhave made a unique place for himself in Kho-Kho.
The first ever All India Kho-Kho Championships were organised at Vijay Wada in 1959-60 under the auspices of Kho-Kho Federation of India. The then Mumbai province won the championship under the leadership of Rajabhau Jeste who was a champion player, expert commentator and redoubtable coach made in one. The years 1960-61 featured Women's Championships for the first time.
Individual prizes were installed in 1963. Man of the Tournament Award "Ekalavya Award"was won by Vishwanath Mayekar. The Woman of the Tournament Award "Rani Laxmibai Award" was claimed by Usha Anantham of Mysore. The years 1969-70 featured the junior age group competitions at Hyderabad. Youth under 18 and Boys under 16 of age were two new categories introduced where Hemant Jogdeo of Maharashtra was adjudged as the best youth player of the year and was honoured by Abhimanyu Award. Women's junior group Girls under 16 were held in 1974 at Dewas when two more sub-junior groups Boys under 14 and Girls under 12 also commenced yearly championship tournament every year where the best sub-juniors were awarded 'Bharat Award' and 'Veer Bala Award' boys and girls respectively.
The year 1982 saw the Federation organise Men's and Women's Championship yearly for Federation Cup. Shri. Kashinath alias Bhai Nerurkar's untimely demise was a jolt to Kho-Kho movement. To commemorate his great effort for the noble cause of Kho-Kho the enthusiasts and admirers of Bhai donated Bhai Nerurkar Gold Trophy. The annual championship for the Trophy were first organised by the Madhyastha Ramal of Baroda who eventually dominated the 1960-70 decade by their fine performances.
The Gold Cup Championships never ran smoothly year to year but had periodical haults due to non-availability of sponsor groups. So far the championship has been conducted 14 times for "ALL COMERS "where Madhyastha Ramal Baroda are 3 time winners, Gujarat Kreeda Mandal also of Baroda won 2 times, Sanmitra Sangh of Pune won 1 time and Nav Maharashtra Sangh of Pune won 8 times, achieving 'Hat-Trick' twice.
The decade 1960-70 was dominated by Men of Baroda and Women of Baroda, Indore and Bombay. Sudhir Parab was the first ever Kho-Kho player to be awarded by the coveted "Arjuna Award" of All India. However a new rule drafted by the Federation allowed a player to be declared the Best Player of the Year never more than 'once'. Naturally therefore Mohan Ajgaonkar, Rajabhau Ajgaonkar (both Vijay Club, Mumbai) Yogesh Yadav, Bhau Mane, Dinkar Jadhav ( all of Baroda ) also were awarded the Best Player of the Year with 'Ekalavya Award'. Suresh Dinkar, Shyam Purohit ( also a Shiv Chhattrapati Award winner ), Dr. Madhusudan Zamwar, Arvind Patwardhan, Sunil Tambe in the men's championship were the proud awardees.
Pushpa Bhanorkar of Indor, K. Jayanti of Mysore, Vimal Karandikar, etc. in their own way dominated the women's Kho-Kho. Later from 1970 onwards Pune Kho-Kho stalwarts have been dominating beyond the shadow of doubt. Except 1980 - Adilabad, Maharashtra has always been the winner in Mens.
Up to 1975 Indore and Baroda Women dominated the Women's field. Then Pune and Indore dominated almost alternately. All India All Comer's Tournaments are also dominated by Sanmitra Sangh and Nav Maharashtra Sangh of Pune only. 1975 onwards Karnataka Kho-Kho has made remarkable progress and always make their presence feel. Baroda on the contrary has fallen back on a bad patch in spite of their tradition of such skilled players and expert coaches is something beyond imagination.
1970 onwards Maharashtra has contributed a galaxy of star performers in Kho-Kho. The role begins with Dr. Prakash Sheth and Dr. Satish Desai ( both Shiv Chhattrapati Award winners ), Shrirang Inamdar ( Arjuna Award and Shiv Chhattrapati Award winner and nine times representing the state, record unparalleled by any other player so far ), Rajendra Dravid ( represented the state 8 times ), Girish Dande, Hemant Jogdeo ( Both Veer Abhimanyu Award and Ekalavya Award winners and also Shiv Chhattrapati Awardee ), Hemant Takalkar ( Abhimanyu Award, Ekalavya Award, Shiv Chhattrapati Award and Arjuna Award winner ), Vilas Deshmukh, Atul Wakankar, Milind Marathe and so on.
Women's field produced extreme skilled players like Bhavana and Kishori Parekh, Achala Devre ( Arjuna Awardee ) all three of Baroda, Nalini and Sushma Sarolkar of Indore, Veena Parab, Surekha Kulkarni, Usha Nagarkar, Jayashree Deshpande, Sunita Deshpande, Rekha Lunkad, Nirmala Medhekar, Nisha Ambike all of Maharashtra have been the star performers.
Last five or seven years Women of West Bengal and Kerala are also making their presence felt, Manipur and Punjab Women are not far behind.
The game of Kho-Kho can broadly be followed by resolving the basic skills and techniques of chase and skills and techniques of running away and dodging the chasers and not allowing any one of the chasing opponents touch your person or the apparels worn by the defender.
Chasing needs basic speed in setting up at the instant of Kho-Kho exactly like setting off the blocks in 100 mtrs. run at the gunshot. You must achieve the maximum acceleration within couple of steps to catch the defender running away converge and clinch him to a narrowest possible runway where he cannot possibly use his dodging tactics by moving on either side to tempt the chaser to change his direction and shoulder line.
The chase could be successfully concluded by diving at the defender and touching his heel of the hind foot while running. This is the most sure and safe technique to score a defender.
Other subsidiary skills can be employed time to time when chasing a far away defender the other defenders are comparatively inactive and less alert when the slowly loiter along the side lines. While developing your basic acceleration you may move a little sideways without changing the shoulder line and catch those napping defenders with least efforts. This sudden 'bonus' collected thus can easily turn the tables in a tight match.
Another old technique is to extend your arm across the mid-line and touch the person or defender who is concentrating on turning around the pole and watch about his stepping that he is not touching the central line. This short cut often proves to be very effective in a hotly contested match.
Other techniques include a joint effort by two or three quick paced chasers who chase two or more defenders and push them close to face these chasers and then jump like a spring: "jack in the box."
So many other skills and techniques could be evolved and adopted to effective use by intelligent chasers. Dr. Satish Desai, Sunil Tambe, Shrirang Inamdar all excelled by their speedy chase while Vijay Bhat, Sharad Bhate excelled in scoring by extreme skilled dives culminating chase to score valuable points. Rajendra Dravid and Satish Desai always featured picking up "sitting ducks" on the sidelines.
Defence was championed in three basic methods. Running zig-zag in the mid-line in single, double or triple chain is a traditional technique. So also dodging in Atya-Patya style and defending in circles around only two or three chaser squatters is an old technique which is almost getting extinct as its own parental game Atya-Patya.
Dinkar Jadhav of Baroda, a tall man over 6 ft. played beautifully in the chain form in spite of his lanky legs and was a treat to watch.
Dr. Prakash Sheth and Shyam Pote played single or double chain and almost invariably dodged turning around on the front foot running speedily and defending, always commanded applauses from appreciated crowd which thronged to watch battle raged of Kho-Kho.
Venkat Raju of Karnataka still evolved a new technique of chain game in defending in usual or triple chain always avoided going to end poles and turned back a cross lane or two and started the chain in opposite direction. This always baffled chasers who banked their attack on crowding and jostling the defenders to the pole.
The round pattern defence was a feature of Dilip Bhuleskar, Girish Dande, Arvind Patwardhan, Pramod Gawand's forte in defence. Shyam Purohit, Suhas Wagh, Hemant Jogdeo, Dr. Prakash Sheth, excelled in all types of defence. Seldom anybody ever emulated 'front foot dodge' so effectively employed by Dr. Prakash Sheth, Vilas Deshmukh of Pune in recent years exhibited the pleasing grace of chain game elegance.
The game of chase as was a favourite pasture of many renowned sportsmen like Bapu Nadkarni, Pranav Roy of Cricket, Nandu Natekar of Badminton, athletes Angel Mary and Sunder Shetty, Basketball stalwart Meera Deviyyah, Footballer Alok Mukherji and several others who made their mark in International Sports field.
National Institute of Sports Netaji Subhash Institute included Kho-Kho in their curriculum since 1971 as six weeks schedule. In 1976 it was raised to 10 months schedule.
Indian Olympic Association included Kho-Kho in 1982. 1989 saw Kho-Kho as a 'demonstration' in 'Asian Games' Festival. In 1987 again a demonstration was held in 'South Asian Games' and Asian Kho-Kho Federation came into existence with major membership though of only three countries which soon became a seven nation Federation under the Presidency of Shri. Sharadchandra Saha and Mukund Ambardekar was elected as Hon. Gen. Secretary.
Some new reforms have been incorporated by the Asian Federation in that. The poles have been put a little close distance at 23.50 meters and the play ground also increased in the width of 16 meters. The duration of the innings will last to nine minutes.
1998 saw the first ever International Championship held at Kolkata. Sponsors from various fields have been attached to this great game and Bank of Maharashtra has developed their first ever team of Professional players when others like Indian Railways are about to follow the suit.
Since early 2000, the sport have found considerable popularity in Bangladesh with many good players getting national fame. One notable name is Ruksat Ahmed, who won the 2005 Junior Regional Championship in Dhaka. Since then she has participated in various national tournaments and won multiple times before finally retiring in 2010 as National Champion. It is a pity she could not take part in international competitions because of lack of support from the Bangladesh Kho-Kho Federation.
The Income Tax department of the Reserve Bank also have picked up Kho-Kho players for their regular staff. Inter Bank Kho-Kho Tournaments also have started as a regular feature of calendar year. Late Yashwantrao Chavan was the first president and since then the Federation has always ill-using the persons at the helm. Present Shri. Sharadrao Pawar is the President of the Federation.
Watching the Kho-Kho Championship, prerson no less calibred than Shri. Vijay Merchant, the idol of Indian Cricket, uttered "Hm, sadly mistaken I was so far when I imagined Cricket as a manly game and Kho-Kho as a feminine enterprise.... How earnestly now I feel exactly the other way round and feel sorry for not having played Kho-Kho in the childhood."
Little Master Sunil Gavaskar too was so apologetic for having neglected this game in the childhood and uttered "had I ever even the slightest of the idea of this grand spectacle, perhaps I'd have preferred Kho-Kho to Cricket for ever."
Such a game of skill, strength and extreme elegance coupled with tremendous requirement of tenacity and stamina is a Grand Indian Game of Chase.
The equipment used in Kho Kho are posts, strings, metallic measuring tape, lime powder, wire nails, two watches, two types of rings having inner circumference of 30 cm and 40 cm, score shots (like a whistle, for instance), and some stationery to write results etc..
Kho-kho is an extremely complicated and tactical sport. The matters of terminology, how to craft strategies and prepare players are detailed in the official Kho Kho website.
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