Sepak Takraw is a variation of Takraw and is sometimes known simply as Takraw causing confusion between it and its predecessor “Takraw Wong” or “Circle Takraw” which is a game more like Kemari or Hacky Sack while modern “Sepak Takraw“ is what many people know as “Thai Volleyball” and is very similar to volleyball with the main difference being it is played with every part of the body except the “hands” (Arm from shoulder down). Other differences are:
- The same player my touch 3 times consecutively unlike volleyball where the ball is passed from player to player.
- When the ball hits the net but passes to the other side it is legal and the ball is still “live” including during service.
- Finally the last major difference from regular volleyball is that the defense is not rotated.
Sepak Takraw is said to have originated in Malaysia about 500 years ago supposedly invented by the royal family but versions of virtually the same game have been played back to the 9th and 11th centuries under various names such as: Sipa in the Philippines, Ching Loong in Burma, Rago in Indonesia and others around all around Asia.
Modern Sepak Takraw was born in 1945 in Penang, Malaysia as "Sepakraga Jaring" when the net was introduced and since then has been played mostly around South East Asia, especially in Thailand and Malaysia but also in Vietnam and the Philippines.
International rules being set in 1960 and the name being adopted officially for the South East Asian Games in 1965. It has also been played in the Asian Games of 1990 in Beijing and again in Hiroshima in 1994.
The game’s name essentially means “Kick Ball” in a mixture of Thai and Malay and may sometimes be used when referring to the other two common forms of Takraw: Takraw Wong and Takraw Lot Huang (Hoop Takraw).
Sepak Takraw courts are about equal to badminton courts and out side the court a 3 meter buffer zone should be cleared out side the court as it may be used by players in “saves”. In official courts a service circle and quarter circles drawn at the half line will be marked. Rare in Wat courtyards were the game is usually played out side of tournaments.
Traditional Takraw Balls woven from rattan. But in 1982 plastic balls were introduced and are now the standard in official games and might even be more popular than the "old" type in Malaysia. The ball weights somewhere between 140-200grams. It is somewhere between a softball and number 3 basketball or handball. A ball should have 12 holes and 21 intersections
A team of 4 players, 3 on court and one sub is called a Regu. Most unofficial games are played without a sub and with a bunch of players on the sidelines watching or playing around waiting to play the winning team. Official teams consist of 3 Regus.
A match is made up of 3 sets, each set being played until a score of 15. 2 out of 3 sets win a match and often
the 3rd “tie breaker” set is played only to a score of 6”
There are two main federations for the game, ASTAF the Asian Sepaktakraw Federation and ISTAF the International Sepaktakraw Federation
Takraw is a great game to watch with the acrobatic bicycle kick spikes (Known as Sunback Spikes), fakes, head butts, blocks and last second saves and sometimes it is absolutely mind boggling how anyone can play it at all… especially barefoot in the afternoon heat after a day’s work when most Takraw is played.