History of Our Favorite Game Kho-Kho

Editorials News | Apr-30-2017


Kho Kho is one of the most popular traditional sports in India. The history of kho kho, which most probably originated in Maharashtra, is difficult to trace. Most historians believe that it is a modified version of 'Run Chase' — a game that involves touching and running.

The game is highly popular among Marathi-speaking people who trace its inception to 'Mahabharata'. The Kaurava General Guru Dronacharya created the 'Chakravyuha', a peculiar military defensive circle designed to be impenetrable. But, it was penetrated eventually by the renowned warrior Abhimanyu who knew how to get in but did not know how to get out. He inflicted heavy casualties amongst his enemies but got killed eventually. His style of fighting reflects the concept of 'ring play' – a defensive tactic in Kho-Kho. The game during ancient times involved ‘raths’ or chariots and was appropriately named Rather.

Kho-Kho, like any other traditional Indian game, is inexpensive, simple, and highly enjoyable. Players, however, need to be physically fit, agile, possess quick reflexes, and be alert to compete successfully. The game develops team spirit, a sense of camaraderie, a strong sense of discipline, and obedience. It gained international recognition with the 1st Asian Kho Kho Championship in Kolkata in 1996. The second championship held in 2000 added further luster to the game.

The Deccan Gymkhana of Pune, founded by the legendary Lokmanya Tilak, tried to lend a sense of credibility and recognition to the game. It induced some rules and regulations to make the game more formal and therefore more acceptable.

Kho Kho Outside India

Kho-Kho is one of the most famous traditional games in South Asia. Outside India, this game is popular in South Africa and England. Played by 12 players, the sport has evolved in the Indian sub-continent.

The Asian Kho Kho Federation came into existence in 1987 during the 3rd SAF Games in Kolkata, India. The 1st Asian Championship was held in Kolkata in 1996. Countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and the Maldives have participated in the tournament. The second championship was played at Dhaka in Bangladesh. It was with the formation of the federation the kho kho game gained prominence in countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives.

Game Rules

The players need to follow the rules set by the federation. According to which only nine players take to the field out of a team of twelve. A match contains two innings, with each innings consisting of chasing and running for 9 minutes each. That means each team will get nine minutes for chasing and another nine minutes for defending. Eight members of the chasing team sit in a straight row facing each other. The ninth member is the one who starts the game.

While the chaser tries to eliminate the opponent by touching the person with his hand, the runner plays the nine minutes with a target of not being caught by the chaser and not moving out from the boundaries.

Runners enter the chase area in batches of three, which is also called a rectangle. As the third runner is out and he leaves, the next batch of runners enters the rectangle.

Runners are considered “out” when they are touched by the chaser, they come out of the rectangle, or they come in the rectangle late.

The chaser can get any chasing-team member sitting in squares of the center of the field by tapping the chaser's back and saying Kho so that the other chaser may run and catch the runner to win as soon as possible. The word Kho is derived from a Sanskrit word named root syu - meaning "get up go".

In this game, two referees stand on the opposite sides of the field. Both carry a stopwatch, and each is responsible for giving decisions on the opposite side of the field.

Kho-Kho is a high-intensity game. It makes children healthy because high aerobic activity boosts their immunity and makes them physically fit.

Evolution of the Game

The first Kho Kho tournament was organized in 1914, and the first-ever championship was held in Vijayawada in 1959 under the Kho-kho Federation of India (KKFI), which was formed in 1955.

KKFI made great efforts to spread the game worldwide, which is today, played across India. Kho-kho was included as a sport at the Berlin 1936 Olympic Games. And at the South Asian Federation (SAF) Games in Calcutta (Kolkata) in 1987.

There are various modern games, but there is nothing like good old-fashioned fun games. People from worldwide have found inspiration in an old classic - Kho Kho. This traditional Indian game encourages teamwork.

You Don’t Need Much To Play The Game

  • You just need an open space of about 27 m by 15 m
  • There should be two poles
  • String or chalk
  • And you are ready to play
  • Rules Are Simple

Just mark the playing area with chalk or string, draw a line down the middle of the field, and place poles at each end.

There should be two equal teams of 12 or not less than 6. One team will be the chasers and the other, the defenders.

The chasing team sits on the middle line, facing alternate directions. You can only run from the side of the pitch you are facing.

Defenders enter the field in groups of 3, and if tagged, you are out.

The chaser at the pole must try to tag one of the defenders. If a defender crosses the line to the other side, the chaser taps one of his teammates facing the other direction and shouts the word Kho in the game. Chasers can swap with a teammate every time the defender moves in the opposite direction.

The team that gets the defenders out quickly wins.

Advantages of Kho-Kho

  • The game helps to increase stamina
  • It helps in social and mental development
  • Playing Kho-Kho keeps you well, strong, motivated, and enthusiastic
  • It helps in coordination and flexibility.
  • Kho-Kho helps in depression, anxiety, stress
  • It develops team spirit and leadership
  • It increases concentration level
  • And improves physical fitness


Kho-Kho game helps in building physical fitness, strength, speed, and stamina. The game also develops qualities such as sportsmanship, obedience, discipline, and loyalty between teammates. Kho Kho is one of the most interesting games because the sitting position of the players on the field is dynamic. One will never find the same sequence of players sitting in the same order whenever the game starts. Thus it provides a lot of confidence and motivation.

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