Sepak takraw resembles volleyball, except you can only use your feet, knees, and head. The kicks are amazing, but you should not let the sons of sultans and prime ministers play.
Just a short post today to highlight the high-kicking free-wheeling sport that is sepak takraw. The rules are pretty simple and closely resemble volleyball: two teams face each another across a high net, and a ball is volleyed between the two until someone fails to return it or it goes out of bounds. The twist is that, like soccer, you are not allowed to use your hands or arms.
Sepak takraw is a game of high kicks and ridiculously skilled rallies. You can see some of the more impressive moves here:
Sepak takraw is played worldwide, but most commonly and most fervently in East and Southeast Asia. Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and South Korea are usually the teams to watch. The game dates back at least five centuries, with an early version mentioned in the Malaysian historical chronicle Malay Annals.
In that chronicle, a sepak takraw game got out of hand. A stray rattan ball upset the headdress of the sultan’s son. The son, being a bit of a hothead, stabbed the offending player… who happened to be the son of the prime minister. (Well, the Malaysian title was bendahara, but you get the idea.) The prime minister put enough political pressure on the sultan that the sultan had to banish his son to neighbouring Pahang. That hothead became the first Sultan of Pahang… a title which persists to this day and is currently held by the King of Malaysia.