Boke also Bokh (Mongolia)

Name of sport (game): Boke also Bokh
Place of practice (continent, state, nation):


Da-ga (China)

Name of sport (game): Da-ga
Name in native language: 打尜、打嘎
Place of practice (continent, state, nation):



The history of da-ga is not well known. Some say it was invented 1000 years ago (Tang Dynasty).


Da-ga is a bit like modern baseball. Some people call it “grandfather” of baseball. It has different names around the world:
Lippa (Italy), Billarda (Spain), Pandolo (Slovenia), Klipa, Kiczka or Sztekiel (Poland) etc.

The Playing Field
For regulation games, the length of the field should be 50 meters long. The important lines are the base line and the sidelines. The overall surface is compacted or paved but not necessarily completely flat. You can also play on grassy surface, but then you may need a moveable firm base to place the Ga-ga for hitting.

The Equipment
• Base - Originally it was a stony flat surface but for modern competitions they use a firm flat rectangle made from metal materials. It is placed on the baseline which is the line in the narrower part of the field.
• Bat/Stick– is a 55 cm long piece of wood with rounded ends.
• Ga – it is made from wood. On both of the edges it is shaped into a cone.
• Face protection – a protective shield for the face, which is usually made of plastic. All defence players should use this protection.
• Gloves – for protection of the defence players hands;
• Uniform – players of each team have their own uniform, although it is not required.
The Stick and Ga

The game is played between two competing teams. Each team plays with three players.
In a game of Da-ga there is also a referee. He must not interfere, unless a team has something to object or the play is too slow. In that case he solves the conflict on the base of the rules or simply warns the players to speed up the game. There are even yellow and red cards to punish bad words or insulting other team players.

Playing the Game

Goal of the game
The goal of the game is to score as much points as possible by hitting the “ga” towards the end of the playfield. The team that has more points at the end of the game is the winner.

Game segments
The game is played in rounds. In each round, both teams take part in attacking and defending. The toss of a coin before the start decides which team will start first on the offensive side and which in the defence.
Only the attacking team has player active on the playing field while the other team-mates are watching. On the other side, the whole defending team is active on the field. When the first player completes his turn, he is replaced with the next player from the attacking team. When all the offensive players have finished, the teams switch places – the defending team becomes the offensive team and the offensive team goes to the defence. The game then continues until all of the new offensive team's players have finished playing. Then it’s the end of the first round.
In the second round everything repeats. The only difference is that the first attacking team now starts in defence.

Flow of the Game
Every active player completes his active role if not prematurely struck out, in the following phases of the game:

Phase One – Active game of the first player
The first step is to toss the ga into the game or “service”. The defence team spreads out in the wide area of the field. No defence player, however, can be closer than 12-stick lengths from the base. The active player places himself maximum 1 stick far from the base. He holds the ga in his hand. When the game starts, the active player:
- hits the base with the stick,
- then he shouts “Da-ga, Da-ga zero” so everyone on the field can hear,
- with his hand, he throws the ga straight up into the air and he hits it with the stick into the playing filed,
- if the ga doesn’t land in the field, he has two more attempts.

Phase Two – Catching the ga
The defending players tries to catch the ga in the air. If they succeed the active player has ended his turn. Otherwise the ga is stopped on the ground by defending players, or it stops somewhere in the field by itself.

Phase Three – Targeting the Base
From the point where the ga was stopped, one of the defence players tries to throw the ga to strike the base. The active player can defend the base only with the stick. If the ga anyway hits the base, the active player is struck out and he ends his turn. Otherwise the game continues.

Phase Four – Striking the ga
The active player that has not been struck out continues the game. The active player places the ga near the base (1 stick in length). The defence team players take their positions in the playing field and no closer than 12-stick lengths from the base. When everyone is ready, the active player places himself near the ga. With one hit, on the edge, the ga lifts in the air and with the second hit he sends the ga towards the end line. If the defending player doesn’t catch the ga in the air, the active player repeats the last step two more times.

Phase Five – Counting Points
The points are counted only if the active player has finished everything without the ga being caught in the air by the defending players.
The attacking team measures, by eye, the distance between the base and the ga. One of the players than loudly says the distance in the unit of stick.
If the defending team agrees with the distance the players scored as much points as the distance was. Otherwise they measure it using the stick from the ga to the base. If the attacking team said a bigger number then the measured, they lost all the points. If they said a correct or a smaller number, the points are doubled.

Second game and subsequent games of the first active player.
Other players that follow the first, play in the same way as mentioned before.
When everyone completes their turns, and the teams are changed, the second round starts. The rules are the same and each player has to attack once more. The end of the second round is the end of the game. The team with more points wins.
In the case of a draw, each of team members has one chance to hit the ga from the base. The winning team is the one that strikes the ga further out than the other team. If both teams strike the ga beyond the end line, the ga striking continues until one team wins by striking the ga further out into the confines of the playing field.

Concluding the game
At a tournament, the game is normally played in two groups. The first and the second team of each group passes to the finals where the first team plays with the second one of the other group. The winners then play the final game for the 1st place at the tournament.

Current status:



Cheibi Gad-Ga (India)

Name of sport (game): Cheibi Gad-Ga (India)

This is one of the oldest Manipur martial arts that in modern times has evolved into a competitive art. Contestants use a stick (known as "Cheibi") encased in leather and about two and a half feet long in combination with a leather shield (with three foot diameter) to represent an actual sword and shield. The competition takes place on a flat circular surface approximately twenty one feet in diameter. Within the circle are two lines each approximately three feet long and six feet apart. The winner is the person who scores the most points by skillfully striking his opponent. In ancient practice, actual swords and spears were permitted.

Daito-ryu (Japan)

Name of sport (game): Daito-ryu
Place of practice (continent, state, nation):



An ancient system of unarmed and armed combat founded by Shinra Saburo Minamoto during the Heian period (794-1156) and perfected in battlefield warfare. The techniques were most fully systematized (some say modified) by Sokaku Takeda with sword and unarmed techniques practiced together. It was the first and only tradition focused upon aiki-jujitsu. While it has inspired many succeeding disciplines, including aikido founded by Morihei Usehiba (Takeda's student from 1911-1918), daito-ryu proponents suggest that while the other systems share aiki jujitsu nomenclature, the understanding of aiki, as well as the techniques themselves, they may in fact be very different. See: aiki, Daito-ryu aiki jujitsu.

Daito Ryu lays claim to being the oldest aiki-jujitsu in Japan. It is a cultural treasure that in addition to being the progenitor of modern aikido has greatly influenced many modern other cognate budo disciplines (disciplines derived from warrior arts). It began its development when Shinra Saburo no Minamoto (1045-1127), a relation of the Emperor Seiwa who was to become the governor of Kai (modern Yamanashi Prefecture), studied the body's secrets by dissecting cadavers. He researched the body's weak points in order to discover how most effectively to attack them with a sword and how to apply locks to its joints. He further learned how muscles support the skeletal structure. The knowledge was passed to his descendants in the Takeda family of Kai and Daito Ryu was further developed there until the death of the family's most famous
General, Takeda Shingen in 1573.
In the mid-seventeenth century Takeda Kunitsugu, a relative of Takeda Shingen, became a senior counselor to the son of Tokugawa Hidetaka, Lord Hoshina Masayuki of the Aizu Han. Daito Ryu was combined with the Aizu Han's oshiki uchi techniques and became the method of self-defense for all Daimyo of the Aizu and those responsible for their protection. Daito Ryu continued to be passed from generation to generation within the Takeda family.
Takeda Sokaku Sensei formalized and named modern Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu. With his knowledge and skill in Daito Ryu and Ono-ha Itto Ryu Kenjutsu (Sokaku den), he traveled all over Japan on foot, teaching and meeting all challengers until his death in Aomori Prefecture in 1943 (Showa 18) at the age of 89. In Sokaku's 70 years of martial travels he remained undefeated, leaving behind an exceptionally rich curriculum of techniques and his mark on the history of Japanese Classical and Modern Martial Arts. Takeda Tokimune Sensei, Takeda Sokaku's son, organized the curriculum of some 2884 techniques into a more readily teachable syllabus. Techniques up to the 5th degree black belt level are included in the Shoden (beginning level techniques) syllabus of 118 techniques plus many. These techniques are executed from both sitting and standing positions as well as against attacks from behind. Each level requires knowledge of a different set of essential principles if one is to master the techniques.
In addition, Daito Ryu waza are categorized as Hiden Okugi, Chuden, Okuden, Goshingo no te, Aiki no Jutsu, Daito Ryu Nito Ryu Hiden, Kaishaku Soden, Soden, and Kaiden. Only a very few Daito Ryu teachers have extensive knowledge of these techniques, and as of this writing all of these men are Japanese. Tokimune Takeda Sensei passed away in 1993. The present Soke (head of a school or tradition) of Daito Ryu is Takeda Seishu.

Bultong (Philippines)

Name of sport (game): Bultong
Place of practice (continent, state, nation):


Buno (Philippines)

Name of sport (game): Buno
Place of practice (continent, state, nation):


Chovquan, Chovqan (Azerbaijan)

Name of sport (game): Chovqan
Name in native language: Çovqan (other names: Chovken, Chovkan, Chomakh, Chovgan, Chovlan, Chevgan) Middle Persian: čaukān lub čōkān, New Persian: čōgan lub čōvgan
Place of practice (continent, state, nation):

Chovqan is practiced especially in rural areas, mostly in the western, northwest, central and eastern regions of Azerbaijan. Depending on the availability of Chovqan facilities, the game is also played in some cities of such regions, e.g. Gazakh and Agstafa in the Ganja-Gazakh region, Sheki - in the Sheki-Zaqatala (Northwestern) and Baku region. In Sheki, Chovqan competitions are organized annually for Public Horse Breeding Center competitors from the village of Dashuz.
Generally, Chovqan is practiced in 16 regions of Azerbaijan: Sheki, Aghdam, Agstafa, Gazakh, Balaken, Zagatala, Gakh, Oguz, Ismayilli, Baku, Yevlakh, Goranboy, Goygol, Barda, Dashkesen, and Tovuz. Rarely, competitions are organized in Ganda, Karabakh, Khyzy, Shamakhi, and Gedabey.

Currently, Chovgan is also practiced in Iran, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.


Chovqan is the predecessor of modern polo. Historians believe that chovqan was created in the middle of the first millennium and was popular in Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkey, Central Asia and neighboring countries for several centuries.
Chovqan is a traditional equestrian sport played in Azerbaijan as a migrant sport since ancient times. Its name comes from the word "chovqan" (or "chovgan", "chomakh") referring to the bent tip of the stick used by shepherds and herd breeders in the past. This stick was the main tool for grassing flocks of sheep, horses or other animals, later it was also used to hit balls made from sheepskin, in pairs and later in teams. Others believe that the word "chovqan" has Turkish origin, which means "to hit, swing with a stick."

Photo: Game of polo – miniature from the manuscript of the Divan by Hafez.
Chovqan history1Source:

Fragments of the game were periodically presented on ancient manuscripts, as well as detailed descriptions and rules of the game. Various antique prints and ceramics suggest that sport has a long history. For example, a vessel with images of Chovgan was found during archaeological excavations in the Oran-Gala area, indirectly suggesting that the game existed in the 11th century around the city of Beylagan. Mention of Chovgan also appears in 'Khosrow and Shirin', a poem by the writer and thinker Nizami Ganjavi, and on the pages of the epic tales 'Kitabi Dede Korkut' and 'Kitabi Dede Gorgud'. Miniatures for the poem "Khosrov and Shirin" dated to the ХI century, as well as miniatures of Tabriz, illustrate various game scenes.

Photo: A 16th century miniature depicts a chovqan game the story of Khosrow and Shirin of Nizami Ganievi
Chovqan history2Source: Singh Jaisal (2007), Polo in India, London: New Holland, p. 15.

Historically, Chovqan was widely played by the aristocracy of Azerbaijan and members of the Shah family. The game required specifically trained fast and short horses. That is the reason why it was so popular in Karabakh, where breeders focused on producing the best horse breeds, including the famous Karabakh breed. The first international Chovqan competition among the Middle East took place in the 2nd century in Baghdad.

Photo: Shah Mahmud, A polo game: an illustration from the poem Guy u Chawgan (the Ball and the Polo-mallet) (F1935.18, manuscript). Dafavid dynasty. Color and gold on paper, H: 19.4 W: 12.3 cm. Tabriz, Iran.
Chovqan history3Source: The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution

The Silk Road has popularized Chovqan in India. The English played a great role in the distribution and development of the game in Europe and around the world. Chovqan came from India to England in the nineteenth century and became very popular, and the addition of new rules promoted the rapid spread of this game in Europe and the USA. English have been responsible for creating name of the game – polo. It was included in the program of the Olympic Games in 1900 in Paris. Five teams from the three countries took part in the competitions.

During the Soviet period, competitions of Chovqan often took place in Karabakh and other regions of Azerbaijan. In Karabakh, Chovqan was popular until the 1980s.
Chovqan was practiced from the end of the ninth to the end of the nineteenth century during various folk holidays, as well as part of the entertainment of the local nobility. From the end of the 19th century, a number of factors influenced its lower popularity, including decrease the number of players and good trainers, urbanization and exodus - pull out of Chovqan players from traditional places of practicing this sport, as well as a serious shortage of Karabakh horses and the liquidation of breeding horses used by Chovqan practitioners. As a result, the number of Chovqan players and the frequency of Chovqan competitions has decreased significantly.

Photo: Polo game (Chovqan) – miniature from Tabriz.ChovqanSource: Л. С. Бретеницкий, Б. В. Веймарн. Искусство Азербайджана IV—XVIII веков. — М., 1976.

Chovqan's practice has been significantly reduced due to the departure of many outstanding trainers over the past 30 years, such as Mahammad Musayev, Isa Suleymanov, Adil Badalov, Akbar Abbasov, Sabir Hasanov, Fikret Huseynov and others. Mahammad Musayev, Fikret Husayn and Isa Suleymanov were among the most enthusiastic trainers of Chovqan, they tried to attract young people, trained them and organized regular competitions. Their departure led to the complete disappearance of the Chovqan teams in Ganja, Karabakh, Khyzy, Shamakhi and Gedabey. In the Soviet period and early post-Soviet times, it was difficult to pay attention to Chovqan, because it was not treated as a heritage. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the abolition of the kolkhoz system, most of the Chovqan players in Ganja, Karabakh, Khyzy, Shamakhi and Gedabey began to migrate massively to urban areas where it was easier to get an education and earn for a living.


Two competing teams of players (called "tagymes") participate on a flat grass field 200 meters long and 120 meters wide. Each team consists of five (rarely six) riders and one in reserve. A team of five players has two defensive players and three attackers. For six players, each team has two people in the back, one in the middle and three strikers. Chovqan is umpire by three referees (main referee and two side referees), usually chosen from among the most experienced players. At the opposite ends of the field, two 3 m wide goals are placed, a half-meter drawn line of the penalty area has 6 m long . Players use specific wooden hammers (chovqans) prepared from elm, pomegranate, mulberry, dogwood or hornbeam. During the game, players try to strike a small (leather or wooden) ball into the opponent's goal with a hammer. The game starts from the center of the pitch or from where the goal was scored. The duration of the game is two halves of 15 minutes with a 10-minute break.
Chovqan competitions are usually accompanied by music performed on folk instruments such as zurna (in the form of a pipe), saz, nagara and def (a kind of drums). This instrumental folk music, called janghi, is played at the beginning and end of the game, and sometimes - after scoring each goal. Janghi musicians are actually folk musicians who are quite numerous in Azerbaijan. Accompanying music, an atmosphere of joy and Christmas (a time when competitions often take place) contribute to the popularization of Chovqan.

Chovqan players and trainers are mostly local farmers who only practice Chovqan as an amateur activity. To participate in the competition, each player must have sufficient skills. Sometimes trainers are also responsible for creating teams. The sport requires a lot of experience and physical strength. It is not easy to sit in the saddle, grab the bridle, lean and try to hit the ball at the same time. The player must feel his unity with the horse to gain full control over the situation. There is no age limit for Chovqan players, as long as they have a good health condition. Chovqan players traditionally wear a large Astrakhan ("shepherd") hat, chukha (outerwear worn on the shoulders), arkhalyg (long tight coat with a short waist and gathered on the belt), belt, special pants, socks and shoes (charygs). In summer, players wear lighter clothes (silk shirts with national ornaments, pants made of delicate materials and light shoes). During the competition, Chovqan players can choose traditional clothes of the same color to show their team affiliation.

Knowledge of Chovqan, its detailed rules, skills and techniques are transmitted by experienced players ("trainers") for beginners verbally, through training conducted among players in local farms and riding facilities. Every future competitor must already be good enough in horse riding before starting training in Chovqan (riding skills are usually passed on to farmers' families). Coaches teach beginners how to play in a team, how to maneuver during the game, better hold the stick, hit, move forward and hold the ball, how to better control the horse and ensure a proper balance of physical strength of both the player and the horse. Since the rider's success also depends on the horse's health, fitness and speed, Chovqan training also includes learning how to care for horses and how to improve riding skills: how to make him move quickly and stop before the ball, how to efficiently turn left and right, how fast return to the starting position.

Chovqan has evolved and developed in close connection with the breeding of Karabakh horses because Karabakh horses are considered physically best suited to Chovqan. The Karabakh breed of horses is distinguished by a compact silhouette, medium height and agility. These horses are not very tall (about 144-154 cm), well-muscled and have strong and short legs. Due to the height of Karabakh horses, Chovqan players can use a stick which is 125-130 cm long. A taller horse would cause his rider to use a longer one, which would technically complicate the game (which is also avoided for safety reasons). Using longer sticks would mean a departure from the traditional Chovqan principles.
The competition takes place in empty grassy fields, and players take care of the horses to avoid injury to animals and degradation of the environment as a whole. The duration of the game (two halves of 15 minutes each) is ideal to avoid excessive horse fatigue.

Current status:

Currently, this sport appears on the occasion of folk holidays, as well as individual interest of enthusiasts of it, mainly once a year during the annual Chovqan competition in Sheki. This competition was initiated by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism as an idea to support Chovqan. In 2005, the first Chovqan competition was organized in Sheki (at a horse-breeding center), the idea was to revive the public interest of this sport by involving other practitioners from various regions of the country as part of the annual competition. Since 2005, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan, in cooperation with its regional representatives and the National Horse Breeding Center, has been organizing the annual Chovqan competition in Sheki under the name "Presidential\Championships of Chovqan". Yanghi musicians also take part. Currently, the competition usually takes place in December, and 16 teams from different regions participate in it - Sheki, Aghdam, Agstafa, Gazakh, Balaken, Zagatala, Gakh, Oguz, Ismayilli, Baku, Yevlakh, Goranboy, Goygol, Barda, Dashkesen and Tovuz . Usually, these competitions congregate dozens of people of all ages who come to watch traditional sport and support their teams.

Sport is practiced, especially by members of the regional Chovqan teams. The most famous are two organizations: KHAA (Karabakh Horses Amateurs Association) and AEF (Equestrian Federation of Azerbaijan). The most experienced players are Alovsat Rajabli, Tamerlan Mehdizade, Nuraddin Atayev, Mushviq Mahmudov, Elvin Islamov, Elnur Husejnow, Kheyal Adburahmanov, Ilgar Mammadov, Etibar Mammadov, Mammad Aliyev and Natiq Orujov. It is worth mentioning other distinguished players and trainers, e.g. Rashad Samadov, Shamseddin Atayev, Ramil Nadirov and Namiq Orujov. Chovqan practitioners can also be found among members of the Karabakh and Eurasian Horses Association, as well as equestrian clubs such as "Gunay", "Sarhadchi" and "Murad".

Even if the organization of annual Chovqan competitions attracts the interest of local audiences and the media, participation statistics are not fully satisfactory.
According to the Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Azerbaijan, in 2010 the group of Chovqan practitioners in Azerbaijan numbered only 137 people (including trainers). Updated data provided by the regional departments of the Ministry at the beginning of 2012 show that this number has decreased to 118 people.
Such experienced Chovqan trainers as Rashad Samadov, Elvin Islamov (Gazakh), Elnur Huseynov and Natiq Orujov (Sheki) organize Chovqan training in various public and equestrian centers. However, they note that the interest of young people is decreasing and it is difficult to organize Chovqan teams. At the same time, coaches point out that many potential players avoid playing Chovqan because they believe that game security must be enhanced. The availability of training information is also low, and the training accessories and clothing of the Chovqan player are often quite expensive, which is also a big problem for players.

Players believe that an important threat Chovqan is currently facing is the rapid decline of the Karabakh horse race - the best for this game. It was caused by a number of events in the 20th century, such as the closing of the horse-breeding farm in Khan and the Agdam hops in Karabakh, mechanization of work and agriculture, and (as a consequence) a sharp decrease in demand for horses, reduction of grazing areas and very poor veterinary services. At the same time, a number of Soviet government activities in 1930-1950, namely collectivization and Soviet tax policy (aimed at reducing the number of horses) caused almost complete neglect of horse breeding in Karabakh. Another factor was the lack of respect for the features of the breeds in the selection because this breed was too often crossed with Arabian and Dilbaz races. As a result, today the purebred Karabakh horses in Azerbaijan are estimated at 300; about 20% of them are used in Chovqan. The shortage of Karabakh horses available to Chovqan forced players to use mixed breed horses, which make a longer stick required, thus exposing the rider to danger and departing from traditional practice.

Photo: Karabakh horse.
Chovqan horseSource:

The liquidation of the Agdam hop factory in Karabakh in 1993 had a huge impact on Chovqan practice because it was the center of Karabakh horse breeding in their historical surroundings. The factory was then settled in the Barda region, but the agro-ecological conditions of the latter are not the same. In addition, Barda (compared to Agdam) does not have so many Chovqan fields available because local horse club/breeding centers have not created such fields.
The number of Chovqan practitioners dropped from 137 to 118 in 2012 compared to 2010. However, since then it has been showing increasing dynamics. In 2013, the number of players, coaches and referees Chovqan was estimated at 255 people, and in 2017 at 280 people. In addition to 16 existing teams, in 2013-2017 new ones were created, e.g. "Polad", "Govsar", "Serhedchi", "Lachin". Janghi musicians are also enjoying increasing popularity in competitions.

Importance (for practitioners, communities etc.):

Chovqan strengthens the sense of identity rooted in nomadic culture and associated with the perception of the horse as an integral part of everyday life. Chovqan's detailed rules, skills and techniques are passed from experienced players to beginners through collective training.
For both the public and players, Chovqan is part of the national living heritage. It strengthens the sense of identity, rooted in the nomadic culture, in which one of the important aspects is the perception of the horse as an integral part of everyday life. For Chovqan practitioners, the game is not just a physical exercise inherited from their ancestors: they say that the game strengthens the sense of cultural belonging, makes them lead a healthy lifestyle, achieve harmony with horses and develop determination in individual development.
Being constantly practiced and based on the principles of equality, Chovqan serves to connect people, teaches teamwork and helps to respect the success of others. As Chovqan practitioners note, it is important to understand that in Chovqan, the rider and his horse complement each other and form a unity. The problem arising from one part of this unity is already a threat to the whole.

In the years 2007–2008, the Azerbaijani government passed an act on the development of horse breeding and adopted the "National Horse Breeding Program", which qualified the Karabakh horse breed as endangered. The program provides long-term measures to protect horses in Karabakh as a race. These measures include pedigree analysis, gene pooling and selection, and prohibit their export or sale abroad. One of the expected results of the Karabakh horse breeding program is to increase their number by 30% in ten years, as well as to increase their participation in traditional equestrian sports.
The protection of this traditional sport is also demonstrated by the classification of Chovqan as a living cultural tradition and its inclusion in an action plan for the protection of the intangible cultural heritage in Azerbaijan (ordinance No. 259 in 2009).
On April 28, 2010, based on inventory data provided by the Chovqan group of practitioners, this traditional sport was included in the Intangible Cultural Heritage Register, prepared and maintained by Azerbaijan's Ministry of Culture and Tourism, under registration number FT010100007.

Chovqan's inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List has been received with great enthusiasm by many communities in Azerbaijan. This increased interest of the sport, as well as a sense of identity, cultural belonging and recognition of the nomadic culture. This breed of horses in Karabakh is perceived as an integral part of this culture.
This inscribing was received with great enthusiasm also because it is seen as a symbol of the cultural reunion with the occupied territories, many people believe that sport was born in Karabakh. In this sense, this process strengthened the sense of cultural belonging of practitioners, many of them considered the need to leave Karabakh as a forced eviction.

Chovkan UNESCO sertificate

Chovqan audience is increasing because the sport is gaining more popularity among young people. In 2014, the total number of spectators was estimated at 5,000-6,500, in 2016 Amateurs Karabakh Horses Association reported about 7,500-8,500 spectators coming to watch the Chovqan competition the following year.
The shortage of horses in Karabakh, best adapted to Chovqan and valued for strength and agility, remains one of the major challenges for the development of the sport. Despite the efforts of public institutions and NGOs, Karabakh horses are still very difficult to breed, which is important for keeping the breed clean.


In the 1960s, some experienced Chovqan practitioners began promoting this sport by organizing and participating in competitions at the national level. These activities lasted only a few years.
The Azerbaijan Equestrian Federation (AEF) was founded in 1996, and the Karabakh Horses Amateurs Association (KHAA) in 2006, where Chovqan practitioners are a key group, which ensures the continuity of its activities.
The main goal of Chovqan players from both organizations was to gather, on an amateur basis, players from neighboring regions around Sheki who are still practicing Chovqan and organizing competitions (regardless of the age of the players). An important aspect of organizations' activities is also passing on the Chovqan tradition by organizing training in local horse breeding centers (in total there are 4 centers).
In addition to KHAA and AEF activities, many experienced players from Chovqan have initiated their own training sessions. In Gazakh and Sheki, trainers like Rashad Samadov and Elvin Islamov organize group sessions for young Chovqan players.

Karabakh Horses’ Amateurs Association
144 A Azadlig avenue, Baku, AZ1106
Tel. (+99412) 4998622
Fax (+99412) 4998624
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Azerbaijan Equestrian Federation
Bina settlement, Mardakan highway, Bina Equestrian Center, Baku AZ 1045, Azerbaijan
Tel. (+99 412) 565-31-51
Fax (+99 412) 565-31-52
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sarhadchi Equestrian Centre
Novkhani settlement, 2017
Baku, Caucasus
1119 Azerbaijan
+ 994 12 448-20-17

Sources of information :

● Çövkan oyunu (yarış qaydaları) (The Chovqan Game (traditional game rules)), Kirovabad, 1960.
● Akif Aliyev “Azərbaycam Milli İdman oyunlarının tarixi” (“History of traditional games of Azerbaijan”), Baku, 2001
● X. Rajabli, A.Orujov, E.Gadirov and others “Qarabağ cinsli atların Dövlət Damazlıq Kitabı” (State Gene Pool Book of Horses of Karabakh Breeds ) Baku, 2006.
● Hajibala Agayev “Azərbaycan Milli xalq oyunları” (National games of Azerbaijan), Baku, 1992
● Dadashzade Mammad “Azərbaycan xalqının orta əsr mənəvi mədəniyyəti” (Spiritual culture of the people of Azerbaijan in the Middle Ages), Bakı, 1985
● A. Sh. Hashimov, F.V. Sadiqov “Azərbaycan xalq pedaqogikası” (Azerbaijan folk pedagogic), Bakı, 1993
● Fikret Hüseynov “İgidlik və gözəllik oyunları” (Bravery and beauty games), Bakı, 1966
● Fikret Hüseynov “Azərbaycan atçıları və atüstü milli oyunlar” (Azerbaijani Horsemen and National Horse Riding Games), Ecology printing house, Ganja, 1998.
● Kh. Agayeva, 1976, “Gənclər at çapmağı sevirlər” (Youth is good at galloping), İdman newspaper, N 55
● A. Guliyev, 1970, “Cıdır meydanında” (“On the racing field”), Sovet kəndi newspaper, N 76, 30 June, page 1
● Parviz Aliyev, 1983, “Yürüş ənənəvi olacaq” (“Competition will be legendary”), İdman newspaper, N 123, 14 October
● Nizami Gəncəvi “Xosrov və Şirin” poeması – the Khosrov and Shirin Poem of Nizami Ganjavi
● Firdowsi Zamanov, 1972, “Qır atın şöhrətini yaşadaq” (Let us keep the rural fame alive), Kommunist newspaper, N 226, 26 September
● Ahmad Isayev, 2004, “At belində keçən ömür” (Live spent on a horse), N 58, Azerbaycan newspaper, 7 September
● Sabutay, 2008, “Çövkən - ərənlərin oyunudur” (Chovken: a game for the brave ones), Medeniyyet journal, 25 December
● Jeyhun Zarbaliyev, 2011, “Çövkən: at belində şücaət” (Chovken: courage of the horse-rider), Medeniyyet journal, 11 May



Chundan Vallam (India)

Name of sport (game): Chundan Vallam
Name in native language: Chundan Vallam ("Beaked Boat", Malayalam ചുണ്ടൻ വളളം)
Place of practice (continent, state, nation):

Kerala, India


Chundan Vallam originated in the 14th century during a war between feudal kingdoms and the kingdom Chembakasseri wasn’t doing too well in this war. So King Devanarayan of Chembakasseri consulted the ancient texts of Sthapathya Veda, a form of traditional architecture linking people to the buildings which they occupy, and thus the King came up with the idea of Chundan Vallam. These massive canoes were designed to hold over 100 paddler-warriors and hold cannons. The ancient design of these boats has survived the centuries as they are still built to the same blueprint over 700 years ago. Overtime, the main use of the boats has moved away from the traditional naval warfare purposes to more of a cultural event, and they no longer carry cannons. 


Each snake boat belongs to a village along the banks of the river Pampa. Every year the boats are oiled mainly with fish oil, coconut shell, and carbon, mixed with eggs to keep the wood strong and the boat slippery in the water. The village carpenter carries out annual repairs and people take pride in their boat, which is named after and represents their village.

Constructed according to specifications taken from the Sthapathya Veda, an ancient treatise for the building of wooden boats, these boats vary from 100 to 138 feet in length. With the rear portion rising to a height of about 20 feet, and a long tapering front portion, it resembles a snake with its hood raised. Hulls are built of planks precisely 83 feet in length and six inches wide. The boats are a good example of ancient vishwakarma' prowess in naval architecture.

chundan vallam boat1

Traditionally a boat will be commanded by a village leader (kaarnavan or karanaadhan) with first adanayampu, and under him there will be three main paddlers who control the movement of the boat with a 12-foot-long (3.7 m) main rudder-oar (adanayampu). Sitting two to a row along the length of the boat, there will be 64 paddlers, representing 64 art forms (or on occasion 128 paddlers). They row in rhythm of the vanchipattu ('boat song'). There will be around 25 singers in a row at the middle between the paddlers. In the middle of the second half of the boat is a platform for eight people to stand from where the cantor will lead the song. They represent the Ashtadikpalakas (Devas or gods who guard the eight directions).

chundan vallam boat

There are several sizes of boat, and there are often teams of over 100 people. The majority of teammates are paddlers, starting off in single file at the narrow bow of the boat, then double file near the front and the stern. The paddlers in the middle are separated by the central fire platform, which would hold a cannon during battle. Today, a couple men stand on the fire platform, beating it with poles, and surrounded by others singing the Vanchippattu, traditional folk songs about paddling, life and the gods. The beat of the poles and rhythm of the Vanchippattu keep the paddlers in time, while it is at the tail where the bot keeps going in the right direction. The boats are commandeered by a chief, who occupies the highest position on the tail, flanked by a team of Amarackars (helmsmen) who steer the boat to victory.

chundan vallam boat2

Current status:

The Aranmula Boat Race takes place at Aranmula, India near a temple dedicated to Lord Krishna and Arjuna. Thousands of people gather on the banks of the river Pampa to watch the snake boat races. Nearly 30 snake boats or "chundan vallams" participate in the festival. The oarsmen sing traditional boat songs and wear white dhotis and turbans. The golden lace at the head of the boat, the flag and the ornamental umbrella at the center make it a show of pageantry too.

Today Chundan Vallam tradition has strong religious and spiritual significance and the boats are often worshipped like deities. To this day, all people on board must be barefoot, and only men are allowed to touch the boat.

Importance (for practitioners, communities etc.):

Chundan Vallam, also known as snake boat racing is intertwined into community and culture of the backwater state of Kerala, India. With teams usually consisting over 100 people, oftentimes 150 people, this is considered as the world’s biggest team sport. Common with most paddling sports, the timing of the stroke is at upmost importance as it only takes one person’s lag to to put out the timing of the whole boat, given the massive teams, all of whom must have perfect timing, this challenge is multiplied by every paddler and drummer being off the mark.

"The ferocity of your collective spirit pulses throughout your vessel with enough force to make Karthikeya, the Hindi god of war tremble in his boots. The beating of the fire platform pulses your through veins to every appendage of your body. Driving your paddle in perfect unison with your 127 teammates, propelling you boat forward and faster to the finish line. The pride of your village rides on your boat, they need this, they need a good harvest this year."

Sources of information :

Making Of Kerala Chundan Vallam -
Nehru Trophy -
Chundan Vallam -
Chundan Vallam -






Deng-gun or La-gun (China)

Name of sport (game): Deng-gun or La-gun (literally means “Stick-pulling”)
Name in native language: 蹬棍、拉棍
Place of practice (continent, state, nation):



Deng-gun or La-gun is a traditional sport/game in China. Its origin is unknown but some people believes it is from ancient military training.


Deng-gun or La-gun is a sport mainly focused on strength and endurance. It is played by chinese minorities but now it is played in other some similar sport could be found in other countries, e.g. Mas-Wrestling in Russia.

Basic Rules:
1. It is usually played between two players. A stick about 40-80cm in length is used for the game.
2. During an informal game, the court could be on grass, dirt or a cement floor. For a formal game, the court is indoor and cushions are sometimes used to put on floor in order to protect player’s clothes.
3. Before the game, players should sit on the floor of corresponding court. Then they put their feet against their opponent’s. The stick is held by both hands. One player hold the inside part and the other player hold outside part.
4. When they are ready, the referee whistles or claims start in words.
5. Two players now try to pull the opponent off the ground. When someone’s buttock leaves the ground or lose control of the stick, he/she loses.
6. A match usually consists of three sets. Whoever wins two sets wins the match.
7. Making legs apart or lying-down is not allowed during game. When it happened for the first time, the referee will give the player a warning. If it happened for the second time, players will be claimed for losing match.
8. During a formal game, players will be against the other in the same weight category. After a set, players exchange their seats.


Current status:

Practiced sport.

Importance (for practitioners, communities etc.):

It is an effective way to exercise waist strength. And it improves someone’s endurance.


Buzkashi (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and northern Afghanistan)

Name of sport (game): Buzkashi or Oglak Tartis
Name in native language: Persian: بزکشی (bozkaszī), Tadzhik: бузкашӣ (buzkaszī), translation: "goat pulling"
Place of practice (continent, state, nation):

Part of Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and northern Afghanistan), mainly in mountainous areas.


Sport was created in the 13th century. Most likely in Mongolia during the Chyngis Khan's reigns. In the past, very often a wolf had kidnapped a sheep from a herd. Then the shepherds start a pursuit to catch the animal, when they bag a wolf, they cut its throat. In that, they earn respect among other shepherds and interest among the fair sex. Most likely, due to the lack of wolves, goats are used for the game.
When in 1996 the Taliban began to rule in Afghanistan, buzkashi became forbidden. After the fall of the regime in 2002, the game became legal again.
Around the most important royal buzish competitions taking place in Kabul, the story of Joseph Kessel's book "Riders" (French: Les Cavaliers) and the films based on it from 1956 and 1971 takes place. Moreover,Buzkashi was featured in Rambo III (1988) when Sylvester Stallone was actually seen playing the game.
In the 1940s, a group of men in Cleveland, Ohio introduced a version of the game in the United States. They called the game “Kav Kaz.” It only lasted for less than a decade.


Two teams of riders on horseback take part in the game. In unofficial games, there is no predetermined number of players, whereby additional players can join in the playing team. The task of the players of each team is to pick up a body of a goat with cut off head which lies in the middle of the field on marked circle (nowadays instead of the body of a previously killed animal, a loaded bag made of lambskin or calf is used), transported around the field and dropped to "Goal", which are marked by circles on the earth. The task of the opponents is to take "the ball" away from the opponents, transport it around the field and throw it into the circle of rivals.Sometimes in order to make the game difficult, the previously prepared bag is soaked for several days in ice water, making it heavier and harder to maintain.
There are hardly any rules in the game. It is allowed to beat a horse or rider, kept (often in teeth) with small whips (knouts), pushing and knocking off a horse. There are no reminders or penalties. In the game, players must demonstrate exceptional physical fitness, dexterity and cunning.
A buzkashi player is called a Chapandaz; it is mainly believed in Afghanistan that a skillful Chapandaz is usually in his forties. This is based on the fact that the nature of the game requires its player to undergo severe physical practice and observation. Similarly horses used in buzkashi also undergo severe training and due attention. A player does not necessarily own the horse. Horses are usually owned by landlords and highly rich people wealthy enough to look after and provide for training facilities for such horses. However a master Chapandaz can choose to select any horse and the owner of the horse usually wants his horse to be ridden by a master Chapandaz as a winning horse also brings pride to the owner. The horses are more valuable in a game of Buzkashi than the player himself. In some cases, a horse may be trained for up to 5 years before playing its first game., They can protect the rider with their own body, when this falls during the fight.


Buzkashi in Afghanistan
Buzkashi is played in Afghanistan in two types:
Team play :
Most famous team from each province will be selected for these competitions and on the field their will be 6 horses from each side on the competition day the game is played for 3 period of 25 minutes.
Group play :
In this type their will be more than 50 horses on the field, and every body will score for their own and take the prize, the owner of horses will gave some money or anything precious for player to encourage them.
Field in Afghanistan has 2 circle for putting the selected animal, and one circle for taking and also a flag on another side of the playing field.
Players must take the animal form circle and go to flag and after turning around the flag then back to the putting circle and put the animal.
Buzkashi is played on winter time on cold weather usually on Friday and on Monday’s small players play on field.
The biggest event of Buzkashi every year held in Mazar e sharif center of Balkh province by the name of ( Mila e gol e sorkh ) which means the red flower party in last days of March, in this event teams come from all over of Afghanistan and try to be the winner.


For official games (eg for tournaments in Kabul), the Afghanistan National Olympic Committee has established the following rules and provided penalties:

-The pitch has shape of square, each side is 400 meters long.
-Each team consists of 10 riders.
-Only 5 players can play in each half.
-Half takes 45 minutes.
-The break between takes 15 minutes.
-A judge is watching over the game.
The different types of Buzkashi: Tudabarai & Qarajai
In Tudabarai, in order to score, the rider must obtain possession of the carcass and then carry it away from the starting circle in any direction. The rider must stay free and clear of the other riders.


In Qarajai, the task is much more complex. The player must carry the calf around a marker, and then return the carcass to the team’s designated scoring circle.


Current status:

Sport is practiced all the time. Official matches are organized due to various national and other holidays, for example on the occasion of the first day of spring, New Year or Independence Day.
Unofficial matches are organized by ordinary people, e.g. due to circumcision of a son or a wedding. The organizer usually provides rewards for all participants of the game. The richer the family is, the better rewards are, so sometimes you can win a camel, laptop or just money. Information about them [about matches] is given in secret and carried by word of mouth.
There are some organizations, like in Afghanistan there is the Buzkashi Federation.
Every two years, the Nomads Games Festival takes place. Sport is also dynamically developing in other Asian countries. In Turkey, there are also several teams playing with buzkashi.

Sources of information :

G. Whitney Azoy, Buzkashi: Game and Power in Afghanistan, Third Edition. Waveland Press 2011
Miriam L. Stratton, Guests in the Land of Buskashi: Afghanistan Revisited, 1st Book Library, 2002
Hans Heiner, Teona Buhr, Buzkashi, Images from the Central Asian Horse Game near Samarkand, 2011
Fergus M. Bordewich, Buzkashi‐It Is Probably the Toughest Game in the World,
Buzkaszi – Najdziwniejszy sport świata (article in Polish) -

Buskashi (video) -
Buskashi (video) - Buzkashi Explained: Mysterious Rules & Traditions (article) -



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