Thirikkal race (Sri Lanka)

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

Sri Lanka

Thoda (Pradesh, India)

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

Pradesh, India


This remnant of martial culture is popular in the districts of Shimla, Sirmaur and Solan. Probably best described as a group demonstration sport, "thoda" is the art of archery. It takes its name from the circular wooden ball used to replace the deadly arrowhead. Bows ranging in size from three and a half to six feet are used in its practice. The archers divide themselves into groups called the "Saathis" and the "Pashi," who are reputed to represent the descendants of the Pandavas and the Kauravas who in the days of the Mahabharata frequently battled in the Valleys of Kulu and Manali. Competition takes place yearly on Baisakhi Day (April 13th and 14th which honors the Goddesses Durga and Mashoo). The event takes place on a marked fairground as both groups face each other at a distance of approximately ten yards. Each group in turn fires its arrows, targeting the opponents' leg area beneath the knee. Points are detracted for hits to other areas. The defenders may dance about, side step and kick their legs in an effort to foil accurate aim. All the while, observers cheer from the sidelines while participating teams sing and play martial music.

Vat (Vietnam)

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


Vovinam Viêt-vo-Dao (Vietnam)

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



Vovinam is a genuine Vietnamese Martial Art (“Vo” means “Martial Arts”; “Vinam” stands for “Vietnam”).
By far Vovinam is Vietnam’s most popular traditional form of Martial Arts. The Martial Art of Vovinam was founded by Master Nguyen Loc in 1938. He researched other Martial Arts with the intention to combine specific aspects from each into one style that would be suitable to the physique of the Vietnamese people: thin, but fast, flexible and enduring.
Since 1964, the title “Viet Vo Dao” has been added, to become “Vovinam – Viet Vo Dao”. Viet Vo Dao stands for the philosophy on which Vietnamese Martial Arts leans, a/o the principle of Yin and Yang, or soft and hard techniques. In 1939, the first public demonstration of Vovinam took place in Ha Noi; subsequently clubs were established in all regions of northern and central Vietnam. Master Le Sang - successor of Master Nguyen Loc - organized a meeting with southern masters in Saigon with the view of spreading Vietnamese martial arts worldwide. In 1973 the “French Vovinam - Viet Vo Dao Federation” was established, gradually evolving into the “International Vovinam - Viet Vo Dao Federation”, which finally became the “Vietnamese Martial Arts World Federation”.


Along with martial arts philosophies and health maintenance techniques, Vovinam – Viet Vo Dao (VVVD) provides a system of martial arts techniques that encompasses various forms of self-defence that are very effective in real life combat. The goals of VVVD are to:
i) Preserve and develop the martial arts of Vietnam, applying “soft and hard core-development”;
ii) Research and innovate new martial arts’ techniques to improve VVVD technical resources;
iii) Train students on Strength, Techniques, and Philosophy to develop a solid body, strong endurance against obstacles and disease (Strength), self-defence and just causes (Techniques), and a rational mind, invincible will and gallant character (Philosophy). Students will be living in a self-disciplined and forgiving way and become model citizens, serving oneselves, one’s family, one’s state, and mankind.
Practitioners wear blue uniforms and earn belts just as in other traditional martial arts. A student begins with a light blue belt, same colour as the uniform. When VVVD student pass their first exam, the belts are changed into a dark blue colour, which stands for hope - the hope of being successful in learning VVVD. Upon positively completing the following 3 exams, yellow stripes are added to the blue belt. The 3rd yellow stripe is followed by the yellow belt: the student has reached instructor's level.
Higher levels include the red and white belts; the red stands for blood and fire, symbolizing a fighting spirit. Finally, white stands for infiniteness and bones, symbols of the depth of the spirit. The white belt designates the master to the absolute mastery of Vovinam - Viet Vo Dao.
It’s a bit ironic that Vovinam - Viet Vo Dao is getting popular in Europe, especially in France, since the founder developed this martial arts as a means to train Vietnamese youth against French colonialism. However, today the sport is also put into effect in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Belgium, Switzerland and other countries.

Current status:


Importance (for practitioners, communities etc.):

Nowadays, VVVD is very popular in Viet Nam, from big cities to small villages. It’s cheap to register for a class anywhere. Students can practice with and without weapons while in combat or in daily life. It includes training of the body as well as the mind - the fighting spirit, courage, tenacity, fairness, modesty, and tolerance. Above all, the morality involved in VVVD training and the way it teaches how to apply techniques shape the students’ character.


World Vovinam Federation - WVVF -



Wooden shoes race (China)

Name of sport (game): Wooden shoes race
Name in native language: 板鞋竞速(Ban Xie Jing Su)
Place of practice (continent, state, nation):

Guangxi, China


This sport was invented in 1500s, during Ming Dynasty. It was originally used to train soldiers to improve their cooperation in Guangxi. Then it becomes popular around other parts of China as an entertainment activity.


This sport usually covers several pairs of wooden shoes/long ski boards. Each pair of wooden shoes is 100 cm in length, 9 cm in width and 3 cm in thickness. It has velcro or nylon tapes for fastening athletes’ feet on it.

Wooden Shoe Racing is usually played in three forms: speed contest / Relay Race/obstacle race


(For Speed Contest)
1. Speed Contest is usually played in a stadium. It uses normal athletic track.
2. Three players form a team and get ready for race.
3. On “Ready, set, go” mark, athletes must compete a distance of racing(60m or 100m)as fast as possible.
4. The first team crossing finishing line wins.
5. If the team falls down or their feet leave wooden shoes during the race, they must stop and make their feet attach to nylon tapes on wooden shoes again. Only then could they complete the rest of the race.
6. They must keep in their own race track during the race.
7. False start, running on other teams’ track or someone’s feet without keeping touching wooden shoes during race will cause an invalid result.

(For Relay Race)
Rules similar to speed race, but distance of race is longer(200 m) and each team usually has two or groups for relay race.

(For obstacle race)
Rules similar to speed race, but more interesting because players have to finish several tasks while they are running on wooden shoes. For example, bypassing cones or stepping over balloons, etc.

Current status:

Practiced sport. It is also a formal event of Traditional Sports Games For Ethnic Groups in China.

Importance (for practitioners, communities etc.):

It improves cooperation, agility and determination of players.


Tikhy or Tikhee (Laos)

Name of sport (game): Tikhy or Tikhee
Name in native language: Tikhy or Tikhee; also called Lao hockey
Place of practice (continent, state, nation):



Tikhy is a traditional sport (similar to hockey) and is a distinctive part of an annual That Luang Festival, being an inseparable part of the celebration. The That Luang Festival is one of the most significant Buddhist festivals in Laos and takes place during lunar eclipse which occurs in October or November (depending of the cycle of lunar calendar). It is a joyous event, which is not only attended by town residents but also numerous tourists who visit Vientiane at that time.
Pha That Luang or gold-covered Buddhist Stupa is a national symbol as well as the most important religious monument in Laos which also serves a purpose of holding the most important Festival in Vientiane Boun That Luang.

Pha That LuangPha Than Luang

The first event during the festival is called a "Wax Castle" procession surrounded by colourful candles, which takes place in Wat Si Muang. In the morning of the third day of the festival, people gather in the gold-covered Stupa before sunrise, in order to secure space in the monastery, where they prepare to offer an offering and a prayer. Thousands of people gather to pay respects near That Luang. A lot of participants wear their best clothes as well as various Lao outfits characteristic of ethnic groups. Both men and women wear their traditional clothes called sarong for men and sinh for women. During the festival people dance, play traditional music and sing traditional songs while gathering near the Stupa. At 7 am starts an Alms Giving Ceremony "taak Baat", when monks collect the offering from the praying people. After "taak Baat", the believers come into the Stupa in order to pray while lighting candles and incenses.
The festival offers an occasion for many Laotians to return to their home country and visit their families to spend time together during the traditional picnic. At that time a traditional game called Tikhy takes place. Some people derive the sport from history or even a legend telling about the confrontation between the native people with the influx of administrative power symbolizing a new royal and religious order.
Some people say that in the past horse races were being organized during the festival. The festival ends together with the full moon, when the participants gather aroung the Pha That Luang for the last time, surrounded by the procession candles, holding armfuls of flowers, incenses and candles. The end of the festival is very often celebrated with fireworks.

tikhy in 1900Tikhi in 1900. Reproduced from Alfred Raquez, Pages laotiennes: Le- Haut-Laos, Le Moyen-Laos, Le Bas-Laos (Hanoi: F.H. Schneider, 1902)


Traditional game of "tikhy" or "tikhee" is played between a team consisted of festival participants (local people) and a team consisted of civil servants, which in the past were dressed in red. The game starts with a procession, before the game starts, master of ceremonies leads the local people, holding a magbeng, to bring the ball (Louk khee) from the Town Hall where it is being stored. The modern ball is made of bamboo roots and has a spherical shape and golden colour. After that, the whole procession gather near That Luang Stupa and circle it three times. Then they bring the ball to the pitch while everyone gathers to watch the match. This is a variation of Lao hockey, in which the participants use a bamboo sticks to direct the ball into the opposite goal. It requires a certain set of skills, as the bamboo sticks are not in a perfect shape and the ball is not perfectly round and smooth. Each team consists of 50 members, half of which plays in the first part while the other halt plays in the second part. Each of them lasts 25 minutes.
Winning the game means that the people will not suffer from hunger, while luck and prosperity will be with them for the whole year. The game is being held in a rather positive spirit in order to enhance the relation between local people and civil servants. The participants are cheered on by the crowd, which does not strain from dances and singing.

stamp laos hockey

stamp laos tikhy


Current status:

The sport is being practised.

Sources of information :

Tikhy -
Tikhy -


Wushu (China)


International Wushu Federation
Web: Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Lausanne | Tel: +41 21 312 2583 | Fax: +41 21 312 2587
Avenue de Rhodanie 58, 1007 Lausanne, Switzerland

Beijing | Tel: +86 10 87774492 | Fax: +86 10 5962 0989
9 Huaweili, Chaoyang District, 100021 Beijing, China

logo IWUF


Yabusame (Japan)

Name of sport (game): Yabusame
Name in native language: 流鏑馬 (Japanese)
Place of practice (continent, state, nation):

This sport discipline is practiced in Japan. Performances of it are occasionally shown in other countries


The roots of this sport date back to prehistory. It was established in Jōmon era. According to historians, year 12,000 BCE was the beginning and year 300 BCE was the ending of the era. The shape of the bow, that is used nowadays, was created during Yayoi era (300 BCE – 300 CE).
Until the 4th century archers were moving on foot, then they started horseback riding. After few hundred years later samurais, who were at most 10% of Japanese population, began dueling in a way similar to today’s Yabusame – each of the samurai rode closer to the other rider in order to shoot him with at least three arrows.
At the end of the 12th century in Japan’s history began another important period for Yabusame. Kamakura era, apart from socio-political transformations closely related to the emerging feudalism and reducing emperor’s role to ceremonial functions, also began the tradition of demonstrating archery techniques on a horse before the government. It was also an exercise preparing for a possible war.
Later, this sport discipline lost its popularity. It experienced a big reform only in the year 1724. It was then that Ogasawara Heibei Tsuneharu led by Shogun Yoshimuna developed a new Yabusame style: combining the traditions and textbooks of both schools of this sport. Both schools were created in the 9th and 12th centuries.
What is interesting, this discipline was also used for ritual purposes. It was demonstrated during prayers for healing, repelling evil, or the birth of children.
After the abdication of the last ruler of the Tokugawa Shogunate (1867) and the restoration of the Empire, the sport lost its popularity once more. It was only after the Second World War that Yabusame returned and now is an essential element of the Japanese tradition.


Archers are dressed in traditional costumes from the Kamakura period – a time during which this sport was actually created. The sport begins with a ritual prayer. The leader of the game places an arrow on the altar in order to drive away evil spirits, after short introductory ceremonies. He sacrifices that arrow to the gods. Later, one of the players stands in front of the main place of the celebration. He says a prayer intended to bring peace and abundant crops to the country.
Next, on the altar an olive branch is offered, and the leader of prayer gives one of the archers a folded arrow, which will be used again at the next ceremony. The speech ends with a few hits on the gong. After leaving the temple, players go on the game field.
A further prayer takes place before reaching the destination. The archer, being already on his horse, tightens the bowstring, directing the arrow towards the sky and then towards the ground, which reminds a deep bow. These activities are performed for peace and prosperity.
The procession, leaded by the person with the olive branch, passes along the track of the game, which is about 218 meters long (2 Japanese chōs). A fence is placed on both sides of it. On the left, about 5 meters from it, at a height of 2 meters, 3 square targets with a length of 35-50 centimeters, spaced apart at equal distances, are installed. These distances, however, can change, because they are dependent on Yabusame schools and rules applied in a given region.
First, there are several test runs, during which no shields are shot. Then the main game begins. Two people standing at the beginning and the end of the track give the signal to start by waving fans. While horses’ gallop, riders have to hit the targets. If they succeed, the player sitting at the target raises a white fan.
Over the time, the targets were changed to wheels with a diameter of 10 centimeters. Inside there is confetti that shoots from it after being hit by an arrow. Some Yabusame schools, however, do not have this kind of targets.
Here and there after shooting all three shields archers receive a white robe, which they put on their shoulders.

Current status:

Yabusame is not often practiced. Mostly only on chosen, festive days, as well as during visits of heads of state, or other high-ranking officials from other countries.
Yabusame performances take place in various districts of Japan on different days. However, in many places in this country this discipline is practiced on September 15, on Shintō festival Rei-sai, during which there is pleading for further prosperity from the gods. Rei-sai is one of the three most important celebrations throughout the year.
In addition, some regions demonstrate this discipline on Sunday, which is near April 15, May 4, May 5, August 1, September 9, November 3, and several other days.
There are no regular games. The position of the archer in Yabusame is a highly honorable matter. Although only men practiced this sport, for some time also women become archers – they compete with each other, presenting this discipline.


Ogasawara-ryū – school founded in 1187. (Japanese) (English)

The Japan Equestrian Archery Association (Japanese) (English)

20-43 Onarimachi, Kamakura, Kanagawa-ken
Japan, 248-0012

Sources of information : – report from men’s games. – report from women’s games. 



Yajia (Tibet)

Name of sport (game): Yajia
Name in native language: 押加 – from Tibetan – „Pulling like an elephant”
Place of practice (continent, state, nation):

Tibet Autonomous Region,China


More than 1000 years.


Yajia (Tibetan-style Tug-of-war) is a traditional game and sport of Tibet. It originated from Tibetan traditional spirit - to be more specific from Tibetan belief that elephant is a holy messenger from God. Therefore, Tibetans imitate actions of elephants which they think may bring them good luck.

1) Everybody can take a part in the event. Just before the match, contestants have to weigh themselves in order to compete with opponents of the same weight category. Only then match can be fair.
2) If it is held in an open space, a court with 9x2m is assembled. Two finishing lines are drawn 2.4 metres apart with the point zero in the middle of the court.

pole rywalizacji

3) A 6 metre-long ribbon is attached to the necks of two contestants, then put the way it could get through between their legs and its central mark (usually yellow ribbon or knot) could be positioned right above the point zero.
4) The target for both contestants is to drag the yellow ribbon across the finishing line. The first to do so wins a set. A match usually consists of three sets and whoever wins two of them wins the match.
5) If neither of contestants can drag the ribbon across the line in 90 seconds, the set is considered to be a draw. In such a situation contestants take a 2-minute break and try again.
6) If after 3 sets contestants are in draw situation, another set is added to the match. Time limit of the extra set is 60 seconds. During an extra set:
a) Contestants can win having the yellow ribbon dragged over the finish line
b) Wins the contestant who dragged the yellow ribbon closer to his finish line (if neither of them made it across)
7)Participants cannot pull the ribbon with their hands and have to stay in a kneeling position. Otherwise they can be penalized or even disqualified.

Current status:

Practiced sport

Importance (for practitioners, communities etc.):

It is an events of Minority Traditional Sport Games in China.
Beside Tibetans it is common for other minorities to take a part in Yajia.


Beijing Association For Traditional Sports of Nationalities
Address:He Ping Li Xi Jie,Dongcheng District,Beijing,China 100010
Tel:+86 10 64281673
Email:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



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