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What happens when hacky sack and volleyball collide in an ultimate 3-on-3 matchup? Something called sepak takraw, that’s what, which originated in Malaysia back in the 15th century. And it is one of the more aggressively strange sports we’ve seen in awhile.
Using a rattan ball, players are only allowed to use their feet, knees, chest or head for contact—the achieving of which entails the sort of gymnastic feats that might make your groin ache. Legs are flying everywhere, each player doing their best roundhouse kicks while getting at a ball a little bit bigger than a grapefruit. Unfortunately, sepak takraw is not for everyone, especially guys with tight hips and an inability to do sharp, spastic ballet-like high kicks. (We mentioned bringing the ICY HOT, right.)
But it’s not all fun and games. Sepak takraw’s origin can be traced as far back as this charming tale about two young men playing back in the 1400s (one of whom was the son of a sultan). The sultan’s son didn’t like it so much when the other young man accidentally kicked the ball into his head and knocked off his headgear. Feeling powerful, imperial, and rather pissed off, the sultan’s son stabbed and killed is playmate (naturally!). In retaliation, the murdered boy’s friends when to kill the sultan’s son but were stopped by the boy’s own father. As a punishment, the sultan’s kid had to go rule elsewhere. Bummer.
There’s a moral here, but the takeaway is probably this: never play sepak takraw with ancient royalty.
Note: Don't mind the throwback Nelly's remix in the above video.
Photo courtesy of UFA Sport.