Who remembers the days of hula-hoops, Frisbees, and hacky sack? Some of the best summer days spent outdoors with good friends include these wonderful tools for sport. They are not simply toys but rather untraditional sports equipment that have been primarily developed by Wham-O, an American corporate trademark. The Frisbee and hacky sack are easy carry-on’s for those individuals who crave activity everywhere they go and have the constant urge to hone their physical skills.
Although these games seem like child’s play and may be a bit unusual, the game of hacky sack resembles a professional sport known as Sepak Takraw. This game, originating in Malaysia around the 11th century, is an unusual sport and not universally well known. It’s played much like volleyball, except that the hands and arms are not to be used and only the lower extremities and other body parts are utilized, as in soccer. “Sepak” is a Malay word for kick, and “Takraw” is a Thai word for woven ball.
While the game of hacky sack uses a small, soft, golf ball-sized bag, the sport of Sepak Takraw uses a larger, much more unusual ball. It originally was made of rattan or of woven stiff vegetative fibers, but today it is primarily made of a woven synthetic fiber that has a synthetic rubber coating. There are more ball specifications for orderly play, like the number of holes in the weave, the weight, and size, but essentially, the ball is smaller than a volleyball and weighs less as well.
This game, that also includes elements of martial arts and gymnastics, usually entails six players. They compete on a court similar in size to a badminton court with a smaller and lower slung net. Teams consist of three players each and scoring is similar to volleyball and badminton. The game is extremely fast and incredibly competitive!
For SAI enthusiasts, there does exist an art that honors the athleticism of Sepak Takraw. Videos showing the artisanship in movement of the players are available for view on Youtube. Between the samples of Sepak Takraw images, prints, and videos shown on links provided herein, the sport has officially entered into the realm of art, and proven itself as such. With the utilization of so many other sports and games, how can it not motivate and inspire both artists and athletes?
The sport’s official website, sepaktakraw.org, offers any interested fan or participant a place to investigate this thoroughly unusual sport and view its competition. There is so much to learn about this highly unusual sport! Perhaps it’s time to start viewing games such as hacky sack and Frisbee as more than just menial outdoor activities and to start seeing them as fantastic sporting elements. Embrace the unusual!