Monday, June 3, 2013

Another View Of Takraw - Acrobats In Action In An Open Lot

Thai takraw in a casual setting, as is often the case

The game of takraw is a popular pastime with young and old alike in Thailand, but the rough-and-tumble nature of the game make it better suited to those who are able to land on the ground without breaking like a bag of glass - i.e. those under 40.

Back in May of 2010 I offered a post called Takraw: "volleyball" for the feet. In it you'll find some basics about the game, but someone was kind enough to send me a link to the site Traditional Games in Malaysia that provides more information by someone who knows more about the game, along with some photos. I liked it more than the Wikipedia page, so I'm including the link to it, with thanks to reader Ray in Washington state. I could just re-word from the page and post it here, but there are already enough folks who do that to pad out their blog and forum posts, and we don't need to add to that, do we? Didn't think so.

Briefly, it's played a bit like volleyball. You can use most any part of your body to keep the ball in play back and forth over the net except your hands. A traditional ball is rattan, but plastic ones like the example in the photo here that I found on the internet last longer and I've seen more of those lately.

The initial kick of the serve - the only time the hands are used

The opening clip today was taken recently in the Bang Na district, adjoining Bangkok. I was spending some time there visiting a friend and had a few relatively free days on my own to explore the area. It was unusually hot for so early in the year, and by the middle of the afternoon I was often back in my room, resting, reading and re-hydrating. There was some sort of training or trade school below my balcony, and late one afternoon I noticed a couple of the guys down there setting up the lines and net for what I assumed would probably be takraw, and that's what it turned out to be a short while later.

Spikers at the net sometimes collide, as these two did at least once.

For those of you who haven't seen an "official" match this is again a glimpse of how it's played. You can do a quick search for sepak takraw on YouTube and see league matches, which are really something to see - precision agility and athleticism in action.

The serve
They're well worth the time to watch, and if you're somewhere in Asia where the game is commonly played (Laos, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, etc.) and see it scheduled on TV there I'd suggest giving it a look, if your time permits.

All I've seen in person are casual pick-up games, rather like a casual game of basketball might happen in a public park here in the U.S., but even these have unexpected moments of high-kicking and friendly laughter as the players poke fun at failed attempts.

You're likely to come across casual games like the one shown today wherever a net and court can be put out. I've watched them in  Udonthani, in Bangkok's Benjasiri park mentioned in the May 2010 post, here in Bang Na and in several other villages in the Northeast and Northwest. Naturally, they're more popular in the late afternoon, after school or work, when it's a little cooler - and into the evening until it's too dark to play.

Nice try, but no cigar. This guy landed rather hard.

There was seemed to be to be a healthy level of competitiveness between the guys, but they also cheered and applauded successful attempts, like the one above, and laughed a lot at their own mistakes - always a good sign, I think.

The sun was setting here, but at least it was cooler...
I watched longer than I'd planned to. It was getting dark and the shots were becoming too blurred (I was about a dozen floors up, using the zoom) by the time my friend arrived home from his office and I hadn't even noticed that two hours had passed. I looked down the next afternoon, hoping there'd be another round, but it didn't happen.

I'll add a few more photos and clips in another post. If you happen upon a game somewhere, stop and watch for a bit. It's a hoot.

1 comment:

krobbie said...

For some reason the Thai are mad keen on Takraw and volleyball. When I was in Phuket a lot of the gay bar-workers from the Paradise Complex were in teams. Every afternoon around 4pm they would trek off. I saw money changing hands after the game also. Quite big money considering how hard they work to make it. All the more reason to try and win, which is why they were so competitive.


PS. Bobby has elected to return to BKK for his daughters sake. Me heartbroken, I will mend.