Bali’s Other Beach Games

By Amy Chavez
For The Bali Times

My name is Myrtle and I am the emcee turtle to introduce to you some of Asian sports performed in this year’s Asian Beach Games held in Bali. As some of the sports are less familiar to Westerners, I hope that through this introduction, they will be better able to understand the sports, their origins and their rules during the Games.
I’ve lived on the beach here in Bali my whole life, so I know the true meaning of beach games: games played by those who live on the beach. Indeed, there is no one so privileged as us marine life who has access to ample beaches, sand courts and sand pits for our games. And if one beach is being occupied, we can just swim to one of dozens of others.
Below is a short explanation of some of the sports as well as how each has been incorporated on the beach here in Bali.


Kabaddi originated in India and has been played since 1930. It is the national game of Bangladesh. In kabaddi, which uses no ball or other implement, one team member of a four-member team “raids” the other four-member team while yelling “Kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi!” He must enter their territory and exit it within one breath. Very much like a game of tag, while inside the opponent’s territory, he touches as many opponents as possible while trying to avoid being touched back.

Beach Kabaddi

Beach kabaddi is played on the beach by crab populations in Bali. This crab kabaddi, also called “krabaddi,” differs from regular kabaddi in several ways. Rather than touching the opponent as one would do in a game of tag, you must pinch him. Not only that, but you have to pinch him while chasing after him sideways and yelling, “Krabaddi, krabaddi, krabaddi!” in Beach Krabaddi, the opponent who is pinched is not allowed to shout “ouch!” or it will result in a foul in which the opposing team is awarded one point.

Pencak Silat
Pencak silat is a Malay martial art practiced since at least the 6th century. Performances of pencak silat were often put to music and even now they are usually performed in traditional dress. Pencak silat encompasses over 800 different martial art schools and styles, using various weapons such as swords, machetes, spears and sticks.

Beach Pencak Silat

It’s not surprising that with over 800 schools of this martial art that the fish have taken a keen interest in this sport. In Beach Pencak Silat, two fish are pitted against each other, each given a fighting implement to defend themselves. This is to give all fish an equal chance and in particular to give the little fish a chance to eat the big fish, so to speak. The most exciting bouts, however, are those performed by one swordfish, who is given no additional weapons, fighting against another species of fish who is given a kris. These bouts always end in some interesting sushi products.

Sepak Takraw

The exciting team sport of sepak takraw originated in Thailand and is popular throughout Southaast Asia. It is a cross between soccer and volleyball and is sometimes described as kick volleyball. The ball used is synthetic rattan and players can only use their feet and head to volley the ball over the net. Each team consists of three players, one in the back and two up in front of the net.

Beach Sepak Takraw

Not surprisingly, this sport has been dominated by the octopus, who use the advantage of having eight legs. Not only is the game much faster as a result, but good players know how to trick their opponents through by using the hundreds of suction cups on their legs.
Although each player is not allowed to possess the ball for more than a split-second at any time, very skilled players will be able to delay the ball through minute fractions of seconds via use of their suction cups without any visible slowdown. Any deliberate use of suction cups to stop the motion of the ball is illegal and constitutes a foul and the awarding of a point to the opposing team.
Furthermore, due to previous problems such as game interruptions and unflattering displays of pride, continuous cartwheels by octopi on the court will no longer be tolerated upon winning a point or a game.

Dragon Boat Racing

Dragon boat racing originated in China. Each long boat, decorated with a dragon and a tail, consists of 10-15 paddlers and a drummer, whose rhythmic beats helps the paddlers keep pace. The teams race their boats to cross the finish line first.

Komodo Dragon Boat Racing
In Indonesia, this sport has been taken over and adapted by the Komodo Dragons, who have adapted the sport to suit their needs. Rather than using a boat and a team of paddlers, the dragons each choose a log to float on top of and from which they can use their four feet as paddles. Their own head forms the decorative bow of their vessel and their tails are used as rudders. This is a test of strength and the first dragon to cross the finish line wins. Dragons may carve their logs into points at the bow or into whatever shape they wish to help them glide smoothly through the water.

In addition to these beach events, there was one more event that, I’m sorry to say, had to be cancelled this year. Please note that the coin toss for deciding who wins in tie games will not be carried out as most of the sand dollars couldn’t make the games due to the global financial crisis.
At the end of the Asian Beach Games in Bali, I hope you will attend the closing ceremony in which the stars of the show will be the starfish illuminating themselves and doing special water fireworks performances in the sea off Sanur Beach.

Myrtle the emcee turtle is at

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