Indonesian Traditional Sports and Its Origin

You need to be familiar with different kinds of sports, right? From light sports such as jogging, gymnastics and swimming to heavy sports such as weightlifting, soccer and boxing. But what about traditional Indonesian sports, have you ever played them?

At school, I also took sports courses that introduced various types of sports. Not only everyday sports that you usually play with your friends, but also world-class sports. You may also be a sports enthusiast.

Indonesian traditional sports

Like other countries, Indonesia has many kinds of unique sports that have been known for a long time. These sports are known as traditional Indonesian sports.

Both your parents and grandparents still need to know these types of sports. Unfortunately, as the times change, traditional sports are slowly lagging behind.

Very few people are still playing sports. Still, if you’re not in a remote area where you’re not exposed to technology, it’s played to celebrate Indonesia’s birthday.

Indonesia is a country with many islands, but it is rich in cultural diversity. Culture begins with dance, belief and sport.

History of traditional Indonesian sports

Did you know that all traditional Indonesian sports have their own history? For example, soccer. Soccer was first played in the 2nd and 3rd centuries during the reign of the Han dynasty in China.

It then spread to neighboring countries: Japan, then Italy, England, Mexico, and Rome. The soccer journey is quite long. There was some opposition until the final formation of the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA).

Like any other kind of traditional sport with its own history. Some sports that compete at the international level have a long history. It does not rule out that sports were originally just a traditional game.

Traditional sports have many origins. Some of them come from children’s games, and some come from rituals and beliefs from ancient people’s way of life, such as hunting.

The geographical condition of the area is also the most important architectural element. why? Because all sports are always related to people’s lives. For example, a boat sport that is unlikely to come from a desert area.

Rowing certainly comes from areas with seas and rivers. The same is true for ice hockey. Impossible from the tropics of the two seasons. You must be from an area with winter.

Indonesian traditional sports classification

From the history of traditional Indonesian sports mentioned above, traditional sports can be divided into four major categories based on their characteristics. That is:

1. Sports with elements of self-defense
Some of Indonesian traditional sports started with an element of self-defense. Examples include taekwondo, karate, and pencak silat. Self-defense is thought to have its roots in, for example, self-defense in war.

The characteristic of martial arts is that they actually use the element of physical fitness. The movement of martial arts in each region is different because geographical conditions affect the style of martial arts.

This type itself can be reclassified into two. Empty-handed sports and the use of weapons.

2. Sports including cultural ceremonies
Many traditional sports began with cultural ceremonies. For example, stone jumps in Nias and Karapan Sapi. The rituals that develop into sports are usually endurance and exercise rituals. So it slowly turned into a traditional sport.

3. Racing sports
The traditional sport of racing itself is characterized by having a start point and an end point. All sports participants line up at the starting point and compete with each other until they reach the goal.

The first participant to arrive is the winner. Examples of traditional sports races are horse racing, sack racing, boating and clogs.

4. Sports starting from the game
Examples of traditional sports that started as a game are soccer, sepak takraw, and badminton. As explained earlier, game sports only begin with the activities of a group of people. In addition, these activities continue to grow and are generally known. Eventually it will be a sport.

So don’t be surprised if you have a traditional sport that was a childhood game. Or, local cultural rituals suddenly become traditional sports.

Indonesian traditional sports types
Below are the different types and origins of traditional Indonesian sports.

1. Rock jump sports in Nias

Let’s test the maturity of the boy

The Nias Stone Jump was originally a traditional ritual for boys in the Nias region. The long-known ritual aims to test the maturity and maturity of boys.

A stone jump in a near-society is known as Fahonbobatu, which means passing through a mountain of stones. As the name implies, rock jumps are made by boys by jumping over rocks that are 2 meters high.

If the boy can jump over the mountain of stones, he is officially considered to be a man and worthy of being a knight.

This sport is an essential requirement for boys before following the tradition of headcuts. So, after going through a stone jump, the man goes elsewhere to do the tradition of cutting his head.

The two-meter-high stone required for male maturity actually has its own philosophy. The goal is to follow the tradition of cutting off the head. All areas of Nias always have forts in the form of fences, so stones 2 meters high are required.

Stone fences, wooden fences, bamboo fences, etc. So, if a person who follows the tradition of cutting off his head does not escape the jumping of stones, of course, he will not survive when entering another place.

Why are rock jumps called rituals? Before that, there is a ritual to seek the blessings of our ancestors. So the boy’s ability to jump over rocky mountains actually depends on the blessings of his ancestors.

Now, stone jumping is no longer a requirement for male maturity. Nias youth used it only as a game to test their internal organs. Boys who can jump over it are still considered adults and receive awards. Nearly stone jumps are usually held annually.

2. Deadly martial arts, Pencak silat

Who doesn’t know this one sport? Pencak silat is well known and highly regarded on the international stage. Basically, Pencak silat is a very deadly martial art.

Pencak silat is said to have started from inside Sumatra and spread throughout Indonesia.

Meanwhile, for a while. No one knows exactly when Pencak silat began to be used. However, experts studying historical and ancient reliefs at Prambanan and Borobudur temples estimate that Punchak Sirat began to appear around the 7th century AD. It is possible that Pencak silat already existed long before that.

Judging from history, Pencak silat is actually a martial art derived from the Malay family. The movement of the Pencac Sirat itself is not only aimed at self-defense, but also includes the beauty of every movement.

The movements of Pencak silat take various martial arts movements from animals. Tigers, storks, monkeys, etc. Therefore, silat is named after the species of animals such as the magical monkey silat.

Currently, the sport of Pencak silat is growing. Fans also come from various circles. Even from various countries along with the competition of Pencak silat in international championships.

The purpose of doing this sport is to maintain the original intention, the form of self-defense. The advantage of traditional martial arts such as Pencak silat is its practice. In reality, Pencak silat uses not only physical elements, but also mental elements.

3. Geta, huge sandals from West Sumatra

Geta is a traditional sport that originated in West Sumatra. You may already know this traditional sport, because it is still often contested at independent events. The purpose of the clog sport itself is to test the cohesiveness of the team. why?

Geta exercise in groups. Clogs are huge sandals of about 1.5 meters. The sandals come with slippers for the feet.

Due to its large size, clogs can be used by any number of people. Participants are unaware of the age limit rules. Men and women of all ages can participate in the game. The rules of the game are simple. Just use the start line and finish line. The first group to reach the finish line is the winner.

But there is no mistake. Clogs are very difficult to use. Each member of the group must have a high degree of cohesiveness by lifting their feet together. For example, if members of the group do not lift their left foot together, the group will definitely fall.

4. Sepak takraw, a combination of soccer and volleyball originating in South Sulawesi

Sepak takraw is one of the proud traditional Indonesian sports. This sport is also contested in sea games and Asian games. The sport of sepak takraw itself comes from South Sulawesi and began to be played around 1400 AD.

Looking at the movement, sepak takraw is a combination of sports

Other sports: soccer and volleyball that already existed. In reality, sepak takraw uses the net to limit the play of two teams.

Like volleyball. The net is just short. The ball used is rattan weave and is reflected by the foot so that it can pass through the net. The rules of the game are the same as for volleyball. In other words, we are using the point system.

Today, sepak takraw is still played frequently by the people of South Sulawesi. Especially by boys. Young people usually play it in the afternoon. Sepak takraw is also a must-have contest for various celebrations such as Independence Day and porcelain.

5. Plow the fields until the race and carapan cows on Madura Island

Karapan sapi is a sport that originated on Madura Island. Initially, Madura’s rice fields are said to be dry and hard soil, so cattle races are held to cultivate the fields, making it difficult for people to cultivate their crops. They prefer to be fishermen over farmers.

But it’s time for a priest named Sheikh Ahmad Badawi to come and teach the Madura people how to grow their crops.

The rice field cultivation technique taught by Ulama is to use two cows. Bamboo sticks were attached to the two cows. Next, two cows plow the field. The purpose of this system is not only to cultivate the fields, but also to select the strongest cows.

Gradually the activity evolved into a sport that was very popular with the masses. Cow racing is now an interesting sport.

Karapan sapi is a cow-to-cow racing sport. If two cows are tied and a plow is attached, the jockey rides on the plow and controls the cow. The jockey will guide the cow from the start position to the finish line.

This match lasts only about 30 seconds to 1 minute at a distance of 100 meters. The location of the match is in a rice field area or muddy land.

Match times usually range from August to October. Bull racing sports are currently banned because they are believed to be abusing animals. But people still do it.

6. Agricultural ritual, Kado of Papua
Kado’s traditional sport comes from the Marin tribe, who live in the Merauke district of Papua.

I am. Initially, Kado was a ritual performed by men before the planting season. The winner of the ritual gets land to cultivate.

This traditional Indonesian sport is performed in groups in the field. There are usually two teams of five each. The game uses sticks made of bamboo. Sticks are used to pierce holes with balls made of bamboo roots.

In ancient times, the sport that began with this ritual took place after praying to ancestors. It is intended that ancestors give their blessings to the success of what they offer.

The game is also different. If it was done on the field now, at that point participants had to run a distance of kilometers to fight for the ball.

7. Sack lace reminds me of the colonial era

Who doesn’t know the traditional Indonesian sport of sack racing? This kind of racing sport has become one of the must-have games when celebrating Indonesian independence. But do you know the history of sack racing sports?

In fact, sack racing has its own philosophy. This sport is held to commemorate the Japanese colonial era. At that time, Indonesian people could only wear a bag of burlap as clothing, which was considered very luxurious.

Also, how to play a sack race with a start line and a finish line that you have to run and pass through with a sack. difficult? right. This means that the lives of the colonial people were very difficult.

8. Test tug of war, team strength and cohesion

There is no doubt that this sport has a reputation in Indonesian society. Who doesn’t know tug of war? This traditional Indonesian sport has always been one of the competitions at independence celebrations and similar events.

The gameplay is very simple. I just need mine. Two teams of the same number, usually five or more each, hold the mine on the other side depending on the team. Then they pulled the rope.

The winner is the team that can pull the opponent team over the halfway line. Therefore, tug of war is an essential game because it teaches the elements of cohesion.

9. Tiban, a traditional sport that rains from East Java

Basically, Tiban is a ritual performed to summon rain on the territory of the Kingdom of Kediri during the Hindu era. Therefore, Tiban is a traditional sport originating in East Java.


Etymologically understood, Tiban means to fall, and falling here is stormwater.

Initially, the Chiban ritual was performed only by basking in the hot sun. This ritual usually takes place during the dry season. People find it difficult to grow crops during the dry season.

But simply sunbathing in the hot sun is not considered so sad. So people believe that they have to do something more sadistic. Finally, the ritual is performed by whipping yourself until you bleed.

In reality, Tiban’s traditional sports are performed by two groups of participants. It is usually done in rice fields, but now it is in stages. Two pairs of participants had whips made of palm tree sticks.

Participants then whip each other in turn. This will continue until it rains.

Participants must have strong physical endurance, as sudden actions are performed by whipping themselves. The ritual is not a joke. However, as time went on, the essence of Chiban began to decline.

Even if it rains suddenly, it does not mean that it will rain. Still, people are still interested in arriving.

10. East Javanese martial arts, Fantall

In addition to Pencak silat, there is a martial art that originated in East Java known as Fantall. Initially, Fantall developed during the Kingdom of Majapahit. The traditional sport of the phantom itself is the competition to find the strongest person.

The winner of the competition has been appointed as a port guard from outside threats. Though believed to contain elements of martial arts, in reality Fantall is more like wrestling.

Today, Fantall is no longer a strong competition. To be precise, the traditional sports of Fantall are done just for fun. Fantall is usually done in coastal areas.

The time is the end of the full moon. This is intended to commemorate the history of the phantoms of the past.

11. Jemparingan, Mataram Java Conscientious Archery

You need to be familiar with archery sports. You may also be a fan of sports. But don’t equate gem paringan with the archery that is being done today.

Jempalingan or archery where “mana” means heart in Javanese. Therefore, Jempalingan is called a sport that requires a keen conscience, because it is the heart that is needed to achieve the goal.

Jempalingan is a traditional archery sport. But the practice was not the same as the archery known today. Gempering is done by cross-legged.

Next, the target of the arrow is a bamboo or wooden stick hung with a red and white cloth in the middle. Bamboo slats are about 30 cm long and about 5 cm wide.

The distance from the shooter’s target object is about 30 meters. The archery method is for the shooter to place himself sideways towards the target, then bring his arrow closer to his chest and then release it towards the target.

The philosophy of this method is that the shooter must first shoot his mind before shooting the target. This traditional sport also focuses on instincts and sensations due to the small objects.

Jemparing itself was developed in Java’s Mataram such as Solo and Jogjakarta.

12. Mass Fight, Geudeu-Geudeu in Aceh

Another traditional sport with elements of self-defense. Geudeu-geudeu or deudeu. Similar to wrestling and phantom, this sport was born in Pidie Regency, Aceh.

If the participants in Fantall are one-on-one, geu deu-geudeu will compete in groups. Each group consists of 3 people. How do group participants struggle for power?

The answer is that all participants in both groups fight at the same time. If you haven’t seen this sport before, you can imagine a big battle. More or less.

It’s done in large numbers, so participants need to have a really nice physique to be able to compete. Participants in this tournament have been confirmed to be injured and cannot be denied.

Whether it’s a minor injury or a serious injury. Either a winner group or a loser group. There was also a participant of Geudeu Geudeu who died.

13. Water sports, racetrack from the Riau Islands

Pacu Track is one of the traditional types of racing sports originating from the Riau Islands. Epidemiologically, track pacemakers come from the local language. The word pass means “boat”. The entire runway now means boat race.

The traditional sport of track racing takes place on the surface of a river, about 1 km long. Runway timing is usually when celebrating Indonesia’s independence.

Esia every year. The river where the track race takes place is the Batan Kuantan River.

The specifications of the boat used in the race range from 25-40 meters in length. Although the width of the boat ranges from 1.3 to 1.5 meters. This depends on the number of players participating in each group’s competition.

Boats can usually accommodate about 40-60 people. The boat used is also adorned with various bright accessories to increase the excitement of the race.

Boat participants have their own obligations and responsibilities. The commander is obliged to give instructions to other members.

The boat driver is as responsible for his own duties as the rower. Some singers sing songs during the tournament. The songs they sing serve as a benchmark for the rower’s pedaling rhythm.

14. Salted Gala, Yogyakarta Agility Test

Gala salt is one of the traditional sports that children love very much. In ancient times, salty sticks were played outdoors by royal soldiers.

Originating in Yogyakarta, the purpose of this traditional sport is to test the agility of soldiers. The salted gala is also known as gobaco doll. Vocabulary, gobak means free movement and sodor is a spear. In short, gobak sodor is a free-moving sport with a spear.

Traditional salt pole sports are performed by at least two teams. Each team can consist of 5-7 people. As in its history, salted sticks still run in open areas.

In the field, I typically created a plot with a size of 9×4 meters. Gameplay looks simple, but it’s not easy. Each team member must pass through obstacles from other team members and return without catching up to the end.

In total, each team member must pass twice as many as the other team members. Therefore, if each team consists of 7 people, there are 14 obstacles that must be passed.

In fact, salted gala is very much liked by children. Especially in rural areas. Unfortunately, today, the traditional sport of salted gala is beginning to disappear and is rarely played anymore.

Galahs are not only limited to traditional games and sports, but also have a good purpose. Among them, we test agility, ability to develop strategies, and team cohesion.

15. Stilts, training body balance above height

Enggrang is a traditional sport known to come from the Java region. However, the stilt is also found in many other areas, so no one can confirm the truth. Only the name is different depending on the region.

There are also stilts overseas. As with sack and clog racing, you may already be familiar with the traditional sports of this type of racing. Enggrang is still often competing to celebrate independence.

This traditional sport is fun and can be done by all ages. The game is also simple and requires a pair of bamboo, wood, or iron that is about 2 meters long.

Second, the bamboo slats are given a place to stand, as there is a way of playing where participants have to climb the stairs and run through the bamboo slats.

In simple words, you walk on a pair of bamboo blades. To determine the winner, race from the start line to the finish line. The winner is the first person to reach the finish line.

The height and strength of the bamboo slats you choose will also depend on who uses them. Therefore, age and weight are very important. Traditional stilts sports are aimed at training balance and courage. Can you imagine if your height reaches more than 2 meters?

Well, they are some traditional Indonesian sports and their origins. Are you interested in playing it? There may still be many other traditional sports that are not yet known. If you haven’t mentioned it yet, write your traditional sport in the comments section below.