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Sepak Takraw, Arnis and Washu: The Sports of the Southeast Asian Games

The Olympics are great, sure, but the world is a big place, and there are many games going on around the globe that you might not have heard of and are missing out on. And the Southeast Asian games is one of them.

Held every other year, the Southeast Asian games is often coined the Olympics of the region. But what’s even more special about these games in particular is the wide array of sports featured, and the unique sports you won’t see anywhere else. 

What are the Southeast Asian Games?

The Southeast Asian Games (also known as the SEA Games), is going strong. It began in 1959 in Bangkok, and is a biannual multi-sport event involving participants from the countries of Southeast Asia, under regulation of the Southeast Asian Games Federation.

The 2019 Southeast Asian Games, which will be the 30th Southeast Asian Games, will be hosted by the Philippines from November 30th to December 10th, 2019. Clark will serve as the main hub of the games, particularly the Sports City that is currently being built in Capas, Tarlac.

And it’s no small event. This year’s games will include ten pin bowling, football, volleyball, gymnastics, sailing, shooting, cycling, archery, golf, weightlifting, dancesport, billiard sports, squash, triathlon and many, many more. It will also host muay, a type of Thai kickboxing.

And while the Southeast Asian Games is home to some of the more traditional games, the 2019 games will also host some more offbeat sports you just won’t see anywhere else.

The Regional Sports That Will Be in Competiton

For example, Sepak takraw, otherwise known as kick volleyball, is native to Southeast Asia, and has been played since the 15th century. Sepak takraw uses a rattan ball and only allows players to use their feet, knee, chest and head to touch the ball. It looks just as difficult as it sounds – and there’s an enthusiastic following among locals, who often play the sport recreationally.

One rumour is that the game evolved from cuju, an ancient Chinese military exercise where soldiers tried to keep a feathered shuttlecock airborne by kicking it back and forth between two people. As you can probably imagine, it can get pretty tense.

Then there’s Arnis – the national sport and martial art of the Philippines. Arnis uses weapons from the very beginning of training, primarily the rattan stick, which is usually about 28 inches in length. There are 10 or 11 black belt ranks in modern Arnis, depending on the organisation, and those practising the sport are given the grand title ‘arnisadors’.

If you’re sadly missing out on the games next year, there’s always ways to bring the spirit of the games closer to home. If you’re in the mood for being transported to the continent of Southeast Asia, sample the next best thing in the UK through your taste buds, with Vietnamese in Oxford at Banana Tree.

We serve authentic Vietnamese and Southeast Asian Cuisine – like our delicious Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps that come with vegetables or pulled duck . You might not get to see the games in real life, but you can still capture some of the Southeast Asian spirit.