The history of sports in India goes back to epic times. During those ages, physical fitness was given prime importance. The Hatha Yoga (of Vedic times) represented strength, stamina and ultimate control of body functions. The combination of meditation and physical movement was the core concept of every sport.
Many of the sports practiced today have their origins in ancient ndia. Wrestling in Vedic times was called Mall-Stambha, while weight-lifting was known as Bhrashram. Kalari Payattu is one of the oldest forms of martial arts in India. It was taken to China by a Shaolin Monk, and given the name of Wu-Shu, which was in turn changed to its present name of Karate in Japan.
During the era of the Rig-Veda (Ramayana and Mahabharata era), men were well-versed in chariot-racing, archery, military ploys, swimming, wrestling and hunting. Archery, the javelin (toran) and the discus (chakra) were frequently used during the Indus valley civilization (2500 - 1550 B.C). Swimming, sword-fighting (fencing, at present), wrestling and ball games were also immensely popular among the students of Nalanda and Taxila. The Pranayama or breathing control technique, which is an important feature of Taek-wan-do, Karate, Judo and Sumo wrestling, was one of the many techniques spread in the Far East by Buddhist pilgrims from India. In addition, Kabaddi is a traditional Indian sport that is more than 4000 years old.
Kirip is a form of wrestling, which is popular with the Nicobarese tribe. In this sport, wrestlers grip each other from behind, not loosening the grip till the end of the game. Dhopkhel is an ancient indigenous game of Assam. This game requires strong physical fitness-speed, stamina and acrobatic skills. It is played during the state's Spring Festival, known as Rangoli Bihu. Hiyang Tannaba (a boat racing sport) is the native game of Manipur, and is played during their vibrant festival of the Lai Haraoba. This seasonal game is played only by men.
Insuknawr or rod-pushing is an aboriginal game of Mizoram, which is played only by men. It has also been declared as the 'Mizo National Game' by the Mizoram State Sports Council (MSSC). This sport is a test of sheer strength and stamina. The Kang Shanaba is a native Manipuri game played on the day falling between Manipur's New Year Day and the Ratha Jatra festival. The kang literally means a round object, while the art of throwing or pushing it is called Kang Shanaba.
All of the above-mentioned games are ancient games of India, and reflect the importance of given to sports in India, since early times.