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Khong Kangjei- The Traditional Manipuri Hockey

Khong Kangjei is an indigenous game that emerged in Manipur, India. It is considered as Manipuri Hockey and often said to be a mixture of wrestling and hockey. 

Surbhi Khera
Last updated: 23.08.2019
Khong Kangjei, the traditional Manipuri Hockey played using sticks and ball | Sports Social Blog

Sports; basically this term brings images of famous sports such as cricket, football, hockey, rugby, etc. in our mind, but the term takes a number of sports activities under it’s shed, probably most of them are unknown to people. One such sport activity is Khong Kangjei.

Khong Kangjei developed in the Manipur, the northeastern state in India. Manipur is a hub of indigenous games and it has given birth to many sports activities and games which later developed into popular sports played in the modern world.

It is also known by other names such as Mukna Kangjei, and sometimes simply as Kanjei. It is often considered a version of field hockey and thus is commonly known as foot hockey, Manipuri Hockey, or even as Hockey on foot. Though it is not simply hockey but a combination of hockey and wrestling.


The name Khong Kangjei is derived from the Meitei terms khong which means foot or even wrestling, kang which stands for ball or some sort of round object and jei which is further derived from the term chei which means to hit.

According to sources, the origin of the game dates back to the Hayichak era, before Christ. The tale is weaved in this way that once a small boy from royal lineage was spotted playing a game with a curved club and a round object. He was named as Kangba and when he ascended the throne, he started to popularize the game. Sometimes, it is also believed that King Kangba of the era was the one to start the Kangjei games, other being Kangjei and Sagol Kangjei.

How to play?

Let’s end all the speculations and come to the main motive- How Khong Kangjei is played? It is a seven-a-side game and each player has a cane stick of length four to four and a half feet, which is similar to the modern day hockey stick. The game starts when the ball is hit into play in center field which is called hantre huba. The player is allowed to carry the ball which is made up of a bamboo root and kick it but there is a condition for considering a goal that is a goal can only be gained if the ball is struck by the stick over the goal line.

The ball is white-colored with a diameter of 3” and is called kangdrum. There is no goal post in the game. The player who is carrying the ball can be stopped by the player of the opposite team and can be submitted which is called Mukna, which means wrestling. The duration of the game generally lies between 1 to 1 and a half hours. In the end, the team which scores the desired and decided number of goals wins the game. Also, there are some rules which need to be followed such as, the player is not permitted to tackle another player or even obstruct, hold him if he is without the stick. The twist in the game is that in some versions of the game, pairs of two players from opposite teams are tied together and thus they never leave each other. Players can also pick up the ball and run with it, also kick it but striking with the stick is important. A player can block the other player who is a challenger, also trip him and this is called ‘collar’. The field is 200 x 80 yards.



It is believed that the game of Khong Kangjei started even before Sagol Kangjei. The game is similar to Sagol Kangjei but there are differences such as the game is played on foot rather than on horses or a pony. But just like Sagol Kangjei, in Khong Kangjei as well, there are various positions that the seven players of a team assume. They are as followed:

  • Pun- Ngakpa (Full Back)

  • Pun- Ngakchun (Half Back)

  • Punlluk- (Left Wing)

  • Pulluk- (Right Wing)

  • Langjei- (Centre)

  • Pun- Jen (In)

  • Pun- Jenchun (In)


Know more about Khong Kangjei

The game is played by mature people as well as children. It is considered as manliest games of all time as it requires physical strength, skills, courage, speed, stamina. It is in fact a result of a perfect blending of wrestling (mukna), hockey (kangjei), and race (lamchel). In earlier days, it was organized by royal patronage, but now there are only faded colors of the game and thus it is one of the lesser-known games. The players wear shorts type of uniform and are barefoot. The equipment used in the game is basically a bamboo stick and a ball.

There are various games that have emerged in India and are now not known, there should be a revival of these and the youth should be encouraged for the same. 

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