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Sports and Martial Arts

India's official national sport is field hockey and the Indian field hockey team won the 1975 Men's Hockey World Cup and 8 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze medals at the Olympic games. However, cricket is by far the most popular sport; the India national cricket team won the 1983 Cricket World Cup and the 2007 ICC World Twenty20, and shared the 2002 ICC Champions Trophy with Sri Lanka. Domestic competitions include the Ranji Trophy, the Duleep Trophy, the Deodhar Trophy, the Irani Trophy and the Challenger Series. In addition, BCCI conducts the Indian Premier League, a Twenty20 competition.

Chess is commonly believed to have originated in northwestern India during the Gupta empire, where its early form in the 6th century was known as chaturanga. Other games which originated in India and continue to remain popular in wide parts of northern India include kabaddi, gilli-danda, and kho kho. Traditional southern Indian games include snake boat race and kuttiyum kolum.
Indian Martial Arts
Kalarippayattu, one of the oldest and most prominent forms of Indian martial arts. One of the best known forms of ancient Indian martial arts is the Kalarippayattu from Kerala. This ancient fighting style originated in southern India in 12th century BC and is regarded as one of the oldest surviving martial arts. In this form martial arts, various stages of physical training include ayurvedic massage with sesame oil so as to impart suppleness to the body (uzichil), a series of sharp body movements so as to gain control over various parts of the body (miapayattu) and complex sword fighting techniques (paliyankam). Silambam, which was developed around 200 AD, traces its roots to the Sangam period in southern India. Silambam is unique among Indian martial arts because it uses complex footwork techniques (kaaladi) including a variety of spinning styles and a bamboo staff is used as the main weapon. The ancient Tamil Sangam literature mentions that between 400 BC and 600 AD, soldiers from southern India received special martial arts training which revolved primarily around the use of spear (vel), sword (val) and shield (kedaham).
In northern India, the musti yuddha evolved in 1100 AD and focussed on mental, physical and even spiritual training. In addition, the Dhanur Veda tradition was an influential fighting arts style which considered the bow and the arrow to be the supreme weapons. The Dhanur Veda was first described in the 5th century BC Vishnu Puran and is also mentioned in both of the major ancient Indian epics, Ramayana & Mahabharata. A distinctive factor of Indian martial arts is the heavy emphasis laid on meditation as a tool to remove fear, doubt and anxiety.
Indian martial arts techniques have had a profound impact on other martial arts styles across Asia. The 3rd century BC Yoga Sutras of Patanjali taught how to meditate single-mindedly on points located inside one's body, which was later used in martial arts, while various mudra finger movements were taught in Yogacara Buddhism. These elements of yoga, as well as finger movements in the nata dances, were later incorporated into various martial arts. According to some historical accounts, Indian Buddhist monk Bodhidharma was one of the main founders of the Shaolin Kungfu.
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