Sports and Recreation in Indonesia
Daily Life :: Sports & Recreation

Due to 300 different cultures, there are many kinds of TRADITIONAL SPORTS, games and leisure throughout the country.
  • Cockfighting on Bali Island, the westernmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands

    Cockfighting has been decreed illegal by the Indonesian government but the sport merely moved underground - away from public eyes to out-of-the-way places off dirt roads. The event is not advertised but word gets around. Betting on the outcome of the fight is a definite. Sharp steel spurs called "taji" are attached to the cock's left leg before the fight. The handlers (not the owners) encourage the cocks to peck at each other. The cocks are then released and the fight begins.

  • Bull-racing on Madura island, off the northeastern coast of Java, near the port of Surabaya

    The bull races begin at district levels in a series of elimination rounds. The qualifiers then compete in the grand final for the President Cup.

    The jockey is usually a young boy who rides on a wooden plough pulled by a pair of bulls. In these races, the bulls can run a course of about 100 meters in 10-15 seconds!

  • Stone-jumping on Nias island, off the western coast of Sumatra

    This was once a manhood ritual that saw young men leaping over 2m high stone walls. The top of the stone walls were covered with spikes and sharp pointed bamboo. Stone jumping was also used to train warriors to jump over enemy walls.

    Today, it still is a dangerous sport. The men display incredible courage, dexterity and skill as they leap over the stone walls.

  • Pencak Silat or simply silat is a traditional dance and martial art, rolled into one.

    Accompanied by drums and gongs, this ancient art is performed with mesmerising fluid movements at Malay weddings and cultural festivals. It is believed that practising silat will increase one's spiritual strength in accordance with Islamic tenets. This martial art form is also practised in Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore and the Philippines.

  • Sepak Takraw (pronounced seh-PAHK TAHK-raw) is another popular sport. It uses a hollow ball made of rattan (woven palm stems). Players may use their heads, legs and feet but not their hands to hit the ball. Some players can perform amazing acrobatics with the ball.

    This game is also popular in Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos and other southeast asian countries.
Popular MODERN SPORTS in Indonesia include soccer and badminton. In the 1990s, Indonesia dominated the game of badminton -- Rudy Hartono, an Indonesian badminton player, won the world championship in 1980, and the All-England Champions trophy eight times in the 1960s and 1970s.