One of the most ancient games known, this version of hockey is distinctively Manipuri in character, and as wrestling too forms part of the game, the name sometimes changes to Mukna - Kangjei or wrestling hockey. The origin of the game is traced back to the prehistoric Hayichak era, before Christ. According to the tale attached to the game`s genesis, a young boy of the royal household was spotted playing with a curved club and a round object. He was immediately named ` Kangba ` and eventually, when he ascended the throne of Manipur, he became a staunch supporter of the game, not unlike hockey, which the local people termed ` Kangjei Shanaba `. Another version has it that King Kangba of a prehistoric era, began the games - Kangjei ( hockey on foot ) and Sagol Kangjei ( polo ).
How the game is played
Manipuri hockey is as popular as the Manipuri game of polo. It is a seven - a - side game and each player plays with a cane stick, about four to four and a half feet in length, shaped very much like the present day hockey stick. The game starts when the ball is lobbed into play in centre field ( hantre huba ). A player is permitted to carry the ball made of bamboo root, and kick it, but a goal can only be scored when the ball is struck by the stick over the goal line. The ball, white in colour, with a diameter of about 3" to 3 1/2 " is called kangdrum. There are no goal posts. The game can turn into a trial of strength between opposing players. A player holding the ball and on his way to scoring a goal can be tackled by a player of the opposing side and made to submit to a trial of strength, locally known as Mukna, which is Manipuri wrestling. The game ends when one side or the other scores the agreed number of goals, and the duration is generally 1 1/2 hours.
The strokes are usually restricted to the nearside. This lends protection to the legs from an opponent`s swinging stick. No player is permitted to tackle another player, obstruct him or hold him, if either is without a stick.