The origins of sepak takraw remains a matter of intense debate in Southeast Asia, as several countries proudly claim it as their own. It is believed that many variations of the game evolved from Cuju, an ancient Chinese military exercise. The earliest historical evidence shows the game was played in the 15th century's Malacca Sultanate of Malaysia. Almost every nation that played this game knew it by a different name, in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, it's called 'sepak raga', in Thailand it's commonly known as 'takraw', 'sipa' in the Philippines, 'da cau' in Vietnam, 'rago' in Indonesia, and 'kator' in Laos. The first versions of sepak takraw were not so much of a competition, but rather cooperative displays of skill designed to exercise the body.
In 1929 the Siam Sports Association drafted the first rules for the game, and four years later, the association introduced the volleyball-style net and held the first public contest. By the 1940s, the net version of the game had spread throughout Southeast Asia, formal rules were introduced, and the first official competition was held in 1945. In 1960, representatives from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Lao and Thailand met in Kuala Lumpur to standardise rules and regulations for the game, and formed the Asian Sepak Takraw Federation (ASTAF). The first competition was held in Malaysia in 1965, at the Southeast Asian Peninsular Games. The International Sepaktakraw Federation (ISTAF) was formed in 1988.