Cardboard Tube Fighting


CTFL
Image by Anna Fischer via Flickr

I’ve often wondered who invented the cardboard tube. Okay, honestly until about five minutes ago I’d never given it a thought, but if I had the chance to meet the person who did invent the cardboard tube I’d like to go o them and say, “Really? Of all the things that you could have invented that would have actually been of benefit to mankind you came up with a tube to wind gift-wrapping paper and toilet roll around? What were you thinking?”

At this point some of you may be saying, “don’t be so critical”. To which I respond, “who are you talking to? I’m not even in the same room with you. I can’t hear you.” However, I digress I know there really are many uses for cardboard tubes. There is a whole paper towel tube craft industry out there and who hasn’t made napkin holders out of cardboard tubing? Perhaps the most interesting use for the product was devised by the “Cardboard Tube Fighting League” or as those in the league like to call it the CTFL. The name sort of says what they use cardboard tubes for so I’ll just skip over that part.

Cardboard tube fighting is one of the world’s lesser-known sports and some say perhaps that’s for good reason. You may be thinking this is a sport enjoyed by similarly minded people destined to die virgins, who enjoy getting together to discuss comic books, Dr. Who, Steampunk and debating whether a weekly shower is really necessary. Let me assure you that okay, while some of that may be true, cardboard tube fighting is a legitimate sport.

The sport is tolerated in at least three continents that I’m aware of, North America, Europe and Australia. There are literally dozens and dozens of people that take up this sport despite what their families may say.

The creator of this sport is Seattleite, Robert Easley or Rob to his friends. As Mr. Easley told a news reporter who drew the short straw, “You are attempting to break your opponents tube without breaking your own.” This may be an appropriate moment to point out that Mr. Easly also is also actively involved in “Live Action Role Playing” games. Now what is a sport without rules? For cardboard tube fighting the rules are pretty straightforward. Rule number 1, never talk about cardboard tube fighting. Actually that isn’t a rule I just think it’s probably a good idea if you don’t want to have total strangers randomly beating you up.

The rules state combatants must not to break their tubes. If the tube is broken the holder is determined to be a loser. If both duelists break their tubes they are both considered losers. I’m thinking even if they don’t break their tubes — no never mind. Stabbing and lunging is not permitted. No face hitting. Combatants must only use official CTFL cardboard tubes. Tubes must be held near the end. If a combatant holds the tube in the middle it is cause for disqualification. There are a few more rules but at this point even I don’t care what they are.

Competitions can either be multi-stage tournaments or battles. Tournaments have one winner, while battles result in shared victories. Tournament bouts can last between 30 minutes to hours or even minutes that just seem like hours. As an added bonus battle participants are permitted to wear cardboard armor. If that is not enticement enough to get involved, battle participants are subjected to live bagpipe music. Bragging rights and handmade cardboard swords are awarded as prizes.

Currently, there are three active branches of the CTFL located in Seattle, San Francisco, USA and Sydney, Australia. Bristol in the United Kingdom also has a fledging group of cardboard tube fighting enthusiasts.  The strength of the sport can best be summed up in the CTFL’s three core beliefs. People need more ways to play and take themselves less seriously. Events can be fun without alcohol and cardboard sword fighting is fun. The CTFL is always looking for new recruits and if you want more information you can check out their Facebook page. Any day now they are going to break 100 likes.

Published in The Cascade newspaper http://ufvcascade.ca

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