Cardboard Tube Fighting

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


Frog Jumping

 I use to question the need for a 24-hour TV channel devoted to sports. Well, let me tell you those days are gone. Why you ask? Thanks for the interest; an ever-increasing number of under-appreciated sports are seeing a revival of a sort as a result of exposure on television. While frog jumping hasn’t yet been highlighted in a big way, I know it is only a matter of time. I know, I thought the same thing too until I started researching this overlooked challenge of brut strength and determination in the frog eat fly world of the amphibian kingdom. It’s frog against frog in this heart-pounding contest. Which competitor will triumph? Will it be that bullfrog, or that bullfrog, or perhaps that bullfrog over there? The tension can be cut with a knife.

Frog jumping was made famous by Mark Twain in 1865 when his short story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” was published and since then there has been no holding back the popularity of the sport. Okay, for a few decades it may have disappeared, but in 1928 it came back with a vengeance and it is steadily growing to become the sport no one really is aware exists today. While there are many competitions throughout North America, the “Calaveras Frog Jumping Competition” is arguably the most prestigious event in the frog jumpers’ annual calendar.

The rules of the competition are strict. There are three amphibian competitors on the stage at any given time. Each frog must begin the jump while sitting with all four appendages on the launching pad. Once the contest begins only the frog and the frog jockey are permitted to be in front of the launching pad. If at anytime the frog jumps into the frog jockey or the frog jockey’s equipment the frog will be disqualified. The jump distance is measured from the launch pad to the length of three consecutive jumps of the frog. Competitors have a maximum of one minute to complete the three jumps. Jockeys may encourage their frogs by screaming, yelling or banging the stage. Once the frog leaves the launch pad, jockeys must not come into physical contact with their frogs. It is important to remember the frog catcher is not permitted to move until all three jumps have been completed on pain of immediate frog disqualification. The top 50 frogs compete in the “International Frog Jumping Grand Finals” where the top frog’s owners can earn as much as $5000 in prize money if the jumping record is broken.

While the competition is fierce, the issue of frog care is an important part of the frog jumping sport and there has been an official “frog welfare policy” in place since 1997. Frog jockeys or any member of the frog handling team that violates the policy or in any way abuses the competitors face banishment from the sport. The competition organizers are anticipating 10,000 frog competitors for the 2012 event.

In an unrelated bit of sporting news the frog leg eating championships will be held the day after the frog jumping competition has concluded.

English: BBQ Frog legs
Image via Wikipedia

Originally appeared in The Cascade newspaper