A week ago, in a fighting rink hidden behind trees in the middle of San Francisco, I witnessed a grand melee. As dust rose and danced in the July light, a tournament of warriors fought each other for honor and glory. It was an epic battle of worthy and agile opponents: children, grown men and women, and elderly paladins alike. The game stretched on for several hours. Competitors were eliminated after rounds of bludgeoning each other with swords, their broken weapons littering the ground.
If you’re a little bit worried about casualties – don’t bother. The key element to this glorious battle was its weapon of choice – a cardboard tube. “Tube Fighting” is all the rage right now, even though the concept is only two years old, officially. While living in Seattle, a fellow named Robert Easley pondered ways to encourage friends and strangers to go out into the summer sunshine and do something playful, interactive and free. Eventually, he brainstormed the idea of hosting a melee with cardboard swords.
Since its inception, the game has grown into a large-scale network, with official chapters in cities like San Francisco and Sydney, as well as scores of unaffiliated gatherings taking place globally every summer. The rules of the game are simple –show up to the meeting spot and sign up on the list to be matched with a friend, or stranger, in battle. Regulation cardboard tubes are available for free if you are participating in one of the events organized by an official chapter. Otherwise, bring your own. The objective is to so thoroughly batter your opponent’s cardboard tube that it will break, thus disqualifying your competitor from advancing into the next round. Nobody actually hits each other – it’s their tubes that take all the beating.
Besides being a fun and cathartic form of stress release –drawing a large audience cheering from the sidelines– the tournament also encourages creativity, as many people make elaborate armor and helmets out of cardboard. Nothing is quite like the sight of a trio of Vikings in a cardboard ship being chased by a cardboard-headed robot, or a 5 year old girl pumping her fists in the air victoriously after winning yet another round of the tournament.
Tube Vikings Kristin, Layla and Jinny.
For official rules, check out tubeduel.com. If a League game isn’t officially scheduled in your home city, why not start your own? Just get some cardboard tubes, invite some friends and head out to a park or city square. (Make sure to double check regulations about large gatherings, before arranging a melee, of course). These photos from a week ago may prove inspirational.
More photos from Tanya’s outing after the jump. Not to be missed!
Andrew, ready to rumble.
Victorious Miss Rachel.
Robert refereeing a battle.
Mike, a recent transplant to SF.
The mighty (and pointy) Anne.