Groups of friends have been inventing ridiculous games out of pure boredom for centuries, many of them absurdly violent. My personal favorites in my elementary school years were “Kick the Can,” “Flame Ball” (essentially tennis, plus fire), and “Rugby.” Only this wasn’t ordinary rugby; it was a cruel combination of football, rugby, punching and kicking. Until today, I had no idea that my friends and I were partaking in the epic Australian invention of “Footbrawl.”
Introduced in the late 1980′s by Glenn Parmley, a martial arts instructor looking for a way to train his students’ self-defense in more realistic scenarios, Footbrawl combines elements of football, basketball, ice hockey, and “all codes of martial arts,” which includes everything from Karate to jiu jitsu. Five players on each side literally fight their way across the floor to try to put the ball in their opponents net, all while the team’s goalie tries to beat them senseless with a giant padded stick. The means by which a goal can be scored highlights the true essence of Footbrawl: anything goes.
How do you score? Throw the ball through the net, kick the ball through the net or pick up the person who has the ball and throw them through the net!! Full body contact is allowed only the goalies are allowed to contact the head with the Brawler Bo (the Footbrawl Padded Stick). Special pads and safety equipment is in place for every Footbrawl match and training session keeping the injury rate under most other sports. Most martial arts techniques are permitted so long as they are striking the padded areas.
Footbrawl’s emphasis on padded area strikes and a strict code of conduct allow it to boast a low level of injuries, although anyone that’s been tackled in football pads or kicked in the crotch while wearing a cup can tell you that padding only does so much. It’s like a pain euphemism. Taking a roundhouse kick to the chest still sucks really bad, cockdammit.
According to their mission statement, Footbrawl is striving to be a major sport in the U.S. and will host its first World Championship in Las Vegas within 2 years. Even though the game is designed to promote self-defense training and the ability to escape, match footage on YouTube (see below) shows the game descending into a clusterfuck of tackling, kicking and errant passes. Just like back in the day!
One more thing: “Teams can lose players if they get in a wrestle and admit defeat by tapping the floor three times or they pass out.” I think I just found my new favorite sport.