Sunday, May 3, 2015

Competitive Nature

I started this post, intending to discuss the sociological aspects of sporting events. I'm sure you can already tell that I am out of my depth and suffered from poor coordination as well as extreme anxiety making Physical Education in school miserable.

Jettisoning that start, I'll just jump in and present a few old world sporting / gaming events formulated prior to safety standards.


Hacking or Shin Kicking is an English combat sport. Wikipedia also describes it as an "English martial art." The contestants wear white coats, representing shepherd smocks. (I would dispute the shepherd-like appearance in favor of resembling squabbling lab assistants.) Be that as it may, they must wear long trousers and may cushion their shins with straw which, it is clarified, will be provided. 

The aim is to weaken an opponent's leg by kicking and then throw the opponent to the ground while maintaining the grasp of the shoulders. The official is called a Stickler who is assigned as the Sticker for Details.

Caber Toss 

The Caber Toss, as you have guessed by the very large gentleman in a kilt, is a traditional Scottish competition. The cabers are between 16 and 20 feet tall and weigh 150 to 175 pounds. They are tapered at one end and when hefted, the heavier end is at the top. 

You might be surprised to know, as was I, that distance tossed isn't considered in scoring. Ideally, the caber needs to fall end over end and land directly away from the tosser in a "12 o'clock" position. (The announcer in the clip calls the land at 12:15.) Per Wikipedia, the sport evolved from tossing logs across narrow chasms to cross from one side to the other. 

While comparing English Hacking to Scottish Caber Toss, I would have bet against history and picked the kilt wearing Scots as dominating the lab coated English.

Joutes Nautiques 

Water jousting is the one sport on this list where equipment exceeds what could conceivably be built in high school shop.

Once again from Wikipedia authority, there is a record of the sport from ancient Egypt but it has currently been embraced by France. The jousters stand on a boat platform with a lance and shield. The boat is propelled by oarsmen and the goal is fairly evident.

The loser swims to shore while old men (not my descriptive label) row out to collect lances, shields and other fallen obstacles. Young boys (also not my descriptive label) bob about to assist in the waterlogged collecting (my descriptive label would be more along the lines of, becoming a nuisance and making lots of noise rather than assist.) 

Per the French Water Jousting Federation (with a somewhat lacking English translation): In this direct confrontation, everything is matter of honor: Cheating does not exist on the water! When both boats will be crossed, only the most valiant fighter will stand. The loser will take a forced bath!

Boxwerk M√ľnchen

Chess Boxing is a bit of a cheat for this list. Combining chess with boxing is a relatively new concept from the 1990's. 

The sport involves alternating rounds of chess (6 rounds) and boxing (5 rounds). A competitor may win by any of the following:
1) Knockout or Technical Knockout (Frankly I wasn't interested enough to Google the difference)
2) Checkmate
3) Disqualification of the opponent by the referee e.g. due to inactivity due to overextended playing time 

4) If the scoreboard is tied, the fighter that used the black chess pieces will be named the winner. I can't fathom why the two events weren't put together earlier. Insert your own unlikely and amusing combination and I'll spare you mine.


Wife Carrying is another self explanatory sport, sort of. The female being carried can be "the carrier's wife, the carrier's neighbor's wife or any female from farther afield", as long as the woman are older than 17 and weigh at least 108 lbs. Origins are a bit unclear but involve a famous Finnish thief who was skillful at quickly carrying off loot and / or women from the targeted village. 

The world championships are held in Finland. The official track length is 832 feet, involves two dry obstacles and a water obstacle. The only equipment allowed is a belt worn by the man and a helmet worn by the woman. Prizes typically include the wife's weight in beer.


Far Leaping or Canal Jumping is not surprisingly a Netherlands sport. The current world record is just over 70 feet. The pole is between 26 feet and 43 feet with a flat round plate at the bottom.

The first official match was in 1771 and may (hedging my bets here because Wikipedia failed me on verification) have been the forerunner to pole vaulting. Either way, still amazing and potentially a starting point for an amusement park attraction. 

However, it is the last event that, hands down, wins for awesomeness and amusement park potential.


Extreme Swinging started in the Estonia / Lithuania region and has to be the most enjoyable activity from this list. In 1996, telescoping bars were developed to lengthen the height of the swing after each trial, increasing difficulty and awesomeness. 

The record is 23 feet. Official Estonia Federation Kiiking swings start at $1680 and you have to go over to Estonia to get one. The Estonia army has a Kiiking swing on their training base and how great would it be to find a few at Ft. Bragg!

Other Stories of The History of Sports

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