England’s Shin-Kicking Championship Is a Painful Affair

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Sometimes described as an English martial art, shin kicking is a centuries-old combat sport in which two participants kick each other in the shins until one of them falls down. Needless to say there is a lot of pain involved.

The origins of shin kicking are lost in the mists of time, but some experts say it started as a variation of wrestling, at least five or six hundred years ago. The brutal sport has been a part of the famous Cotsworld Olympik Games since the 17th centuries and it’s still practiced today. The rules of shin kicking are very straightforward: the two combatants grab each other’s collars and start kicking until one of them falls down. Although pushing or pulling is permitted, contestants have to kick their opponent in the shins at least once before they hit the ground for their win to count. Matches are won by the person who wins two out of three rounds. As you probably know, shin kicks really hurt, so participants are allowed to stuff their pants with straw in order to cushion the painful blows. Still, the organizers of the annual Shin Kicking Championship say the pain is so bad that the vast majority of participants never return. This year, Zak Warren, the previous champion actually defended his title, but it’s a very rare occurrence.

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Executive Boxing Takes Corporate Rivalry to a New Level

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The gloves were on at the second ever Executive Fight Night, in Tokyo, last week, as 14 corporate executives from seven different countries went into the boxing ring for some good, clean fun and settling rivalries between companies.

“To usher in a new era of fitness amongst stressed-out Tokyo executives and stage a safe, professional and unprecedented, Vegas-style Boxing event that would become a regular hit on the annual Tokyo social calendar.” This is the mission of Ginja Ninjas, the offbeat company behind Executive Fight Night. It was founded by three corporate employees who after a stressful week at work got together and decided that enough was enough, executives needed a way to let off some steam, and what better release valve than boxing? Bringing a unique form of entertainment to the masses wasn’t enough for the “ninjas”, who decided to donate all the proceeds from the event to various charities. It also made it harder for corporate bosses to say no to a boxing invitation, but according to organizer Dave Thomas, the rivalry between Tokyo companies is enough to get people into the ring.

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Extreme Barbie Jeep Racing Is No Child’s Play

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Every years since 2010, the guys at Busted Knuckle Films have engaged in one of the most fun-yet-dangerous off-road sports in the world – the Extreme Barbie Jeep Race. Don’t let the name fool you though, it’s serious business.

The concept behind this unique extreme sport is pretty simple. All you need is one of those power-wheels vehicles for kids and the courage to ride it down a steep hill slope, trying not too fall off or hit any trees. Participants compete for bragging rights and a few hundred dollars, but the race is more about the adrenaline rush and the fun involved in riding kids’ toys in an off-road environment than anything else. It’s pretty cheap too, as these cars can be picked up from the side of the road for free after they’re thrown away by parents who don’t understand their full potential. But like any other extreme sport, the Barbie Jeep Race can be dangerous, with the cars picking up serious speed on the rough terrain. To protect themselves against any serious injuries from falling off the plastic cars, being run over by others or hitting a tree on the side of the improvised race track, competitors wear metal helmets.

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Making See-Through Wood at Japan’s Unique Planing Competition

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Every year, wood planing experts from all over Japan meet up for a very unique competition in which everyone tries to shave off the thinnest piece of wood possible. I don’t know how skilled you are with a hand plane, but these guys can actually peel off see-through slices of wood that are measured in microns.

If you’re not familiar with the hand plane, it’s a tool used to smooth out the surface of lumber and timber. But at the wood planing finals held during the annual Kezuroukai exhibition in Japan, participants use it not to show off their wood smoothing skills, but to shave off the thinnest strip of wood possible. They are each assigned a bench to use for about two hours, during which time they exercise their planing technique, adjusting and sharping their tools for when it matters most. When the contest starts, each competitor has three tries to shave off the thinnest piece of wood in front of a judge who uses a special tool to measure the thickness. But producing strips of wood thin enough to see through doesn’t require only proper tools and practice, but also great wood, so planers are allowed to bring bundles of whatever wood they think yields the best result. Last year, the wood planing competition was held in the port city of Uwajima, on the island of Shikoku, and the thinnest shaving was only 9 microns thick. A micros is one-thousandth of a millimeter…Just to give you an idea of how impressively thin that is, the average human hair is 100 microns across, a cloud water droplet is 10 microns in diameter, and a human blood cell measures 8-9 microns. Even more incredible is the fact that the record for the thinnest shaving currently stands at 3 microns.

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Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse in England’s Scarily Realistic Street Game

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If you’re a horror flick fan, you probably remember 28 Days Later, one of the best, most realistic zombie movies ever made. It told the story of a small group of survivors fighting for their lives in zombie-infested England. Now, a game company is giving people the chance to experience their fear in an adrenaline-packed street game called 2.8 Hours Later.

Ever since it launched in 2010, 2.8 Hours Later has been played by over 20,000 people from all around the globe. It’s advertised as the world’s largest touring street game, held in various cities across Great Britain. Based on the hit movie 28 Days Later, and its less-successful sequel, 28 Weeks Later, the game puts participants in the shoes of survivors during a zombie virus outbreak looking for shelter while trying to avoid getting infected. That’s really just the most simplistic way to describe 2.8 Hours Later, because the game is actually a lot more complex. For example, Asylum, the newly released version of the urban running game features a rich story of the events which led to the catastrophic pandemic. UK cities are locked-down by the Government to protect their inhabitants from the zombie-infected badlands surrounding them, but the measure fails, and when authorities decide to abandon survivors, the city becomes a hell-hole overrun by the infected, vigilantes and bounty-hunters. Players are thrown in this chaotic world of disease, quarantine and murder, and confronted with deeply emotional choices to save themselves and their loved-ones.

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Battle of the Queens – Switzerland’s Ultimate Cow Fighting Championship

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Every year, the peaceful Swiss village of Aproz becomes a battleground for Herens cows, a breed of cattle known for its genetic predisposition for combativeness. During the Battle of the Queens (Combats de Reines) the animals get a chance to fight each other for supremacy.

Before you pick up the phone to call your favorite animal rights association, you should know the Battle of the Queens is nothing like the bloody bull fights organized in Spain. Here, farmers take great care of their prized “queens”, making sure they don’t suffer any serious injuries. Plus, there really isn’t much fighting going on, either. The territorial cows mostly lock horns and push each other with their foreheads, until one of them turns around and walks away, accepting defeat. Some of the fighters have lost horns or gained battle scars in the event, but no serious injuries were recorded in recent events. Herens cows, named after Val d’Herens in Valais, have an aggressive instinct that makes them fight among themselves for leadership of the herd. These so-called queens then take part in regional and national rounds of traditional Swiss cow-fighting, with participation in the final Battle of the Queens as their ultimate goal. The event draws in hundreds of cattle farmers from across Switzerland, eager to test their champions in horned combat, as well as a crowd of spectators. Those who can’t attend, watch the fighting on television or listen to it on Rhone FM, a radio station in Valais with a weekly cow fight program.

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North Korea’s Amazingly Choreographed Human Mosaics

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Take tens of thousands of children, place them in the largest stadium in the world, arm them with giant colored flip-books containing hundreds of colored panels, train them to move in perfect unison and you get the awe-inspiring human mosaics of the Arirang Mass Games, in North Korea.

The Arirang Festival Mass Games held in Pyongyang, are the largest and most impressive exercise of state propaganda in the world. The event runs from August to October, and offers an incredible spectacle of perfectly choreographed gymnastics, dancing, singing, and of course, praising the achievements of the communist nations’s eternal leader Kim Il-Sung.  The games aren’t held every year. They are suspended in case of national emergencies, like when flooding ravages the country and the Government decides the hundreds of thousands of performers are better put to use repairing the destroyed infrastructure. But when the trained human pixels get the chance to perform on Rungrado May Day Stadium, in front of a crowd of 150,000 people, they make the performers of the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony look like a group of children staging a simple school play. Every 20 seconds for a period of two hours they switch the panels of their flip-books to create stunning mosaics honoring Korea’s cultural heritage and its political regime.

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FootGolf – Fun New Sport Combines Football and Golf

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FootGolf is an addictively fun sport that combines golf and football (soccer). It’s usually played on golf courses and players have to putt a football in 21-inch holes using as few kicks as possible.

The origins of footgolf are unclear, but its conversion into an official sport can be attributed to the Netherlands, where the ruleset was standardized in 2009. Its popularity has expanded around the world ever since, and every day more and more football and golf fans choose to replace the club stroke with a good healthy kick. In this new precision sport, players are required to kick a football into a cup in as few shots as possible. Most of the rules correspond to those of golf, and there is even a dress code. The first shot has to be played from the tee, and obstacles like bunkers, trees, water and hills have to be avoided for an easier game. In some countries, the game also features man-made obstacles that the players are not allowed to touch or move in order to get the ball in the hole. Players have to combine powerful kicks with strategic plays in order to complete the 9 or 18 hole course as fast as they can.

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Dutch Company Recruiting Mars Colonists for Original Reality Show

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Would you sign up for a one-way trip to Mars? So far over 10,000 people from all over the world have answered the call of Dutch company Mars One who plans to send volunteer colonists to Mars for a unique new reality TV show.

No human has walked the Moon since 1972, and no one has ever traveled as far as Mars. But Dutch company Mars One plans to change all that in just 10 years time, by sending groups of colonists to the Red Planet and leaving them there for the rest of their lives. The first group of four astronauts will leave Earth in 2022 and theoretically arrive on Mars the following year, when they will start growing their permanent colony. Every two years after that new groups will be making the seven-month journey never to return again. The project has been received with a lot of skepticism from the science world, with many experts expressing doubts about its success due to a series of major drawbacks, including the inability to return to Earth, the lack of food on the barren planet, the atmosphere that consists mainly of carbon dioxide, a temperature of -55 degrees Celsius, the radiation endured during the trip and the risky landing. But Mars One has the backing of renowned physicist and Nobel Prize winner Gerard’t Hooft, as well as the support of major aerospace companies around the world, who have agreed to supply all the equipment necessary for the mission.

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Hari Kuyo – Japan’s Unique Memorial Service for Broken Needles

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Hari Kuyo is a Japanese festival dedicated to old and broken needles. Celebrated every year on the 8th of February, this festival sees hundreds of women dressed in colorful kimonos, gathering at various Shinto shrines or Buddhist temples in and around Tokyo. This 400-year-old ritual involves sticking old and broken needles into soft chunks of tofu or jelly as a way of showing thanks for their hard work. I suppose this tradition springs from the Eastern system of displaying gratitude towards objects that are a source of livelihood. It also reflects on the animist belief that all beings and objects have a soul.

It’s not just about needles, several Japanese women consider Hari Kuyo as a time to value the small, everyday objects of daily life that are otherwise forgotten. Mottainai is the concept of not being wasteful about small things. Burying needles in tofu is said to symbolize rest for the needles, as they are wrapped with tenderness. It’s also about the many sorrows that women are believed to carry in their hearts, the burdens of which are passed on to the needles during many hours of sewing. So the needles do deserve a proper farewell and rest at the end of their service. According to Ryojo Shioiri, a Buddhist monk, “Sometimes there are painful things and secrets that women can’t tell men, and they put these secrets into the pins and ask the gods to get rid of them.”

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The Peabody Hotel’s Celebrity Ducks and Their World Famous March

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The Peabody Hotel in Memphis is famous not just just for its exemplary service, but also for a truly unique attraction – the March of the Peabody Ducks, which involves a performing troupe of, you guessed it, ducks. The whimsical experience is enjoyed by guests both young and old alike, every day of the year.

The daily routine of the Peabody Ducks goes something like this – each morning, at exactly 11 a.m., five North American mallard ducks, four hens and one drake, come down from their $100,000 penthouse in the hotel in their very own private elevator. As the doors open, the ducks take their positions on a plush red carpet in front of their Duckmaster. Then they begin to march to a rousing rendition of John Philip Souza’s King Cotton March. When they reach the orchid-tipped marble fountain in the Grand Lobby, the birds ascend four red-carpeted steps and splash around in the fountain’s water. They stay there until 5 p.m., when the procession is reversed and they march back to their elevator, returning to the Royal Duck palace for a quiet evening.

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Life without Fear – Russia’s Hands-On Approach to Conquering Your Fears

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Life without Fear is an increasingly popular hands-on course that helps people overcome their phobias and anxiety by putting them through a series of extreme trials, including walking on hot coals, sitting on broken glass, swimming in ice-cold water and even eating pieces of burning cotton.

There are people dealing with fears all around the world. In most western countries experts rely on psychology to help patients confront and beat their phobias. Acknowledging your fears, talking about your problems and visualizing yourself overcoming them are some of the most widely used methods, but in Russia, they have a more direct approach. Life without Fear is a two-day course during which participants go through all kind of extreme challenges and facing their greatest fears head on. Created by Valery Bochkarev, a life coach and fire interaction expert, and Alexander Blagov, a personal trainer and martial arts fighter, Life without Fear relies less on theory and lectures and more on direct contact in order to convince people that fear is just an illusion that can easily be overcome. The main idea is to push participants into doing things they never thought themselves able to, whether it be stopping falling knives with their stomach, dancing with balls of fire or breaking wooden poles with their neck.

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The Guinea Pig Festival of Huacho Has Rodents on the Menu

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It’s funny how a cute and furry pet in one part of the world can be considered a delicacy in another. But that’s exactly what guinea pigs are in the small town of Huacho in Peru. In fact, they have a whole festival dedicated to dressing up and cooking the hairy rodents – The Festival of the Guinea Pig, or as the Peruvians call it, the Cavies.

As a part of the festival that has been around since the mid-2000s, guinea pigs are dressed up as kings, miners, peasants, traditional folk singers and also in modern costume for fashion shows. There are prizes for best costume, so every effort is made to impress judges during the show. As cute as they may look in their little outfits, it’s disturbing to know that sometimes, in an effort to make the costumes stay on the guinea pigs, the people of Huacho do not hesitate to use staples. Prizes are handed out for the biggest, fastest, best-dressed and even the tastiest animal of all. Because once the parade is over, it’s time to eat the models! The guinea pigs are taken out of their costumes and cooked in various ways, like baking, frying, or roasting on an open flame. The locals love their cavies served whole on a plate – complete with the heads, guts, paws and even claws. Garnishes include tomatoes, cucumbers, Andean potatoes, and large Peruvian corn calledchoclo. And the best way to eat the animal, according to the Peruvian folk, is to pick up the entire guinea pig and simply suck the meat off the bones. A single dish of whole fried or baked guinea pig with all the garnishes costs approximately $7. According to festival visitor, Juan Rojas, “Guinea pig meat is very nourishing and contains lots of vitamins and other things.” Native to the high Andes, the meat of guinea pigs is considered to be low in fat and an important source of protein.

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The Sacred Antogo Fishing Ritual, or How to Catch All the Fish in a Lake in 15 Minutes

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Just beneath the village of Bamba, in the Northern part of Dogon country in Mali, lies a small, yet sacred lake, where fishing is permitted only once a year – during the unique ritual called Antogo.

In the past, Bamba is said to have been covered in lush green forests. The lake, which is considered to be sacred and populated with good spirits, used to offer tons of fish that contributed to local food requirements. But with changes in climate, desertification, and the passage of time, the region gradually became dry, infertile and inhospitable. The locals now face huge problems such as unavailability of water, but the lake still represents a precious resource to the local Dogons, but one which they exhaust every year during Antogo. The event is held on the 6th month of the dry season, generally in May, but the exact date is fixed each year by the council of wise men. Saturdays are market days in Bamba, and for the first three market days of the month wooden sticks are placed in the middle of the lake, acting as a signal, a warning that the ritual is getting closer. On the day that is finally designated as the day of Antogo, hundreds gather from all parts of Mali around Bamba’s lake. The 3 biggest groups are formed by the most respected and ancient families of various Dogon villages. The group from Bamba itself is usually the largest. These groups of people maintain a collective mystical silence, except for the wise who recite incantations and praise deities. When they are done speaking, the ritual itself – and all the magic associated with it – begins.

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Truly Curious Eats – The Annual Gala of the Explorers Club

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Members of New York’s exclusive Explorers Club get together once a year at the Waldorf Astoria hotel to enjoy some of the most unusual dishes ever conceived. From live tarantulas to juicy cow eyeballs, the menu of the Annual Gala of the Explorers Club features everything you’ve never wanted to put in your mouth. A fair warning – make sure you’re reading this and especially watching the video, on an empty stomach.

The annual gala dinner of the Explorers Club is no dainty affair.It’s a black tie event, but that’s about it as far as niceties are concerned. As you’re about to see for yourself, guests of this bizarre dinner gleefully sink their teeth into live tarantulas, tear the heads off exotic roaches, nib on succulent cow’s eyeballs and snack on battered monkey’s hands. Not really the kind of things ordinary people usually get dressed up for, but then again, Explorers aren’t exactly ordinary. These are people who have traversed the Earth in various expeditions of exploration, who love to discover new and fascinating things, even when it comes to food. This annual gala gives most of them a chance to try obscure dishes, even if they aren’t the most appetizing in the world.

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