Yukigassen – Competitive Snowball Fighting from Japan

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If you grew up in a place where it snowed, you probably would have mastered the art of throwing snowballs. Bet no one thought much of your talent back then. Too bad you never heard of Yukigassen, a snowball fighting competition that is held in Japan every year, and now in other parts of the world as well.

Yukigassen, literally meaning “snow battle”, originated around 20 years ago as a marketing scheme. The Mount Showa-Shinzan resort wanted to attract more tourists in the winter, so they devised this game, which certainly sounds like it could be a lot of fun. It is being described as a combination of chess, paintball and backyard brawling. The objective of the game is pretty simple. Players of the opposing team need to be knocked out with snowballs. But of course, there are more technicalities involved. For instance, the field on which Yukigassen is played is a 44 X 12 yard rectangle divided by red and blue lines, similar to the layout of a hockey rink. Three periods, three minutes in duration each, constitute the match. The team that wins two out of three is ultimately the winner of the match. A period could either be won by having more standing players than the team at the opposite end, or by capturing the other team’s flag without getting hit by their snowballs.

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No Snow? No Problem, We’ll Just Ski on Rocks

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Although it’s December and the skiing season is officially open, there is no sign of snow in the Tyrol region of Austria. But that’s no reason not to ski, at least not for those brave enough to practice the winter sport on a rock-covered slope.

45 kilometers west of Innsbruck, near the picturesque village of Haiming, skiers have found the perfect place to test out their skiing equipment, even though there’s not one white patch of snow in sight. The brave daredevils climb a rock-covered slope on foot and descend on their skis, leaving a cloud of dust behind them. The rocks aren’t as smooth as snow, and they obviously do a lot of damage to their equipment, but the avid skiers don’t seem to mind, as long as they get to practice their favorite sport. Falling of your skies during a descent on the rocky slope of Haiming isn’t what you’d call a pleasurable experience, that’s why only experienced skiers are advised to try their luck here.

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In Indonesia Football Is Played with a Ball of Fire

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Sepak Bola Api, or The Fireball Game, is a unique game Indonesians play to welcome the month of Ramadan. It’s a lot like football only they have to kick a flaming fireball.

It seems regular football is pretty boring. At least that’s the feeling I get after discovering similar games like Footdoubleball, Cycle Ball or Burton-on-the-Water. The latest addition to the list of games that makes football look easy is an Indonesian tradition that had people kick a flaming football in celebration of Ramadan. It’s called Sepak Bola Api and is usually celebrated in the Yogyakarta, Bogor, Tasikmalaya, and Papua regions of the Southeastern Asia archipelago. Just like in the regular game of football, two teams of 11 eleven players kick a ball and try to shoot it in the opposing goal. But that’s easier said than done when playing barefoot and kicking a flaming ball.

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You Think Football Is Too Easy? Try Footdoubleball

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Invented by a group of Ukrainian students who apparently thought regular football wasn’t exciting enough, footdoubleball is a wacky sport played with two balls of different color, at the same time.

Footdoubleball isn’t exactly new, since it was first played in 2007, but it’s definitely new to many people in western European countries, and especially North America, where regular football (soccer) isn’t as popular as in other parts of the world. Most of the rules that apply in a game of football are also obeyed in footdoubleball, but there are certain alterations and additions supposed to make the game “more dynamic and dramatic”. The most notable difference between the two sports is that footdoubleball is played with two balls (of different color) at the same time. At the start of the match each team is awarded one of the balls, and goalkeepers have to kick off the game from the corners of the keeper’s area. That’s when it starts getting really confusing. Each team tries to attack with one ball and defend its goal from the other team at the same time. If one team manages to steal the ball from the other team it can attack with both, and goalkeepers often find themselves in situations where they have to parry two strikes at the same time.

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Sepak Takraw – A Combination of Football, Volleyball and Kung-Fu

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Invented around 500 years ago, in Malaysia, Sepak Takraw remains one of the most spectacular sports in the world. It combines elements from football, volleyball and martial arts, and is real fun to watch.

It is believed Sepak Trakaw is based on the Chinese game of “Cuju” (kick-ball), after it was introduced to Southeastern Asian countries like Malaysia and Thailand, by early traders. By the early 1400s, the game had already become very popular and was played mainly by men and boys standing in a circle and kicking the ball back and forth. Earliest historical mentions date back to the 15th century, when, according to an important historical document, it was very popular at the court of the Malacca Sultanate. In Bangkok, murals at the Wat Phra Kaeo show Hanuman, the monkey king, playing Sepak Trakaw with a group of monkeys.

Sepak Takraw is played on a court similar to that of badminton, between two teams made up of three players, each. The ball used is bigger than a tennis ball, but smaller than a volleyball, and weighs between 170 and 180 grams. The goal of the game is to send the ball into the opponents’ half so that it touches the floor, while using only your legs and head. It’s kind of like volleyball, only no hands are allowed. A game of Sepak Takraw consists of two sets, each played until one team reaches 21 points (unless the other team has 20 points, in which case a two-point difference is required, to win). If each team wins a set, a tie-break round is played, until one team has 14 points.

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Chessboxing – The Thinking Person’s Contact Sport

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Chessboxing is a very unique sport that consists of alternating rounds of boxing and chess, allowing players to win either by knockout or check mate.

You probably think it’s a joke, but those who actually practice chessboxing take it very seriously. In order to be a world class chess-boxer, one must have extensive boxing experience and be at least a Class A strength chess player. The basic idea in chessboxing is to combine the top combat sport with the number one thinking sport into a hybrid that requires competitors to give it their best both physically and mentally.

The history of chessboxing can be traced back to 1992, when French cartoonist Enki Bilal created The Nikopol Trilogy, a comic book that depicted a futuristic world where men boxed on a chessboard floor. The concept inspired Dutch artist Iepe Rubingh to create chessboxing and organize the first world championship, in 2003. Since then, the sport he been constantly gaining popularity and new members from all walks of life join every year.

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New York Hosts First Pillow Fight World Cup

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Most people think of pillow fighting as a fun childhood game or some scantly clad women putting on a show, but for the women participating in the Pillow Fight World Cup it’s a real sporting competition.

Eight women armed with fluffy pillows and dressed like athletes could be seen stepping into the ring during this first edition of the Pillow Fight World Cup, which took place on May 17, at The Warsaw Polish National Home, in Brooklyn, NY. Competitors were all girls and came from countries like Austria, Japan, Sweden and of course, the USA. “It’s less brutal than boxing, but you still need technique,” said Maylin Kretzschmar, 26, one of the three Austrians engaged in the tournament. “It’s a fun sport. I don’t want to punch someone in the face, but you can still get rid of your aggression.” The Austrians were the most experienced competitors seeing they have a pillow fighting league back home, and train constantly.

The man behind the Pillow Fight World Cup is Andrew Thompson, creator of Punk Rock Pillow Fight, a sporadic event where pillow-fighting men and women wack each other senseless with pillows. He was approached by the Austrians about a serious all-girl World Cup tournament, and he was happy to organize it. Everyone involved sees this event as an opportunity to raise the profile of a so-called sport most people probably haven’t played since childhood.

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comBATON – Welcome to Martial Arts Football

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Do you like American Football but wish kicking was allowed in the game? Are you a martial arts student who wishes classes weren’t so darn boring? If this is you, comBATON will be your favorite sport.

ComBATON was invented back in 1998, by Steve Blanton, but the first practice game didn’t take place until November 2004. You see, although Blanton had a vision, he needed someone to develop the game into a playable version, and that person was David Turnbull, president of the Florida A.A.U. Tae Kwon Do Association. He had more than a few black belt students more than willing to play in a game of comBATON, and when he saw how naturally they acted as a team, on the field, he knew he had struck gold.

The word comBATON is derived from combat and baton, and“the object of the game is for the offense to move the baton down field and score on their opponent’s goal pole. The defense must stop the offense and end the attack by kicking the baton carrier.” The goals are more like poles from which the opponent’s baton hangs, and a member of the attacking team carrying their baton has to kick the opponent’s baton to score. Sounds a little confusing with all these batons lying around, but martial arts enthusiasts seem to love it.

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Horse Boarding – The Latest in Equestrian Extreme Sports

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Adrenaline junkies have found a new way to get their fix – horse boarding, a fresh extreme sport where boarders on off-road skateboards are dragged by horses, reaching speeds of over 35 mph.

Horse boarding was invented three years ago, by Daniel Fowler-Prime, after he tied a rope between his mountain board and a horse, and decided it was a pleasurable experience. He was just messing around on the farm, and laughing with his friends, but soon realized this could actually be considered a sport. This summer, he’s proud to be organizing Britain’s first Horse Boarding Championship.

According to Daniel, ”We have people from all over the country coming to the training ground to try it. It’s very accessible for people of all abilities, you only need a bit of space and a lot of guts,” Easy for him to say, he’s a professional stunt horse rider and has made appearances in films like “Kingdom of Heaven” and “The Da Vinci Code”, but for regular people, holding on to a rope while maintaining balance at 35 mph has to be pretty tough.

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In Austria Hockey Is Played under the Ice

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Underwater Ice Hockey is a new sport that originated in Austria and is increasingly popular among freedivers and extreme sports enthusiasts.

Not to be confused with underwater hockey, which is played in indoor swimming pools, underwater ice hockey is practiced in a 6 meters wide by 8 meters long rink under the icy surface of a frozen lake. After cutting a square hole in the thick ice, players wearing wetsuits and carrying hockey sticks jump into the ice-cold water and try to guide a floating puck into their opponents’ goal. Think of it as an upside-down game of hockey.

Underwater ice hockey players need to have excellent breath-holding abilities, considering they’re not allowed to play with any kind of breathing apparatus. Considering matches can get pretty physical, players need to surface about every 30 seconds, for a breath of fresh air. Because divers can easily get disoriented during a game,  in case one of them is to exhausted to reach the hole, or can’t find it, four divers equipped with oxygen tanks supervise every match. Underwater ice hockey periods last 10 minutes, and players are allowed 10 minute breaks to warm up.

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Cycle Ball – When Cycling Met Football

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Cycle Ball is a niche sport that combines football and cycling in a unique way. It’s been around for over a century, but it’s still regarded as an unusual sport, especially in America.

Also known as “radball”, Cycle Ball was invented in 1893, by a German-American named Nicholas Edward Kaufmann, and steadily gained popularity around Europe. The first Cycle Ball championship was held in 1929, and the sport even reached far lands like Japan, but it never really caught on in the US. You’d think Yanks don’t fancy weird sports played on a bike, but how do you explain the increasing popularity of Bike Polo, or Unicycle Basketball?

Cycle Ball is played by two teams made up of two players riding around a basketball field and trying to shoot a ball through their opponents’ goal, using their heads, or the front wheels of the bikes. It may sound strange, but it’s a pretty simple and fun game to play. A match consists of two seven-minute halves, in which players must keep their feet off the ground to avoid a free-kick, and try to score more goals than their adversaries. While defending the goal, one of the players is allowed to use hands, but you’d be surprised how hard the ball is usually struck in one of these games, so using hands doesn’t help much if the ball is well directed.

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Knokkers – Combining Pool and Bowling in One New Sport

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Played on a table four times the size of a regular pool table, Knokkers is a new sport that combines elements from both billiards and bowling.

Back in 1985, Steve Wienecke, from Fredericktown, Missouri, was playing in a local pool league, and one day he got it in his head that it would be great to actually play on the table. The former semi-pro football player and cage fighter, currently working as a parole and probation assistant is also an inventor in his spare time, so once the idea was born in his head, it was bound to become reality. His other inventions were deemed unoriginal, but he knew no one had ever built a giant pool table like the one he had in mind.

The idea for his Knokkers table lingered in his head for quite a while, but Steve finally started working on it in 2008. His wife originally thought he was crazy, but seeing his idea take shape, she began encouraging him to realize his dream. Local businesses provided the materials our inventor needed (38 railroad ties, five truckloads of gravel, and 4. 1/4 yards of concrete) and after 200 hours of hard labor, his Knokkers table was complete. “It’s exactly like a regulations pool table, only everything is scaled up four times.Even the dimensions of the pockets are the same, just a lot bigger.” said Steve Wienecke.

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Federer and Nadal Face Off on Floating Tennis Court

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Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, the two top seated tennis players in the world, kicked off the tournament in Doha with an exhibition match on a floating tennis court. I never thought I’d get the chance to write a post about my favorite athlete of all times, Roger Federer, on a blog about oddities, but I guess you really never can say never.

Usually, there’s nothing a tennis player hates more than a flooded court, but in this case both Nadal and Federer were more than happy to get their feet wet, in order to promote the upcoming ATP Tour. They were brought in by boat, to a tennis court floating in a lagoon, on the coast of Doha, Qatar. The two exchanged a few friendly balls, but avoided sprints, as neither seemed to fancy a bath.

Nadal said: “For the past three years we have done a few different things, and this one was a very nice experience.” and Federer added “”It was good fun. It was so different. You’re always excited and nervous to see how it will turn out. It is always nice promoting an event and an entire tour with Rafa.”

What’s even more impressive is how these two tennis legends leave their rivalry on the court, where it belongs, and works so well on promoting different events, and tennis itself.

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“Butt Drag” Wrestling Move Drags Sexual Battery Charges

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Preston Hill, a 17-year-old Buchanan High School student from Clovis, California, used the Butt Drag move on one of his teammates at a school-sponsored event and now faces sexual battery charges.

As both Preston and his father assert the “butt drag” is a move that his coaches taught him ever since he was in middle school, the boy’s family doesn’t understand why such a common move brought such dire consequences. As coaches describe it, the “butt drag” is a move which involves grabbing the butt cheeks of the rival and inserting your fingers inside his anus, as to obtain better positioning and leverage.

Although it has been used for years in many wrestling matches, Preston has been suspended until his expulsion hearing. He has also been charged with sexual battery and the trial was to begin on Thursday, 9th of Dec.

On the other hand, Ross Rice, the assaulted boy’s father, claims it was an intentional aggression,as Preston was looking to get revenge on his opponent for standing up to him in school. “Preston took it beyond a wrestling move. He crossed the line.”

This is not a first. In 2007, an also 17-year-old wrestling champion from  South Dakota was charged with rape and attempted rape, as there were six other wrestlers that testified against him, saying that he penetrated or tried to penetrate their anuses. He was found guilty…

I can’t wait to see your comment on this one!

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Bike Polo Is Quickly Becoming a Popular Sport

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Derived from the traditional equestrian sport the English are so found of, bike polo started out as just another underground urban sport, but is now one of the most popular cycling sports in America.

Bicycle polo can be traced back to 1891, when Irish cyclist Richard J. Mecredy first came up with the crazy idea of riding the bike with one hand and holding a polo mallet in the other. Back then, it was played on grass, just like horse polo, and it wasn’t until the last decade that bike polo started being played on hard surfaces.  Bikers first started competing in Bike Polo games in cities like New York, Chicago and Seattle, but thanks to the Internet, it quickly spread to other US cities, and is now a regimented sport, with a clear set of rules and its own championship – the North American Hardcourt Bicycle Polo Championships.

The game of Bike Polo basically features two teams of three members chasing a street hockey ball, trying to kick it through the opposition’s small goal. Their mallets are made from plastic tubes and old ski sticks, and their fixed gear bikes only have one handlebar, to allow better control of the hockey ball. As you can imagine, this is not the safest sport in the world, especially considering it’s played on hard surfaces and there are a lot of crashes involved. Players try to gracefully avoid bumping into one another, but that’s not very easy to do on a bicycle, and accidents do happen. But that’s precisely what makes bicycle polo an adrenaline filled sport, and that’s why so many people love it.

Bike polo is well on its way to becoming a mainstream sporting event, as authorities keep building more and more sanctioned places to practice the sport, all across the United States, and players hope they’ll soon be able to organize world class bike polo competitions.

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