Next to sex, there's nothing that delights the old primate tendencies quite like dealing someone a good ol' fist upside the cranium. Sadly, the vast majority of us have candy for an ass and are far too removed from our caveman days to get our own knuckles all scuffed up. So instead, we watch people fight our battles for us on the TV, while assuring all within earshot that we could totally whip their butts if we wanted to (we just don't, and never will want to). But like any spectator event, martial arts tournaments must fight tooth and nail to hold on to our ever more fickle attention spans. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how we end up with certifiably insane competitions like ...
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you took American Gladiators, exported it to Russia, and ran it through their patented Fuckstripper(TM) to remove every last fuck it ever had to give? Well, wonder no more, dear friend, because the Russians have already done it by creating the vastly undernamed Hip Show.
Complete with a flame-bearded announcer straight out of The Hunger Games, Hip Show features full-contact team martial arts fighting with an added twist: It takes place inside a mazelike three-level obstacle course. If you're wondering how throwing down in a group brawl while standing precariously near the edge of raised platforms could possibly be a good idea, we humbly submit that it is not a good idea. It is the best idea.
Fuck you, sliced bread!
Fights consist of two-on-two teams flailing their way through three two-minute rounds, with the use of joint locks and choke holds prohibited during the first two rounds because we paid to see some face punching, goddammit. As you can imagine, teamwork is essential -- the moment one partner drops, the arena transforms into a two-against-one death maze. And since being inactive is also against the rules, anyone caught hiding behind the obstacles is subjected to immediate execution by bear mauling. Or disqualification. Whatever. It's Russia -- the bear mauling is implied.
With the exception of your local renaissance faire, the real world is facing a tragic shortage of guys in full armor whacking each other with swords. Not to worry, because here to remedy that situation are Knight Fighting Leagues, which are pretty much exactly (and awesomely) what they sound like.
Polska Liga Walk Rycerskich
"Please God let the codpiece hold please God let the codpiece hold please God ..."
Such leagues are most popular in Europe, where Poland unsurprisingly hosts the Polish Knight Fighting League. These "knights" use replicas of medieval plate armor and period-authentic weapons like swords and axes -- which are, of course, blunted (because otherwise that would be plain old-fashioned murder) -- to go at each other in an archaic free-for-all in which winners are determined based on the number of blows landed (or whoever's still standing after said blows have done said landing).
If you're looking to join up, you'd better find yourself a damn good squire with plenty of armor-affixing expertise, because pretty much anything goes in Knight Fighting League: kicks, knee strikes, and helmeted head butts are par for the course. Fights can be one-on-one or in "armies," which is about as close to a real life Game of Thrones scene as you can experience short of banging your sister.
Polska Liga Walk Rycerskich
Hopefully George R.R. Martin will have finished the books by the time you wake from your coma.
The Polish league is just one of several participants in the Battle of the Nations, a world championship taking place in Croatia (presumably because Croatia has lax laws regarding dealing out myriad sword welts to total strangers). And before you even ask -- yes, there's an American team. So get to polishing that armor if you're ready to trade in your weekend cosplay for something a bit more ... momentous.
Somehow, in between exchanging pleasantries, having national health care, and saying "about" wrong, Canadians have found the time to build the world's first professional Pillow Fight League. Haha, leave it to those friendly Canadians to find a way to fight politely, right, fella-
That looks way more hardcore than the confusingly erotic slumber party pillow fights we're familiar with, and that's because the PFL is serious business: In true "professional" fighting league fashion, PFL's fighters create dramatic personae such as ChamPain, Dinah Mite, and Olivia Neutron Bomb. That makes them sound like the plushy doppelganger of the WWE, but make no mistake: These fights are totally unscripted and go way beyond whapping each other with pillows. In fact, the pillows are often the only thing preventing the fighters from pulverizing each other into unrecognizable human smoothies.
Her hair's green now. It'll be red when she's done.
Stacey Case, one of PFC's founders, has said, "It's not pillow fighting. It's fighting with pillows." And she wasn't kidding, as fights have resulted in broken bones, shattered teeth, and a wicked case of feather rash.
Team Fighting Championship
MMA skyrocketed into popularity just as soon as people discovered how much fun it is to watch two guys beat the high school education out of each other. But sometimes two sweaty dudes groping each other just ain't enough to get your rocks off. God knows we've all been in that situation.
Enter TFC, the Team Fighting Championship:
This new MMA variant uses standard MMA rules (i.e., completely humiliate your opponent, preferably by way of feeding him his own left foot), except for one tiny detail: Rather than one-on-one, TFC features teams of five-on-five. You might recognize this emerging sport by its more common name: "gang warfare."
Team Fighting Championship
Or in Russia, "Sunday."
A normal MMA match builds slowly as the fighters study their opponent, sizing up their weaknesses and formulating a plan for the eventual takedown. Well, TFC says that thinkin' noise is for pussies -- the only studying these fighters do takes place during the approximately three nanoseconds before they run headlong into their opponents and punch them so hard they forget the alphabet. The rules are "last man standing," so as soon as a fighter's allies are down for the count, he'll find himself the focal point of an orgy of elbows and knees.
Team Fighting Championship
"I'm just about to make my move!"
Human beings are roughly 60 percent water. Russians are roughly 80 percent vodka, and the other 20 percent is barely restrained fury. Just take their traditional combat fests, during which entire villages get to know each other a little better by stomping a surplus mud hole in each other's asses, because apparently they'd never heard of a potluck.
Russian leaders have been trying to curb the practice of these "wall-on-wall" fights since as early as the 17th century, though admittedly they didn't so much abolish the practice outright as they said, "Guys, you really gotta quit using sticks and shit. Seriously." But if anything, removing the dirty from the fighting only reinforced the Russian populace's bloodlust, as the practice grew more widespread during the reign of Catherine the Second, surviving through the silent-film era ...
... and right up to today, when a new Russian generation is doing their damnedest to keep the old ways alive by way of keeping everything else dead.
Today's fights are not as lethal as those of yore (thanks in large part to referees keeping tabs on the fighters with freaking bullwhips), but watching them is no less cringe-inducing. And cringe right along you can, since, thanks to Russia's prevalent dash-cam culture, onlookers are more than happy to record the fights and show the world how utter insanity can be pretty rad to watch from the safety of your couch and your warm, fleshy body. The fights gain momentum as they go, building from bare-fisted one-on-one bouts ...
To small group bouts ...
To massive Walls of Death that resemble bloody revolutions more than they do a weekend's fun.
"Oh, is it 'Sunday' already?"
Those are traditional Nigerian Dambe boxers. Historically practiced by butchers' guilds because of their important ritualistic role in Nigerian culture, Dambe has survived to the present day because, honestly, who's going to tell them to stop?
Although there is a sanctioned official tournament where fighters use something akin to Western boxing gloves, in its more traditional form, Dambe boxers bind one of their hands in layers of rope -- just one, because the fight mechanics follow a "spear and shield" approach. The unwrapped hand is used to deflect, parry, or grab the opponent, while the other delivers rope-wrapped bitch slaps.
Or bitch life-ending haymakers.
While you can imagine that getting clocked by a twine-encrusted haymaker would be less than conducive to having a face, the good news is that today's version of the sport is much less brutal than in the past -- because the practice of dipping the fist into ground glass is now considered illegal. That's right, these namby-pamby modern kids only coat their hand wrappings in sand before they set to work bashing each other's personalities away. What wusses.
N-nobody ever tell this guy we said that. Even jokingly.
If he has a problem, he can come right down to our office at BuzzFeed.com and say it to our faces.
Raoni is a Bullshitsu Master, and you must defeat him to stand a chance.
Related Reading: Cracked is all about martial arts. Did you know it's possible to grab arrows out of the damn air? If you're looking for ways to kill a man with one hand, we've collected those too. Prefer your martial arts to stay in ridiculous movies? We've got also got a list for that.