A breeze blew in from the ocean on the day that the warrior arrived in Fell’s Point, bearing weapons and the promise of a tournament.
As gladiator souls gathered, leaving behind the day’s labors and reveries, afternoon shadows fell across the square.
The warrior, Aline Xayasouk, went over the rules for what was possibly Baltimore’s first ever cardboard tube fighting tournament, held last Sunday at 4 p.m. in Fell’s Point’s Broadway Square.
The first rule of cardboard tube fighting:
“Don’t break your tube,” said Xayasouk.
The winner of a cardboard tube fighting match is the fighter whose tube remains unbroken.
The second rule:
Only tube-to-tube contact is allowed. But accidents can happen.
“You might get hit with a tube, which is why you signed the waiver,” said Xayasouk.
No stabbing or “lunging in” is allowed. Doing so results in ejection from the tournament.
“Hitting people in the face is heavily frowned upon,” said Xayasouk.
Once the rules were clear, Xayasouk called fighters to the center of the square in pairs, and men, women and children dueled with their cardboard tubes.
Xayasouk, a member of the international Cardboard Tube Fighting League as well as the meetup group Baltimore Playground, has been living in the Bayview Neighborhood and wanted to organize a cardboard tube fighting tournament before she moves to Chicago in a couple of months.
“I always thought Baltimore City would be a great place to hold an event like this,” she said.
Xayasouk tried to partner with “people who might be able to host something like this,” but arrangements never materialized so she held the event herself on Broadway Square.
A few Facebook posts and a brief spot in City Paper managed to bring 40 or more fighters to test their skills.
Mary England, who made herself champion by defeating Haley Ward, said that she was surprised to even make it through the first round of fighting. Once she did, however, she began talking strategy with her comrades.
“If the tube bends one way, it’s better to hold it the other way, so as not to accentuate the bend,” England said.
Ward, the runner up, cautioned future tube fighters to be economical with their strikes.
“Definitely do not wildly swing,” she said. “It doesn’t help.”
According to the Cardboard Tube Fighting League’s website, tubeduel.com, the league “was created out of a desperate need to better train and arm citizens with cardboard tubes.”
The website features a wealth of history on the cardboard tube as a weapon. According to the site, “the history of the cardboard tube dates back to the lesser-known cardboard age that directly preceded the Iron Age, in roughly the 14th Century B.C.”
The cardboard tube faded from the battlefield during the Middle Ages, when it was “replaced by the Viking cardboard battle axe, which had gained popularity as a fierce weapon.”
Fortunately, “cardboard tubes saw a strong resurgence in the 4th Century, due to the weapon’s superior effectiveness against the laminated linen armor favored at the time.”
Much more information is available at tubeduel.com. For more pictures from last Sunday’s event, search “Cardboard Tube Fighting TOURNAMENT” on Facebook.
by Erik Zygmont