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Russian Slap Fighting: The Niche Sport You Never Knew About … and It’s Coming to the U.S.

Posted By Administration, Monday, June 15, 2020

Yes, some sports have been able to survive through COVID-19. Esports is one of these. College bass fishing tournaments where competitors e-mail a photo of their catch being measured on a bump board (with the largest fish, inch-wise, winning) is another. Then there’s the plethora of virtual events where individuals could take part by running or cycling either at home or outdoors (preferably alone).

But something else that has gone on despite the pandemic, despite all other precautions being taken, is Russian Slap Fighting, the sport where grown men take turns slapping one another across the face until one of them fouls out or passes out. Yes, it's a contact sport. Yes, it's a spectator sport. And yes, it's drawing the crowds (and no, they're not doing the social distance thing).

It’s as strange and testosterone-fueled as it sounds. (Need to see it? Here’s a video link link). And by the way, there are plenty of other videos on YouTube, some narrated in English by a spectacularly profane announcer who uses the handle of Penguinz0. He’s an admirer, not a slapper, but he can still explain what’s going on.

The contestants in a slap fighting contest wear no special equipment – no gloves and no helmets (obviously). To maintain balance after being slapped, competitors hold on to a stand (some sturdier than others) that has been placed between them – although many require assistance to stay on their feet after being struck.

And there are rules, at least in the Russian form of the sport. Only the upper part of the palm can be used to strike only the cheek, without touching the jaw, temple or ear of the opponent – if you hit those, it’s a foul. Evading the slap (including merely flinching to one side) is also a foul. So is using any part of your hand other than the upper part of the palm. If a competitor commits two fouls, he loses the match.

Each man gets five slaps at his opponent. Assuming there are no fouls, a judge decides who fared better, and the winner proceeds to the next round. Occasionally, both contestants split the prize if neither has committed a foul and both have done well.

And yes, medics are on standby – and they are often needed to clean up wounds, revive unconscious patients and make the decision that someone has sustained an injury too severe to allow them to continue (no matter what the contestant might think).

“Anyone who is willing to take part can do so, but the person must understand that it is not fun, it is fun on the one hand, but it carries a high risk to life, risk of getting injured,” explained competition owner, Denis Kiyutsin, in an interview with a news program. “We explain it to everybody, we get everybody together, to explain the rules, what can and cannot be done, like a short briefing, there is at least one judge who is watching that the rules are followed, because people sometimes are cheating, deliberately breaking some rules, but this can lead to serious traumas with their opponent. Every person, by all means, should be aware that it is dangerous that there is risk to life, so every person signs an acknowledgment that he is aware of this,”

Oh, and by the way, this also takes place in the U.S.; one popular YouTube video shows a competition held in Branson, Missouri, where two individuals, known as Hillbilly Hippie (from Mountain Home, Arkansas) and Crazy Hawaiian (who hails from the islands of his namesake), went head to head for nearly 15 minutes before Hillbilly became too concussed to continue. If you want to see a video, it's here.

Slapping contests can be standalone events; in Russia, they began as an add-on to the weekend-long Siberian Power Show—which included bodybuilding, powerlifting, dance offs and a dumpling eating contest. 

“There have always been interesting fistfights in Russia. It happened spontaneously and was interesting. We were sitting and thinking how to diversify our (our event), we are looking at how to make sport more interesting, we have sports zones, and entertainment zones and slap competitions started with a spontaneous idea, why not try?” said Kiyutsin.

The undisputed superstar of Russian slapping is Vasily Pelmen who goes by the remarkable nickname of Dumpling. The mountain of a guy knocking his opponents out with one slap that you at the beginning of this blog? Yeah, that’s Dumpling.

Whether the sport catches on in the U.S. as anything more than a novelty remains to be seen. And it’s unlikely that it’ll ever need special facilities or equipment (other than perhaps punching bags or similar items). The sport’s sponsors tend to be dietary supplements and the commercials (you’ll see one in the first clip) show musclebound weightlifters.

But as mentioned previously, it’s one sport that, in Russia, at least, seems to have a blatant disregard for the pandemic.

“Sports are closed everywhere else,” says Penguinz0, “but in Russia, they’re still slapping each other around. The virus is probably afraid of slap fighting.”

Tags:  American Sports Builders Association  arenas  boxing  combat sports  combative sports  fieldhouses  fighting sports  hand to hand combat  hand-to-hand combat sports  indoor sports  indoor sports facilities  Russian Slap Fighting  wrestling 

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Sports Emerges from COVID-19 with New Ways to Keep Spectators Safe: Are You Aware of Them?

Posted By Mary Helen Sprecher, Monday, May 18, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, May 12, 2020

We know that some sports are coming back from COVID-19 (even MLB has noted its plans to start in July) but what we don’t know is exactly how different localities will cope with social distancing guidelines and with rules pertaining to mass gatherings.

What we’ve seen so far, though has been a new industry springing up to keep people safe as they emerge from quarantine. And in short, it’s a Shark Tank-style wonder, with some incredibly creative examples of adaptive reuse.

The Fan in the Plastic Bubble: UnderTheWeather, the maker of plastic pods, is having what you might call “a moment.” The zip-up plastic tents that parents have, in the past, used to watch their kids’ games in wet, windy and/or cold conditions, are finding new popularity as a means of creating personal space in a post-COVID-19 world.

And, when you think about it, it’s pretty brilliant. Right now, as parts of the U.S. try to restart sports, conditions are far from hospitable. In addition to having some record-breaking cold temperatures for May, many areas are still living under social distancing guidelines.

The plastic pods can hold from one to six people (you choose the size), creating a true “plastic bubble” for those who want to avoid others. (This article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted that parents were using them for one of the area’s first youth baseball events in quite some time). Of course, the pods are made of 100 percent plastic so it’s likely they will be useful during cool or rainy times – but not as the weather heats up.

So what else is happening to keep people safe as they emerge from quarantine? Several concepts – with more hitting the market all the time, including…

Drones Being Used to Sanitize Stadiums: It’s a new take on the old crop duster idea. According to an article in Venues Now, U.S. companies including Rantizo Inc. of Iowa City, Iowa,OMI Environmental Solutions of Belle Chasse, Louisiana, and EagleHawk of Buffalo, New York, are offering amphitheaters, arenas, stadiums and other facilities the opportunity to have airborne sprayer drones disinfect and sanitize their facilities.  

All three use sprayed disinfectants and are marketing drones’ ability to sanitize seating areas and other spaces quickly and safely. In fact, work is already in place with a number of venues. Rantizo recently conducted tests at Principal Park, the Des Moines home of the Triple A Pacific Coast League’s Iowa Cubs, and EagleHawk has done the same at Sahlen Field, where the Buffalo Bisons of the Triple-A International League play. 

All three companies say the drones save on labor costs since it removes the need for individuals to go into stadiums and hose down seats with disinfectants. And for jobs that require a quick turnaround, more drones can be employed, getting the venue done in a shorter time.

New Computer Modeling to Show Where Spectators Can be Placed: Maybe you’re in an area where spectators are allowed but only if they sit certain distances away from one another. The Stadium Business noted that 3D Digital Venue has launched a new service to create virtual reconstructions and perform different types of simulations, showing where spectators can sit, given a stadium’s specific configuration.

Putting Fans in the Stands, Even if They Can’t Be There: Of course, if local ordinances are still forbidding mass gatherings completely, there's a way to put fans in the stands, sort of. In Germany, one soccer fan has developed an app that, for a fee, allow fans to upload an image of themselves that will be printed out and placed in the stands to root for their teams. It costs the equivalent of $20, with a portion of the fee going to COVID-19 relief.

While we don't yet know how long quarantine and social distancing restrictions will be in effect, it's interesting to imagine what ASBA's trade show might look like if these products are still on the market and still in demand.

Tags:  3-D modeling  arenas  cardboard spectators  computer modeling  coronavirus  COVID-19  disinfection  social distancing  spectator safety  sports in the age of COVID-19  stadiums 

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