Does March Madness bore you? Do you snore through NHL games? For a competition that will really knock you off your feet, take a trip back in time with a cherished British sport that’s been going strong for 400 years: shin-kicking.
The sport is just as brutal as the name suggests. The aim is simple: kick your opponent as hard as you can in the shins until they fall over. Every time your opponent fall over you earn a point. Whoever has the most points after three rounds wins; simple and ruthless.
The procedures for a regular World Shin-kicking Championship game are as follows: Each combatant faces each other and holds onto each other’s col- lars, and he or she typically tries to strike the opponent’s shin with the inside of the foot as well as their toes. A referee decides the game, and it’s played in three rounds. A round is won when one of the players falls to the floor. No wrestling related moves are al- lowed and the fall must only be caused from a hit to the shin. A match can last for as long as 45 minutes before the kickers cannot stand the pain anymore.
Once again, we have to head back to the United Kingdom to find a strange sport. Shin-kicking can be dated all the way back to the early 17th century. When it first started, it was one of the most popular events at the Cotswold Olim- pick Games. The games were a celebration of sports and games and had its first competition all the way back in 1612. It featured everything from horse-racing to sledgehammer throwing. Shin-kicking used little time to become one of the most attended competitions in the games, and earned a solid reputation in Britain back in the days.
Even though the objective is simple, Shin-kicking requires a series of rules and regulations to make sure its competitors stay in line with the development of the sport, as it has worked its way trough a series of scandals during the last 100 years. We are not talking about the use of illegal substances or blood doping, but the use of safety shoes with steel-toe. Yes, you read right. For a while, more and more kickers used shoes developed for industry use to cause even more pain for their opponent. This development was not healthy for the sport, or for the safety of the competitors. Now, only shoes with a soft toe are allowed. They also added a new safety precaution for the players, as competitors are allowed to fill up their pants with as much straw as possible for padding. This gives the kickers a false sense of security as it’s obvious that straw is not as effective as plastic for use on the shins.
There are no official Shin-kicking competitions in America today, but English immigrants practiced the sport some decades back. If you want to try the sport nothing is holding you back. Just make sure you are prepared for the pain mentally, and don’t start out with kick- ing your kids…try to find someone else. It will be hard to explain to the doctor that you were practicing Shin-kicking. To prepare for the World Championships in Cotswold, England in June, many of the leading kickers use unortho- dox ways of getting used to the pain. It is said they use a hammer and hit themselves numerous times to numb up the muscles and shin. Neither this newspaper nor myself will take any responsibility if you decide to follow up on the tips from the world’s leading Shin-kickers. Also make sure your medical insurance covers any potential injuries.