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Championship of "Raven" versus "The Cannon" via slapFIGHT

Concussion Central: Regulation Slap Fighting

Written by
Allen Barnier
and
and
November 17, 2023
Concussion Central: Regulation Slap Fighting
Championship of "Raven" versus "The Cannon" via slapFIGHT

After being introduced to slap fighting by an Instagram reel on my friend Tyler’s phone, we spent an evening watching “Best Knockout” compilations of slap fighting—prompting me to delve further into the entertaining, overtly brutal sport.

According to SlapFIGHT Championship rules, first defence and first strike in a slap fighting match is determined by a winner’s choice coin flip. Both competitors stand directly across from each other, separated by a wooden barrel (à la Barrel of Monkeys, if you will). To put it simply, each competitor will slap their opponents once per round for ten scheduled rounds—for a total of up to twenty slaps dealt per match.

A maximum of one point is awarded each round, at judges’ discretion. Competitors are scored based on their slap’s “damage and effectiveness”, and the “reaction and recovery” of their opponent upon being struck with an open hand. If a competitor receives a foul, their opponent will automatically earn the point, and if both competitors receive a foul, no points are awarded.

Slap fighters in an offensive position can receive a “clubbing” foul if the slap takes place outside of the target region (heel of the hand below the opponent’s chin), or a “stepping” foul if both feet don’t remain in full contact with the ground throughout the completion of a slap. 

Defending opponents can receive a “flinching” foul if any defensive motion occurs that impacts the effectiveness of a strike. Fouls result in competitors losing their turn, meaning that—and here’s where it gets interesting—their opponent will slap them in the face twice consecutively.

As you may expect, the sport tends to get a bit violent, and can sometimes result in injuries that prevent matches from lasting ten complete rounds. Each competitor will have one to two competitors behind them, depending on their preference, and any contact that a defending participant makes  with their catcher or the ground counts as a knockdown. A competitor earning three knockdowns in a single match causes “technical knockout” and the victory of their opponent. 

A “knockout” occurs when a defender makes contact with their catcher(s) or the ground and doesn’t return to the barrel within sixty seconds of being slapped—this leads to the defender’s automatic loss. In some cases, a knockout is just temporary disorientation or loss of balance from the impact of a strike, but competitors can—and often do—lose consciousness from being slapped.

Now that the rules of slap fighting are on the table (or barrel), let’s talk appeal. To put it bluntly, it’s stupid and mindlessly entertaining to watch. 

Compilations of slap fighting clips have been going viral online for years, and it’s not hard to see why. Slap fighters, understandably, take their matches very seriously and push through the pain of repeatedly being slapped directly in the face in an attempt to leave victorious. Videos have a trainwreck-like effect where you just can’t help but watch—which is only amplified when clips of someone getting slapped full-force in the face are in slow motion.

Like other semi-satirical combat sports, competitors get to choose stage names, and slap fighting pseudonyms are comedy gold. 

My personal favourite SlapFIGHT aliases are Homewrecker, Mexicutioner, Scrappy Doo, The Maine-iac, Monkey Wrench, Berserker, Solid Slug, Black G-Sus, and Frank the Tank. An honourable mention goes to international PunchDown slap fighter, Vasilii “Dumpling” Kamotskii.

A surge of slap fighting championships and leagues has been emerging across North America in recent years, the first being SlapFIGHT, which started in 2017 and have held over 30 events U.S.-wide since their debut. 2022 saw the start of Slap Fighting Championship, a rebranded version of Poland’s famed PunchDown league that is co-promoted by unexpected duo Arnold Schwarzenegger and Logan Paul. 

This past year, UFC also started Power Slap; a project that included the televised documentary series “Power Slap: Road to the Title” but has not gotten much positive publicity due to its lack of strict safety regulations.

As for the health component, many doctors and neurologists are not the biggest supporters of the sport, as extreme head trauma is an evident consequence of participating in regulation slap fighting. Along with induced fainting and second-impact concussion syndrome caused by back-to-back strikes, competitors often experience visible swelling or bleeding during matches, especially in international leagues. 

Sorin Comsa, winner of the RXF Heavyweight Title in Romania, is a perfect example of this, as his final match resulted in severe facial bruising and disfiguration. Though physician and medical staff presence is required at each match, they are unable to prevent a slap fighter’s impending neurological injuries by their attendance. But in all reality, almost every sport subjects its athletes to dangerous conditions, and slap fighting just presents physical harm in a more upfront way than most other games—making it easier to criticize.

Slap fighting resembles regulation-level fighting between two drunk frat boys—but nonetheless, it is an enigma of modern sports that is worth watching, even if it’s only the YouTube highlights of each match. 

Stay tuned for the Arthur Staff Slap Fighting Championship—a competition I am sure to lose.

Arthur Spring Elections 2024
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