The Art of Cardboard Tube Fighting

The Art of Cardboard Tube Fighting

the love of it talks to Robert Easley, founder of the Cardboard Tube Fighting League, about cardboard costumes, a love of playing and why hitting people with tubes is so much fun

What is the Cardboard Tube Fighting League?

The Cardboard Tube Fighting League (CTFL) is really more of an idea than a cohesive organisation. The glue that binds any of it is simply the fond memories many people have of wailing on each other with cardboard tubes as children.

How did it start?

It began in the summer of 2007 when I was working in Seattle. I was attempting to devise a way to indoctrinate ordinary people in the evil nightmarish world of LARPing (Live Action Role Playing game). I also really just like to see people play. The idea that came to me was a league completely devoted to cardboard tube fighting, cardboard crafts and costumes.

As a venue I chose the well known Gas Works Park in Seattle. My first event was picked up by a Seattle event guide called The Stranger. What had originally been assumed to be small group of devoted tube duellers turned into a decent sized event with 50 participants and media coverage. The event had a classic elimination tournament format boiling down to a duel between the two most successful duellers that day. Two tubes went in, and one tube came out.

What happened then?

People had fun and I decided to hold another event. The next month, things ballooned quickly. Suddenly I was getting calls for interviews from all over the world, tons of emails began pouring in asking if people could start their own leagues, and the CTFL began to appear in newspapers, blogs, and on television. The idea of the CTFL was seductive and whimsical to a number of adults who appreciated an afternoon of battling for the title of Cardboard Tube Master.

I began sending out a simple email with information on how people could hold their own event, which led to tournaments in Toronto, Sydney, St. Petersburg, and all over the United States, drawing up to 500 participants at some events. Great people joined the cause and started leagues like Ravin Pierre, Dan Gilmore, and Colin Knight.

What are the rules?

As I developed the idea, I decided to make the tube fighting bouts be decided by one core rule: to win you must break your opponent’s tube without breaking your own. As the idea evolved other rules, such as where you could hold the tube, were instituted but were all based around the idea of tube breakage.

What are the prizes?

To motivate participants, I went about locating and acquiring cardboard tubes of legendary status to be given away as prizes to the winners. These tubes of great repute can be seen on the CTFL’s website

Describe a typical CTFL event and where do they take place?

Events are usually a lot of people in cardboard costumes playing and having fun. There is usually a children’s tournament in the beginning followed the adults. Things tend to get pretty intense at the last bout. Almost all CTFL events have taken place in public parks.

Some of the costumes that people make are amazing – what are your favourites?

Optimas Prime

Captain America

…and this man right here

What is it about dressing up in cardboard and hitting each other with tubes that people enjoy?

I believe that deep down there are a lot of adults who enjoy playing and not taking themselves too seriously, but that there are not as many venues to express that as there should be. I don’t believe the idea that when you reach a certain age that you become an adult and you must reject all things playful and frivolous.

Can you share a few of your favourite Cardboard Tube related memories?

An event had just finished up at Gas Works Park. Myself and a small group of Cardboard Warriors were gathering our belongs when out of nowhere a group of people in paper hats wielding cardboard tubes ran from some nearby cover and attacked us. A fierce battle ensued and shortly thereafter the invaders called for a retreat. As I chased them I realise they were heading towards Lake Union which lines the park. I thought to myself “Ahah! We have them trapped” but to my surprise, as I came over the rise, I watched as the cardboard pirates jumped into a large wooden boat and began rowing out into the lake leaving me to stand in ankle deep water cursing and shaking my fist in a cardboard fuelled rage.

And finally, who would win in a fight – pirates or ninjas?


the love of it launched the Cardboard Tube Fighting League: Bristol Chapter with the St Valentine’s Day Massacre on 14 February 2010. Cardboard chaos ensued.

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