Friday, October 29, 2010

Weird Sports, Vol 4: Shin Kicking

Pictured above: dumb people exercising their dumbness. Shin kicking is dumb.

Weird Sports is a semiregular feature I write for the Rec Services blog at Trinity Western University as a favour to a good friend of mine. It will appear on PITB on Thursdays (ish). Let us take a break from our Canuckness and appreciate that Canadians are a hockey-loving people, and not the sort that love dumb sports like this one.

In case I haven’t been clear as to how these weird sports are undeniable evidence that humanity is riding a bullet train straight into a river of pure, liquid stupidity, consider the unique sport of shin kicking. Yes, shin kicking is a very real organized sport in which two opponents square off, grasp shoulders, and then violently kick, or “clog” each other’s shins. I’m not kidding you. That’s all this is.

How do you win a shin kicking match? It’s quite simple. You kick an opponent so hard in the shins that he becomes unable to stand. Then you push him over. Now I’m no pacifist, and I enjoy a good fight (preferably of the hockey variety) as much as the next bloodthirsty psycho, but shin kicking seems, to me, to be unpleasant for all involved parties. Have you ever so much as hit your shin on a coffee table? It is the worst thing in the world. There is no greater pain, save perhaps when a cat bites the flap of skin between the thumb and the forefinger. My innate protectiveness of the shins is a large part of why I don’t play soccer (also a weird sport). Apparently, you’re allowed to wear thick socks–even stuff them with straw–if you’re a tad apprehensive about the idea of having your shins bashed in by someone’s shoe. Not that this helps–contestants are jerks, so they wear heavy boots, though you’ll be pleased to know that steel-toed boots were banned in the 1950s (before which time broken legs were commonplace).

But here’s the incredible thing: shin kicking was invented in 1636, which means it took a very long time for somebody to suggest that steel-toed boots took the fun out of it. Since steel-toed boots were invented around 1899, that means half a century went by before somebody went, “People probably don’t like it when somebody kicks them in the shins with a steel-toed boot FOR SPORT.” I personally feel this realization was unnecessarily delayed.

Yes, shin-kicking, or “Hacking”, as it is often called by those in the know, was invented in the 1630s in England. For some reason, it was often done in the nude. Tales of “hobnailed” or “clogged” competitors gushing blood were commonplace, and the sport was popular among the working class. Unsurprisingly, it was not popular among Puritans, the lovable, America-founding stick-in-the-muds who, as we all know, were against all pointless frivolity (except for witch-hunting).

In this case, they probably had a point. I think we can all agree that the good lord did not design our shins to be “clogged.”

One thing I often wonder about is how somebody trains for a weird sport like this. When it comes to shin kicking, it’s actually quite simple: contestants harden their shins by hitting them with coal hammers. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? What possesses a man to sit down in his spare time and hit his shins with a coal hammer? Why, the love of sport, and unfortunately, a lot of people love shin kicking. How many? Too many. More than enough to host a World Shin Kicking Championships, a popular annual event in Gloucester, in the southwest region of England. I imagine that's a gathering of unfiltered stupidity not unlike the locker room of a certain Alberta-based hockey team. Just sayin'.

Has anybody ever been to a shin kicking competition? Is it even half as stupid as it sounds? Because, to me, it sounds twice as stupid as it sounds. Let me know in the comments.

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