Release your stress and join the foam fighting club


Screaming and falling to the floor, Sam Kozlowski alerts the herald of the match that he has been stabbed and killed for the rest of the game.

The Foam Fighting Club is a sports club at FGCU that meets three times a week to prepare for competitions across the nation. This sport includes three major techniques of foam fighting. It combines the rule sets of Dagorhir, Amtgard and Way of the Sword.

“I like hitting people,” Kozlowski said, who has been a member of the FFC for two years. “It’s a great way to relieve some stress.”

Ryan Fox, the founder and president of the FFC, founded the club in the fall of 2013. FGCU is the first school in Florida to have made this an official club sport.

“It bridges that gap between a nerd and a jock…I’m both,” Fox said. “Where am I supposed to go? I don’t really like football or soccer, but I like dungeons and dragons… does that make sense?”

Foam fighting is known to be a game of honor. You declare yourself dead once someone hits you with one of their foam weapons. You build a reputation for yourself and the way you treat other fighters.

“Fox kept bugging me to watch the video of people fighting and I was like, ‘dude no, it’s lame,’” David Flanigan said, former treasurer of the club. “Then I watched it and thought it was pretty cool so I got out and fought and he proceeded to break my hand…I got in it from then.”

All participants must sign a release form before they can fight in any event. They are also required to wear a garb that meets Dagorhir requirements. To “kill” or “wound” someone, you must use a weapon that has passed the safety inspection for that particular event.

There are five separate classifications of weapon types, and each is differentiated by color. The hit locations in which you can kill someone are the torso, leg, arm, head, neck, hands and feet. The extent of the damage depends on the weapon type and whether or not the target is armored.

“You gotta have skill for this and I love the honor that comes with it,” Flanigan said. “You build a reputation based on your own skills and abilities.”

The FFC is headed to South Carolina this weekend to compete in the Winter War competition, where hundreds of other foam fighters fight against each other from all over the country.

Flanigan says the competition portion is a six-hour-long period that takes place in a wooden circle with sand. It includes different categories of competitions based on your skill such as single sword competitions, four-member teams competing against each other and specialty teams with different categories.

When you are killed, you must scream and fall to the floor to alert the herald, who is in charge of observing and making all the calls, that you have been killed. When you lose an arm, you must drop whatever is in that arm and hold it behind your back to continue on fighting.

Harly Hurlbutt, member of FFC for a little over a year, said she feels as though not enough people in the FGCU community are truly aware of the sport and what it really is.

“I feel like they look at us and people are just like, ‘oh they’re just larping,’” Hurlbutt said. “It’s a lot more physical than people realize.”

The FFC typically receives about two people every month that are interested in signing up and becoming a member. Once they sign up, they train for about two weeks until they start participating in fights with the rest of the team.

“It’s more like a legacy you know,” Fox said. “I’ve been doing this for four years now and we have no problem teaching people about the sport, and we’re really open to new people coming and trying it out. One thing I really love about this is that all genders are treated equally; we all fight together.”

The FFC members all agree that this has given them a fun activity to do while also getting exercise and being outside. Great friendships and bonds have been formed while they share laughs with one another as Fox directs them on where to take position and where to jab their opponent next to get them killed off.

“I’m a small guy, unfortunately,” Flanigan said. “I used to play football, and while everybody else had their growth spurt, I didn’t, so I couldn’t play football anymore even though it was something I really liked. Finding this allowed me to be able to be outside and have fun and fool around.

Sam Kozlowski preparing to fight.
David Flanigan and Sam Kozlowski sparring.
David Flanigan celebrating his victory against Sam Kozlowski.
Harly Hurlbutt adjusting her garb.
Ryan Fox leading the members in a stretch session before they fight.
Ryan Fox giving direction to the different teams.
One of the members showing how to block a hit.



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