July 31, 2023 – As Brad Pitt would say, “The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club.”
The Foam Fighting Coalition of the Fresno and Clovis area definitely breaks that rule, and encourages anyone interested to come join in on the Live Action Role Playing (LARP) fun and be a part of an inclusive community.
Talon Young, administrator for the group, wanted to bring the community of foam sword fighting to the valley. Young brought the group to formation back in 2008, and has been growing the community ever since.
“There was a lot of needless division in the foam nerds in the area when I started it up, so I wanted to make a friendly space for us to co-habituate since some people are more drawn to the different games,” said Young. “The idea was that if we got someone at one game that would like another better or be a better fit ,we can show them the right direction to move towards.”
Young said that the world of foam fighting can interest anyone who has a passion for the renaissance or medieval fantasy world. In the game, everyone can live out their imagination and become a unique persona. The game has rules that they stick by to ensure safety.
“No headshots, a strike to a limb disables that limb, a strike to the body or ‘core’ kills you, and any two limbs disabled kills you as well. The weapons we use have to pass a safety check as well since they are what we hit each other with. The goal is to pad the weapon and not the person.”
According to Young, there are 50 members currently part of the coalition, which includes sub groups Amtgard and Belegarth.
Amtgard is a game where members can have magical powers and battles are much lighter, which makes it safe for ages 12 and up to join. The group of Belegarth is considered to be a more full contact battle game that is only for those 16-years-old and up.
Jared George, who goes by ‘Ra’ in the game of foam fighting, is a long time veteran member of Belegarth and Amtgard. He has been part of the foam fighting community for 12 years now. George said the community welcomed him with open arms and will do the same for anyone else looking to be a part of something.
“Most foam fighting groups are very open and accepting of the LGBT community, and allow people with disabilities to play,” said George. “There is no reason for anyone not to be able to participate in a fun and welcoming community no matter what their limitations are.”
George said not only is there foam fighting to do, but the group will also take part in arts and crafts activities. The act of battling his opponents is something he craves to practice within the group.
“The combat aspect draws me in because I get to choose whether I want to be good at fighting or not. I get to choose how hard I want to work at getting good at fighting. I enjoy the aspect of being able to practice strategy or small combat tactics. It is kind of like playing chess with your friends.”
It is always made clear that when participants are fighting, that they do not use it to vent out aggressions or else someone could get hurt.
“It is not what the game is for, to be fighting angry or to get your aggression out like that. I make it a point for myself and others to never fight upset or angry. Fighting is not for venting, it is for comradery.”
Nick Stevens is a fairly new member of Amtgard. Stevens suffers many disabilities that make it dangerous to participate in strenuous activities. LARP made it possible for Stevens to still be involved by practicing archery with plastic arrows.
Stevens said after a year of joining the close knit group, it helped to alleviate any nervous or shy feelings, and live out a totally different persona.
“The character is extroverted which helps push me out of my comfort zone,” said Stevens.
“I’m usually going to wear my sweatshirt and hide in the corner and draw in my sketchbook and not talk to anybody. But when I am here, I really move past that and I am able to just get out of my own head.”
George added that, “A lot of people I’ve met in this game have talked about how they didn’t have friends before joining this game. I never would have met any of my friends here that I have now if not for foam fighting.”
Amtgard meets every Saturday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Treasure Ingmire Park in Clovis. Belegarth meets Sundays 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Dry Creek Park. There is also a fighter practice available for both games and uses simplified rules on Wednesdays from 6 p.m. till 9 p.m. at Bicentennial Park.