Unicycle Sumo & Gladiators Article

This is an article I’m preparing for UNICYCLING INTERNATIONAL. Please offer your
questions if you don’t understand something, comments, and additional rules so I
can make this as complete and worldly as possible. And don’t forget to write
your own articles, about any unicycling subject, and send them in to our IUF
editor <kfuchs@winternet.com>

LOOK OUT, UNICYCLE GLADIATORS AND SUMO WRESTLERS! by John Foss

There are other games out there besides the common unicycle racing,
basketball, hockey and artistic competition that are played at the big
conventions. One of the most basic games on unicycles comes from one of the
world’s most ancient sports; wrestling. What could be simpler than two people
trying to knock each other down? On the surface it may seem violent, but that
all depends on your approach.

There are many several different known types of unicycle knock-em-down games.
The basic premise in all of them is to be the last one left riding, proving your
superior riding strength and ability.

Perhaps the most widely known named version is “Glaidators.” Played in the UK
and Europe, often in front of crowds at conventions. . . . . .

Here are three “American” games, with rules that I’ve developed over the years
with help and bruises from my fellow riders in Michigan and New York

The most basic version, for two players at a time, is called “Sumo,” a very
American name. The purpose of the real sport of Sumo is to pin the other guy, or
push him out of the circle (and to be as fat as possible). Our version is the
same, except you don’t have to pin the other guy, just knock him off his
unicycle while not falling off yours.

First, pick your boundaries. Different sized areas lead to different game
strategies. You can use the center circle of a basketball court (approx. 4
meters) for a tight game with a lot of pushing, or half of the basketball court
for more riding and chasing. Larger playing areas can be used. The two players
start at an agreed-upon moment mounted and on opposite sides of the area. The
round ends when one or both players fall.

SAFETY RULES: These safety rules were developed through trial and error to
minimize injury and damage to clothing and equipment while keeping the game
simple and fun.

  1. You may not push the opponent faster than he or she can ride, or into a
    wall or other stationary object. If your opponent is riding fast, pushing
    him or her from the back will cause a nasty fall (and you may trip over
    your opponent’s unicycle!).
  2. No pulling on clothing. Some people’s clothing will be easier to grab and
    pull, but most clothing will tear in the normal course of the game without
    this rule.
  3. No inflicting pain. What? If this rule threatens to take all the fun out of
    the game for you, you shouldn’t be playing in the first place. The object
    is to knock the opponent down, not to cause them pain or injury. Examples
    of illegal moves: pulling hair, nose, ears, fingers. Twisting body parts in
    ways they were not meant to go. Poking eyes. You get the idea.

After all those safety rules what are you left with? Basically you are pushing
and pulling each other. The “no pain” rule leaves a lot of gray area, so you
have to have an understanding with your opponents of what is acceptable. My
friends and I like to ram into each other, which is fine with us. A player who
doesn’t want to get rammed can always dodge out of the way.

SCORING: You score a point when you push your opponent outside the boundary or
when you knock him down. “Down” is when any part of your opponent’s body is
touching the ground. To score, you must keep riding at least 3 seconds after
your opponent has gone down. When the opponent’s fall is inevitable, he or she
must let go of you to avoid causing you an illegal dismount. You must also
continue riding 3 seconds after your opponent has been pushed outside the
boundary. The boundary is broken when the tire touches the ground outside the
boundary lines. When the opponent is pushed out, he must let go of you and you
must keep riding at least 3 seconds. If your playing area includes walls or
other stationary objects, they may be used to lean against or push of from, but
not as a direct aid to keep from falling and not during the 3 seconds. If you
don’t stay up for the 3 seconds, nobody scores in that round.

You can play for a set amount of points, or for the highest score within a time
limit. If scores are tied at the end of the time limit, I suppose you will have
a round of sudden death!

OPTIONAL RULES: You can use some or all of these, or make up your own. The rules
above describe how my friends and I like to play, but these can be added for
novice riders or for personal taste.
4. No boundaries. This changes the game to a simple “last one riding.” It
works well in enclosed riding areas, and changes the strategy (how you deal
with walls is up to you).
5. No pulling. The game is more like real Sumo if it’s pushing only.
6. No grabbing the seat. In our early days of playing this game (or on
giraffes) we found grabbing the seat to be an automatic win. When this was
no longer true for us, we removed this rule.
7. No grabbing the unicycle. This is an extension of the rule above.

The group version of Sumo is a game we used to call “Demolition Derby” but is
perhaps better known under the European name “Gladiators.” The purpose is the
same; to be the last one riding. If you are keeping score, the last one riding
gets a point in each round. Any number of riders can play, and the size of the
playing area can be adapted to fit them. Each round starts at an agreed-upon
moment with all riders mounted, and spread around the boundaries of the playing
area. The round ends when one mounted rider remains. The last rider must stay up
3 seconds after defeating the last opponent to score. If this does not happen,
nobody scores in that round.

Double teaming is allowed. In other words, two or more riders may work
together to defeat a stronger opponent. If the opponent is truly strong, he
can handle it. Riders must be especially careful of the safety rules when
playing in groups.

STRATEGIES:
8. Always face your opponent; try not to let him or her get behind you.
9. Inexperienced riders will fall easily if you grab them and give
them a spin.
10. More experienced riders can be knocked down by giving them a sudden push
perpendicular to the direction their wheel is facing.
11. Grab their leg and lift! Or, if allowed, grab the seat post or seat.
12. Jam you foot in the place where your opponent’s tire goes under the fork
crown (you have to be really good for this one!).
13. Fake them out. If you and your opponent are pushing each other really hard,
suddenly let go and back up!
14. Dodge and run away. Sometimes your opponent will fall off just trying to
catch you.
15. Lurk. In a group game, hang back and let your opponents kill each other,
saving yourself for whoever is left. Be careful, because when your
opponents notice you doing this, they may gang up on you!

GLADIATORS: The European version, which originated in _________________, by
_____________, has slightly different rules. [I don’t know what they are yet!]

DOG FIGHTING: This is the giraffe version. In my earliest days of unicycling in
1979-80, the only matched pair of unicycles my friend Bradley Bradley (yes,
that’s really his name) and I had were Schwinn Giraffes. The name Dog Fighting
comes from two guys high in the sky trying to knock each other to earth. PLEASE
NOTE: THIS GAME IS NOT RECOMMENDED!!! It didn’t take us long to realize all
sorts of nasty falls were possible from giraffes, which sometimes involved
giraffe-body-giraffe-body sandwiches. That having been said, try this at your
own risk only!

end of article.

Your input is very welcome, and needed. Thank you for your time!

John Foss unicycle@aol.com

Re: Unicycle Sumo & Gladiators Article

>Your input is very welcome, and needed. Thank you for your time!

Your rules sound fairly violent. Here is our version, which is suitable for kids
as well as adults:

The riding area is confined to ‘roads’ marked with lines on the floor. You are
not allowed to push or pull with your hands or anything like that. Your only
tool is your unicycle. Bump your tire into someone else’s tire or pedals. The
last one to stay on his uni has won.

Another version uses a thick rope with the two ends tied together to make a
ring. Everybody holds the rope with at least one hand and idle or ride around in
a circle. At a given moment the fight begins: Pull the rope and try to make
others fall or let go. Anybody who falls or lets go of the rope is out. The last
one to stay on the cycle and hold the rope is the winner. It is allowed to trap
somebody in the rope or to get the rope around his pedals. It is not allowed to
push or pull somebody with your hands.

Eager to hear about other games…

Agner Copenhagen Unicycle Club