Blog: But Wait, That’s Not All from the Alps

And Travis is back with a follow up to our previous divulgation of the international initiative. The pleasure we have had expanding boffering across the continent can only be matched by the success it has seen. I’ll put down my dictionary and thesaurus and get right into the meat of the matter.

See last year’s blog from Travis here.

Travis Finneran on the right

Let’s start with a very important clarification: we are not trying to build a separate scene or set of rules but an exact extension of what is done in Finland. The response has been more than what we could have ever expected. We now have two teams in Switzerland! The first team has taken inspiration from the Gaulish heritage and named themselves the Uolcos Alpos. The second, wanting to set the tone and get some friendly rivalry going, took a Roman theme and took up the title of Legio Alpenes. Much akin to the first years of boffering, the teams number no more than a dozen individuals but all are extremely passionate about the sport. For organised competitions in 2023, the Uolcos have taken the lead in wins but the Legio are planning to strike back this year with a vengeance.

But that’s not all! The Legio team is fortunate enough to be composed of students from the Leysin American School, where I have continued my contract to teach boffering for the school. The fortunate part is less about yours truly but more that we have not only had our funding continued, but we have now received a grant for bringing students up to Finland for training sessions and events throughout the school year! That’s right – we’ll see you at the KeraWars. Due to the modest sum we have received for this first round, thirty percent of the team will be attending the tenth of February but these are the four best and most dedicated of the team. Now picture me turning on my best newscaster voice as I say “don’t take my word for it”, let’s hear what the first generation totally immersed in the sport have to say!

Chase, age 15, American

”Why yell at someone for missing a hit when you can just beat them again. Doesn’t that give more satisfaction than arguing on the field? That’s my personal philosophy.”

Elijah, age 15, American

“I love killing all the people that come to the training. It’s a great time when we get to beat the bejesus out of each other.”

Ollie, 16, English/Japanese

Padded combat, at first, seems like a dangerous or violent sport, but the truth is much different. After your first time trying the sport, you start to realise that, although it can hurt sometimes, padded combat is a safe sport and the time that you spend with your companions creates a very welcoming and safe place to be yourself. Also learning how to fight without your full strength develops a sense of patience, willpower and control. As well as learning how to fight, you also learn how to maintain the status/quality of your arms and make these weapons give you a sense of pride and parental instincts.”

Jacob, age 15, American/Polish.

“It’s just that fun.” 

Daniel, age 14, Irish.

“It’s a great thing to find a sport where I’m able to be this aggressive but without anyone getting hurt.” 

But that’s not all! Yes it’s a theme, check out the title. Multiple families have booked vacations for these young bloods to come up to Sotahuuto this year, some from as far as Texas and Kazakhstan. Yes, this is the level of enthusiasm we’re talking about here. We are still waiting on contacts from the United States to see if we can expect a contingent from those we have been in contact with, yes Dave I’m talking to you. Bring bagels, plain or garlic and onion. The exchanges we have had with Mike Birch out of Chicago, Illinois on the differences between Belegarth and boffering has been a great way to build a bridge between the two sports, hoping for some industrious Americans to use our translated rules across the pond.

I’d like to also give a shout out to the gallic reenactment group Viviskes from Vevey, Switzerland for letting us come down to their yearly event and doing some impromptu sparring as we learned about the Celtic necropolis beneath our very feet. This also allowed us to make contact with reenactors from as far away as Germany, France and Italy and explain the differences between the two activities.

But Wait! That’s not all. Ahh, I can feel the eye rolls. We now have our own kids event in June! In our second year we have more than twenty participants, and it’s as chaotic as it seems. We would have a large portion of these kids that can’t wait to join up with Minihuuto, but alas with this year date in May there are still five weeks of school left the kids will have to make do this year with the Alpine pastures.

A big part of our success has been due to our team in Finland, Ulfnar, for not only their support in material donations but also for allowing us to post videos on the team’s YouTube channel explaining what is boffering in English and easy fast breakdowns of the different weapons used.

But wait that’s…, that’s about it. Before I sign off, I just want to thank you. Yes, you. All of you. You all have had a hand in making this lifestyle what it is and it matters. Whole new parts of the world get to experience this pastime we share together and more is yet to come. On that note, I will see you in the shield wall!