Bicycle Chambara at Pedal Day Tokyo

Byron Kidd
One of the Night Pedal Cruising crews contributions to the Pedal Day 2014 festivities in Tokyo on August 18 was the organisation of the Bicycle Chambara event. So what exactly is Bicycle Chambara?

 The rules are simple. Ten combatants, er.. I mean contestants, are each given a rolled up newspaper and strap a stylish paper balloon to their heads. They line up around the edges of an arena of arbitrary size and when the whistle blows their objective is to try and smash their opponent's balloons while protecting their own. The winner is the last person with an intact balloon.

There could be other rules if you're that way inclined, such as the "out of bounds" rule which disqualifies a rider if they somehow exit the arena, you could also disqualify a rider for touching the ground with their feet, but in the interest of good fun and entertainment we like to keep the rules to a minimum, like professional wrestling if you will.

It wasn't planned but as one event dragged on with no clear winner the previously disqualified riders began reducing the size of the arena by slowly moving the witches hats inwards, hemming in the remaining contestants and forcing them to confront each other rather than run for cover. As a rule I believe this works.

This was my first time to try Bicycle Chambara and it was incredibly good fun, but a lot more difficult than it looked given my limited reach and general aversion to crashing into other cyclists.

To drum up spectator support we spent the first few minutes of our match in pro wrestler mode, showboating, name calling, bell ringing and generally messing about, then without words we decided the match was on in earnest.  I like to think I put up a good fight, but getting knocked out in the latter half of the match by a guy on a huge heavy delivery bike really hurt my pride until I found out he was a professional BMX rider here to perform for the crowd later in the night.

I must say Bicycle Chambara is a great sport and you all must try it with a set of rules that work for you (or not), and is immensely satisfying for spectators as its as close as you'll get to gladiators and chariots in the modern day.

I can't wait until this debuts at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020!

What other kinds of games have you played with friends on your bicycles?

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