Boxwars!

Shawn Taylor | 9.5.18

Here at Roshambo, we enjoy all types of competitions, from the very serious to the very silly. While there is no denying our admiration for the intensity and dedication of the competitors in some of the more athletic events we cover, we also love highlighting the absurdity of deliberately pointless pursuits - that ones that people hatch just for fun.

Leave it to a couple of Australian brothers to fulfill a surprising number of the above categories in one all-encompassing and ultimately joyful quest for wanton destruction –  Boxwars.

Like a less philosophically based version of the Tibetan Buddhist sand mandala – a work of intricately detailed art, deliberately crafted in a medium which can then be completely blown away by a sharp wind, specifically for the purpose of highlighting the ultimately temporary state of our own existence, the box warriors make things out of cardboard and then smash them.

OK, so it’s MUCH less philosophically based than the Buddhist ritual, but many of the parallels do hold up. The philosophy of Box Wars is definitely rooted in the impermanence of human creation, and the open spirit of the organization means that all are invited to join in the fun.

 photo credit: John Maynard

photo credit: John Maynard

Boxwars started out in 2002 as a way for two brothers and their friends to have a fun, cheap creative outlet through mock-medieval battles using homemade cardboard armor and weapons. They quickly discovered that the versatility and availability of recycled cardboard lent itself to more and larger projects, and soon, elaborate cardboard costumes, vehicles, musical instruments, and buildings became standard parts of the game. 

As they took their show on the road to local events, parades and music festivals, more people joined in. Sharing pictures and videos on the internet led to international participation, inspiring the original box-warring brothers, Hoss and Ross Koger, to declare themselves permanent Supreme Overlords of Box Wars, and to lay down some very simple rules:

-No winners in Boxwars – only losers

-Common Sense – don’t do to someone what you wouldn’t want done to yourself

-Cardboard (recycled)

-Warriors must forfeit their suits to a minor who desires it post battle – kids are the next generation of warriors. Although they cannot participate until they are older, the flame is passed in this ritual of battle.

Indeed, in addition to staging events aimed at adults, the Box Wars team hosts kids’ workshops inviting children to explore their own creativity while learning about the principles of recycled materials.

While a Boxwar can still just be some friends in cardboard armor whaling on each other with cardboard swords, the Boxwars website features pictures of past events which show the sometimes towering scale of the recycled sculptures their members have created. There are period military uniforms (made of cardboard), ten foot rolling monster trucks (made of cardboard), and even a three person Stegosaurus dinosaur costume, complete with spear-wielding rider (all made of cardboard)!

To see photos or learn how to register your own event, go to Boxwars.net, and remember, “The point is to build something from cardboard, then destroy it. Which destroys the point.”

Cover photo credit : GenericAvitar

Shawn Taylor