Fullerton Foam Fighters sharpen sparring skills in front of Student Recreation Center

In Features, Student Body
Fullerton Foam Fighters Club President Thai Vu (right) stands toe to toe with another club member on the Student Recreation Center lawn. ( Todd Hadler / Daily Titan )
( Todd Hadler / Daily Titan )

When students walk past the grass lawn between the Student Recreation Center and the Titan Gym, they are actually walking into the realm of Khazad-Dum. On Mondays and Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., that grass lawn is occupied by the Fullerton Foam Fighters Club.

The Fullerton Foam Fighters Club is a realm of Belegarth, a worldwide organization devoted to simulating medieval combat. Despite some similarities, Belegarth is not the the same as LARPing (Live-Action Role Play). In Belegarth, there is little role play and it is mostly combat-oriented. It is seen more as a sport than anything else.

Participants may build their game around actual historical events, or they can include elements of fantasy, such as those from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings.” The name Khazad-Dum actually comes from “The Lord of the Rings,” which the Fullerton Foam Fighters Club uses as influence along with Warhammer and other medieval worlds.

The club meets two times a week to have fun and for some, practice for the big Belegarth events.

“(The meetings) are more to just enjoy yourself, if you want to go to larger events then you can use it as practice, but it’s all for enjoyment,” said club President Thai Vu. “Everyone is here to have fun, as much as they can.”

Vu, a fifth-year computer engineering student, has been with the club for four years and became the president this semester. Vu said one of the main purposes of the club is to help college students relieve stress.

As the name of the club suggests, the weapons are all made out of foam. Specifically, it is a carbon fiber rod or a PVC pipe that is wrapped in foam. Before the weapon can be used, it goes under a testing process to see if the weapon is painless enough.

The point of Belegarth is to “kill” your opponent, Vu said. Each participant has two life points. A strike to the limb is one point and a strike to the torso is considered two points. Headshots and neck shots are illegal because the students do not wear headgear.

Vu tests the weapon by hitting himself with it. If the pain lasts more than 10 seconds, the weapon has to be completely scrapped.

Members of the club have also attended large-scale Belegarth events, which can last for an entire weekend. The events include large battles, individual tournaments, food, shops and camping. Seng described the event he attended as being like a “hands-on Renaissance fair.”

Graphic design student Chris Seng went to his first event in January and said he was initially very nervous about going. However, Seng enjoyed the event as he was able to learn from more experienced fighters. Seng said he took second place in a “newbie” tournament at the event.

“I would definitely say I improved from that weekend a lot compared to just a semester here,” Seng said. “I’m looking forward to the next one.”

For the members of the Fullerton Foam Fighters Club, having practices out in the open during school hours brings glances and glares from students walking by. Some members recognize that there is a nerd-like stigma to the group. Third-year business marketing student Matthew Vicencio knows this two fold.

As member of the Foam Fighters Club and president of the Anime Club, Vicencio knows there is a certain stigma that is shared for both clubs. Vicencio does not mind the glances received by students passing by as he said the foam fighting community is very kind and very helpful.

He uses the club as a way to have fun with people, exercise and relieve stress.

“To (the students walking by), it’s a show and for us, it’s just practice. It’s better for them to actually see us because if they see us, then it’s free promotion,” Vicencio said. “I’d rather have the exposure versus no exposure.”

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