The Good, The Bad, And The Broken
“IS YOUR MOTHER TRAPPED IN A POKE BALL?,” reads the poster taped to the McKinley front door. Littered with drawings and questions, the poster seemed to advertise the on-campus event “Fight Club: Round Two,” scheduled for Saturday, September 24th at 11:30 p.m. These posters began to appear everywhere on campus: taped on dorm doors, outside of academic buildings, and on the inside of bathroom stalls. The posters sparked conversation and anticipation for the night, but most importantly, these posters violated the first rule of the infamous Fight Club – they talked about Fight Club.
At 11:30 p.m. on the awaited night, over fifty students gathered on the Great Lawn to commence the second round of Reed College’s Fight Club. Upon arrival, brawls had already broken out. A self-proclaimed referee navigated the scene, a group of freshmen dressed as “Clue” characters roamed, and a banjo player provided a thematic score for each fight. Circled around the fray, spectators awed and provided their personal commentary, egging competitors on from the sidelines. One thing was made pretty clear – this night was a huge step up from the first round.
The first round of fight club, or ‘brawl ball,’ occurred a few weeks earlier and had a significantly smaller turnout and less action. Organized via a non-affiliated student Instagram account, the first round was described as “really bad” by freshman Henry Hillman, as well as many others, with eyewitnesses claiming the most action was students holding hands and spinning in circles. For round two, Hillman was the self-appointed referee, and, “studied the rules, so that fights could be fair and entertaining,” as he had been disappointed with the first round’s lack of organization that had resulted in less action. Evidently, this came in good use as the second round saw significantly more fights.
“Two shoulder blades on the ground for three seconds, no choking,” was the rule Hillman used to judge the fight’s victors, operating on his own judgment rather than technical wrestling guidelines. When asked about what classified as too far, Hillman explained that it was situational, but clear power imbalance would be discouraged, and that general safety guidelines needed to be followed.
Throughout the night, there were two dominating competitors – Aron Kunofsky ‘26 and Erin Funkhouser ‘26. Multiple attendees, Hillman included, accredited these two as being the most prolific fighters of the night. Aron, having entered a total of nine fights, won eight and tied in one. Erin won several fights and also served as the night’s banjo player. Wrestling aside, there were multiple moments throughout the night that stood out. A standout for many spectators, myself included, were the multiple lightsaber battles. The two saber-lit fighters maintained close combat and even used the time to highlight their lightsaber skills, opting for performative twirls and saber switches. As a bystander, the wrestling and Jedi battles made for an entertaining night, one that comedically ended with CSO relocation following noise complaints.
However, Fight Club did not go without incident. After engaging in a total of two fights, a Reed sophomore returned to their dorm only to find their finger purple and stiff. The student, having not been prepared in wrestling strategy, claimed that “the finger had been bent back and got crushed” under their opponent. The finger was wrapped by CSO’s and remained stiff for a couple days. Thankfully, the student’s finger has now mostly healed, but the fact that this occurred speaks to the safety risks inherent to participating in amateur physical combat in a field at night. Hillman recalls no incident that could have led to a broken finger and insists that fights under his supervision “should not lead to that.” Moving forward, Hillman hopes to use more technical rules to advance Fight Club as a whole.
In this promise, the question about the future of Fight Club arises. It seems that engagement is high, with students and organizers both showing an interest in a third round of Fight Club, where hopefully both the techniques and rules have improved. With hopes for a third round before Fall Break, it’s best for those wishing to participate to brush up on their wrestling abilities and prepare for a roll in the grass.