Poetry boxing and the art of the verbal jab

Poetry boxing and the art of the verbal jab

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It’s no secret that technology has grown exponentially over the past decade. But has human interaction suffered because of that growth? There are some in Japan who say yes.

A decade ago, as a response to lessening face-to-face interactions, the Japan Reading Boxing Association founded a new “sport” called poetry boxing. It’s just as competitive and brutal as regular boxing, but with an added, intellectual, twist: The competitors use words, not fists, to crown a champion.

From an interesting article by David McNeill in The Independent:

Anything is fair game, as long as it stays within the three-minute time limit. Competitors come armed with haiku poems, manga, fairy-tales, mini-dramas, dance and hip-hop set to monologues about everything from politics to natto – Japan’s famously smelly fermented bean paste.

The competition draws verbal gladiators from across the nation, and from every layer of Japanese society: students, housewives, the disabled, teachers, salary-men, pensioners. The youngest is 15, the oldest so far was 93, though he never got past a local heat. Some compete year after year.

So if you are in Japan today, you might want to head over to Yokohama, where the top-16 competitors will square off. And if you are too far from Tokyo to make it, fear not, the national champion will not be crowned until November. Hey, these boxers need time to heal.

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