CHIANGRAI TIMES – The rules are simple: throw a ball into the goal to score a point. But what makes this game unlike any other is that all the players are armed and ready with stun guns.
It’s Ultimate Tak Ball, the brainchild of a few hardcore sports fanatics who say it is the sport of the future and are in Bangkok for an exhibition game.
Each game consists of three periods that last for 7 minutes each, with two teams of four players each. Any player in possession of the 24-inch medicine ball is open to unlimited shocking by the players on the opposite team.
The stun guns pack 3 to 5 milliamps of electricity, which is only about 10 percent of the power of the taser stun guns used by police. Fired on contact with an opponent, the guns produce a twitching feeling, according to players.
“It never gets better, you just get less afraid of the stun,” a smiling Damien Ryan, 24, said during a break in a match in Bangkok. “But it’s one of the best feelings ever.”
The game was thought up by friends Leif Kellenberger, Eric Prum and Erik Wunsch, who were trying to come up with the extreme of extreme sports when the idea of stun guns popped up. Planning for the game began some four years ago.
Players on the teams in Bangkok were all originally paintball professionals who had been touring together for a while, and so were already accustomed to the agility and pain required in an extreme sport created for adrenaline junkies.
The switch to Ultimate Tak Ball, or UTB as they call it, was easy.
“I quit counting once I was on the ground and two people were stunning me a lot. Yeah, it felt like one continuous tase,” said Ryan Moorhead, of the San Diego Spartans, recalling being shocked 10 to 15 times during a game.
The just-established league has only four teams but there have been more than 1.5 million views on its promotional video on YouTube and it has been covered by the U.S. television show “The Colbert Report”.
Despite the scary equipment, players maintain that the most serious injury since the sport’s inception has been a player dislocating his finger when he rammed into a wall while avoiding a tackle.
“People just have a preconceived notion about stun guns, the ones we use don’t cause any danger. They’re really low voltage,” said Kellenberger.
The recent game in Bangkok had very little downtime, with players moving frantically from one end of the field to the other, a constant buzzing from the stun guns heard throughout. The crowd roared as one player got stunned and tackled while trying to maneuver the ball through the opposing defense.
Kellenberger, who also runs his own apparel company, has high hopes for the sport.
“Our focus now is to expand the league internationally and get different teams worldwide,” he said.
“I didn’t expect UTB to catch on this fast, but you have to dream big to win.”