The Dagorhir Club: Foam swords and the occasional concussion


Staff Writer

A new club at IU South Bend has been frequenting the Student Activity Center (SAC) lately. Students may have seen a few guys in metal helmets and leather armor hitting each other with foam swords, arrows and javelins. Television and the media have poked fun at these types of groups, casting them off as “nerdy.” But do not be mistaken—these Dagorhir enthusiasts want you to know this is not some magic role-playing game like LARPing. They go hard.

“This is extremely physical,” said Kyle Oppman, a member of the Dagorhir group on campus named “Cold Guard.” “A lot of people look at us, and visually, it’s hard to tell us apart from LARPing groups. But think about this as more of something like hard-hitting paintball with swords. We are hitting each other really hard.”

Zach Ziessler and Zach Moehn spar with /dagorhir swords, typically made with PVC or fiberglass pipes and hard foam Preface photo/MANDI STEFFEY
Zach Ziessler and Zach Moehn spar with /dagorhir swords, typically made with PVC or fiberglass pipes and hard foam
Preface photo/MANDI STEFFEY

“This has very high intensity,” said Oppman. “There isn’t much of a role playing aspect to it, like in LARPing. There is no magic. There are no classes. What makes you good is your ability to beat other people. It’s your physical ability. Period. You’re not going to have some level seven wizard come out of nowhere and zap you out of existence. The only advantages you have are the ones you earn through hard training.”

Oppman made it clear that in Dagorhir, players win by hitting. The weapons, which can be fashioned to look like almost any handheld weapon from ancient to medieval times, are constructed from PVC or fiberglass pipes and covered in a few layers of dense, hard foam. In addition to swords, there are spears, flails, clubs, axes and more that range in size and weight. One hit to a limb from one of these weapons results in “loss” of the limb, causing a player to hold an arm behind his or her back or get down on one knee to fight. A hit to any two limbs or one to the torso is a “kill.”

“Head shots are not allowed for general safety reasons,” said ZachMoehn, the group’s president.

“I’ve had a concussion before,” said Oppman. “Yeah, it happens.”

Even though accidents sometimes happen, the weapons are strictly regulated so real injuries are less likely to happen.

The group still has few members. Currently, it consists of Oppman,Moehn, Zach Udell and Zach Ziessler. The group’s Facebook page consists of more members who are showing interest and planning to participate. While right now it might just look like four guys beating each other with weapons in one of the SAC’s racquetball rooms, the group takes the sport seriously.

They go to events together and plan to hold small Dagorhir battle events with local colleges. Oppman says the group is already linked with Southwestern Michigan College and plans on having some friendly inter-school rivalry.

“Right now [the club] is a spontaneous thing among students. So after we get recognized we will continue to expand, and that’s when we can hold the events,” said Moehn.

The group recently went to a nationally recognized event called the“Wolfpack Opener” in Bloomington, Ill. There, they fought several other groups. Events like these are the heart of Dagorhir.

“If you come here to campus and try out Dagorhir, and if you have fun fighting with just this small group of people, you will love the events,” said Oppman. “If you go to an event where you have 200 people on your team alone and you hear everybody screaming behind you as you go in to beat each other up, there is nothing like it. There’s no other sport out there that will give you this kind of adrenaline and level of satisfaction.”

Dagorhir isn’t all about fighting, however. A big aspect of the community is the camaraderie that goes along with it.

“We’re going to an event in April. It is two days of fighting, but a lot of people use it as a social experience,” said Moehn. “There’s a big celebratory night—a lot of people drinking, eating, et cetera. It’s a campout, essentially. People just sort of enjoy the community.”

“Don’t be intimidated by the physicality. If you’re not that athletic, but still enjoy the culture, you’re still welcome,” he added.

“There are people that come with us to events, barely fight, and then spend the rest of the night partying,” said Oppman. “There’s a great culture around it. Fighting is part of it, but you don’t have to fight to have fun.”

The members of the group hope to bolster this culture by gaining more members—including any IUSB student, faculty or staff member interested. The group is also open to other members of the community.

“I encourage anyone that’s interested to just come check it out. Watch five minutes of fighting, and I guarantee you’ll realize it’s not like what the public perception of it is, said Oppman. “This is not what you saw in the movie ‘Role Models.’”

And he’s right. While they have fun, the sport really is physically intensive and not at all like LARPing. Bloody noses and bruised body parts are not uncommon.

“We all played with sticks when we were kids. Everybody I knew played with sticks and pretended they were swords, and this is an adult version of that. It’s no nerdier than paintball as far as I’m concerned,” said Moehn.

“Come check it out. You might be surprised—you’ll probably like it,” said Ziessler.

Currently, the group practices every Tuesday and Thursday from 2:15 p.m. until they are ready to quit. They recently added practices at 12:30 p.m. on Fridays. Practices are held either in the racquetball rooms or on the court in the SAC.

To find out more about the club and get in contact with its members, search “IUSB Dagorhir” on Facebook. For detailed information on the club or anything involving Dagorhir, contact Zach Moehn via email

By The Preface at IUSB

IU South Bend's Official Student Newspaper

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