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What Will the Next Extreme Be?

 article about Escapology
Handcuffs?
What turns a series of events and actions into a sport?
Where will the next generation of extreme sports come from?
What turns someone doing something reckless into the next Tony Hawk?


There are many people around the World right now who are asking these
questions. They are not just the fans of underrated sports but also the
advertisers, and the marketing men and women who take obscure events
and link their own brand to it, thus making their own market share of a
niche market so much greater.

One such sport that in the next twenty years could become bigger
than most is the often under-rated performance art of Escapology.

Now
some of you may only know the name Escapology from Robbie Williams
album. Alas there are no major clues in any of his lyrics as to the
nature of the sport or the art itself.

Escapology is, in case
there is anyone reading this that is unfamiliar with the term, the art
of escaping from a restraint, be it chain, handcuffs, leg irons, rope
or a straitjacket. From the turn of the 20th Century with the work of
Houdini to modern escape artists such as Santini, Cannon and Bigelow
there has been a combination of physical effort and the ability to
entertain.

And that is the problem.

Like all Extreme
Sports, such as Snow Boarding, there is the ability to entertain to
gain points and out score an opponent, yet paradoxically, because of
its history as entertainment, very few people in the sporting world are
willing to accept that escapology is equally about competition.

Put
two skate boarders on a ramp and have them compete, and you are
entertained and marvel at their gift to enthrall. Put two escape
artists into identical straitjackets and let them try and get out, you
are equally entertained and also marvel at how they do it. To my mind
and to the minds of the next generation starting in the sport there is
no difference. Both activities run the risk of injury and both have
their own high dose of adrenalin for both the seasoned artist and the
newcomer.

The main issue has been to distance what the Escape
Artist does from the world of Magic. Creating a series of uniformed
rules and equipment that makes sure that when one person in Ohio
competes he is on a level playing field with a guy on the other side of
the world in Essex.

Will the sport take off?

Will the uniformed rules be enough to drag the art form away from side show magicians?

Currently there are three Guinness World Records that rely on uniformed equipment.

One
for the fastest escape from a single pair of Smith and Wesson type 100
handcuffs. One for the most escapes in one hour from Smith and Wesson
Handcuffs. One for the most escapes in eight hours from a regulation
straitjacket.

Also a branch of Escapology exists where, using
a non-branded style of handcuff not used by Bounty Hunters of Law
Enforcement Agencies, a member of the public can start from scratch and
learn how to escape and compete against his or her peers.

Will
these innovations be enough to make this Sport stand out beyond Robotic
Combat and Free Running as the new extremes of the new millennium?

Will we one day see Escapologists being respected, as opposed to derided?

Only time and the efforts of the advertisers will tell.



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