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One night awhile back, we were leaving the movies and saw a crowd at Union Square watching something. We followed, it was a fight. Lots of people fighting. The one fight we saw from the start was between a couple of young kids, no older than 16. A lean one who knew what he was doing, the other a chubby Puerto Rican kid. He held his own for more than a few minutes, but tried to relay a spin move into a punch, and didn’t look good doing it. Most people just kept cheering, although I caught a bigger dreadlocked guy in skinny black jeans laughing. The crowd was big, mostly young, but with a few security guards and women, for measure. It was like your regular bus stop crowd1 but bigger.

After a short conversation with the fellow in the dreads, I left, and a week later there was a piece in NYMag. But by then the Square had a heavy police presence and no fights to be seen. However official this group was, either it didn’t weather the storm, or our connections to New York’s cool underbelly are tapped, because we haven’t seen or heard of a fight since. What follows is their official statement,2 which took some prodding.

Salutations, we are the Union Square Spartans. An elite pack of fighters nestled deep in the bowels of New York City. Our mission is to challenge those men and women who feel the need to test their combatant skills, whether they are seasoned pros, prowling outside their dojo, or inexperienced players wanting to experience their first skirmish. Our intention is not to hurt, embarrass, or violate one’s own sense of worth. These training sessions are geared for physical and mental endurance, self-evaluation, and, if you’re a Warrior, bragging rights.
The rules are simple:
No hitting in the face — you can shoot past, or stop directly in front of; light to medium contact to the body; light takedowns; stop when one taps, and stop when The King’s Own3 says, ‘Stop.’
The stipulation is this is a CONTROLLED CONTACT art form.4 Please do not try to hurt us, because we will hurt you.
We say ‘Come one,’ we mean, ‘Come all, we fight on concrete, so we know how to fall.’


  1. See Harvard Square, etc.
  2. Some grammar was changed, but very little.
  3. Who is this? I don't have any idea. I'm assuming it's some sort of referee, though the one time we were there there was no real referee. It could have been the guy I laughed with, but according to their MySpace, last accessed July 23, 2009 — that was a man named Legend.
  4. I wouldn't say this is an art form, or that it's even that cool, but what do I know? A man named Dito Montiel sang for Major Conflict, one of the all-time greats, and as a graduated mind made a successful film about fighting. We might indeed be out of the loop. Either that, or it's one of those weird NYC things (bowler hats, skateboarding, Patti Smith, and what have you) that I just don't have my finger on.