Screw trial by combat. If you ask us, the pillow fight is the Western world's premiere method of conflict resolution. And why not? Few things are as satisfying — and stress relieving — as grabbing a cushy headrest and delivering a blow to your sibling, sleepover buddy or anyone else who crosses you. In short, pillow fights are good old-fashioned fun. But that doesn't mean there aren't stakes at hand: Losing one means sacrificing serious street bedroom cred.
To give you the upper hand in your down-stuffed swing-a-thon, we reached out to someone familiar with various forms of combat: professional wrestler Christopher Daniels. Daniels is currently signed to Ring of Honor Wrestling and has won 18 championships across multiple companies. He also claims to have won several pillow fighting championships in different weight classes. We can't, uh, verify that, but Daniels did have some interesting tips for winning your next feather-spewing slugfest.
A Good Pillow Fighter is a Limber Pillow Fighter
Just as you wouldn’t run a marathon without stretching, you shouldn't enter a pillow fight without first doing a quick workout. “Probably a light bout of calisthenics beforehand” would suffice, Daniels said. “You don’t want to be tired, but you certainly do want to be limber. Try some shoulder rotations, work your rotator cuff. The last thing you want is throw your shoulder out as you’re swinging.”
Daniels also recommends finding some fancy footwear: “Try wearing some sort of cleats into the bed, if it’s allowed,” he said. “That’ll help with traction.” We, however, advise against that. Your sheets are dirty enough.
Start with a Shove
Daniels prefers using shady tactics in the first few seconds of the match. “It’s all about thinking outside the box,” he tells us. “Before you start swinging the pillow, you should think about shoving the person off the bed." Daniels says. He assures us that this move is 100 percent legal and that falling out of the ring is an "automatic disqualification in the 48 continental states, Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico." We're not sure what rulebook Daniels is citing, so it's probably best to avoid blindly shoving someone into a bedroom wall.
Go for the Knees
As Sun Tzu wrote in "The Art of War," “Attack [your enemy] where he is unprepared; appear where you are not expected.” For pillow fighters, this means being strategic with your swings. “Everybody swings for the head,” says Daniels. “See if you can go for the knees or the hips: Throw ‘em off balance, then swing for the head.”
Follow Your Opponent’s Elbows
If your opponent is a worthwhile one, he or she will be trying to outmaneuver you. “A lot of people aren’t prepared for the underhand swing, from beneath the waist and going upward,” said Daniels. “Follow the elbows. If you watch the person’s elbows, you can usually see what side they’re gonna swing from, if they’re gonna swing in an upward motion or a downward motion.” Take note and prepare a counter strike.
When in Doubt, Shout
“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting,” Sun Tzu cautioned. But how do you win a pillow fight without a single swing? Easy, said Daniels. Just freak your opponent out of the ring: “I would try screaming at the top of my lungs throughout the entire fight. That usually throws people off-balance.” Who knows if loud screaming will win. But if confidence is the game, then Daniels has already won.
So there you have it. Godspeed, pillow fighters, and remember the timeless words of Sun Tzu: “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.” Or, better yet, strike like other thunderbolts. It’s an incomplete metaphor.