Alright. This will just be a very quick exercise and I’ll use my demonstration model in Joel to be able to show you what’s about to happen.
Each of you are now paired off with someone relatively same in height. Not really important but there is one element to this that’ll actually given that you’re somewhere close to each other’s height that’ll be helpful.
Here’s what’s going to happen. We’re going to stand close to each other, back to back, where the back of our heels are roughly 30 cm away from each other. The further away you are the harder it gets.
So go back to back. The heels are about 30 cm apart. Okay. And with your feet together. Terrific. Alright.
Joel, in a moment we’re both about to engage in mortal combat. Each of us can’t move our feet. In fact as soon as we move off balance, that is our feet move from their current position or we have to put a hand down because we’re about to lose our balance, that will be the end of that round and we move on to the next round.
But the only point of contact you have with me and I have with you is with our butts, is our actual bottoms, our gluteus maximus. So I’m now going to remove my phone from my pocket so I’ve got nothing in them.
Do you have anything in your pockets? Oh! Found another one.
(group laughs in preparation of Butt Wars)
Okay. So we only have the padding of our tush to be able to touch our partner and the object is… and you sometimes you don’t even need to touch to bring your partner off balance.
So notice I said the word off balance and not to push them over. Your object is to bring your partner off balance but the only point of contact you may choose to use is with your bottoms. Joel, have you got the idea?
We’re going to have a five-second round. Are you ready? Okay, and go.
(playing Butt Wars)
Alright, you got the idea. Best of five rounds. Find a little space in the room and give it a go. Off you go.
Feet together. Need to have your feet together. Alright. One. Two. Three.
How To Play Narrative
Before we dive in, I’d suggest that you don’t introduce this activity by its name just yet. I find the ‘set-it-up-and-play’ technique works best, lest you scare some people off before you have even described what’s going to happen.
To this end, the typical, highly critical sequencing protocols apply here. Bring your group to this one only when they are physically, emotionally and socially ready for it, and prepared to have a big belly laugh.
Ask your group to form into pairs, and ask each couple to stand facing one another back to back (!!) with their own feet together, but allowing for about 30 cm (1’) to separate the back of their heels.
Note, my language is really powerful here. The goal is, using only your “butt” or bottom as a point of contact, to bring your partner off balance.
Notice, I resisted the urge to say “Push your partner over.” Sometimes you don’t even have to touch the other person to cause them to lose their balance. A good baulk works wonders.
And, you’ll know if your partner has come off balance because one or more of their feet will have moved from their original starting position.
There can be just as much fun watching others engage in mortal combat as actually being involved yourself.
Play several rounds, or try something new from the Variations tab.
Practical Leadership Tips
May I reiterate the necessity to have appropriately prepared your group – across all dimensions – before inviting your group to play this exercise. Some people can be very sensitive about being touched, or focusing, on their buttocks, so consider your activity sequence and the needs of your group very carefully.
You may prefer to pair your group members by height to ensure that butts meet, but it’s generally not a big deal if two people of different statures are matched together. This juxtaposition can make the whole game a lot more interesting to watch.
The subtle action of lifting one’s heels or toes is permissible, so long as the foot retains constant contact with the ground from which it started.
On occasions, an overly-zealous participant may accidentally (or otherwise) cause their partner to more than just come off-balance, and knock their partner to the ground. Watch for this behaviour, and if it does occur, be sure to stop the activity and process the experience, before moving on.
If it wasn’t so funny, it would be illegal. Truly, this exercise is hilarious because it looks so awkward.
You could integrate Butt Wars as part of a well-designed SEL program to focus on your group’s ability to make caring and constructive choices about personal behaviour, not to mention a variety of social interactions.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Demonstrating Self-Discipline & Self-Motivation
Setting Personal & Group Goals
Demonstrating Empathy & Compassion
Recognising Strengths In Others
Demonstrating Curiosity & Open-Mindedness
Making Reasoned Judgements
Anticipating & Evaluating the Consequences of One’s Actions
Promoting Personal & Collective Well-Being
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
There is no specific health & wellness perspective to Butt Wars other than promoting the benefits of enjoying a short burst of physical activity and a good laugh.
In a small way, you could focus on the typically awkward act of touching another person’s bottom in the context of building essential emotional intelligence, not to mention, developing healthy behavioural norms. For example, you could explore and discuss the topic of consent and what is and is not considered to be ‘safe’ touching.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which this zany game could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Hoopla Butt Wars: Introduce a hula-hoop for each pair. This time, the first person to cause their partner to step outside the hula-hoop is declared the winner.
Slo-Mo Butt Wars: Try it in slow-motion, ie no sudden or jerky moves. I love this version the best.
Tweak the Challenge: Alter the distance between the partner’s heels. The less distance between the heels of the partners, the more difficult it becomes to avoid being knocked off balance.
Team Butt Wars: Connect two or more people together (often linking elbows) in a line, back to back with another equally connected group. Same goal, but this time success is proven only when both members of the opposing group have come off balance.
Take a look at Butt Charades for an equally hilarious exercise involving one’s buttocks.
Hilarious group initiative to involve the whole body.
Innovative balance & stretching exercise for partners.
Physically-challenging stretching game for partners.
Useful Framing Ideas
Sometimes the smallest touch – or no touch at all – can precipitate a disproportionate consequence than what would normally be expected. Armed with this understanding, let’s see if this logic applies to our next exercise…
Have you ever watched with fascination a long line or series of dominoes being knocked into the path of one another. It starts with just one domino being knocked into the path of another, and yet, within a short space of time, it will have caused the knocking of many thousands of other dominoes. Apart from this being a lot of fun to watch, it also teaches us the impact that one small action can have on many other parts. And just one small touch is all that is sometimes necessary in this next, fun little exercise…
Reflection Tips & Strategies
Coupled with one or more reflection strategies, here are some sample questions you could use to process your group’s experience after playing this hilarious partner exercise:
What did you first think when you realised this exercise would involve touching bottoms with another person? How did you feel?
How much or how little movement was necessary to bring your partner off balance?
What do you think was the purpose of the exercise?
Do you think your group was fully prepared – physically, emotionally and socially – to play this game?
What do you consider or define as a ‘safe’ touch?
The inspiration for Butt Wars, and many more entertaining partner activities, was sourced from my eight years as a summer camp leader at Blue Star Camps, NC.