As teenagers, Jason Caggiano and his friends were captivated by the idea of sword fighting.
"We would get PVC pipes and pool noodles and fight. People got hurt - and it was great, anyway," he said. Then he paused for a moment, remembering. "I think it stopped when someone had their face opened up."
On a Saturday afternoon about 15 years after that fateful day, the veterans finally had a chance to return to battle.
It was Caggiano's bachelor party, and the men - now in their late 20s and early 30s - were suiting up in riot gear in an unrenovated warehouse in a not-yet-gentrified corner of Port Richmond.
This particular fight club, with nary a pool noodle in sight, is known as Battlesword League.
A mash-up of fencing, martial arts, and live-action role-playing, it's a new sport that invites competitors to suit up in protective armor and use polypropylene swords to shatter plastic "crystals" attached to one another's uniforms.
It's a surprisingly brisk workout and a chance for friends and strangers to assault one another, apparently without the risk of serious injury.
Steve Spellman, 29, started the business as a sideline about six months ago, inspired by his own childhood fantasies and by what he was seeing on TV.
"After you watch Game of Thrones, you're like, 'That would be awesome if I could sword fight!' " said Spellman, an engineer who lives in the city's Graduate Hospital section. "But there is no real way to do it, so I made my own version."
Fencing, he figured, requires years of training and technique, and martial arts was too focused on discipline and form. He wanted instant gratification, but also strategy.