These two games are very similar. Bear in the Pit is like women’s hockey – there’s not a lot of contact, but a lot of skill and finesse. Bull in the Ring is like men’s hockey, but without the fistfights and lockouts. Bear in the Pit can be played on just about any surface, but Bull in the Ring should be played on grass because there’s a lot of potential turf crashing.
To start the game, the players join hands in a circle with one person in the middle as a bear. The bear tries to get out by breaking apart the bars of the pit (the clasped hands) or by going over or under the hands of the other players. As soon as the bear escapes, the other players chase it, and whoever catches the bear become the bear in the next round. You can also change the rules so that the bear can only go under the bars, rather than breaking through them.
Bull in the Ring can get ugly. Like Bear in the Pit, all the players stand in circle, but with their hands FIRMLY clasped. The remaining player stands in the center – that’s the bull. The bull tries to break through the ring by parting the hands of any of the players simply by running into their clasped hands. If the bull is successful, the two players whose hands he broke apart chase him, and whoever catches him becomes the bull in the next round.
The chaos that ensues after the Bull has broken through can be the dangerous, but more often hilarious part of the game. If you’re playing with a small group of players who hold tight, a good bull can often bring the whole game to the ground in a mess of hands, feet, and plenty of laughs.