If you think jousting in the 21st century is only for Renaissance festivals and dinner theater, you're wrong. The Medieval sport is making a comeback and is now the subject of a new reality competition show on the History channel called Full Metal Jousting. The show premiered Sunday, February 12 in the United States to 1.9 million viewers.
Jousting was hugely popular in the late Middle Ages but that ended in 1559 when a French King Henry II was killed during a jousting tournament. The game involves two knights mounted on horses and using lances. The jousting lance is used to unhorse the other by striking him with the end of the lance while riding towards him at high speed.
Full Metal Jousting takes 16 amateurs and trains them in competitive full-contact jousting. Traditional armour is replaced with modern suits of steel weighing 36 kilograms, and 3.3-metre-long, solid fir lances are used as weapons. The last man standing gets a US$100,000 prize.
Shane Adams is a professional jouster, coach and trainer who hosts Full Metal Jousting. He says a lot of people don't realize just how difficult it is to joust while wearing the metal suits.
"That's where the true athleticism of the actual sport is realized. You know it's one thing just to ride a horse. It's another thing to ride a horse wearing 85 pounds of 14 gage stainless steel and then you put in your right hand an 11-foot long, solid wooden pole and charge headlong at another opponent in the intention to unhorse him from his horse. It is a truly difficult thing to do and that's why the rules are simple the execution is not."
The competitors on Full Metal Jousting are all men but Adams says it is possible for women to joust.
"There were probably over 200 women that applied for a position on this show but there was also you know that many more men. Can a woman become a full metal jouster? Of course. Unfortunately no woman made the cut for this year but it's not to say that in future seasons we're not gonna see a woman up on a horse charging at one of these men."