Forget rugby, American football and cage fighting, there's a new sport in the ring that will really separate the men from the boys.
We're not kidding. This is one sport in which you're guaranteed to be hit, and the impact can be that of cars crashing. Think you're tough enough? Take a look at our clip and you may think again.
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Full Metal Jousting assembles talented riders from across the continents and challenges them to learn a sport feared by Health & Safety guidelines. Shane Adams, the world champion in his ancient art, oversees their progress and he spoke to us about the show.
Due to real knights these days doing so little jousting (have you seen Roger Moore aiming a lance at John Major recently?), there hasn't been much of it about for a while. However, Shane Adams, former president of the World Championship Jousting Association, has been key to reviving this sport and he talked to us about why he donned armour, his inspiration, and tin foil.
Shane - what's wrong with a nice bit of dressage? How did you end up pulling on a suit of armour and trying to ram another bloke with a massive lance?
Most of the manoeuvres you see in dressage, like in the Olympics, are manoeuvres that knights used to perform on their chargers and destriers (a Medieval war horse) on the field of battle. Look at all the airs above the ground – most of those movements aren't just to have a horse look pretty so you can ride an Andalusian or Iberian breed. Those manoeuvres existed to kill people and to carry a knight into battle.
To be able to have a horse to do that is far better than a gold medal.
Now that would be a heck of an Olympics if you had jousting, wouldn't it?
I think so! Instead of just having the showjumping fence made from knights jousting, they should have had a couple of guys doing it.
I believe the TV cameras would have then been on them, rather than the Olympians. Not to say, of course, that the Olympians don't deserve attention – of course they do – but jousting was the most extreme equestrian event there ever has been and ever will be.
Which leads us to ask how did you become involved in such a dangerous and niche sport? Does it come from childhood and hearing the stories about knights and Medieval history?
Absolutely. You're growing up on a horse farm in Canada and at four years old your dreams are vast; would I be a cowboy, or an Olympic rider, or dressage gold medallist? For me, though, my true childhood dream was to be a knight in shining armour.
When I was four I remember watching an old Errol Flynn Robin Hood movie with my grandmother. Robin Hood saved the day, of course, and helped the Black Knight, who turned out to be King Richard, win the joust.
And I thought, 'Robin Hood who? Look at that guy!' So I raided my mother's cupboards for tin foil and cardboard and proceeded to put it all together, and get on one of our horses. The moral to this story is this: kids, don't go into your cupboards and get tinfoil to try and make a suit of armour, and then get on a horse. It's not going to work too well.
It sounds like you're talking following a crushing experience…
Not crushed, more bruised. There was a lot of repair work done on that armour.
It’s not very cost effective, we imagine. How did it come about that you found yourself on a horse to joust for real?
It actually came to me. Horses formed my childhood and teenage years and so when people asked me what I wanted to do, I'd say, 'I want to be a jouster', or, 'I want to be a knight'.
Of course, a lot of people laughed at me but that truly was my dream. When I was 16 years old I saw a Medieval dinner show in Tampa, Florida, and I thought, 'Wow! Wouldn't that be fantastic?', and at 23 years-old I ended up signing for a similar dinner show in Toronto.
It was the same show I saw when I was 16 and I thought I was living out my childhood dream, but after three years of working there I realised I wasn't a knight in shining armour, I was a knight in shining polyester. I wasn't really living that childhood dream.
I left the dinner shows and started building my own travelling company called The Knights of Valour – spelled the proper way…
That's an important touch…
We were still doing choreographed jousts because I didn't have an 800-year-old knight living down the road willing to teach me how I could do it for real, and I thought there's no way the sport could ever exist.
We did shows at festivals and horse shows across Canada, but then in 1997 I was called by a promoter who wanted to know if I'd be interested in competing for Canada at the International Jousting Championships, which was being held for the first time in the United States.
I was silent for a little bit because I didn't believe this is truly happening, but the promoter told me they had twelve people from nine countries, with people from England, Belgium, the Netherlands, and so on. I was the only person from Canada who had anything to do with jousting outside the dinner theatres, and so I said I'll go and watch the event.
So I went down and the first person I met backstage was Phil Humphreys, from the Nottingham Jousting Association…
How about that for fate? Robin Hood influenced you as a kid, and now you're meeting the jousters from Nottingham…
I was kind of frightened, to be honest with you, because I was only going as a spectator and fan, and Phil came over and said, 'You must be our mate from Canada – it's always good to have another person here representing our monarchy'.
And I looked down and I had my Canadian shirt on, so they'd made me. I told him I wasn't there to compete and Phil then told me my name was on the list. While we'd been talking Phil's knights and the US knights had begun to mill around and I wasn't about to paint Canada yellow, so I borrowed some equipment, a lance, and a horse, and ended up winning the competition.
It's not often you can say you found a suit of armour and a lance lying around, is it?
The suit of armour I wore was just a chain mail shirt and any historian will tell you that offers no protection from a hit from a lance…
Shane – this sounds really dangerous.
It was dangerous, so kids, do not try this at home. It's the real deal and I suggest anyone have the proper training before they go out and do what I did. But I placed myself in the hands of the boys from Nottingham, so I was safe, right?
That was in the light armour discipline, which is more of a Medieval style of jousting, and all the hits are supposed to just go into the shield and not target a body part, which is not to say that they didn't get hit. There were broken ribs and a lot of injuries in the very beginning as the sport was rebuilt in the modern age.
We're reinventing the wheel and everybody survived. So that's a good thing.
So everyone surviving the tournament is a sign of its success? Righty ho. Although in Medieval contests, once someone had been knocked off, the swords would be drawn and they'd carry on scrapping on foot.
Right – the styles of jousting we do are more joust a plaisance, the joust of peace, not the joust of war.
Which makes us wonder how similar are your rules and regulations to the ones observed back in the Medieval day.
They're quite similar – there are a lot of different styles of jousting. Everywhere you would go in Europe there would be different styles, so one knight jousting in Wales would be doing so in a way different to another knight in Italy or Germany.
We use Realgestech, where riders wear a gridded grand guard that's bolted to the breastplate and used as the target. Most armour was designed to deflect the impact force away from the body, but this style is very alluring for producers because it demands that 5,000lb of force strike into a rider.
It's really important to me this isn't seen as a US TV show, but one of the sons of the Commonwealth achieving his childhood dream and bringing attention to the sport of his forefathers. That's got to be worth a knighthood from the Queen…
We'll put a call in right now…
Kids, do not try this at home.