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Jousting: From Medieval Times To Full Metal Jousting: The Decline of Jousting

Updated on August 1, 2012

Decline and Revival

Over the centuries, jousting evolved from training for the battlefield into entertainment. During its prominent years, changes took place affecting the armour worn and how the event was handled. From licensing to creating a uniform field, people began to orchestrate the event. The arrival and popularity of firearms also altered the sport. Decay was to set in as jousting faced the reality of the new world of combat.

Jousting’s Decline

The major reduction of jousting from training tool to theatrical show coincides with the rise of the firearm industry. Muskets and other forms of firearms became a more effective way of combat and mass destruction. As a form of theatrical entertainment, jousting also began to fail. Responsible was the changing nature of people’s tastes. Tournaments began to lose ground to such things as plays and live shows.

In the 17th century, jousting was all but dead. In Europe, traces only remained. Jousting became not armed combat but the carousel. In this form, men on horseback competed to spear a ring hung on a pole or other object. Men rotated around the pole. Overtime, pretend horses replaced real ones and anyone could ride a horse in an attempt to catch a ring.

In North America, this sport became known as the ring tilt, demonstrating the expertise of men on horseback by accurately putting a lance through a series of rings, became popular. In fact, Maryland, United States, adopted ring-tilt as its official state sport in 1962.

Modern Jousting

Jousting in the 21st century has undergone somewhat of a renaissance. Such groups as “The Knights of Valour” draw crowds wherever they perform. The same is applicable to theatrical jousting groups performing as part of medieval inspired fairs. Several tournaments act to test the ability of jousters to the fullest. National Jousting Association and/or the International Jousting League govern and approve several of these tournaments. These events ensure the quality of jousting is high.

One of the major movers behind this Renaissance of jousting is Shane Adams, Born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Shane, a foremost national and international champion in the sport, has fueled further interest by introducing it to a wider audience. He accomplished this through the television show Full Metal Jousting. Aired on the History Channel, it garnered good reviews and a strong fan-base. Unfortunately, the History Channel has since decided to cancel the show. Their reasons, and their preference for pseudo reality shows that play on the base nature of society does not bear well for any show with actual historic merit and quality.


For those in search for a new extreme but honourable sport, jousting has surged forward as a potential answer. Once the practical sport of nobility, the perfect blend of war tuning and knightly action, jousting became entertainment then obsolete. Today, the actions of a few dedicated men have resulted in a revival of the sport. Beyond the Renaissance Fairs, Medieval Dining expereinces and theatrical jousts exist real tournaments. One such modernization appeared in Full Metal Jousting. The lack of foresight revealed by the History Channel in not renewing the show will not deter the sport. Interest in the sport and tournaments will continue to grow across North America and Europe.


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