To The Joust!

Amidst all the weird, non-historical programming that the History Channel is bringing us daily, there is one weird, half-historical show that I’m actually excited for: Full Metal Jousting.

The show fuses modern metal armor with the medieval rules of jousting, creating a totally awesome spectacle I will definitely be watching. (The show has already started, but I only found out about it today.) I love jousting. When I go to a ren faire (the Renaissance Faire, for all you non-rennies), even faires that follow the formulaic three-show storyline, I go to as many jousts as possible. (Although when I do go to storyline jousts, I miss having all the other tournament games that don’t involve fighting each other.) I know they’re staged, and that no one’s actually getting hurt. I don’t particularly care.Β  Watching a joust is exhilarating and fun, and the only time when screaming things like, “Your blood will water the grass” is at all an ok thing to do. The show is championship-style, with a cash prize for the winner.

My first hesitation about the show is that jousting may not be as amazing on TV as it is in person. Sitting outside in garb, with a hundred other people who are also screaming “Your blood will water the grass” is a very different experience from lounging on the couch by yourself. Of course, that’s the same difference between seeing any sport in person and on TV. I just hope that the History Channel adequately translates jousting to TV (something I imagine is difficult).

I’m also a little disappointed, though completely unsurprised, that there are no female jousters on the show. I realize that it could be asking too much of History to feature a coed jousting tournament when there are plenty of people who refuse to acknowledge female athleticism. And History definitely seems to want to market this in a macho kind of way. Which I get. But in real life (real life being, of course, the world of historical reenactors) there are female jousters. Plenty of them. There are even all-female jousting groups like Mounted Fury.

I don’t know what the casting call for these jousters was like, or what the audition process was like for the show. I have no idea if History tried to include female jousters or not. That isn’t really my point here. I’m just disappointed that, once again, an area where women are actually prevalent participants is being portrayed as an all-male zone.

I know that if there were female jousters on Full Metal Jousting, what everyone would say to discredit the female jousters would be: Are they strong enough to compete with the others? Should they change the rules to make it easier for women? These are the questions that still haunt any discussion, intelligent or otherwise, about coed sports or allowing women to do things like try out to be Navy SEALS. Because, as well all know, all men are big muscular giants and all women are teeny little flowers. Never mind that in the “real life” world of jousting and swordfighting, women and men compete together, in both staged jousting and real swordplay.

(In case anyone doubts those statements, the North Carolina Renaissance Faire has for years included a female knight in the jousts. Bat Cat and I also used to be involved with the European Medieval Arts of Arms group, who do actual period swordfighting. Women and men fight and rise to the rank of knighthood together, and no one seems upset by that.)

So, while I will give Full Metal Jousting a try, I know that the world of jousting that the show is portraying is only a limited one. And, as much as I might enjoy it, I won’t be able to help thinking that I might enjoy it a little more if it better represented the whole of jousters.

-Joanna

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5 thoughts on “To The Joust!

  1. Curses, I had a comment typed out and then my browser force-closed before I could post it. >.< I'll try to remember what I had written.

    I know my comment is a bit late, but…

    Speaking as someone who worked with and for Shane Adams during the filming of FMJ, I can tell you that the first season was intended largely to test the waters and see how a show like this would fare, hence the all-male competition. There were rumors for a time of an all-female second season, but I've since parted company with Shane and haven't heard any more about it.
    As for the reality of the shows at ren faires, I can assure you that most of them are not in fact staged. The lances are solid, not scored, and the hits are HARD. When you see the squires rush over in a panic, they truly are wondering if their knight is conscious inside the helm. Many, many concussions, stitches, and broken bones result from matches at faires and competitions. Yet still the knights keep getting back in the saddle, putting themselves through the wringer for the sport they love.
    I'm really very glad to have found your article, as some sqwenches (squire + wench = sqwench lol) and myself, along with Dame Jessica (formerly of Shane's troupe, Knights of Valour) have recently put together an all-female troupe and wondered if there were others out there like ours. Thank you for posting this, and I do hope you'll give us a look-see when we start getting shows! Maybe you'll even see us on TV one day. πŸ˜€

    • Thanks so much for commenting! I had a feeling the show was being cautious because it was the first season, but thanks for giving me an insider’s view. Same with faire jousting!

      Feel free to send us links to any press/sites about your troupe! I’d love to know what you guys are up to, and we could give you a mention on the blog.

      • Oh my, that would be awesome! We’re still getting things together, a recent random series of events came together beautifully and let us seriously think this could be possible, so we’re gathering resources and planning the basics. You can find us on Facebook for now, though, at http://www.facebook.com/KnightsOfTheRoseJoustingTroupe. It’s a mouthful, I know, but apparently there’s also a game called Knights Of The Rose. Who knew, eh? LOL. Anyway, we’re working on a website as well, but it’s being a bit cranky and not cooperating, so that’ll have to stay under the heading of ‘coming soon’ for a bit. If you want to see the style of jousting we will use (called ‘realgestacht’, though I’m sure I mangled the spelling), you can look up the Lords of Chivalry (lordsofchivalry.com), a Tennessee-based troupe we’ve worked with before and will be doing some training with. Great guys, there. πŸ˜€

        Thanks so much for your encouragement! I hope to be able to send you more goodies soon! πŸ™‚

      • I look forward to seeing these goodies! πŸ™‚ And seriously, I’m very excited to know that there are women out there forming female jousting troupes. I am totally behind publicizing these troupes (and individual women jousters), as well as encouraging women to try it. (I myself have never jousted because I have zero horse-related skills, but if I did, I would love to try.) I look forward to seeing you guys do some awesome stuff!

  2. Well, it’s been just about a year for the Knights of the Rose. We’ve travelled to Maryland and Tennessee for training, and we’re going to Tennessee again over Halloween weekend for more training. Our goal for next year is to joust at the International Jousting Championships taking place during the Long’s Peak Scottish-Irish Highland Festival in Estes Park, Colorado. As a bunch of chicks that still have to work full-time (boo!), it’s taking us a bit to get everything together but it is indeed coming together! I’m also looking forward to starting work on my first suit of armor while we’re in Tennessee! So be sure to drop by our Facebook fan page for plenty of pics and updates when we get back. Thanks again for all your encouragement! ❀

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