While football, hockey, boxing and MMA are all violent sports by design, but there was an era when sport was more than violent. It was deadly.
The royal sport of tournament jousting was more than public competition. It was combat training for the knights and squires of the realm. If the winners and losers survived the bouts, they emerged with improved combat skills on horseback. But, if a lance point found a gap in the armor, of if a full from a steed was violent, enough; the contestants might never live to see another battlefield.
Now, Full Metal Jousting, the new reality competition show from The History Channel is bringing competitive jousting back for a television audience.
You might catch simulated jousting at some medieval dinner theater or renaissance faire. But those events are usually theatrical sparring to entertain an audience. Full Metal Joustingis open and dangerous competition searching for new stars in a very old sport.
In the show’s debut season, 16 contestants will take runs as cash prizes in an updated version of the centuries old contest. Medieval armor is replaced by modern suits of steel, but, a lot of what you’ll see is unchanged from eras passed. The lances are wood and head for each other at 30 mpg while the big horses underneath the 21st century knights charge. The last man standing takes home the money.
We caught up with Shane Adams, jousting coach and holder of 17 international jousting titles, as he introduced the new show at the Anaheim stop for the Professional Bull Rider’s rodeo. Two of his jousters provided halftime entertainment in the ring to generate interest in the premiere.
One of the driving creative forces behind Full Metal Jousting, Adams grew up on a horse farm in Canada. He still raises big Percheron on his farm while promoting jousting around the world.
CraveOnline: In a 21st Century, when we have iPads and PS3s, why bring jousting back now?
Shane Adams: It’s been my dream to be a knight since I was four years old. When I grew up, I had a dream to take this sport mainstream. This show is the realization of that dream. And this is a sport. This isn’t dinner theater.
CraveOnline: We’re here at bull riding event with cowboy hats everywhere you look. It seems like a weird place to introduce knights in armor. This just seems like a Lord of the Rings friendly crowd.
Shane Adams: The action of the sport appeals to anyone. Last week, we were with the PBR at Madison Square Garden in New York City in front of 15,000 people. They were there to watch bull riding, but every one of them stayed in their seat to watch the rebirth of this sport.
CraveOnline: This was a deadly competition hundreds of years ago. I know you want it to be exciting and visceral now, but you don’t want your competitions to get hurt. What safety steps do you take that were out of the question a couple centuries ago?
Shane Adams: Obviously, we have improved steel armor with foam padding. We also wear compression vests to protect our spines – and mouthpieces. It’s still 85 lbs., of armor. The jousters have to stay up on their lifting and roadwork to stay in the kind of shape necessary.
Adams won’t say who walks away with the final prize in the show’s first season, but you point your lance at The History Channel Sunday, February 12 at 10 pm.