No Small Feats of Arms

From the New York Times...

Is Jousting the Next Extreme Sport?

The problem is that Andrews and Adams joust in a style they call “full contact,” which, while popular in North America, is considered by the rest of the world to be unnecessarily dangerous. It’s a reputation that isn’t helped by the video on YouTube showing the two men describing their many injuries, including the time a lance bruised Andrews’s heart and he nearly died from a pulmonary embolism. (He was back jousting five days after his release from the hospital.)


North American- and European-style jousters can spend all day criticizing one another’s style of competition, and they frequently do. The “full contact” jousters find the I.J.L. style froufrou and weak, dismissing their combat as “a sorority pillow fight.” I.J.L. jousters, for their part, portray the full-contact jousters as a bunch of ego-driven braggarts who have substituted brute force for safety, elegance and finesse. They dismiss the Americans’ lumberyard lances as “closet poles,” their armor as looking “like a trash can” and their draft horses as “tractors with four legs.” (Both Hedgecock and the Europeans use swifter draft crosses rather than the full-blooded drafts used by American jousters.)


“The sport of jousting is only going to survive in the United States if there is that ferocity in it,” Adams says. “If it’s just a bunch of guys hitting each other with balsa-wood lances, the only people going will be the Renaissance crowd.”

Lurking under the surface of the debate over jousting styles are deeper questions about masculinity itself. “American culture is a certain way,” Nowrick says. “The hubris and the braggadocio about how tough I am, the whole Rocky Balboa thing. But when you go to Europe, there’s a different yardstick by which men are measured.”

And in related news...

Historians locate King Arthur's Round Table

Legend has it that his Knights would gather before battle at a round table where they would receive instructions from their King.

But rather than it being a piece of furniture, historians believe it would have been a vast wood and stone structure which would have allowed more than 1,000 of his followers to gather.

Historians believe regional noblemen would have sat in the front row of a circular meeting place, with lower ranked subjects on stone benches grouped around the outside.