Full Metal Jousting

It’s been unleashed at Professional Bull Riders (PBR) events. And it sponsors action-packed bashes like the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC).

Creators are calling it the “Ultimate Extreme Sport.”

And, if the horse industry is having a problem getting youth involved in the equine sector, full metal jousting is certain to grab their attention.

I had been hearing whispers of this age-old concept receiving new life, as early as 2010, when Ingrid blogged about her experience at a jousting in Germany. through the History Channel. After watching The History Channel’s sponsorships on the “Tale of the Tapes” at UFC 144 recently, I couldn’t deny full metal jousting any longer. It was time to dig a little deeper and see what FMJ was all about.

FMJ is promising bone-crushing collisions, extreme tests of courage and a $100,000 prize to the champion.

The History channel is bringing back the most dangerous collision sport in history and transforming it into a 21st-century event. The toughest riders in the nation face off in a bone-crushing competition for big money. Traditional armor is replaced by modern suits of steel, while the high speed action is captured by high-speed cameras. Each episode features full-contact jousts in which jousters charge and collide at 30 miles an hour, and every joust is a test of courage and strength requiring nerves of steel.

And for any man whom the sport doesn’t chew up and spit out – the last man standing takes home the $100,000 cash prize.

At the helm of the show is Shane Adams, a Canadian-born jouster and trainer. Adams is one of the biggest names in the sport, founding several competitive tournaments in the United States and Canada, holding 17 international titles and weighing in as former president of the World Championship Jousting Association. He hopes that Fetal Metal Jousting and the sport of jousting will grow like Ultimate Fighting did with its counterpart show, The Ultimate Fighter.

The cast of the 2012 season of FMJ.

The horses used in FMJ all come from Adams’ personal stable. “I have 20 jousting horses that I travel from show to show with, and I’ve been performing with, for the past 10 years. All these horses basically came from my roster of trained jousting horses. And trust me, it takes a long time to get them to that point.”

Each week’s episode of FMJ will feature full-contact trials and preparations that will ultimately determine the champion-king of the joust.

Jousting in Germany

One of the highlights of my recent trip to Germany included an unexpected side trip to a medieval jousting festival. We discovered this event as it happened to be just a few kilometers from our hotel. It was a beautiful afternoon and we had a few hours free, so we decided to walk down to the festival. Coming up over the hill upon it, I was awed by the setting, as the medieval tent village was nestled in a small valley with a backdrop of a castle or “burg” dating from the Middle Ages.

Inside the village were throngs of people – from all classes . . . and centuries.

Photo by Daniel Dunbar

Even the kids got into the act.

In addition to the main event of jousting, the festival featured a Mittelaltermarket with many stands selling medieval fashion, food and trinkets.

At 99 euros, this dress would have been a great buy. After the festival, you can wear it to your year-end awards banquet.

Anyone thinking freestyle reining?

A falconery booth.

Candles for your next dinner party. Or, witching.

Speaking of dinner parties. . .

Actually, the food was amazing, albeit a little out of the ordinary. Caramels made the old-fashioned way, dried fruits and vegetables, spices, herbs, a fish market, fresh baked bread, complimented with mead (a wine made with honey dating back to the middle ages), and of course, the German standard, beer gardens.

Yes, it translates to flea market . . .

My daughter and her cousin carefully consider the jewelry stand, featuring many medieval pieces.

Of course, the main event was the jousting, and while the afternoon schedule featured more of a set of games on horseback, as opposed to riders jousting against each other A Knight’s Tale style, we still found it thrilling to watch.

In these games, individual jousters compete against each other at high speeds whilst performing skills such as knocking helmets off poles, piercing rings set in a row and slicing an apple on the throughway. I gathered these afternoon games were fashioned for amateur and novice riders and their horses. Similar to our horse sports they serve as an entry point whereby to hone skills, technique and gain experience in the arena, with the final destination the more ardent man to man (or, woman to woman!) jousting, which is typically scheduled as the showcase evening event.

Remarkably similar to modern day horse events, the deciding factor of success or failure often lies in the horse’s desire to perform at particularly crucial moments. Such as when one is scheduled to be galloping in full armor and glory down the arena.

It’s the crowd, it’s the noise, it’s that barbecued, yeewwh, pig at the other end of the arena . . . I’m just not going there.

Fine, I will do it, however, in protest, I’m keeping my eyes closed.

Just a personal observation, but on this day it appeared the frauleins held the upper hand.

Like any other horse show, we headed down to the “barns” to get our fix of barn smells and petting horses. Look, a medieval fly mask.

Eventually, we had to head back across the moat and return to our hotel, but we really loved our afternoon at the jousting, and securing our horse-fix so far from home. I didn’t realize what a vibrant sub-culture exists surrounding the Middle Ages and the sport of jousting.

Here’s a short video of the Kaltenberg, Germany jousting event which gives a huge insight into the intensity of the sport.

Jousting Tournament in Kaltenberg, Germany