Bicycle jousting with boat oars ends poorly

Originally published at: Bicycle jousting with boat oars ends poorly | Boing Boing


About a month ago I went to the renaissance fair with my family and saw some actual jousting with folks wearing armor and everything. I thought it was pretty good and a few lances got shattered on impact but my mother-in-law was disappointed that nobody actually got knocked off their horses. I never knew that she had such blood lust…


It’s bad luck just seeing a thing like that.


Fortunately those were just kayak paddles. If they’d used boat oars there would be a good chance of a ruptured spleen.


Fans of the Romero classic I see.



What about motorcycle chariot racing?


Jousting is one of the two official sports of Maryland, but it’s target jousting, trying to lance a small ring, not your opponent.
The other official sport, lacrosse, occasionally informally involves whacking your opponent with a stick.


So, lacrosse, being largely based on the early version created by Native Americans, seems to have also adopted ‘counting coups’. :wink:


In fact the lances are designed to shatter. Tournament lances are practice lances, basically. Designed to be as safe as such a thing can reasonably be. At a RenFaire, of course, the two people also aren’t trying to hurt each other. This is what’s called theatrical jousting. They never knock anyone off because to do that there’s a very specific spot you have to hit the other rider, which is difficult to do safely. It’s also quite likely to injure the person doing the knocking, because of the forces involved. The type of chest hit required for an unhorsing has a high likelihood of the worst type of jousting injury, where the lance hits your chest and slides up under your visor into your neck. Very good way to get a jugular and eyes full of wood splinters.

There is one step above this. There is an actual modern sport of competitive jousting that has a small following. They still use training lances, but the riders are genuinely trying to hit each other in violent ways for specific types of points. There are injuries of course- it’s pretty dangerous as sports go. Very exciting to watch, though.


Came here for that video. Much appreciated.


A severely underrated movie with an amazing cast.


That looks like it had to hurt. It hurts when you have full armor on. Good way to break a rib.


The whole “detachable shield mounted to the front of the armor that’s designed to pop off at contact” (which is what I saw) isn’t just a RenFaire thing, though. Apparently that style of jousting is called “Rennen” and dates back to the 1500’s. So reasonably period accurate.


I finally convinced my wife to watch it recently. It still holds up.


Ren Fair jousting is fun. They are scripted though. The one in KC usually does end with one falling off a horse and then some ground combat. The lances used are made to shatter on a direct hit, must most of the time they aim for blow that will glance.

If you want to see more realistic fighting, there is the SCA that fights in metal armor with rattan weapons, and other orgs like the International Medieval Combat Federation where they are dealing blows with real steel, though they aren’t sharp. You can defiantly feel those blows in the crowd.

The KC Renfest is pretty awesome in that it lasts like 6 or 7 weekends (I can’t recall the full time), and so each week is a different theme. Some weekends they will have SCA or other orgs doing combat tournaments or demonstrations. They are unscripted, just two or more people wacking on each other and some sort of system to score for wounds or what not.


Re: Bicycle Jousting

We used to do that when I was about 10 years old.
Except we didn’t have lances/oars/paddles. Or padding. Or helmets.
We called it ‘playing chicken’, and He Who Swerves, loses.

I played it, once, & I imagine it looked about like the short clip.
We nailed each other, head-on. Bent the front wheel on my bike, and it was a
long, painful trudge back home.


Indeed, tournament jousting is designed very much to be a theatrical sport from the beginning. It wasn’t about knights trying to hurt each other. It was about a bunch of rich guys trying to impress each other and maybe rape some women later. It was the private space program of medieval Europe.


“Boys will be boys” I mean “Boys will be imbeciles”.


Earning my pedant badge here but it wasn’t designed from the beginning at all. It started as a display of martial prowess, as the champions of two sides meeting one on one in the same way they had done since at least the Bronze Age (as we know from Homer).

It’s really the influence of chivalric romances that made knights turn themselves into caricatures of themselves from the 13th/14th centuries on (this is where all that icky for the love of a woman stuff comes from). But even then these duels were basically fought with their normal weapons of war.

The real “sportification” of jousting came right at the end of the middle ages in the late 15th early 16th century when there was a real yearning in a changing world to go back to the perceived glories of knighthood (cf. also the (admittedly later) Don Quixote). Especially under the reign of Maximilian I. in the Holy Roman Empire jousting was codified into a sport with specialised equipment such as spring loaded shields (for the relatively safe and contactless Rennen aimed at the shield) and extremely heavy and ingeniously angled armour (for the full contact Stechen aimed at the body or even head), as well as purpose-built jousting grounds. By that time it wasn’t even knights anymore that did it. At least I am fairly certain I remember seeing Stechzeuge that belonged to Nuremberg burghers.


Even then, it was dangerous enough that Henry VIII sustained injuries in at least two jousts that affected his health for the rest of his life. The concussion he suffered in 1536 may have changed his personality to the brutal tyrant he is remembered for being.