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Knights of the 21st Century: Keeping the tradition alive

Knights of the 21st Century: Keeping the tradition alive

Can you imagine yourself putting on 30-kg body armor, climbing up on a horse, holding a 10-foot long spear, and riding towards your opponent aiming to hit him hard? This is how medieval knights settled their scores, competed for a prize, or defended the honor of their king as his champions. A very common scene in historical movies.  Now, imagine doing this in the 21st century. Only for sports mind you, it is still practiced. Jousting may not be among the many sports available for betting yet, however, you can find the best odds for many other sports if you open a betting account without limits!

The modern medieval times

Known as jousts, tournaments and fights nowadays, are fought with specially modified weapons to minimize injuries. The main rule is to knock one’s opponent out with a lance blow without falling off his horse.

The fight begins with the riders riding towards each other in a marked 300-meter corridor, reaching an average speed of 20 kilometers per hour. To prove that the opponent fell by the impact of the blow - and not by loss of balance - the winner's spear must be broken at the moment it strikes.  The closer to the first the lance is broken, the more points are awarded according to the following list:

  • Lance broke due to a strike on the opponent’s arm: 1 point.
  • Lance broke due to a strike on the opponent’s chest: 2 points.
  • Lance broke due to a strike on the opponent’s shield: 3 points.
  • Lance broke due to a strike on the opponent’s lance tip: 5 points.
  • Strikes on the opponent’s arm, chest, or shield without breaking the lance (“attaints”): 0 points.
  • Strike with the length of the lance across the opponent’s body (“barricade” or “sweep”): 0 points.
  • Strikes anywhere below the opponent’s waistline: disallowed – 0 points, disqualification in case of a repeat.
  • Strikes on the opponent’s head: depending on prior agreement either disallowed or 3 – 5 points.

Special considerations are given to the horses which are protected by metal plates on their heads and flanks. However, sometimes the spear does strike the animal somewhere unprotected. The result: the person responsible for the blow is immediately disqualified. In addition to disqualification, the rider loses points for hitting the opponent's saddle. He is also punished if his horse dodged the fight or if he accidentally hits the fence in the middle of the arena that separates the opponents.

The historical course

Although this way of settling issues was abandoned in the 17th century, enthusiasts for this kind of athletic competition tried to keep the practice in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Finally, it worked. Today, there are professional and amateur teams and competitions, recreating the old tradition. The events are basically limited to jousting and foot combat, while they are staged in medieval fairgrounds, Renaissance fairs, or specific competitions.

The largest annual tournament in the world is held in Bavaria - the Kalbenberg Ritterturnier. The reenactment remains strong in the UK as well. Every year, the Royal Armouries in Leeds hosts a major Easter tournament, while English Heritage is leading a petition to make the practice an Olympic sport. They have launched a campaign to have it recognized for the 2020 games in Tokyo. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, a year was lost. However, the future is unknown. Stay tuned to our news section to be informed of the outcome of the attempt!