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Jousting: Medieval Martial Art Is To Become Olympic Sport

Jousting is one of the world’s oldest equestrian sports, the art of thrusting a lance into an opponent on horseback having roots in Ancient Greece. Could the ancient “martial art” become the next Olympic sport?

This year golf and rugby sevens are the new sports at Rio 2016. But jousting fans want more events with men and women wearing armour, carrying lances and charging at each other on horses at 30mph.


Historically, jousting was training for battles, but knights would also challenge each other at tournaments. Medieval knights turned to jousting to showcase their strength, skill and horsemanship, with the first tournament held in 1066 and similar spectacles patronized by King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I.


The medieval joust has its origins in the military tactics of heavy cavalry during the High Middle Ages. By the 14th century, many members of the nobility, including kings had taken up jousting to showcase their own courage, skill and talents, and the sport proved just as dangerous for a king as a knight, and from the 15th century on, jousting became a sport (hastilude) without direct relevance to warfare.

die cut scrap of medieval knights jousting

Encounters often ended in injury or death – including of French King Henry II in 1559 – but the hollow lances used nowadays are designed to shatter on impact, reducing the risks.


The sport deserves to be recognised as a “western martial art” and added to the roster of Olympic events, professional jouster Dominic Sewell said. “You can see jousts from Russia to Australia to western California,” Sewell, suited up in chain mail, told Sky TV.

“It’s becoming a truly international sport and that’s why we are calling for it to be recognised on an Olympic level.”

Jousting is currently a recognised sport in many US states, while tournaments have been held in a variety of countries around the world, including Belgium and New Zealand.


featured image©Jane Barlow/PA

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