The Jousting Life

Thursday, April 30, 2015

How to Get Involved with the International Jousting League

written by Frederic Piraux, head of the International Jousting League
edited by Zhi Zhu

How Do I Get to Play?

You probably wore out your old VHS tape fast forwarding to the jousting scene in Ivanhoe.... You know A Knight’s Tale better than the script girl who worked on it.... And ever since you saw that tournament at the renaissance faire a few summers back and actually got to chat with a guy sweating in armour by the paddocks, you knew that the sport of jousting was for you! Your childhood dream could be fulfilled.

After buying the ‘made in China’ Henry XVth suit of armour from the discount website because it perfectly matched the crusader helm you so proudly and victoriously won from the auction on e-bay. And after spending a ton of time training your mighty jousting horse -- the one you originally bought for your daughter’s future international jumping career when she turned 13 -- over the past three weeks. Well... except for the one week when the arena was flooded by rain.

Even though you had to practice on your own after the first day because your sparring partner -- who didn't win his e-bay auction -- got maimed by the broom stick you had extended with PVC tube(for obvious safety reasons), you persevered.


And the world better acknowledge it, since you scored 75% on that Facebook quiz.

It is understandable that personal enthusiasm can easily overwhelm sound judgement, and you can easily feel frustrated when you find out that most of what you figured out on your own needs serious revision.
"Why don't those pricks invite me to their tournaments? Are they scared of me?"
Yes! They are!

Just because you’re ready to risk life and limb in a sport that you are NOT adequately prepared for, does not mean that I’m willing to be the one to rip your head off in front of a live audience(and all their cameras). It also does not mean that I am willing to let your lance come any closer to my horse than the rack in the far corner of the arena! It does mean that, as a tournament organizer, the professionalism I expect from the other competitors, I also want to be able to expect from you.

You might be tempted to re-invent the wheel(and probably make it sturdier using duct tape), BUT… I can only encourage you to first find out what others have already figured out. Seriously, this sport/re-enactment is a very dangerous activity when your preparation is that "approximate". Our ancestors found that out the hard way and committed all the basic mistakes they could so that you would not have to do the same.

Don't be afraid to ask for help from those who have already done their research, both historical and practical, and are now respected, experienced jousters. If you approach politely, they will not snub you. Most jousters within the International Jousting League are cool guys(and girls) who will answer all your questions for free!

Frederic Piraux (in red) watches Stacy Wasson joust against her opponent at  Brooks Medieval Faire Jousting Tournament 2014 (photo by Grant Zelych)
Frederic Piraux (in red) watches Stacy Wasson joust against her opponent at 
Brooks Medieval Faire Jousting Tournament 2014 (photo by Grant Zelych)

Their concern is that you don’t get injured and give our game a bad name.
Their concern is that you don’t hurt a horse and give our game a horrible name.
Their concern is to bring you into the sport safely, so that you can continue to play with us. The more the merrier!

I promise you no one will expect you to prove five years of experience prior to the job (we are not your first employer after college) or noble ascendance through four generations before you are allowed in. But you will be expected to have shown commitment and consistent sound judgement before being considered for invitation to any jousting event.

NOW, you should be ready... to get started!

It's easy and free to join the International Jousting League. Just fill out the application form and send it in.

Each IJL event is independently run by its own organizer.
He’s the one to contact and he makes the management calls.
He’s free to choose :
- number of participants
- historical period or style of the joust
- jousting rules
- riding level expectations
- soft kit style
- camping or hotel ?
- solid lances, hard wood tips, balsa tips, pool noodle…

Do you want to participate in an IJL tournament?
Look for the year and then event links on the IJL Tournaments page.
Do you fit the event requirements?
Send the organizer an e-mail!

It is quite standard for tournament organizers to contact the IJL Secretary with questions like: "I'm looking for one European (from preferred country or countries) with 15thC armour, willing to joust with hard tips – Would you please send list of recommendations?"
The answer is always based on the knowledge we have of the affiliate.

Frederic Piraux, head of the International Jousting League  (photo by Andrzej Wiktor)
Frederic Piraux, head of the International Jousting League 
(photo by Andrzej Wiktor)

International Jousting League website
IJL Individual Affiliation Form (downloadable pdf)
IJL Tournament Affiliation Form (downloadable pdf)
Email the IJL

Related articles:
International and National Jousting Organizations
Modern Medievalist Interviews International Jouster Frederic Piraux
A New Kind of Frangible Lance Tip: Spiral Cut Pine Tips

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