he sport of jousting.
It might surprise many Kiwis to know that the sport of Jousting has been running here in New Zealand since the early 1980s. Jousting is regulated internationally by two main bodies – the Euro Jousting League (EJL) primarily within greater Europe and the International Jousting Association (IJA) both in Europe and the rest of the world. The IJA provides a global structure for training and grading which our members are able to work their way through.
The Company of the Lance (C.O.T.L) is an IJA group that was formed in Auckland in 2004.
The group’s two main focuses are Contact Jousting and “Skill-at-Arms”. Skill-at-Arms encompasses a large number of mounted games and exercises that were originally designed to prepare a rider for the medieval pursuits of hunting, tournament and battle.
These games include exercises such as Rings (threading rings with a sword or spear), Tent-Pegging, Tilting the quintain (hitting a spinning target) and cutting, throwing and firing various weapons from horseback – essentially pony-club games for grown-ups with a lot more skill involved. When riders reach competition level, all of these exercises are done at the canter and often include obstacles such as jumps etc.
Contact Jousting is a modern equestrian competitive sport that also has a mass public appeal. It is a revival of traditional Medieval Jousting (as popularised in the film “A Knight’s Tale” starring Heath Ledger). The objective of our style of jousting is to hit your opponent’s shield with a lance while he or she is trying to do the same to you. Points are awarded on how well you strike your opponent with maximum points being awarded for shattering your lance. This style of joust, known as the joust of peace became common from the 14th century onwards.
Jousting is considered by many to be the pinnacle of western Martial arts. For Jousting (although not for Skill-at-Arms) we use real armour for obvious safety reasons. A suit of armour (known as a harness) can cost anything from $1500 to $20,000. Only those wishing to take part in the contact Jousting need to procure this sort of equipment. Luckily, we have two of our very own armourers – Graham and Jezz.
Other disciplines practiced by C.O.T.L include the Behourd (an every rider for himself simulated sword combat using padded cudgels – the objective is to knock the crest from your opponents’ helmet) and Mounted archery.
We also have a ground crew and foot combatant section. The foot combatant training allows people who don't necessarily want to ride the opportunity to train in medieval combat and become comfortable around horses. Our foot-crew are some of our most valued members and they are able to take part in any of our tournaments and displays.
There are many opportunities for members to participate in tournaments around the world. C.O.T.L members have competed in New Zealand, Australia, Belgium, France and Sweden.
Most recently, Jezz Smith has competed in the Hackaland Tournament in Leige (Belgium) and Graham Nixon has competed in Normandy (France). You can see some of our members achievements on the “Bio’s” page.