Friday, July 31, 2015

'Tournamenting' in Maryland

Maryland State Sport: Jousting

Jousting became the official sport of Maryland in 1962 (Chapter 134, Acts of 1962; Code State Government Article, sec. 13-308). Maryland was the first state to adopt an official sport.

The annual Maryland State Jousting Championship was held October 5, 2013 at the Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds, 1450 Generals Highway (Route 178), Crownsville. The Championship has been sponsored since 1950 by the Maryland Jousting Tournament Association. Also, the National Jousting Championship was held at Petersville on October 12, 2013 

Jousting tournaments have been held in Maryland since early colonial times but became increasingly popular after the Civil War. Retaining the pageantry and customs of medieval tournaments, modern competitors are called "knights" or "maids", and many dress in colorful costumes. Men, women and children compete equally with skill and horsemanship determining the class.

Tournaments conducted in Maryland are "ring tournaments" which involve charging a horse at full-gallop through an 80-yard course toward suspended rings. Using a long, fine-tipped lance, the rider has 8 seconds to complete the course and "spear" the rings, scoring points accordingly. From three equally-spaced arches, rings are hung 6 feet 9 inches above the ground and range in diameter from one-quarter inch to nearly two inches depending upon the skill-level of the contestant. A family sport, jousting skills frequently are passed from one generation to the next.

Today, jousting competitions are held from May through October in Maryland.

The sport of jousting has deep roots in Europe, so it is no surprise that the sport came to the U.S. during colonial times, although it did not gain popularity until after the Civil War. In 1962, the Honorable Henry J. Fowler, Sr., a Delegate from St. Mary’s County (home of Maryland’s first colony), introduced a bill into the Maryland House of Delegates proposing jousting as the official state sport. The bill passed both chambers by an overwhelming vote and was signed into law by Governor J. Millard Tawes on June 1, 1962. Maryland became the first state to adopt an official state sport.

While lacrosse is dubbed the state's team sport, jousting remains Maryland's state sport. (Oli Scarff - Getty Images)
Now 50 years later, the sport here in Maryland continues to be popular with local jousters competing within the Free State and nationally.

Knocking a Man From a Horse

When most people hear the word “joust,” they think of knights in heavy armor charging at each other with huge lances trying to knock another knight to the ground. That form of jousting began during the Middle Ages. It got its start as a battle strategy during wartime—a man knocked from his horse is less likely to kill you.

Gene Martino and Leland Coleman joust at the Maryland Renaissance Festival (photo by Neil Rothschild)
From the battlefields to the tournament fields, jousting turned into a way for kings and queens to showcase their most skilled knights. Today, this form of jousting can still been seen at such events as the Maryland Renaissance Festival or Medieval Times. However, the competitive nature is now more for show.

Interestingly enough, the first form of jousting made a reappearance in a competitive way with the show “Full Metal Jousting” that debuted on the History Channel last year. In the show, the object was to earn enough points (from hits on various parts of your opponent’s armor or knocking the opponent off his horse) to advance to the next round. In the end, one “knight” remained.

A More Civilized Sport

With the invention of gunpowder, lances were no longer needed on the battlefield. Although they were still used at tournaments, knights began to hone their skills by aiming their lances at small metal rings instead of at each other. When Cecil Calvert, the second Lord Baltimore, founded the first colony in Maryland in 1634, he brought the sport, typically called The Ring Tournaments, with him.

Accokeek Jousting Tournament 1940
Through the years, the sport transformed from one restricted to the wealthy or members of high society to an open form of competition. Today, the traditions and pageantry of the Middle Ages still prevail but with a more modern twist. Jousting has become a family sport, open to both sexes and any age level.
Lily Fisher-Flaherty and her horse, Sunny, make a three-ring ride
The object of modern day jousting is to spear up to three rings while riding your horse through three arches from which hang the rings. Beginners can participate in leadline or walk classes where rings are almost two inches in diameter. More advanced jousters gallop at top speeds spearing rings only a quarter inch in diameter. The track is 80 yards long and the first arch is 20 yards from the starting point. The other arches are placed 30 yards apart. At current tournaments, jousters may participate in costume, or wear conventional English riding attire. In keeping with tradition, riders register under made-up knight or maid names such as Sir Knight of Cooksville or Maid of Woodbine.

Formal Jousting Association

The Maryland Jousting Tournament Association was founded in 1950, 12 years before jousting was officially named the state sport. The organization was instrumental in establishing a set of rules and a series of tournaments for the state. Now, the association attracts members from all sections of the state, as well as Washington, DC and neighboring states.

Their first meeting was held on March 5, 1950 in Overlea. Unfortunately, only four people attended. Mary Lou Bartram, George Bartram, Henry Fowler and Raymond Owen did not give up hope of forming an association and held a second meeting on March 26 of the same year. This time, 22 people were present and the association was officially organized with officers being elected. George Bartram became the first president with Charles Brady acting as vice president. The combined secretary/treasurer job was filled by Mary Lou Bartram and membership dues were only $1.

Two knights on horseback jousting, both lance tips broken on shields (7th Harcourt Park World Invitational Jousting Tournament, Harcourt Park, Upper Hutt)
The official name of the organization at the time was the Maryland Tournament Association and was later named the Maryland Jousting Association. In 1951, it became officially known as the Maryland Jousting Tournament Association, Inc., which is what it is called today.

The 2012 championships were held on October 6 at the Anne Arundel Fairgrounds in Crownsville. Nearly 60 riders competed in classes from Novice to Professional. At the end of the day, the State Championship class was held featuring qualified professional class riders. Corey Minnick, who rides under the name Knight of Bennies Hill, won for the second time in a row, making this his fifth State Championship title.

By Paul W. Gillespie, Staff.  Mike Virts, AKA Knight of St. Marks, gets a half inch ring in a second round of the Professional Class riders. He would place third in the class. The Maryland Jousting Tournament Association held its 2014 Maryland State Jousting Championships Saturday at the Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds.

By Paul W. Gillespie, Staff
Buddy Wooters, AKA Knight of Caroline County, gets the second of three rings on his first run of the Professional Class riders. The Maryland Jousting Tournament Association held its 2014 Maryland State Jousting Championships Saturday at the Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds.

By Paul W. Gillespie, Staff
Brad Enfield, AKA Knight of Little Antietam, approaches the second of three rings on his second run of the Professional Class riders. He would place first in the class. The Maryland Jousting Tournament Association held its 2014 Maryland State Jousting Championships Saturday at the Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds.
And doesn't Mayland have the perfect state flag for all this?

We do this stuff in California too, you know.  But mostly at Renaissance Faire.
A contemporary knight jousting at a Renaissance Fair in Livermore California, 2006.
Photo: David Ball Jousting Sir Quint of Knights of Avalon on Noble a Clydesdale Draft Horse en:Livermore, California

More on Cecil

We Can Do a Lot More to Save Lions than Sign Petitions for Cecil
By David Enden  29 July 2015 From: The Dodo

To the American people and Dr. Walter James Palmer, 

My heart has truly been shattered in response to the murder of Cecil, Zimbabwe's famous lion. However, my heart hurts even more for our reactions to this event rather than the passing of one of Africa's great kings. I would like to take the time to demonstrate the deeper issues regarding these events in an explanation that incorporates with both common sense and science. 

It is a known fact that lion populations (like tigers, leopards, and jaguars) have dropped drastically throughout the last fifty years due to human-wildlife conflicts, deforestation, genetic bottle necking, hunting, etc. For those of you that did not know, in 1975 there were an estimated 200,000 lions roaming Africa-now there are 25 to 30,000. Wild lion population declines can also be attributed to the international exotic pet trade, game meat consumption, entertainment (including cub petting and commercials), and let's not forget about canned hunts. 

There is no historic justification to hunting other than survival during a time where dinner did not come from a box or was prepared on a shelf. Hunting comes from a history where human beings co-existed on this planet in a sustainable lifestyle. During my time spent with the Six Nations (Iroquois) in upstate New York, the elders still today educated their youth on the concepts of hunting and sustainability. If the deer population was low, hunting was limited so that repopulation could occur. Back then, people understood that resources necessary for our survival could not be hunted to extinction. Therefore, you cannot be contributing to conservation if you are hunting a threatened and declining species. 

Currently, we have entered into the greatest extinction rate in Earth history - that's right, even more so than the dinosaurs. It is obvious that the indigenous worldview of securing the wellbeing of several generations to come is no longer in practice. Hunting is truly a sensitive, but simple issue. In many areas of the US, hunting white-tailed deer is a necessary conservation practice in order to maintain local populations. If deer populations continue to grow unchecked, they will decimate plant species populations. Now extinct species such as the North American lion, once helped maintain these populations by hunting them. This is the circle of life. Ironically, the deer no longer have enough natural predators and have relied on humans as predators for centuries. This is an example of hunting as a practice of conservation. 

But how do we truly make of difference? How can we truly prevent lion population decline from occurring? Common sense tells us that Dr. Palmer's actions were cruel, wrong, inhumane, and immoral. These are the emotions that the general public have chosen to react with, and it is justified. Now let's take the scientific approach. A stimulus occurred (Cecil's story), emotions resulted, and these behavior was the result. Human beings have the gift of higher cognition, meaning we are the most intelligent animals on this planet and therefore are held to utmost responsible for our actions. This being said, let's mask our emotions and take a look at this event in history and I ask you, what are you doing now for the lions of Africa? 

As my social media, television, and radio stations blows up with Cecil's story, I become more and more disappointed in mankind. Do not be mistaken, I cannot express my gratitude for the exponentially increasing awareness and publicity of this event. Cecil's death was literally the shot heard around the world in regards to hunting protected wildlife species. This era of social media and technological advances has one extremely large consequence: we have become radical instead of activists. An activist is one who acts. Some of you may be reading this saying "I signed the petition" or "I shared the post." So I ask you, what makes Cecil different from today, or tomorrow? Do we truly think that five, six, seven lions were not killed today? Do you really think that the petitions and rallying on social media is justice when the death count continues? And again, I ask you what are you doing for the lions of Africa? 

At 26-years old, my peers and I are preparing to take up the seats that our elders now hold. With an exponential population growth, we have surpassed our planet's carrying as seen by the need to genetically enhance our foods, despite our ability to waste enough to create garbage patches in our largest oceans. We enter into a make or break time period where the future of this planet will be decided: can we coexist in a sustainable lifestyle or will we deplete this planet of all its resources? And so Generation Y is challenged with cleaning up the mess left behind due to the absence of one extremely important concept: responsibility. 

It is no secret that the irresponsible behavior of our parents have led to the majority of our most pressing global environmental issues. This being said, the behaviors of the previous generation are not working and needs to change. But how to we create change? Change comes from the understanding of our higher cognition and need to act responsibly. Is focusing on the punishment of Dr. Palmer being responsible for the plight of lions in Africa? Is that making a difference today? Than why are we doing it? Why have I not seen one single news story or post that highlights the organizations working towards lion conservation? Is this responsible? 

As activists, conservationists, animal lovers, and genuine good people, we all want peace and justice. Radical behaviors have resulted in our interpretation of justice as punishment for Dr. Palmer. How is this peaceful? How is this justice for the lion deaths of today? Has anyone considered the negative effects of such campaigning? The second quality that is absent is leadership. Do you really think that this radical behavior will help to change the minds of other hunters out there? When you went to college and it was still illegal to drink, and your parents said you're too young, did you not rebel and drink anyways? Did you not party the hardest during college? While we react to this event in radical behavior all we are successfully doing is turning off potential allies and making the resistance even stronger. There is no leadership here and it is counterproductive to our ultimate goal. And who do you think is truly suffering from this childish tantrum, Dr. Palmer? No. It is the lions in Africa hunted this very day that suffer.
To Dr. Palmer,

Your punishment has already been dealt. As a father you are a leader, a teacher, and a mentor. You have put your children in the crosshairs of bullying as the children of the lion murderer. You have failed to ensure Earth's pristine beautiful for seven generations of your blood line. You have increased the chances of your grandchildren never seeing lions in the wild, but behind the fencing of a zoo. You have demonstrated to your children poor morals and character that will continue to haunt you and them for the rest of your lives. If I were you, I would make it my goal in life to be the best, most responsible leader you can possibly be for the rest of your days. And, if you're smart, start contributing to a conservation fund of your choice. Hell, start a grant in the name of your children.

David Enden (a 26 year old big cat conservationist)
Justice is served. For us though, we have a lot to learn from this experience. We are wasting our time and resources with radical reactions towards this single event — time and resources that should be collaborative allocated towards action. To me it is both common sense and science that the actions resulting from this event should be a mass explosion in donations and solutions to protecting Africa's kings. This is responsibility, this is leadership, this is action, and this is change.
Now America, as we continue to have fingers pointed at us, and we point our fingers at Dr. Palmer, let's be responsible. Let's be leaders. So I challenge you to act. Don't share another post or sign another petition. Take that five minutes and donate a dollar to one of these organizations working towards lion conservation.


Zimbabwe 'seeks lion Cecil's killer' Walter Palmer from US
BBC 3 hours ago

The US dentist who killed a lion in Zimbabwe should be extradited to face charges, Zimbabwe's Environment Minister Oppah Muchinguri has said.

Walter Palmer's extradition was being sought so that he could "be held accountable for his illegal action," she said.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service was contacted by a representative of Mr Palmer on Thursday.
The contact comes as US authorities continue to investigate the hunt.

Mr Palmer, from Minnesota, is believed to have paid about $50,000 (£32,000) to hunt the lion, known as Cecil.

He says he thought the hunt was legal and was unaware Cecil was protected.
At a news conference in the capital, Harare, Ms Muchinguri referred to Mr Palmer as a "foreign poacher".

"As we frantically try to protect our wildlife from organised gangs such as this one, there are people... who can connive to undermine Zimbabwean laws," she said.

"One can conclude with confidence that Dr Palmer, being an American citizen, had a well-orchestrated agenda which would tarnish the image of Zimbabwe and further strain the relationship between Zimbabwe and the USA," Ms Muchinguri added.

She also said Mr Palmer's use of a bow and arrow against Cecil was in contravention of Zimbabwean hunting regulations, Reuters reports.

Cecil the lion
  • A major tourist attraction in Hwange National Park - Zimbabwe's largest game reserve
  • The 13-year-old animal was renowned for being friendly towards visitors
  • Recognisable because of his large size and distinctive black mane
  • Led two prides containing six lionesses and 12 cubs along with another lion, Jericho
  • Was being monitored as part of an Oxford University study into lion conservation

Two Zimbabwean men have been implicated in the death of the lion.

A professional hunter has been charged with failing to prevent an illegal hunt - which he denies - and prosecutors are deciding on the exact charges the landowner should face.

"I don't believe I failed in any duties at all, I was engaged by a client to do a hunt for him and we shot an old male lion that I believed was past his breeding age," the Zimbabwean hunter Theo Bronkhorst told the AFP news agency. 

Tracking the pride

There has been a huge online backlash against Mr Palmer. The dental practice he runs in Minneapolis has been closed since he was named as the hunter who shot Cecil.

On Thursday, the White House said it would review a public petition to extradite the American dentist after more than 100,000 signed it.

But spokesman Josh Earnest said it was up to the US justice department to respond to any extradition order. 

Meanwhile, US billionaire philanthropist Tom Kaplan has agreed to match every dollar donated to the UK conservation unit which was tracking Cecil until he was killed.

He capped the offer to Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at $100,000 (£64,000). 

White House petition to extradite lion-killing dentist Walter Palmer reaches threshold for response

CNN By Eugene Scott, CNN  Updated 3:49 AM ET, Fri July 31, 2015

Washington (CNN)A White House petition requesting that dentist Walter Palmer, who killed a prized lion in Zimbabwe, be extradited to the African nation to face justice should receive a response from the Obama administration.

The petition needed to receive 100,000 signatures by August 27 to get a response. It had more than 146,000 signatures as of Thursday evening.

To watch CNN video, go HERE
"We urge the Secretary of State John Kerry and the Attorney General Loretta Lynch to fully cooperate with the Zimbabwe authorities and to extradite Walter Palmer promptly at the Zimbabwe government's request," the petition said. 

CNN reported that Palmer, a dentist from Minneapolis, Minnesota, killed Cecil the Lion earlier this month. Since news of the killing sparked international outrage Palmer has been nowhere to be found. 

Palmer is in the public crosshairs after the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said Cecil was lured out of an animal sanctuary in Zimbabwe and shot with a crossbow.

"He is alleged to have lured Cecil from the safety of the national park to kill him. Two of Palmer's local accomplices are already in custody. Zimbabwe authorities now actively seeking Palmer in connection with this incident," according to the White House petition. 

It is not clear when the White House will respond.