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
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.
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 www.knightsofavalon.org en:Livermore, California