By Sandra Kraisirideja
Jousting is a brutal activity that is insanely risky but this hasn’t stopped reigning world champion Charlie Andrews from pursuing his dream of turning it into a professional sport.
Andrews exploits and those of his knights-in-training are the focus of a new show on the National Geographic Channel called “Knights of Mayhem.” Jousting is normally staged for Medieval dinner theater or done for exhibition at renaissance fairs around the country. In those re-enactments the action is choreographed and injury is kept to a minimum. What Andrews and his knights do is as close to the way jousting was performed centuries ago as can be experienced without inventing a time machine.
Andrews, who founded the Ultimate Jousting Championship, dons full, heavy armor and uses a solid wooden lance to strike his opponent down. The six-part series “Knights of Mayhem” will show just how badly these men get injured in pursuit of their passion.
The men in the show are burly biker types who seem a little out of place on horseback. They look like they would be more comfortable wearing leather and riding Harley-Davidsons instead of heavy armor and enormous steeds. The show does a decent job of explaining jousting from a sports perspective. The sheer brutality of it will be interesting to anyone who enjoys full-contact sports like football and hockey.
After watching two episodes I felt I knew more about jousting but nothing at all about the men behind the armor. In typical reality show fashion there are tearful goodbyes as the men leave to train with Andrews and there is the requisite interview booth for the participants to discuss the events of the day, but it’s not enough.
How these men became interested in jousting and what drives them to mount a horse and then charge toward another person holding an 11-foot solid wood lance was only superficially discussed during the first two episodes. I didn’t feel I really understood any of their motivation, including Andrews and his desire to make it a mainstream sport. While the action was fascinating to watch initially, it would not be enough to hold my attention for the full six episodes.