Orange Medieval Faire showcases jousting’s progression to becoming a professional sport

A resurgence in the medieval sport of jousting has seen it progress from amateurs on “wild horses” to a growing professional sport.

In the 15th and 16th centuries jousting was one of the most popular sports, as knights and noblemen risked their lives for glory.

But in the 17th century, the sport largely died out as people turned to other equestrian events.

However, in the past decade there has been an increased interest in the sport by everyday Australians wanting to be knights in shining armor.

Luke Binks has been jousting for more than 20 years and has seen the sport grow from just a handful of people across the country to now include hundreds of participants.

Luke Binks has been jousting and making armor for more than 20 years. (ABC Central West: Hamish Cole)

“I used to travel from Brisbane to Bathurst just to have someone to train with,” Mr Binks said.

“It has evolved from that backyard jousting to a very refined sport where people are doing it professionally.”

Growing female presence

On Saturday, the Orange Medieval Faire showed how the once-male dominated sport has evolved.

Three out of the eight competitors were female, which Renae Marisma hopes will inspire the next generation of jousters.

“There’s a good handful of us now who are actually jousting professionally and there’s a lot of girls in training,” she said.

Two knights on horses jousting with large sticks
Jousters from Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales attended the inaugural Orange Medieval Faire.(ABC Central West: Hamish Cole)

Mrs Marisma says the opportunity to compete against men in a contact sport is a rare opportunity and something she relishes.

“There is no handicaps so we all ride exactly the same sort of armor, the same horses. We just ride against the boys and we do really well.

“It doesn’t matter how much we weigh, how big or small our horses are, we just ride.

“We just have to get stuck into them.”

Discipline is key

For former Australian special forces operative Philip Leitch, jousting provided the environment he needed after service.

“Any sort of training if you learn that discipline it is going to help you, prior to being in the army it was the discipline of doing martial arts, now it is jousting.”

Four people in armor with shields
The faire included Viking fighting, hawk flying and medieval cooking. (ABC Central West: Hamish Cole)

Mr Leitch’s 12-year jousting career has seen him compete across the globe and includes a world championship which inspired his daughter to take up the sport.

During that time he has witnessed some of the sport’s dangers.

‘Sometimes you go past and go,’ Did I actually get hit? ‘ because the armor does work fairly well.

“Other times your eyes roll back and you see stars for a second and then you wake up wondering what happened.”

‘Thousands of hammer blows’

As well as being a jouster, Luke Binks continues the lost art of being a blacksmith.

Mr Binks said the methods used to create jousting armor had not changed in 700 years.

“There is not a whole lot of modern machinery that can be used to replicate medieval armor because it is very specific in the way it needs to function and fit,” he said.

“There’s usually about six months of work per suit of armor, with thousands upon thousands of hammer blows.”

Three knights in silver armor sitting on horses
More than 5,000 people attended the Orange Medieval Faire.(ABC Central West: Hamish Cole)

Mr Binks says replicating armor used by knights during the 15th and 16th centuries is vital for the sport.

“For us to come up with anything better than what they created back then is almost impossible so we kind of have the gift of just copying what was made historically.”

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