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  • On a horse, travelling at 25 miles an hour, in a suit of armour where all you can see

  • is just what's in front of youthere’s such an adrenaline rush with jousting

  • Playing the role of a knightyou're not acting, you are being

  • You've got to learn how to ride a horse

  • You've got to learn how to wear armour

  • And then you've got to use weapons

  • And then you're going to do it on a horse

  • So you're combining all  these key skills at one point

  • These are the key skills to becoming a knight

  • I'm Dominic Sewell of Historic Equitation

  • History was the only thing I was good at school

  • It's the one thing that's always  fascinated me and drawn me back

  • I grew up in a castle town

  • I played in the castle ruins as a kid 

  • and it's been an interest that’s  stayed with me literally all my life.

  • I started off just playing  around with swords for fun

  • and then I met a group of people doing some medieval banquets in Nottingham

  • where I met some reenactors who had done these big, large, full scale battles

  • I was captivated when I first went to my first re-enactment, and the camaraderie amongst people

  • and how lovely it was to be welcomed in

  • and it just fired my imagination, fired my love of the 15th century

  • I remember meeting a friend  of mine at that first battle

  • Three battles later he rides by on  a horse and I couldn’t believe it

  • I said: ‘what, you can put the things together 

  • and encapsulate that wonderful  image of a knight on a horse?’

  • And so at that point in my mid-twenties I went to learn to ride horses

  • and I realised very quickly that this is something 

  • you have to take seriously because  you can’t just play with horses

  • You have to respect themyou have to learn about them

  • and you have to learn how to ride them

  • So to actually paint this image of a medieval 

  • knight has taken 25 years to  actually become a reality.

  • Traditionally, what we find from records is that young men at the age of seven would be

  • sent to be educated by a knight

  • He would work in their household as a Page

  • working his way up so he would learn  to serve at tables, serve meals.

  • He would learn... from the age  of seven he would learn how to 

  • ride and how to fight with weapons

  • He was trained to be a soldier, essentially

  • And from there, his whole life until he was 

  • 15 or 16, would be dedicated  to his own personal training

  • The process in which people learn  to train with arms takes time

  • You have to use and understand  and learn what a sword does

  • You have to learn and understand what  a lance does and how it should be used

  • This is our arming sword

  • It's a simple sword: two edges, a cross guard and a wheel pommel, and the grip

  • Now the sword can be used with  both edges at the same time

  • We call this the leading edge or long edge

  • This, the false edge

  • You can cut down, parry around, and then use the false edge backwards

  • So, for example, if I cut forwards and miss I can still cut back again with the other side

  • What's most common in the 15th century that we're based in for the jousting  

  • is the hand and a half sword

  • The blade is tapered and slightly diamond-shaped

  • It's not particularly sharp until  the very end where it tapers away

  • This is because we can use a technique called half-swording, where the sword can be gripped

  • and used to set aside a blade and  thrust into an opponent's body

  • This is particularly useful when fighting against another armoured opponent, where you

  • can search for the gaps within  the armour and strike through

  • Knights were trained to use lots of weapons

  • But the most common weapon used by  a knight on foot was the poleaxe

  • and in a tournament it was one of  the first things that you would see

  • Clive takes up a defensive  position with a lower guard

  • Lisa takes a high guard, and what she'll do is strike forward onto her right foot and

  • strike down upon her opponent's head, who parries it and then strikes towards her face

  • Clearly, the blow from Clive  would have won that point

  • However, if it is a different course of affairs, Lisa does the same thing

  • She strikes to the head

  • Clive powers it down but Lisa turns, knocks 

  • the cue out of the way and  strikes again to the head

  • One point to Lisa

  • Here is a lance

  • It's 12 foot of pine topped  with a training coronel

  • This is a cast polyurethane coronel instead 

  • of a traditional steel one that  would be used with a solid lance

  • But you can see how a lance like this would work

  • In the grip of an opponent... imagine that the wall is our opponent, we strike his shield

  • and then we can see the flex  of the lance start to break

  • and once our horse goes forward and that lance 

  • has gripped the shield, the  lance can only do one thing

  • which is to break

  • and once it breaks, that energy  explodes upwards into a shower of shards

  • It is truly an exhilarating display of force

  • [Increasingly faster drum beats]

  • The process of making armour  is a long and complicated one

  • Traditionally, armour is made by heating steel plates and forming them to shape the body

  • What we do in the modern generation is we are reproducing armour of the past, a whole

  • process that could take up to six months: shaping grinding, filing, fitting, and then

  • we can start the polishing, until we're finally happy with what we've got

  • The first piece of equipment that a rider 

  • puts on when he's getting ready to  joust are the lower leg defences

  • These are called the greaves

  • Next, we move on to the knees and the upper thighs

  • Here we have a corset of maille

  • This is all made from six  millimetre rings of maille

  • so it's more of a textile type  of armour than solid plate armour

  • This is a two-part cuirass

  • This is the armour that  protects most of the upper body

  • It's all made of hardened  and tempered spring steel

  • It's as near as it is to the  original type of steel used

  • With the steel like thisit's not a stainless steel

  • A fingerprint will leave an oily residue on 

  • it, and that will start  rusting effective immediately

  • so it takes maintenanceand it's absolutely critical

  • So around the bottom of the  cuirass, I'm attaching extra plates

  • This one at the back hangs  down and protects the buttocks

  • These plates are called tassets and they give extra protection to the groin

  • So the next pieces are the arm defences

  • These are generally called vambraces

  • You may notice that the elbow piece on the 

  • left-hand side is significantly  bigger than the one on the right

  • When you're fighting on horseback with a lance, youre using the lance over the neck of

  • the horse to the left, so the more that your 

  • left-hand side is defendedthe better it will be for you

  • This is a pauldron

  • These are the shoulder defences

  • Again, just like the arms, we find that this pauldron is bigger than its right-hand side

  • so, again, we are asymmetrical

  • So the final two pieces to  put on are the gauntlets 

  • and - most importantly - the helm

  • Training people on horses is  a long and complicated process

  • but it's helped enormously by some of the medieval fighting manuals at the time

  • particularly one written by  the King of Portugal in the 

  • early 15th century, Dom Duarte, wrotebook called 'How to Ride on Every Saddle'

  • and in this, he describes in absolute implicit context how a man should joust

  • how to look at your opponent, how to carry 

  • your lance, how to do it safely on  your behalf and on your horse's behalf

  • So this is why we use the teachings of five hundred years ago, because theyre still  

  • relevant today

  • There's something really profound about what happens to your senses when youre  

  • encased in armour

  • and a visor shut and you can see very little, and that focuses your mind

  • You can't just dive into it, you can't try  

  • jousting. You have to joust

  • and that's a very long journey from when you say 

  • ‘I’d quite like to do that’  to actually achieving it

  • Riding horses just isn't enough for jousting

  • You have to be able to wear armour

  • so you have to be physically strong

  • You have to learn how to carry a lance for 

  • long periods of time and to cope  with the energy of a breaking lance

  • You've got to have a lot of aerobic support

  • You have to deal with a lot of mental stress

  • You have to deal with physical discomfort

  • You have to deal with cold, with heat

  • Sometimes all of those things at the same time

  • – "Laissez... Allez!"

  • What English Heritage offers is a chance to step back in time to something that is as close to

  • jousting as is actually possible to do

  • Because it is jousting

  • There's no pretend

  • People are breaking lances upon each other

  • how it happened with the equipment  that was used at the time

  • So what you're achieving is a very authentic 

  • joust, and that's not something  that anybody else can offer

  • There's many facets to my  job and I love most of it

  • I love being able to train and watch their journey to being very proficient riders

  • and then performing in front  of the public at a high level

  • And again, the same with the animals themselves

  • The horses are very, very  important to what we do. Vital

  • And watching their progression in training from young horses that are completely untrained

  • never had a horseman on their back, to the 

  • high levels of performance  that they can do is wonderful

  • There's nothing better than seeing  a horse when it has its first joust

  • That never leaves you

  • It's more than just a jobmore than just an income

  • It's something that has become a way of life

  • It's something that's imbued within me

  • Doing what we do for English Heritage is just a wonderful way ofreally, not growing up!

On a horse, travelling at 25 miles an hour, in a suit of armour where all you can see