The Action Cranked Up a Gear – Tournament at Royal Armouries

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADay two and three at the Royal Armouries, Leeds have really raised the roof (OK, there is no roof on the Tiltyard but let it go…)

Yesterday, Saturday 4th April, the striking of the Targe was all but metronomic. The splinters of balsa were flying high, really high as at least one left the Tiltyard completely.

Today the battle scars were showing on the gear. Ben van Koert brutally ripped part of the face of Jan Gradon’s bear. Jan however knocked gems off Ben’s helm.

I must admit to being the one tat pointed out how the bear mutilation happened. Some folk waiting for Jan’s autograph seemed distressed when he walked away to remonstrate with Ben. Amusingly some friends of mine were talking to Ben and were bemused by the scene of the giant Jan complaining to the much shorter Ben.

All was in good spirits and I reassured the signature hunters that Jan would be back. My friends found my explanation ‘interesting’.

Ben struck Jan’s targe with so much force and accuracy that the lance shattered and the aluminium ring at the end of the solid part gouged the shield. This was new for this year, made by Scutum – rekonstrukcje historyczn. The same source for Jarek Struczynski and Andy Deane’s shields.

WojtekThe bear is in homage to Misia Wojtka, a bear that was bought by Artillery Supply Company 22, part of the Allied Forces. in Palestine in during WWII. Wojka served with the Company throught the war, including at Monte Cassino. He was a great friend to all and lived a privileged life, at the rank of Corporal. After the war he retired to Glasgow Zoo and his former comrades often visited him, entering his enclosure to be with him. He died on 2nd December 1963, aged 22.

Jan will be at the Waterloo reenactment this year marking the 200th anniversary of the battle. Unlike WWII Poland was on the other side in that battle, fighting against the English and they’re allies, and Jan will be among 27 riders from his group portraying the Polish Lancers among an estimated 300 riders.

It is a fast paced sport. This afternoon I had three young men sat behind me who were seeing their first day of Jousting, they were amazed by the spectacle of it all, as are most people I think. The friends I mentioned in the intro to this article, the ones talking to Ben when Jan went over, were also first-timers and Matthew stated ‘it’s better than football!’ I wholeheartedly agree.

With permission from Jan Gradon, here we see what occurred in the stable block after ‘the incident’ with poor Wojtka’s face.

Ben van Koert rejoices in his victory over Poland’s hero.

Jan v Ben 1

Jan rebuffs him with his blow of revenge!

Jan v Ben

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