SHERIDAN — The word joust is derived from the old French word, joster, from the Latin derivative “iuxtare,” which translates, “to approach, to meet,” until the word was loaned to middle English around 1300 when jousting wasn’t just a sport, but a livelihood among knights.
Jousting provided knights with practical, hands-on combat simulations that gave men an edge between battles. What was once intended as strict military training slowly evolved into the entertainment that it is today: the mock battle between two honorable men charging full force with lances toward one another, trying to break the opponent’s armor or even unhorse him to replicate the commotion of heavy cavalry clashes during battle.
The third annual Tournament of Knights was hosted by Sheridan’s CHAPS Equine Assisted Therapy and shared the thrill of a jousting tournament set in medieval times when knights once competed for money, land and titles from a well-respected liege.
The Knights of Mayhem returned to Sheridan for the second time to show what it truly means to be a modern day knight. The Knights of Mayhem was founded by Charlie Andrews, a 13-time World Champion heavy armor jouster and his faithful companion, Jagermeister, a war horse with which he has won 55 tournaments.
“I grew up around horses, I grew up rodeoing in all different events but cowboying wasn’t quite enough for me,” Andrews said. “I guess when I grew up I wanted to be a knight, so that’s what I did.”
Andrews maintains they leave the theatrics at home when he suits up with an extra 100-pounds of armor and saddles his draft horse. There are only 20 competitors who participate at the cutthroat level as the Knights of Mayhem. They don’t hollow out the lances and there are no tips that fill fall off in mercy to the knight’s opponent.
“This isn’t a renaissance fair and we aren’t dressing up to play pretend,” Andrews said. “We have such a dedication for the sport that history comes to life,” Andrews said.
Last year the Kings of Mayhem completed 60 passes of jousting and cut heads of cabbage with swords as a severe lightning storm filled the arena, among other knightly activities, according to Kristen Marcus, executive director of CHAPS.
“Charlie and his guys are amazing,” Marcus said. “They talk, they take pictures, they will give you bits of wood if you want. They really make knights come to life for a night.”
Andrew remains in Sheridan until Tuesday, teaching CHAPS members the beginning foundations of jousting with pool noodles.