Would you give jousting a go?
It was popular during medieval times and it's now experiencing a renaissance.
Jousting's popularity is growing, and Upper Hutt provides the country's best battleground, says the organiser of this weekend's Harcourt Park World Invitational Jousting Tournament, Callum Forbes.
The biennial tournament will showcase jousters from Sweden, Belgium, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Mr Forbes, a financial planner and martial art instructor, says each tournament is better than the one before, and after the success of the 2011 event, he did not know how it could be improved.
He believes he has found the answer with the introduction of Battle of Nations, a live-action full contact battle that will pit a team of Australians against the Kiwis.
Mr Forbes, who created the Upper Hutt Martial Arts Academy, has been involved in jousting since high school. He says it requires great horseriding skills, as well as strength.
While it looks incredibly dangerous, Mr Forbes says there is a lot of care taken to ensure riders are hit safely, and their armour protects them from the severity of the hits.
"You need presence of mind and physical strength. It all happens in five seconds and it takes hours [of practice] to strike somebody safely. It's just an adrenaline rush."
The sport is not cheap: a suit of armour costs about $7000, the style of which is up to the individual rider. Mr Forbes prefers the 14th century armour.
"To my mind it's the best. Most guys get into jousting probably in their 30s. You've got to be a good horse rider, got to have the income to be able to afford it."
American reality television show Full Metal Jousting helped the resurgence of interest in the sport. Upper Hutt's involvement was put on the international map when CNN Travel selected the tournament as one of the best in the world.
"In the past few years it has become not mainstream, but more popular."
This weekend there will also be archery demonstrations and a medieval tent village offering crafts, refreshments and a traditional tournament atmosphere.
Harcourt Park is on Akatarawa Rd, Upper Hutt. Gates open at 9am tomorrow and Sunday, and the tournament runs until late afternoon. Daily entry costs $10 adults, $5 children and $25 family (two adults and two children). Details at jousting.co.nz.
- The Dominion Post
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