As I continue my discussion of answers to common questions that I get in regards to the who, where, and how of jousting, I am going to turn to the International Jousting Association. The IJA, as it is often referred to is just what is sounds like. It is an international organization of like-minded jousters from around the world. The membership numbers are much smaller than that of the SCA (see my previous post in this series for more information). It is also, especially when compared to the SCA, much harder to become a member.
If you check out the website you can get an inkling of the differences. First of all, where the SCA is all-inclusive and lets anyone participate who makes a minimum effort of the wide range of cultures and time period, the IJA has a much more narrow time period and is only open to those historical interpretations of knights or men-at-arms from the classic European concentric ideal of knights background we would expect.
Taking that one step further, the group has very rigid requirements on both hard and soft kit representations of your character. To clarify, the hard would be in armour ready for the joust or such and the soft would be the clothing a noble of such rank would wear at perhaps court or such as that for the same time period. Both hard and soft kits will be judged, either in person or via picture by some very knowledgable folks prior to one being allowed to even really start things.
From there are several rankings of what one can actually participate in during events, usually centered around brotherly competition in arms. The rankings are actually termed grades and without giving it all away at the lower levels one is only allowed to act as a squire and participate in the skills of arms competitions, where things such as tilting at the rings, the quintain, and such are the focus. At the next level jousting in local tournaments is allowed, though local is to the country generally. The upper grade levels allow you to participate in jousts in other countries. At the highest you judge other applicants on riding grade and as whether kits are up to specifications or not.
Obviously a much smaller group in number, but the jousting is typically done with wooden lances, the tips most commonly balsa wood. When compared to the SCA, the skill at arms is similar, though some of the life weapons would be frowned on by the SCA. Further comparison of the wood lances with the foam really makes the SCA jousting seem a step below. (I should note the one big IJA tournament I did, had at least six SCA members participating who had stepped up to such a level. Keep in mind though that no one is in the group thinking they are going to hurt anyone – it is all friendly. Even to the point of prizes being limited and generally most everyone getting a stipend if such is available.
Fundamentally this could probably be compared to the difference between high school sports and the step up to semi-pro sports. It is a good place to aim for someone that is very serious about things, but not a place to start at. Oh, and there are at least two such events in the United States next year and an offspring group that has two other events on the schedule for 2009 as well.
As I write that above about semi-pro, it dawns on me, that I am a professional jouster, having been paid for such on several occasions, and that strikes me as odd. I am going to start putting that on my resume though.
** And the hat-trick **