He jousted in tournaments all over the world, from New Zealand to France, and now he comes as a judge to the St. George’s Tournament in Moscow. What does one of the most experienced jousters expect from the Russian knights?
“One of the toughest” — that’s how Dmitry ‘Dietmar’ Savchenko described the Australian St. Ives Tournament. The event founder, Andrew McKinnon, was one of the adversaries of our knight, and this year he will come to Moscow with a return visit. Andrew McKinnon will take part in the St. George’s Tournament not as a knight, but as a judge. Will our guest from overseas enjoy the atmosphere of the Russian tournament and how will his attitude to jousting differ from ours?
Andrew McKinnon started jousting rather late, now he is 52 and he is older than most of his colleagues. Public relations and marketing expert became a knight and started jousting, following the desire and thirst he has always had.
“Some people called it a mid-life crisis, I called it a project,” he says. I thought, what’s better for a 40-year-old who has never ridden a horse before?”
Andrew McKinnon mastered jousting and soon became one of the strongest knights in Australia. His armour is made by the Australian gunsmith and jouster Luke Binks, in the Milan style of 1460-1470s. His arms – a standing silver wolf on a blue field. He is a member of the knightly Order of the Star, founder of the one of the three main competitions in the world of jousting – the Australian St. Ives Tournament.
“Although jousting was not held in Australia past, many Australians are from English and European heritage so tales of castles and knight were definitely well known in my country. The internet is a fantastic thing for seeing overseas tournaments and being inspired to do the same”, tells Sir Andrew.
‘Tournaments of the Three Saints’ Most prestigious competitions with solid lances in the world St Ives Tournament – Australia St. George’s Tournament – Russia Tournament of the Order of St. Michael (Tournoi de l'Ordre de Saint Michel) – France
Since 2007 the Australian knight has taken part in more than 20 tournaments, but has never been to Russia before. We asked Sir Andrew about jousting, its regional differences and the way it should take.
— In Russia there’s an opinion that here jousting is more of a sport, where victory at any cost (within the rules certainly) is the main aim. And in Europe it is more like festivity, a ritual, and the beauty and accuracy is more important.
— I think you can differentiate styles of jousting even within a country. There are some who strive to recreate the historical joust in every detail. The quality of the armour, the type of lance, the training of the horses and the professionalism of the presentation. Others prefer a more relaxed approach to armour standards for example. I know which one I prefer certainly but it personal taste. There is something to be learned from every style. But for me I am inspired by the tournaments of the 3 saints as being of the highest quality in the world. St Ives, Saint Michael and St George all have a very high standard. I think shows in the quality of the video from these events and why we have managed to get interest from Fox Ports and other broadcasters.
— What are your thoughts about the Russian knights, their style? Is there an established opinion or you don’t know what to expect?
I think everyone is impressed with the strength, bravery and honour of Russian knights. I ran one course with Dmitry at my tournament in Sydney where I hit him and my lance rest was destroyed. It was like hitting brick wall. I loved it! Dmitry also tells me Russians have no sense of humour but I don’t believe him! Fierce foes and firm friends.
— What are your expectations from the tournament?
I expect many things will be the same but I am looking forward to seeing what Russian knights do differently. To learn and share knowledge so we can make our passion popular around the world. I am also looking forward to seeing some beautiful violence!
— You’re coming as a judge to the St. George’s Tournament: what do you like more – taking part in jousting or being a judge?
I must say I like competing the best but as a tournament organiser it is a great way to see how other people do things. I learn more where as if I was jousting I can only see a small amount! Literally. I hope one day to come back and compete. I also look forward to crossing lances again with Dmitry!
— Now there are ‘professional knights’, for whom it’s a real work (they train, teach, take part in different festivals). Do you think it’s the way the jousting should take?
Definitely as long as it helps produce quality. The reason some of our Australian knights are world class is they joust for a living. More jousting means better performance. This is good for jousting.
— What an ideal tournament of the 21th century is like?
Jousting robots now there would be a movie. Game of Drones! I think the human element – the risk, the bravery, the personalities and the horses are so important to jousting as a spectator sport. I think we just keep on improving what we are all doing. St George Tournament 2200 if they invent an immortality pill I’ll be there.
At the St. George’s Tournament Andrew McKinnon will take place of Arne Koets, who has been the judge for the last two years. There is an opinion that the Europeans brought to Russia a more ‘gentlemanlike’ jousting: one doesn’t strike if not sure in the blow or if one’s adversary can’t manage a horse or is just not ready. Mr. McKinnon seems to share the Russian knights’ approach and likes a ‘tougher jousting’. We will see what the Australian note will add to the St. George’s Tournament orchestra in June.