Wednesday, September 22, 2010 | Posted by: Fiona Cullinan
Categories: Personal | Tags: HNWIs, HNWI, Bespoke, magazine, hobbies, corporate, jousting, Jason Kingsley, chariot driving, team-building, tournament
In an occasional new series looking at unusual or eclectic hobbies, we start with Jason Kingsley at Tournament Stud, who offers equestrian training in jousting, chariot driving and dragon-slaying. We’re also looking for more high-end hobbies here in the UK, so do let us know if you have any suggestions.
Cry ‘God for Harry, England and St George!’
“SEE THAT?” Jason Kingsley, 44, but looking 20 years younger, grabs up a handful of mail (you don’t say ‘chain mail’) above his heavily armoured legs. “This mail’s six millimetres thick, but those are lance holes just above my crotch.”
“Yup.” A grin. “Jousting can be painful.” He turns as his girlfriend laces on his heavy steel breastplate. How much is all this going to weigh?
“About five stone. Then added to that, you’re carrying a lance.”
‘15th-century fight club’
Kingsley is about to show us a little of what he does with Destrier, a select group of fiendishly accomplished riders who exhibit the art of jousting using trained warhorses and museum-quality replica armour. You can see them at events held by the Royal Palaces or English Heritage, but this is no simple dressing-up act. Jousting may be role-playing, but it’s also fast, furious and dangerous, a sort of 15th-century fight club.
A day job in Rebellion
Jason Kingsley is a man of many talents, and the jousting dovetails neatly with his most longstanding day job. In 1991, Jason and his brother Chris started Rebellion, now a hugely successful producer of video games – and what they turn out has always been heavily informed by Jason’s love of warfare and derring-do, transposed into dystopian future worlds.
Early games included Alien vs Predator; these days, Rebellion owns cult comic book company 2000AD and is thinking ahead to the next Judge Dredd movie, as well as having stakes in assorted Harry Potter and Star Wars games.
For the most part, then, I ask, a lot of skull crunching and bloody combat?
“I think of it less as violence, more as personal challenge. But yes, that’s exactly like jousting. And people have died in jousts.”
‘Everything in life is a risk’
Kingsley considers his helmet, but decides not to wear it for our photoshoot. “But everything in life is a risk. You can control those risks by trying to be as safe as possible, but you can never remove them completely. Same in business, isn’t it? You can minimise your risk, but you can never remove it.”
So it comes down to outsmarting your opponent, as with chess.
“The only problem with a martial art like jousting is that there’s no defence. If your opponent’s good, they’ll hit you. All you can do is make sure you hit them, too.” Right.
“People ask if I can see the other guy’s lance heading toward my face – but I don’t, because I’m concentrating on my own lance, my horse, and charging down that tilt rail trying to aim for their heart. Which is what you’re trying to do, break the lance over their heart.”
At which point, Kingsley strides – well, clanks – off to mount the superb but frisky Warlord. And whatever you think about getting trussed up in armour, the ground-shaking, attacking gallop is breathtaking: the sheer heft and presence of horse and silver steel.
We finish the afternoon at Kingsley’s kitchen table, as he sips tea and attempts to cross one articulated leg over the other. Riding in a joust isn’t easy, but for those who’d like to try, or for anyone interested in learning horsemanship, especially with an historical slant, Kingsley has now set up Tournament Stud.
Dragon-slaying as a team-building exercise
On 160 acres of rolling countryside and woodland on the Buckinghamshire borders, he provides horses, ponies, tutors, even armourers for everything from team-building weekends to acting tuition. You can be St George facing down a dragon, you can drive a chariot, and women can learn to joust, too.
Which clearly is where Kingsley’s heart lies. “It’s completely fantastic, rewarding and fun. Although a friend did recently mention I’m the only person who can turn up for work and say they’re weary from battle…”
Interview: Glyn Brown. Image: © James Pfaff.
This article appears in the summer 2010 issue of Bespoke magazine, which you can either download as a PDF or receive as a hard copy. Here’s how you can sign up to receive future editions.
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