Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ripper Moore an American Jouster!

Today I am offering a view into the life of an American Jouster-Ripper Moore. With more than 17 years of experience, he was gracious enough to share some of his story with Modern Medievalist. I would like to thank him for his time and for graciously allowing this interview in the first place.

Q: When did you start riding?

A: I actually started riding late. It was 1995, when I was 29. I learned to ride with the aim of learning to joust. So I started on Percherons and Belgians. The big boys are, to me, normal sized horses and all the others look small and frail.

Q: What was it that drew you to Jousting?

A: I really had no idea what I was getting into when I started training, but once I did I was delighted. What little boy did not dream of being a Knight in Shining Armour? Of course, the little boy has no idea how much work goes into getting the armour to shine, literally and figuratively, but I have never been allergic to hard work, and the goal was so worth it!

Q: Why do you think people, or the public think there is a difference between Jousting at a Renfaire environment as opposed to one of the International events based on a historic model?

A: I despair of the public sometimes. I find that no matter what you or the Master of Ceremonies actually says, the crowd never really listens. I do think however that they assume anything they see at a Renaissance Faire is an act of some sort, whereas they are more ready to believe that an Event is a real competition.

Q: Is your personal armour any different in construction or thickness than say any of the current "Medieval" jousters?

A: There is no 'industry standard' for armour, but most of us out here doing full contact agree that a minimum of 16 gauge stainless steel is necessary on the parts that are getting hit. 14 gauge is better. Also, there are not that many armourers capable of making a full suit of joust worthy armour, so with both these points in mind, the suits that do exist tend to have a lot in common. When I say 'most' that definitely does not mean all. There are those who maintain that well made mild steel armour works fine. I disagree. I have seen too many spring steel and high carbon steel suits torn up in just one full contact tourney. My own armour was made for me over sixteen years ago and is still going strong, although with many reshaping repairs and restrapping.

(c) Kathleen Bodgan

Q: You and Rod Walker of Australia were the two main coaches on Full Metal Jousting. How were you chosen and what was the criteria the producers used?

A: Rod and I were chosen specifically by Shane Adams, executive producer of the show. His stated criteria were the two guys he knew who were the most passionate about the sport. He also wanted two people who knew their stuff but had very different approaches and backgrounds.

Q: The armour that was used in Full Metal Jousting looked like it was an amalgamation of different styles and eras. Who designed the Harness' used in the show? For the casual observer the armour looked to be rather "chunky."-Was this an effort to over-engineer safety into the armour?

A: The armour on FMJ was deliberately designed to avoid a historic model. The show wanted to present jousting as a modern sport and avoid any stigma of reenactment or performance. Mind you, Rod did find a set of armour in a museum which closely resembled that used on the show, but that was just a coincidence. His point was there really is nothing new in armour design. Every functional option has been explored at some point. Still, History wanted a modern look and commissioned armour with that in mind. That said, the armour suffered from one basic problem, which was that there was no way to fit it to the individuals who would wear it, because we did not know who they would be until the show began. They made a lot of suits in a range of sizes and hoped for the best. For the most part, they were way too large. We fitted and modified them as best we could, usually by adding padding.

Q: What was the single biggest surprise or unexpected event you discovered or had happen to you during the filming of Full Metal Jousting?

A:The biggest surprise to me is just how different the world of television is. I have been involved in theatre one way or the other for most of my life and have been on innumerable morning show newscasts, so I thought I had some idea what participating in a television production would be like. I was WRONG. One of the executives, at the beginning, warned me that this was going to be like nothing else I had ever experienced, and that I was entering a whole new world. Even though it was a 'reality' show, I was constantly getting lessons on just how malleable reality is, and how carefully sculpted it needs to be to appear real. Mistake me not, everything that made it to the screen was absolutely real, but it still took a lot of management to present.

Q: What happened to the participants of the show?

A: After the show, most of the participants went back to their regular lives. Even the winner went back to his old job. Some of them, however, decided they liked full contact and have participated in some other tourneys and 'circuit' jousting. I even got to hit a couple of them myself!
Q:What have you been doing of late, and what do you see yourself doing in the next five years?

A: I myself pretty much went back to my old life, which was jousting here and there as opportunity presented. This year I jousted with Shane Adams and his troupe for the first time in a long time, and that was great. There is still some hope for a second season of FMJ, so I would really like to do that, but whether or not, I will keep breaking lances where I can with whoe'er I can. My personal motto is Dum Spiritus Durat, which means: While Breath Remains. So I intend to live up to that and keep being a professional knight in shining armour.

Once again, I would like to thank Ripper Moore for this interview. He is a gentleman in the truest sense of the word.

(c) Eclecstasy
Siobhan Elliott and Ripper

Video Links to Full Metal Jousting:

Ripper Moore vs Rod Walker in Canada:

Full Contact Jousting Ripper Moore vs. Tim Tobey POV:

Ohio Renaissance Festival 2012

All my best!

DS Baker

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