The horses gallop toward one another, churning the dirt into clouds of dust with their huge hooves. The horses carry a heavy load: 200 pounds of man and 130 pounds of armor.
The 11-foot-long solid wooden lances shatter into pieces. Throngs of adoring fans cheer, their eyes glued to the knights sitting tall in their gleaming armor. The horses impatiently paw the dirt with their hooves, itching for the knights they carry to deliver another crushing blow.
Jousting used to be simply the entertainment of Renaissance festivals, with crowds of people dressed in medieval garb, gnawing on turkey legs and hollering "Huzzah!"
Now jousting is a real-life full-contact sport -- and not to be taken lightly.
A six-part series jousting reality show, "Knights of Mayhem," premieres at 7 p.m. Tuesday on the National Geographic Channel, followed by an additional premiere episode at 8 p.m.
"The trend is coming back. It is cool to be part of the 'fantasy community,' " said Chad Sandhas, communications manager for the National Geographic Channel.
The episode airing on Nov. 29 will include footage filmed at the Utah Renaissance Festival and Fantasy Faire in Weber County last spring.
"Jousting is an extreme sport that has been dormant for hundreds of years -- but it's back and it is every bit as exciting as bull riding and motocross," said festival CEO Sue Bodily.
Local favorite "knight" Charlie Andrews, 43, of Eagle Mountain, founder of the Ultimate Jousting Championship organization, heads into battle in "Knights of Mayhem" with his horse Jagermeister as he and other knights compete across the United States. This is no staged theatrical re-enactment. It is real life -- and sometimes it's mayhem.
Andrews uses the "Realgestech" style of jousting. The point system is: 3 points for a hit to the grand guard (the target a jouster aims for on his opponent's chest); 5 points for a broken lance; and 10 points for an unhorsing of the opponent. There are four passes per match. The jouster with the highest score after four passes wins.
"Jousting is here to stay," Andrews said. "People have always been into contact sports. This is what people want to see."
Andrews said he has broken several bones during jousts, including his collarbone, hand and shoulder. "But this is my life, and nothing is going to stop me," he said.
For "Knights of Mayhem," Andrews must recruit and train a troupe of knights who have the strength, dedication and guts to fight for the championship.
Joe Ambrosious, a former college football player, left his home in Arizona to live and train full time with Andrews at his training field in Eagle Mountain. Jake "The Snake" Paul splits his time between full-contact jousting and the professional mixed-martial-arts ring.
Along with veterans Greg Boxma, Brian Stephenson and Jason Armstrong, Andrews must first break down the men in order to rebuild them into fearless, ferocious warriors ready for competition.
Andrews' chief rival is the man he trained alongside and began his jousting career with. Known as the Black Knight, Patrick Lambke was once Andrews' friend. Lambke considers himself a jousting master, but Andrews stripped the championship title away from him. The Black Knight is anxious to reclaim his title. Though their respect for each other is evident on the field, neither man will rest until one of them falls before the other in defeat.
Andrews trains with horseback riding, running, lifting weights and mixed martial arts. He will be involved in a special filming for FUEL TV, tentatively at the Maverik Center in West Valley City in January.
Visit the website at http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/knights-of-mayhem/ or see video at http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/player/national-geographic-cha...