A Tournament is a formal competition between combatants. Originally devised as a training method, it soon became very popular as a sport in the Middle Ages, with professional tourney circuits appearing throughout Europe. There were many attempts to ban tourneys, most of which failed dismally.
There were different styles of combat in tournament. Some were mounted and some were down on foot.
Weapons of war came to be altered for the tournament. Typically, lances were given coronels to help them bite at the same time spread the force over a larger area and swords were 'rebated' (deliberately blunted on grindstone). Maces could be replaced by wooden clubs.
Sometimes these alterations were not made (in particular the lance).
Tournaments could sometimes be given themes, eg. King Arthur.
Tournament armour became to be different from armour meant to be worn to war, particularly in the era of plate harness. For the joust armour was often made thicker, particularly on the left side, different styles of helmet might be used including some that were bolted down.
In the SCA, tournaments are run for heavy, rapier and light combatants. There are many tournament styles, from the classic "tennis" style single kill, single elimination (where each bout consists of one fight, the loser is eliminated, and the winner advances to the next round), the common double elimination (fighters are eliminated after sustaining two losses) and round robin (where every fighter fights every other fighter). Each round may be fought best of one or three fights (commonly) or more. Longer tournaments, such as a best of fifteen fights are sometimes seen. The running of the tournament is the domain of
- the Lists Officer, who determines who fights whom and records results,
- the Marshals who inspect the fighters' armour, ensure adherence to the Rules of the list and supervise bouts, and
- the Heralds who announce the combatants, introduce them to the populace, MC the salutes and announce the victors.
Usually the victor of the tournament wins a simple prize, like a tassel for him/herself, and a token for his/her consort. There are often prizes for the Most Chivalric, Best Death or Most Entertaining fighter as well.