NEW YORK—Chivalry and courtesy are still practiced in their original form by modern-day knights.
They convened in Northern Manhattan for a tournament at the Medieval Festival in Fort Tryon Park on Sunday.
Jaye Brooks from Nashua, N.H., has been practicing the knightly values since 1981 when he first saw people dressed in authentic armor, fighting with medieval weapons.
“Veritas, fidas, aequitas,” he said. Truth, loyalty, and justice are the three knightly principles Brooks observes, not only when he’s out in the tournament field, but also when he’s out of character.
“I live them. I try to be as truthful and loyal and honest as I can be,” Brooks said.
Observing chivalry and courtesy is important for him, because he hopes to inspire others to follow his example. “If you treat people well, [it is] more likely they’re going to treat someone else well,” he said.
Since childhood Brooks had a thing for the medieval knight. He read J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, stories of Conan, and King Arthur, and watched movies like Ivanhoe and Robin Hood.
“I always related to the heroes of those stories and said to myself, ‘One day, I would love to be a knight’,” he said. At the time everyone told him it would not be possible.
But Brooks is just one among the many men who have taken up the sport. With some of his friends, Brooks founded the Battle of the Nations Team USA group, which competes in combative armored tournaments across the country and internationally.
At the 29th annual festival, the men were all dressed in their heavy chain mail coifs, metal helmets, and gauntlet gloves. The whole costume can weight up to 100 pounds.
After they’re done with one round of sword or mace fighting, they walk out of the tournament field and gracefully excuse themselves when walking past the spectators, setting an example for the young audience members.
Brooks’s 25-year-old son also took up the sport last October. Catlin Brooks revealed a tattoo of the three knightly values printed across his chest. When he discovered medieval fighting at the age of 16, he decided “this is something I must do.”
Jaye Brooks’s last big tournament was in France this year where he came in as the tenth in independent armor combat. At age 48, he hopes to continue the professional sport. He also hopes to inspire kids to always go after their dreams.
“You can be anything you want to be,” Brooks said.