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Air Jousting
No horses required.

A form of Awesome, but Impractical combat, Air Jousting involves two combatants flying at each other at high speed and smashing together, much like Medieval knights on horses and may be applied to characters riding flying mounts, such as dragons . If the combatants have weapons that resemble actual lances it seems even more like jousting. If both are covered with a Sphere of Power then they'll bounce off each other like very destructive glowing ping-pong balls.

This is very common in shonen series, and is a logical application of Flying Brick powers, and likely to overlap with Beam Spam and Beam-O-War. Very often ends with a Single-Stroke Battle. If combined with Gun Fu it's likely an especially bizarre example of Short-Range Long-Range Weapon.

Contrary to popular belief, head-on attacks were almost never a part of real-life Old School Dogfights, (though there were exceptions, such as US airmen flying P-40 Warhawks against the Japanese), as it was an extremely risky maneuver that left both combatants exposed to fire and provided only a brief opportunity to line up a shot, and to boot ran the risk of a fatal Midair Collision (a very real concern with subsonic WWI/WWII fighters). An "energy" attack might be a straight line, but involves attacking from the side or behind with a speed and/or altitude advantage, rather than jousting head-on. However, this behavior makes much less sense for characters with magical flying powers that allow them to turn completely around, flying backwards or sideways (even briefly) while maintaining their current direction and velocity.

Sister Trope to Motorcycle Jousting.

See Also High-Altitude Battle and Free-Fall Fight.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Battles throughout the entire Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise are a lot like this when two monsters are of equal power, and at least one or two intro's per series feature a stylized bout of Air Jousting.
  • Much of the combat in Dragon Ball Z is some form of this, when it actually gets to combat.
  • Mai-Otome uses this a lot between the titular Otome, though a few have other melee capabilities.
  • Aerial battles in the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha were often more interesting than this, given that the characters could, in fact, turn around or fly backwards. It only got very lazy and commonplace for the third season, to skimp out on better choreography.
  • They were very frequent in the Mazinger saga:
    • Mazinger Z: Dr. Hell started sending flying Mechanical Beasts after Kouji and Mazinger-Z as soon as the episode 19. Mazinger got a Mid-Season Upgrade to grant him flight capabilities in episode 34, and in that same episode Kouji got his first aerial battle (Against Genocyder F9). Throughout the whole series he had many climatic aerial duels against flying enemies like Kirma K5 (who used hit-and-fly-off tactics) or Jeiser J1 (that could easily blast Mazinger away, was impervious to his weapons and forget Kouji to chase it across the sky in spite of Mazinger was nearly out of power and the cockpit was smoking).
    • Great Mazinger: The titular Super Robot was able to fly, and one of the hosts of the enemy army was comprised of bird-alike Animal Mecha specialised in this kind of battles. Aerial duels were constant, the first happening in the first episode and the last of them in the last episode.
    • UFO Robo Grendizer: The titular Humongous Mecha could combining with a space-ship, and the enemy army mainly used mini-ufos and Robeasts that often were capable to transform into large flying saucers, and all of them were carried in huge starships. Hence, nearly every episode had a major or minor dog fight. One of the most awesome moments in the series happened when Duke played a game of chicken with Blackie's mothership (and won, blasting the ship with all Grendizer's beam weapons at once and then ramming through it).
  • This is an explicit power of most of the cast of Ranma ˝.
  • Done many times in Mahou Sensei Negima!.
  • Used all the time in Bleach, especially after Zangetsu pointed out to Ichigo that Soul Reapers can solidify spirit particles beneath their feet to walk on air.
    • The Fake Karakura Town arc is entirely this, particularly where the captains and Aizen are involved.
  • Heavy Metal L Gaim: There were many aerial duels among mechas in this series since the first episodes.
  • One Piece features literal air jousting- two knights on giant birds with lances bouncing around the sky like this.
  • Some battles in the Pokémon movies are like this, especially Mew versus Mewtwo and in The Rise Of Darkrai, in which the effects of Dialga and Palkia repeatedly ramming each other in battle is a plot point.
  • s-CRY-ed: In the later stages of the series, the two protagonists engage in this.
  • In Bt X, Teppei prescribes to this strategy. It doesn't always work, although once X starts using his Super Mode it becomes a lot more effective.
  • Takes place during the FLClimax of FLCL in a final battle between Haruko and Naota (who is actually Atomisk)
  • Space jousting, effectively, in Stellvia of the Universe, where Bianca pilots play the game.
  • Heavily abused in most Gundam shows, which often have two characters wielding beam sabers fly at each other and attack, always being blocked. So they try a few more times possibly before maybe thinking to do something else.
  • Fist of the North Star had a bit of this, and actually contributed one of the most defining images of the concept - a splash panel of Ken and Shin, performing leaping kicks at each other, with their leading legs crossed.
  • The eponymous Yaiba does that is he has to face a flying opponent. Usually with a little help from Shonosuke and later with the Ryujin Katana.
  • Innumerable examples in Naruto, some better animated than others. The most memorable involve Sasuke and Naruto flying at each other with their respective signature techniques.
    • Many knife fights happen mid-fall or mid-super-leap. The collision can send the opponents flying apart, but often they will somehow manage to overcome the Law of Equal and Opposite Reactions and keep clashing blades.
  • Fairy Tail's second opening sequence has Natsu and Erza doing this.
  • Happens a fair few times in Transformers Cybertron, often because running at each other isn't cool enough for the most poweful attacks, so they also lift their user a small distance into the air. But the clearly-in-midair variant happens a fair few times too.
  • It's an Abh children's game in the Crest of the Stars series. Lafiel was very good at it.

    Comic Books 
  • Thorgal has space jousting, with two guys on jetbikes with tridents. It Makes Sense in Context, as the two duellers are fighting to decide whether they return to Earth as gods among men or live in hiding.

    Film 
  • Eragon. The last battle involves the titular hero on his dragon against the Big Bad's henchman on his own flying mount. Played even straighter when Saphira uses her tail to throw Eragon at the said henchman, knocking him off his mount so they can continue their fight in the air on the way down.
  • Neo and Agent Smith, several times in their final battle at the end of The Matrix Revolutions.
  • Played for laughs in Big Trouble in Little China as the two swordfighting characters do it several times in the same fight.
    • Even funnier when they both fly alongside each other and fight the entire time.
  • A version is done in the The Return of the King film, where the Eagles come at the battle at the Black Gate to grapple in the air with the Ringwraiths.
  • In the 2008 film The Incredible Hulk, the climactic battle between the Hulk and the Abomination begins this way.
  • Briefly in Revenge of the Sith during Anakin and Obi-Wan's duel, the two attack each other while swinging on cables.
  • Superman and General Zod take to the skies of Metropolis during their final skirmish in Man of Steel. Zod even attempts an spinning throw on Superman in mid-air.

    Literature 
  • The Dragon Jousters series by Mercedes Lackey has a form of this. It's mostly a bunch of dragons flying around each other and their riders occasionally whacking each other with hardened papyrus lances. The point of the entire thing was to knock your opponent out of the air so that he'd fall to a nasty death below. And then go after the enemy's ground forces.
  • Dragonmaster, a series of novels about military Dragon Riders, Lampshades the Awesome, but Impractical aspect of this as the riders try to figure out how to use the dragons as anything more than airborne recon. Ultimately, they decide on using crossbows (which ironically makes them skirt Improbable Aiming Skills territory).
  • The Dragonlance series features this several times, and it's where the series name comes from. The titular dragonlances are blessed by a chief god of good, but even so it's hard to see why they're really that much more dangerous than an actual dragon, especially when dragons have breath weapons...
    • In game, Dragonlances allowed the user to add their entire hitpoint total to the damage inflicted if they hit a dragon. Used mounted, you added your own hitpoints and the mounts. If you're a reasonable level, on the back of any reasonably powerful good dragon, you could one-shot any evil dragon with a single blow. (First Edition AD&D dragons were woefully underpowered and had lousy hitpoints, even the biggest baddest evil dragon topped out at 88HP, which a 6th level fighter could reach with good rolls and a high con bonus)
  • In the Harry Potter spinoff book Quidditch Through the Ages, "shuntbumps" is mentioned, a game that is essentially jousting on broomsticks (with no weapon but the broom itself), at the time of the stories only a children's game.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Eldar of Warhammer 40,000 have jetbike-mounted troops armed with energy lances. One of the Craftworlds, Saim-Hann, goes so far as to have an army consisting mostly of bike troops who settle their disputes with jetbike duelsnote .
  • It's Medieval Counterpart, Warhammer gives this ability to flying creatures and mounts.
  • Naturally, this is what the titular weapons in the Dragonlance setting are all about. Mildly subverted in that the dragons are quite capable fighters on their own — sometimes more so than their riders.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War uses this in the Final Battle to tie into its heavy use of Arthurian motifs. The "arrowhead attacks" (mentioned in the Real Life section) are the method you use to beat the final boss of the game. After dodging lasers and burst missiles in the first two stages of the fight, you need to take down the enemy "superfighter" ADFX-02 Morgan by shooting missiles (or your own lasers) into the Morgan's air-intakes, which are only accessible through a head-on battle as its electromagnetic jammer will make missiles fired at the rear of the plane or at angle veer off target. When you consider the Arthurian influences in this game, it seems more like a traditional joust rather than arrowhead attacks. (While an arrowhead attack can be done in the Ace Combat games, this final boss is the only point where this has to be done.) The ADFX-02 Morgan also has a thin laser beam as a weapon, which could be seen as a modern aircraft's version of a lance.
  • In the GBA-game Astro Boy: Omega Factor, where Astro Boy fights an airborne joust against Blue Knight. Requires careful timing.
  • This is the basis of the 80s arcade video game Joust by Williams (which was also released on the Atari 2600), factoring in altitude as the key to victory.
  • Air Jousting is also one of the basic air-to-air engagement tactic in Air Rivals. B-Gears equipped with Air Bombing Mode will find that this tactic works, and it works well, especially with the low-reattack-but-heavy-damage-disher Bawoo-type missiles.
  • Literal example in Fire Emblem Tellius, flying characters will do this.
  • Not quite at high speed, but the world 6 boss battle in New Super Mario Bros. Wii involves the players and Bowser Jr both riding Clown Cars like the one from Super Mario World and trying to send each other flying into electric fences in mid air.
  • Most combat involving small craft in the Escape Velocity series becomes Space Jousting. Especially the Thunderhead and its primary weapon, the Thunderhead Lance. If you want big craft doing space jousting, then it's Thunderforge time.
    • Nearly Polaris spacecraft and all Vell-os craft come with a beam weapon (the Bio-Relay laser or the much more powerful but energy-draining Capacitor Pulse laser) too. However, Vell-os ships are inertia-less, which makes jousting effectively impossible as they can neither strafe nor coast.
  • Can happen to some degree in Final Fantasy Dissidia. The two characters can air dash right into each other but once they make impact, they bounce off each other and become momentarily stunned as if parried.
  • Possible in the multiplayer mode of Halo: Reach by giving everybody jet packs and limiting weapons to the Energy Sword and the Gravity Hammer. It's just as awesome as it sounds.
  • In Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, the Press X to Not Die segments of the final battle involve Air Jousting with Satan.
  • The Dragonlance computer game, Dragon Strike, was a dragon flight simulator where you battled enemy dragons and other flying monsters using a lance and the dragon's breath weapon.
  • In the first Star Fox for the SNES, the first battle with the Great Commander involves both it and Fox Air Jousting repeatedly.
  • In the Doomwood II finale from AdventureQuest Worlds, Drakath and Gravelyn engage in one of these over the skies of Battleon as you throw down with the Doomblade-possessed armor of Sepulchure.
  • This trope is at the root of the AI's tactics in the X-Universe, which consist of flying straight at the target while firing, banking away to avoid collisions (and failing frequently), then turning around and doing it all over again. When fighters do it, you wind up with an Old-School Dogfight. With capital ships, you get Standard Starship Scuffles.
  • It's obvious that Ryu Hayabusa and his dad has skipped that class in training school, given as how they both suck at it in the Original Trilogy.
  • Neo and Smith in The Matrix Path Of Neo can both fly during the last levels, they mainly consist of either this trope in either a small or huge amount.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Supergirl sometimes resorts to this in Justice League, especially in the episode "The Return". Superman also uses this against Captain Marvel in "The Clash", and the collision makes the windows on several nearby buildings shatter.
  • In keeping with the knightly theme of the world in Storm Hawks, air jousting is an actual sport practiced by the Sky Knights of Atmos.
  • In Young Justice, Superboy does this several times against Match in the episode "Agendas"

    Real Life 
  • There is something similar in aerial dogfights, called "arrowhead attacks". Both sides rush head on against each other, readying to fire missiles. Firing too soon will mean the other guy will move out of the way and counterattack you; firing too late means your missiles won't be able to lock on. Assuming that the opposing fighter doesn't shoot you, there's also the dangerous possibility of a plane-to-plane collision. This maneuver can be used to take down rookies, but it's highly impractical against aces or veterans.
    • Head-on guns attacks, contrary to the above description, were recognized in WWI as being a last-ditch tactic when you could not maneuver into an advantageous position, both because it exposed you to your opponent's fire while shooting, and because the opponent's bullets would be hitting your engine, with the increased potential for damage. Read, for example, the Dicta Boelcke; the fifth rule is In any type of attack, it is essential to assail your opponent from behind. Rule 1 — Try to secure the upper hand before attacking. If possible, keep the sun behind you — and Rule 3 — Open fire only at close range, and then only when the opponent is squarely in your sights — also emphasized maneuver and position, not blindly racing directly toward your opponent as they race toward you. The position that a fighter pilot sought against an opponent was behind, slightly below, and close in; the Knights of the Air stereotype derived from the chivalry exhibited between fighter pilots, as contrasted against the conditions and actions of the ground war.
    • On the other hand, US fighters in the pacific, especially the P-38 lightning did this to the point of being taught to do this in training. This is because American planes tend to be either a Mighty Glacier or a Lightning Bruiser and japanese ones tend to be either a Fragile Speedster or a Glass Cannon or both. Thus, head on attacks give the US plane, which could take multiple attacks from their Japanese rivals in any direction without much worry but could take down a Japanese plane in a single burst a notable edge, to the point where American P-38 lightning pilots are trained to react to an enemy attack by turning into it to open fire and Japanese ones to never attack American planes head on, even with a numeric advantage.
      • The P-38 is especially good at this trope because it's a twin-engined fighter with all it's guns right on it's center, giving it better accuracy than most dogfighters, who either had very few weapons or put them in the wings, where they have to be pointed so they intersect at once distance.
  • A real-life incident occurred in 1942 with Dauntless dive-bomber pilot Stanley "Swede" Vejtasa. He was his flight's sole survivor of an ambush by Japanese Zero fighter planes and was forced to get into a dogfight with the enemy aircraft. Two of the Zeros penned him in, forcing him to take one head-on or the other Zero would be able to shoot him. It ended with him having a minor mid-air collision with one of the Japanese planes. A documentary on the incident can be viewed here.
  • The WWII combat manoeuvre called the Thach Weave depends on the head on attack, the idea being that if the enemy fighter comes down on your tail, you turn towards your buddy; this is the signal for him to take a head-on shot at the Japanese fighter. It worked in part because the Americans had been taught deflection shooting over the "get in so close you can't miss" method and also because the Japanese fighters were so lightly constructed that getting a short burst on target was often enough.
  • Also during World War II was the theoretical tactic of bringing down bombers by ramming them with a fighter. It was eventually abandoned.
    • Though not before it had happened several times.
    • American bombers (and British bombers) were notoriously equipped with More Dakka, with waist gunners, tail gunners, ball turret gunners, and dorsal turret gunners firing in all directions, with the bombadier or the navigator firing another gun in the glass nose. German pilots quickly figured out that it was much safer to attack the bomber formations head-on because it gave the gunners less time to shoot back (if a bomber is traveling 250 knots, and a fighter is traveling at 350 knots, then a head-on attack has a closing speed of 600 knots versus a six-o-clock attack's closing speed of only 100 knots). While a mid-air collision was not the intent of this maneuver, it was a widely acknowledged risk, and it wasn't unheard of for German pilots to begin their attack run and close their eyes so they wouldn't have to watch. Later American bombers added a chin turret and two machine guns in "cheek" positions to deal with the head-on assaults.
  • During the German invasion of Poland in WWII there were several documented cases of Polish pilots, once their ammunition had been expended, ramming German fighters and then bailing out (which was far easier in the Polish PZL P.11s than it was for Germans).
  • During the August 1, 1943 "Tidal Wave" bombing raid over Romania (which ended in a flop), a Romanian pilot who saw his IAR-80 fighter without ammo and burning, set it on a ramming course towards an attacking B-24 and opened the hatch to jump. It's actually unclear what happened afterwards (he was thrown out either before or after the fighter rammed the bomber and went clean through it), the pilot being found badly wounded in a very large haystack. He was still alive as of 2003. The IAR-80 had been found (practically like a smashed metal shell) on the ground, after burning and flying through another plane.
  • Head on attacks would occur on a regular basis as a "merge" as the two forces would engage . After your first pass "merge" you would then attempt to get on the bad guys "six".


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