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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.

Somewhat Truth in Television, as this is what WWI era dogfights basically boiled down to, since fighter aircraft can ONLY fly straight forward, and changing direction requires wide, slow turns at high speeds. 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 of Air Jousting include:

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.
  • This is an explicit power of most of the cast of Ranma ½.
  • 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.
  • 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 the most recent movie (The Rise Of Darkrai), in which the effects of Dialga and Palkia repeatedly ramming each other in battle is a plot point.
  • In the Anime S-Cry-ed, the later stages of the series, the two protagonists engage in this.
  • In B't 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.
  • Happens often in Naruto.
    • The most memorable scenes involve Sasuke and Naruto flying at each other with their respective signature techniques.
    • There was another scene involving Kakashi's kunai and Hidan's scythe.
    • There are other innumberable scenes too.
  • Fairy Tail's second opening sequence has Natsu and Erza doing this.

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.


  • Eragon. The last battle involves the titular hero on his dragoness 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.
  • Mission Impossible II. Sigh...
  • 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.


  • 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)

Tabletop Games

  • The Eldar of Warhammer 40000 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 Air Jousting jetbike duels to the death.
    • Not true. There are accidents in ritual duels, but Eldar lives are too precious to waste like that so most duels are done to first blood. Of course, Saim-Hann tends to have more accidents, but the official version is "to first blood".
    • One fails to see what's particularly amazing about air jousting being to the death... By definition, you'd expect this to be the most logical outcome...
      • They have very high tech armor that allows duelers to survive being knocked clean off the jetbike (lance off, as in keeping with the "to first blood" part of the tradition). Saim-Hann's problem is that the participants are to stubborn and Hot-Blooded to admit defeat and proceed to simply get back on jetbike and try again. This often continues until someone "accidentally" takes a fall badly and dies. At least that's how it was always explained to this troper.
  • 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.)
    • Only sometimes? One would think that a /dragon/ would at least usually, if not nearly always, be more dangerous than any roughly human-sized biped.
    • This troper is ignorant of the rules in later editions, but the game stats for dragonlances in 1st edition AD&D almost guaranteed a mid-level fighter at full hit points could kill older dragons with a handful of blows, while a mounted mid-level fighter riding a middle-aged dragon, both at full hit points, could kill evil dragons of the same strength in one shot.
    • This is D&D, so sufficiently high-level characters can be credible threats to dragons all by themselves (while low-level Mooks rarely get to ride dragons in the first place, of course), and in this specific setting the dragonlances serve as equalizers as well. That said, the dragons definitely contribute, so this form of the trope is decidedly less a duel and more a team fight (especially if the enemy dragon also has a rider).

Video Games

  • Ace Combat Zero uses this in the Final Battle to tie into its heavy use of Arthurian motifs.
  • 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 the 10th Fire Emblem game, 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 Adventure Quest 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.

Web Original

  • Nostalgia Critic abreviates this trope to 'jousting' and lists it in one of his videos in the 'Top 11 Coolest Cliches'.
  • A version appears here in Homestuck. Granted, it's technically supposed to be a series of Flash Jumps, but we're talking Rule of Cool territory here.

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.

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.
    • This method is how you beat the final boss of Ace Combat Zero. 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. (Note that 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).