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Jason C. D.




Location: ON, Canada
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PostPosted: Mon 25 Feb, 2008 7:48 am    Post subject: European Quarterstaff         Reply with quote

I've been interested in european martial arts for a little while now and have posted a couple times. I was thinking about taking up quarterstaff fighting, and would like to pursue it further as my main area of focus. I don't know of many comprehensive manuals though. I've seen David Lindholm's book on it, but I've heard it was a bit rough (could be wrong though). Could anyone direct me to a thorough guide on the subject? It would be most appreciated.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Mon 25 Feb, 2008 8:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Terry Brown's book, English Martial Arts, has extensive instruction in quarterstaff.
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Bill Tsafa




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Feb, 2008 11:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As far as hands on training, you might want to check out your local SCA group. Some guys are very good with the polearm. You would use a glaive (sword on a stick). Same concept as staff. Only thing is that polearms are not as common as shields. So you will have to get around and make contacts to find someone who will train with you. It is a hard form to learn and you will get hit a lot in the beginning because you are open everywhere. Essentially, you have a 2 inch wide shield to block. You will learn to fight shieldmen, two-weapon men and other two-handed weapons. It will take you a while to learn to to be effective. You have to be much better then a shieldman, just to keep the match even. Polearm against polearm is more even with the longer weapon having a slight advantage. You should be able to get easy thrusts against two-weapon men, polearm has the advantage there.

If you are interested we can talk more.

No athlete/youth can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows: he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack... then he will be ready for battle.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Feb, 2008 11:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Note that this description of SCA polearm combat conflicts with the evidence from period manuals. Long weapons seem to have been considered safer. Manciolino wrote that shorter weapons are more dangerous and that you should choose a longer weapon before a shorter one. Up to his perfect length of eight to nine feet, Silver gave the advantage to the longer two-handed weapon. He considered polearms superior to the sword and shield.
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Ken Speed





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PostPosted: Mon 25 Feb, 2008 2:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jason,

Two things. Please share with us what you learn about quarterstaff. Be careful, getting hit with big sticks hurts!
I used to do a lot of practice with the Jo and Bokken when I practiced Aikido and even though we weren't trying to hurt our training partners sometimes someone would get clipped.

Ken Speed
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Feb, 2008 3:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Note that this description of SCA polearm combat conflicts with the evidence from period manuals..


Also, manuals seem to show significantly different looking pole lengths depending upon which century! I think it was 13th century era, they were described as pretty long (14 foot plus, I will ventury up to 18' based on one illustration.) Some fechtbuuk illustrations look to be showing staffs longer than 8'-9' range, but its too tough to tell and may be excessive expectations of the illustration scale. Victorian era the quarterstaff for sport was pretty much as you have said. Its hard to say century by century what the length guidelines were across various regions of Europe.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Bill Tsafa




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Feb, 2008 3:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You may also want to look into some riffle and bayonet techniques. I have been told that many bayonet techniques were borrowed from earlier polearm techniques.
No athlete/youth can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows: he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack... then he will be ready for battle.
Roger of Hoveden, 1174-1201
www.poconoshooting.com
www.poconogym.com
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Greg Coffman




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Feb, 2008 10:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I highly recommend David Lindholm's book. It covers staff teachings of Swetnam, Silverr, Wylde and McCarthy, in the English tradition, and Egenolph and Meyer of the German masters. Lindholhm includes the actual text of the manuscripts in addition to his comments and interpretations so you can read and deduce for yourself what is being described. Lindholm includes a introduction that covers the basics, guards, footwork, gripping, etc. This book is a huge resource for anybody interested in staff or polearms. From learning Swetnam's thrust-oriented staff work you can extrapolate fighting with a longer pike, and the German teachings are as fundamental to German pole-weapons as German longsword is to the rest of the German martial tradition. I don't know what you mean by "rough," but it doesn't come across "rough" to me in any way.
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
-Hebrews 4:12
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Feb, 2008 11:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
I think it was 13th century era, they were described as pretty long (14 foot plus, I will ventury up to 18' based on one illustration.)


Interesting. I'm not aware of such long staff weapons from the 13th century, though I remember an earlier Byzantine source suggested very long spears. That's pike length, and pikes came later (into general use, anyway).

I also recommend Lindholm's book. It could be called a little rough in places. I have a few minor complaints, such as the way he holds the staff. I think the rear should be right at the butt for Swetnam, Silver, and Meyer. Lindhom prefers placing the rear hand a foot or so from the butt. That said, it's an excellent resource, combining various masters in one volume.
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Chris Arrington





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PostPosted: Tue 26 Feb, 2008 9:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Note that this description of SCA polearm combat conflicts with the evidence from period manuals. Long weapons seem to have been considered safer. Manciolino wrote that shorter weapons are more dangerous and that you should choose a longer weapon before a shorter one. Up to his perfect length of eight to nine feet, Silver gave the advantage to the longer two-handed weapon. He considered polearms superior to the sword and shield.


This is due to the context of the discussion. What type of fighting are you doing? 1 v 1, 10 v 10, 100 v 100 ? Etc. Also, what type of armor are you wearing?

The discussion above assumes a 1 versus 1 fight, and the SCA rules of "assume a mail haubergon, and a open face helm", and certain realistic fighting moves are not allowed due to safety.

In a 1 v 1 fight, usually a sword and shield guy can get inside of the effective distance of a polearm, and the pole arm fighter can not trip, shove, grapple, etc. which leaves him few options. Make the pole arm miss the first shot (or block it), and then charge inside and hit him with your sword. In reality, he can do all the options mentioned above.

Plus if your wearing mail, or even better plate, the sword fighter will have a hard time penetrating your armour. Not the one shot kill assumed in the SCA. Additionally, in the real world that pole arm will put a severe hurt on that shield, damaging or destroying it, and potentially the arm behind it.

In a unit sized fight, either reality or SCA, polearms really shine. A wall of spears and polearms are difficult to penetrate

So I guess my point is that both posters are correct, in their own frame of references.

Just my opinon from my time in fighting in the SCA, yours may differ.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Feb, 2008 10:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

According to Silver, the sword and target cannot adopt a stance equally suited to blocking blows and thrusts. If you carry the shield high enough to safely stop blows, you'll be vulnerable to thrusts. If you carry it low enough to ward thrusts, you'll be vulnerable to blows. Because of the power of staff, a blow might be down your shield and still wound your head.

Very large shields and the helm would change this dynamic. As you say, though, that level of protection should make sword strikes useless against most targets. An armored targetier facing an armored halberdier, as surely happened in the 16th century, would have to limit his attacks to the face and legs. I'm dubious of any sparring system that gives much, if any, advantage to targetier.

Note that de la Vega had Amerindians shattering Spanish shields with blows from staves, bows, and axes. In one [probably exaggerated] case, an Amerindian took a Spanish axe in both hands and cut through the shields of two Spanish targetiers, bad wounding their arms and making them flee. A third targetier defeated the Amerindian.
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Allen Reed




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Feb, 2008 11:30 am    Post subject: Re: European Quarterstaff         Reply with quote

Jason C. D. wrote:
I've been interested in european martial arts for a little while now and have posted a couple times. I was thinking about taking up quarterstaff fighting, and would like to pursue it further as my main area of focus. I don't know of many comprehensive manuals though. I've seen David Lindholm's book on it, but I've heard it was a bit rough (could be wrong though). Could anyone direct me to a thorough guide on the subject? It would be most appreciated.


You might want to take a look at the book on Jogo de Pau (Portugese staff fighting) from Chivalry Bookshelf.

Allen
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Ken Speed





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PostPosted: Tue 26 Feb, 2008 12:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith said, "Also, manuals seem to show significantly different looking pole lengths depending upon which century! I think it was 13th century era, they were described as pretty long (14 foot plus, I will ventury up to 18' based on one
illustration.)"

HOLY COW! 14 feet long !! 18 feet long !! Jared, you sure you're not talking about pole vaulting? Laughing Out Loud If you hit somebody with an 18" long pole you'd drive them into the ground like a tent peg! That can't be for one on one fighting, can it? Can you imagine it? It would look like giraffes smacking each other with their heads! Of course, if you missed that first blow, your opponent would own you, he could kill you with a steak knife.

Jared I'm kidding with you, but how can this be practical? I can see massed pikeman on a battlefield but one on one? It would be kind of funny looking until someone got hit.


Best regards,


Ken Speed
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Craig Shira




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Feb, 2008 12:58 pm    Post subject: Dueling Pike         Reply with quote

.

Ken Speed wrote:
HOLY COW! 14 feet long !! 18 feet long !! Jared, you sure you're not talking about pole vaulting? Laughing Out Loud If you hit somebody with an 18" long pole you'd drive them into the ground like a tent peg! That can't be for one on one fighting, can it? Can you imagine it? It would look like giraffes smacking each other with their heads! Of course, if you missed that first blow, your opponent would own you, he could kill you with a steak knife.

Jared I'm kidding with you, but how can this be practical? I can see massed pikeman on a battlefield but one on one? It would be kind of funny looking until someone got hit.


Take a look at the fechtbuch written by Joachim Meyer. In his staff weapon section, you will see people fencing with a pole of great length. Two men engaged with a 14 or 18 foot pole as their weapon is entirely possible and was practiced in period. Meyer tells us how it is done. The imporant distinction is that this weapon is a pike, not a quarter-staff. Due to its size, certain tactics seen in combat with shorter poles are not performed.

Additionally, the dueling pike was used different than the martial pike since the dueling situation is one versus one.

For more informaiton, Meyer's book is easily found and purchased.

(Craig)

.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Feb, 2008 1:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, many manuals address single combat with the pike. Meyer, Silver, di Grassi, and others. Silver even gave the pike the advantage against most shorter weapons: the sword and target, halberd, longsword, and so on. The idea that the pike was useless in single combat is a modern myth. I remember someone posting an account of a battlefield duel between pike and halberd in which the pike won. Silver's ranking may be valid.
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Feb, 2008 3:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I venture that "quarter staff" as a term is about as controversial today as; What exactly was a "bastard sword?"

I looked pretty hard into the matter when I gave some examples photos and quotes about staffs over the ages as part of a Boy Scout "make your own hiking staff" project. Any how, all I venture to opine about was that the "quarter staff" was at one point not named for length, but named for its purpose and number of grips; to give no quarter, to defend yourself when surrounded by 4 opponents, some in front, and some behind, being advantageously held in four different locations along its long length. I consider it plausible that "half staff" and others might have been shorter, but have no solid basis to assert such after trying to research it. Based on the description of its purpose and use, I would guess long length, not short for a "quarter staff." Could the longer staffs have been obscure in relation to what was common? I suppose so. However, in 13th - 14th century era there were lots of thin tall green sapplings readily available that had been set aside to cure, maybe to use as lances, maybe to become bows, maybe to use as various pole arms. Long length weapons would not have been a problem logistically. This was not as true a couple of centuries later due to deforestation.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Stephen Hand




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Feb, 2008 4:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Among people studying the primary sources for quarterstaff there's not much controversy at all about what the term means. It refers to how you hold the staff. Holding it in the classic "Robin Hood" way, one hand a third of the way along the staff and the other two thirds (so you have one third of the staff between your hands) is called half staffing. Holding the staff with the rear hand a quarter of the way along the staff and the front hand half way along it is called quarter staffing.
Stephen Hand
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Author of English Swordsmanship, Medieval Sword and Shield

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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Feb, 2008 5:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What would you call the grip used by Swetnam, Meyer, Mair, and (I think) Silver? Rear hand right by the butt, front hand a few feet above it. (A foot and half in Swetnam's case, often much more in Mair and Meyer.)
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Ken Speed





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PostPosted: Tue 26 Feb, 2008 7:37 pm    Post subject: Re: Dueling Pike         Reply with quote

Craig said, "... Two men engaged with a 14 or 18 foot pole as their weapon is entirely possible and was practiced in period. Meyer tells us how it is done. The imporant distinction is that this weapon is a pike, not a quarter-staff. Due to its size, certain tactics seen in combat with shorter poles are not performed."

Well, we're sort of saying the same thing in a way. You're saying that guys can fight with great long poles if they have points on them and you clarify that these weapons are pikes. No argument from me. You go on to say that a pike is not a quarter staff and that the tactics are different. Exactly! A pike is not a quarterstaff, I agree 100%, and of course a quarterstaff is not a pike.

I think there is a huge difference between two antagonists stabbing and slashing each other with what are essentially elongated spears and two fighters trying to club one another senseless with big sticks. Its sort of built into the name that a quarterstaff doesn't have an axe or spearhead or sword blade on it, it's a staff. Mr. Stephen Hand talks in another note about the grip/usage defining the quarterstaff. I'd be hard pressed to imagine someone using a pole 18" long with a quarterstaff grip.

I watched a demonstration of a fight with halberds at Higgins Armoury that were about 10 feet long and I think they gripped the weapons near the butt end for the most part. The halberd sparring was very impressive and I can see that it could be really athletically demanding.



Ken Speed
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Greg Coffman




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PostPosted: Wed 27 Feb, 2008 5:44 am    Post subject: Re: Dueling Pike         Reply with quote

Ken Speed wrote:

I think there is a huge difference between two antagonists stabbing and slashing each other with what are essentially elongated spears and two fighters trying to club one another senseless with big sticks. Its sort of built into the name that a quarterstaff doesn't have an axe or spearhead or sword blade on it, it's a staff.
Ken Speed


Staffs would some times have metal caps on them or even small spikes and still be considered staffs. But even with the bare wood end, it still can deliver both crushing blows and strikes. Learn to use the weapon as it's intended and it won't come across as clubbing with big sticks.

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
-Hebrews 4:12
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