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Gene Green





Joined: 13 Mar 2007

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PostPosted: Sat 15 Nov, 2008 8:47 pm    Post subject: Mace vs Flail         Reply with quote

It seems that flail does all that a mace does, but better (no impact on hand, ability to strike behind the shield or block, probably ability to strike with much greater force). I read that flails of some form were used, at least in Eastern Europe, well into XIX century. So, why would anybody even want to carry a mace, when a flail is about the same size, same cost, and is seemingly superior ? What were the advantages of mace over flail - portability ? Status symbol ? Or did it allow to do things flail couldn't do ? Was it because flail would pose a danger to other warriors in a tight formation ?
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Sat 15 Nov, 2008 8:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't know of any period sources that really say. I suspect it has to do with the fact that a rigid object (a mace) is easier to control than a flexible one (a flail). A flail would require a bit of "wind up", telegraphing your intent more. Feints would be far harder to conceal, for instance. On the other hand, the flail has certain abilities that the mace lacks, such as the ability to reach around shields, and also the potential to hit harder, as you've mentioned. All of this is pure speculation, though.
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Brian Hook





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PostPosted: Sat 15 Nov, 2008 9:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gene,
The simple answer to that question is in my opinion is a flail is a lot more diffcult to use on horseback and runs the very serious risk of also hitting your horse.
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Jeff Kaisla




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PostPosted: Sat 15 Nov, 2008 9:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To expand on Bill's point on control, if your strike with a flail is blocked or parried it would take more time to strike at another target on your opponent than with a mace. With a mace you can swiftly change directions to make a hit where you must get the flail swinging again. I see pro's and con's to both weapons but I would disagree that either is superior.

Jeff
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Gene Green





Joined: 13 Mar 2007

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PostPosted: Sun 16 Nov, 2008 12:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

OK, this is pretty informative stuff, thanks. Come to think of it, you can parry a strike with a mace but not with a flail (or at least not easily, or so I think Wink ) so this would explain why somebody would want to have a weapon that's perhaps a bit less effective in offense (doesn't hit as hard) but can be also used in defense.

Thanks to all who replied !
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Darren Tully




Location: Dublin, Ireland
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Nov, 2008 2:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Gene
Just to build on the points that the others made, I know from using nuchaku back when I took karate lessons that it is very easy to hit yourself with a flail type weapon. A piece of wood is sore enough but I'd hate to imagine what would happen if I hit myself in the head or ribs with a morning star. Another point is that the links of a chain can catch off each other making a kink, this can make the weight kick wildely which can ruin your strike or pose a danger to you if the weight is in close proximity to your body when it occurs, if the weight doesnt hit you it can create an opening for your oponent. The last point is that in a parry the flail can end up wrapped arround the oponents weapon this offers an opertunty for either one to dissarm the other, but in each senario the flail man comes out worse as he has to untangle his flail or drop it to draw a secondary weapon were if the oponent was using a sword or axe etc he would be free to attempt a stike.

I dont think that either weapon was superior to the otherboth had areas were they each excelled and lacked but I think that inability of the flail to parry blows and the greater amount of skill required to weild it cotributed to the mace taking preference more often or not

Darren
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Bill Tsafa




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PostPosted: Sun 16 Nov, 2008 8:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I had a chance to work with someone who had developed some interesting technique with the fail. He holds it just under the chain. This allows him to use the ball and stick to do two separate things simotaniously. The ball can be attacking from one angle while the stick is attacking from another angle with its butt-spike. This is most effective when the other person does not know you are using the flail in this manor. Once you move beyond newbies who don't know how to block the fail-head, using a flail effectively requires a lot of practice. Given that not too many people out there use it regularly and consistency in a large fighting pool, I consider this weapon form is largely unknown to us beyond just flailing it around.

I have fought against flail once with my shield. The person was making a large arch to get around the shield. I had to really move my shield high to block the head. If this was a sword, moving the shield so much out of place would open my legs. However, the flailhead is usually dead on impact with my shield. It can't repost as easy off my shield to another opening like a sword can.

There are some efforts in the SCA to come up with a safe flail that won't hurt people. The issue is the rope or chain choking and tangling people in melees when bodies are flying all over the place. These type of potential injuries would be rare but could be potentially fatal. If a safe training weapon is approved and the fail legalized, we would probably see some effective techniques begin to develop within 10 years.

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Darren Tully




Location: Dublin, Ireland
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Nov, 2008 8:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thats an interesting thought Vassilis but I coudnt see it come into fruition centrifugal force on an object of any size and weight can make it effective at hurting someone I cant see a fully safe version more so a safer version being developed
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sun 16 Nov, 2008 10:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From what I have seen the flail seems to be somewhat uncommonly used as a weapon of war in most of medieval Europe. From various sources writing letters about Hussites the novelty of them, more than guns, more than wagons is their war clubs (flails). In artwork, literature, etc. you just do not hear or see flails very often if at all. Excluding the Hussites I cannot think of a flail or chain mace being used. Clearly they existed at some points and were used as we have a few existing but you’ll notice they are typically a small number compared to the fixed mace.

The why is harder though. In the end I think these weapons would be somewhat difficult to use but especially if in a battle that is trying to attack. Lined in rank moving I can see this as being a very dangerous weapon for those around the user. The Hussites used them from wagons and fixed places against attackers. The straight mace gives great control and is as safe as most other melee weapons. Also from horseback I cannot see the flail as being useful and as said earlier the risk to the horse or neighbour would seem very high.

In the end interesting question. Hard to say except that both have advantages and disadvantages.

RPM
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Marcus Irgens





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PostPosted: Sun 16 Nov, 2008 11:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A mace would I.M.O be much easier to make than a flail. A mace is a version of one of the oldest waepons, the club. I can in my garage, without fancy equipment make a mace, and so could any farmer in the medieval ages, but making a chain? Not as easy or likely.

A mace is a very straight-forward weapon. It is easy to understand, and improvised weapons (candlesticks, tablelegs, riflestocks) usually have the same features as a club. Therefore i think that a mace would be more common. If I was unskilled in fighting, i would definetly have chosen a mace over a flail. With the flail I am more likely to hit myself or losing control than with a mace.

I think these arguments are worthy of thought, even though they are without historical sources. Psychology is an important part in the choise of weapon, as I see it.
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2008 10:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I had always wondered if the flail was actually some form of throwing weapon, but I've seen very few instances of flails in period artwork in hand, let alone in the air.

M.

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Hendrik De Coster




Location: Belgium
Joined: 20 Jan 2007

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PostPosted: Thu 20 Nov, 2008 3:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

ah, a question i might easily answer for you,since i often fight with both of these weapons in my reenactmentgroup=)
here's a picture of the mace i have
http://www.armorymarek.com/katalog/hammers/slides/X41-.html

let's see what i can do with this beauty:
i can hammer someone to hell
the tip on the mace is sharpened and allows me to strike to hold an opponent to a distant
since it's a solid weapon it allows me to easily block sword strikes
also, it's quite manoeuvrable
it also makes an excellent sidearm

then the flail
first, it's unhandy because of the "recoil" the ball has when you hit something,i've had it fly back to my face, scary moments=)
second, you can't block with it, so a shield is a must since combining a flail and a sword just blocks less easily
third, you can't use it in battle field formations unless you hit your buddies
forth, you can't hit someone as fast and from different angles as you can with a mace
for example, with a mace you could strike like this > of <, presenting and upper strike and a downward
with a flail you need to strike like / or \ if you get what i mean, the motion has to go the whole way, while with a mace it doesn't
i hoped this helped?=)


oh yeah, a flail also could get stuck behind an axehead, i've beendisarmedd a few times this way
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Tony Peterson




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PostPosted: Thu 20 Nov, 2008 3:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hendrik De Coster wrote:
ah, a question i might easily answer for you,since i often fight with both of these weapons in my reenactmentgroup=)
here's a picture of the mace i have
http://www.armorymarek.com/katalog/hammers/slides/X41-.html

let's see what i can do with this beauty:
i can hammer someone to hell
the tip on the mace is sharpened and allows me to strike to hold an opponent to a distant
since it's a solid weapon it allows me to easily block sword strikes
also, it's quite manoeuvrable
it also makes an excellent sidearm

then the flail
first, it's unhandy because of the "recoil" the ball has when you hit something,i've had it fly back to my face, scary moments=)
second, you can't block with it, so a shield is a must since combining a flail and a sword just blocks less easily
third, you can't use it in battle field formations unless you hit your buddies
forth, you can't hit someone as fast and from different angles as you can with a mace
for example, with a mace you could strike like this > of <, presenting and upper strike and a downward
with a flail you need to strike like / or \ if you get what i mean, the motion has to go the whole way, while with a mace it doesn't
i hoped this helped?=)


oh yeah, a flail also could get stuck behind an axehead, i've beendisarmedd a few times this way


Eek! Your group allows you to fight using a mace with Sharpened Tips?!

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Hendrik De Coster




Location: Belgium
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PostPosted: Thu 20 Nov, 2008 3:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tony Peterson wrote:
Hendrik De Coster wrote:
ah, a question i might easily answer for you,since i often fight with both of these weapons in my reenactmentgroup=)
here's a picture of the mace i have
http://www.armorymarek.com/katalog/hammers/slides/X41-.html

let's see what i can do with this beauty:
i can hammer someone to hell
the tip on the mace is sharpened and allows me to strike to hold an opponent to a distant
since it's a solid weapon it allows me to easily block sword strikes
also, it's quite manoeuvrable
it also makes an excellent sidearm

then the flail
first, it's unhandy because of the "recoil" the ball has when you hit something,i've had it fly back to my face, scary moments=)
second, you can't block with it, so a shield is a must since combining a flail and a sword just blocks less easily
third, you can't use it in battle field formations unless you hit your buddies
forth, you can't hit someone as fast and from different angles as you can with a mace
for example, with a mace you could strike like this > of <, presenting and upper strike and a downward
with a flail you need to strike like / or \ if you get what i mean, the motion has to go the whole way, while with a mace it doesn't
i hoped this helped?=)


oh yeah, a flail also could get stuck behind an axehead, i've beendisarmedd a few times this way


Eek! Your group allows you to fight using a mace with Sharpened Tips?!

well sharp, it''s relative:)
i haven't sharped it but it ain't a blunt tip like a penny, that's what i mean, so it's still sharp
you can't pierce people with it if that's what you think:)
still we do freefight with flails and maces and other weapons
dangerous ok, but we take it into account and only do it heavily armoured and atleast armed with a shield
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Thu 20 Nov, 2008 4:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There was a program on where it was staed that the flail needed to keep it's momentum to be effective.

Close on someone and it will be difficult for them to generate the centrifical force needed for an effective strike if the momentum is stopped.
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Gene Green





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PostPosted: Thu 20 Nov, 2008 6:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks ! It's amazing how much interesting info one can get on this forum !
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Nathan Gilleland





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PostPosted: Fri 21 Nov, 2008 11:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hendrik De Coster had a point that I agree with having some experience of my own. I'm certainly not an expert from the historical perspective, but in my experience in an SCA combat group, I fought someone who used the flail quite frequently. I found that if I closed in very quickly, blocked the initial strike with my shield, then I could either get too close for him to generate a good swing. Or I could place my sword in the chain's path, wrapping the flail chain and head around my sword blade, following it up with a shield bash, or pulling the flail fully out of his hand.

Again, I'm no expert, but I found that the fixed mace was more difficult fighting against in prolonged bouts.

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Hendrik De Coster




Location: Belgium
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PostPosted: Sun 23 Nov, 2008 2:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

i just got my mace back from a friend who repaired it
here are some pictures of the sharp tip i told that allows me to stab people
http://i210.photobucket.com/albums/bb281/amor...273071.jpg
and here's the shield i use it with
http://i210.photobucket.com/albums/bb281/amor...273088.jpg
as you can see this mace and shield are used in some pretty heavy combat
not the hole in the shield;)
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Jeff A. Arbogast





Joined: 16 Oct 2008

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PostPosted: Sat 13 Dec, 2008 7:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

While being no expert, merely a collector, I have an A &A flail that has caused me to make a few observations-the chain is quite short-only three links of about 2 inches apiece, or about six inches. If you are holding it properly, the spiked ball does not reach your hand as a longer chain would permit, making it a bit more user-friendly. the figure-eight links are also each twisted at right angles, greatly reducing the tendency of a normal chain to bind and allowing for a much more sinuous flow of the ball. All the links have a line of ridges along their outer edges (for aesthetics and greater damage to your opponent if you strike him with the chain I presume). I find it a brutal but visually pleasing weapon.
While I am uncertain how effective a flail would be on foot (I wouldn't want to be next to the guy with one), I can see them being VERY effective when used mounted against foot soldiers. Swung continuously in a circular backhanded motion, (which makes a lot of sense on a horse) I would guess that the momentum of the rotating heavily spiked two pound head on a charging horse would be more than enough to knock ANYONE unlucky enough to be on the receiving end into Never-Never land. I can imagine it being useful in opening up ranks of footmen for those following behind, running down fleeing infantry, and other like tasks, with the chain insulating your arm from the impact of all those crushed skulls. A long chain does add risk to yourself and others though, which is why I like A &A's example. It looks as though the German designer took all these factors into account when he created it.

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Hendrik De Coster




Location: Belgium
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PostPosted: Sun 14 Dec, 2008 2:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

but remember that using a flail on horseback can wound your own horse,when the ball pounds back so to speak,into the horse
all in all i think we have to agree that the mace is overall better compared to the flail
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