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G. Freeman




Location: Prague, Czech republic
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PostPosted: Mon 05 Nov, 2012 5:22 am    Post subject: Dual wield - two weapon fighting         Reply with quote

Hi to every one here!

Does someone here have any experience with dual wield / two weapon fighting?

I am a viking reenactor and I have been using common combinations shield + sword/axe ... sometimes spear and dane axe too... but now I decided to try something new - a pair of one handed axes (weight cca 700-800 g. each, custom made by Hurdalek - Czech republic, hafts by myself, axes were put from bottom - no wedges needed)

[/img]

I have tried only some movements (=have not test it in harder fight) and it seems to me that I can easily hook the shield with one and then strike with second one which is pretty nice :-)

BUT

I feel a lack of protection around legs (my axes are bit slower eventhough much lighter than swords) ..

1. when I hook the shield with my left while my right is ready to strike I have no lower left leg protection
2. I am still not sure whether it is better to try to block incoming blows to the legs and lower parts of body from the inside (that seems natural) - or try to let the attacking sword approach first and then to go for it with the axe from the above and thus alter its direction from the outside so the sword misses me in front of me (that I suppose gives the chance to catch and bind the sword and seems a bit faster)

Thank for Your answers and experience!



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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Mon 05 Nov, 2012 8:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I tried wielding two axes in a Viking reenacting context for the first time this past weekend. I felt that I was growing very dependent on my shield and wanted to try something else. I do not yet have enough experience to draw any conclusions, but I am interested in what input others may have.
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Sam Gordon Campbell




Location: Australia.
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PostPosted: Mon 05 Nov, 2012 5:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Have you considered looking at eskrima/arnis/kali?
I can't really think of anything else that deals with "dual" or paired weapons except later cases of rapiers.

Member of Australia's Stoccata School of Defence since 2008.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Mon 05 Nov, 2012 6:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, you give up leg protection without gaining the extra distance for safety that you get using a polearm. What to do about this depends on armour being worn (or armour assumed to be worn). Some options are:

(a) Stay further away than you would with sword and shield or axe and shield. Move in, strike, move out.

(b) Punish that sword arm to stop cuts to your legs (try to step back to protect your leg at the same time).

(c) To get better leg protection, you could hold a long-hafted axe in your shield hand, and a one-handed axe (or sword) in your other hand. Consider the Indian parrying weapon, the saintie.

(d) Train with single weapon against sword and shield. Leg-saving methods there will work for two-weapons.

(e) Use your left-hand axe to bind/trap/restrict your opponents weapon at a long range. Reach out and lay the top of the head against their weapon, and see what they do. Can you stay in contact?

(f) If you have armoured legs, and the rules allow, blocking/avoiding leg blows isn't critical. Try to block, but move in. Hit back, hook that shield, wrestle.

(g) Hook their shield towards their weapon. Move towards the shield, away from the weapon.

(h) Move away from their shield. Now (temporarily) it's two weapons against one. Win before the shield comes back into play.

Movement is really important. Move or die!

Two-weapon appears in various martial arts. It's common in Chinese martial arts where it's mainly intended to be anti-spear (the opposing weapon is a two-handed spear); two-weapon does work much better against a single two-handed spear than single weapon. Shield and weapon is also good against spear compared to single weapon. Two-weapons restricts your own vision less than a shield, but less protection against arrows (and multiple spears in a shield wall). But mainly, I think, the idea was that two weapons is easy to carry as a sidearm - both can even live in the same scabbard - and it's superior to single one-handed weapon (both against a spear and against a single one-handed weapon).

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Colt Reeves





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PostPosted: Mon 05 Nov, 2012 8:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The only problem with going shieldless is that you are exposed to all manner of missile weapons, which could be suicidal in some circumstances. For example, going shieldless in the Norse sagas did happen, but it was rare and much commented on by the characters, some of whom did not think much of the shieldless one's chances. Thus, depending on what time and place you are attempting to re-enact, going without a shield is an amazing show of martial skill and daring at best and downright stupid at worse. Just because it seems to work for modern day "play-fighting" doesn't mean it is a good idea historically, and that should be kept in mind for a given audience who doesn't know anything except movie stunt fighting.
"Tears are for the craven, prayers are for the clown.
Halters for the silly neck that cannot keep a crown.
As my loss is grievous, so my hope is small.
For Iron, Cold Iron, must be master of men all..."
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Ben Coomer




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PostPosted: Mon 05 Nov, 2012 8:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've done a bit of two weapon fighting, and a bit more fighting against it, in both western and eastern martial arts, and honestly haven't found two weapons to be an advantage or disadvantage. It changes things to be sure, but lines of attack, timing, and the like remain the same. If anything, I've seen two weapons fighters get a little overconfident and not realize that two weapons doesn't mean two attacks. Or they think that binding up another person's weapon is going to be easy and they'll get an easy win. Reality is a bit different.

First off, body position and footwork can make the second weapon useless or even a hindrance. Just try and get a good blow from your off hand directly across your body. Second, that most people aren't all that ambidexterous means that that off hand is probably going to be slower and weaker and that can really mess up a whole bunch of things with timing and position and the like. Third, defenses are much weaker than you'd expect. A sword or and axe just doesn't function as well as a shield for defense, if for nothing else, your hands are much more exposed. And this comes into play in attacks as well. I've hit off hand and arms pretty regularly because they are exposed and slow and the person thought they had an opening they really didn't have. Single swords are fast and disengage easier than most realize.

Now this isn't saying that two weapons are worthless, but it is pointing out that there isn't a magic "win" tactic. And some advocating two weapons neglect that its not a sword, or two swords, or a spear, its YOU that is the weapon. I've taken out spear users pretty regularly with a single longsword by grabbing the spear with my hand and attacking theirs with my sword. They got caught up in my sword and forgot that they are fighting me.

Still have fun and learn.
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G. Freeman




Location: Prague, Czech republic
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Posts: 25

PostPosted: Mon 12 Nov, 2012 1:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi,
I tried different ways of fighting and moving using your advices - I appreciate especially those from Timo Nieminen and Ben Coomer.
The crucial is movement - I must be much faster in footwork. And surprisingly :-) I have to move my weapons more often - to not stick in the air and not to give the opponent chance to have me rigid with them.
Sometimes I feel more like an angry bee :-) always flying, never resting and giving stings whenever possible.

In this fighting I found useful my new armour which I finished a few weeks ago - rawhide lamellar

I tried dual weapon fighting with ordinary chainmail and then with rawhide lamellar armour - chainmail greatly slowed my footworking but with rawhide lamellar I feel myself rather light on my feet and almost dancing. That lightness I was not able to fully use when fighting with shield but now I think I can :-)

If you are interested in rawhide lamellar armour I have some pics here:
http://www.tafl.cz/lamellar-armour/

Thank You once more for advice and help!
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Ben Coomer




Location: Colorado
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PostPosted: Mon 12 Nov, 2012 6:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You're welcome.

I think that you are right about movement. Obviously, it comes into play in all martial arts, but with two weapons you need to keep everything moving or you lose the advantages of them.

I'd be interested in how it works out against multiple opponents if you get the chance...
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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Mon 12 Nov, 2012 10:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I got to do a bit more dual weapon wielding in a reenactment context and have found that it can be quite effective against multiple opponents provided those opponents are shieldless. It takes a lot of situational awareness, coordination and speed to really exploit the advantages of dual wielding. I have found dual wielding to be next to useless against any shielded opponent and completely suicidal against shield and spear. I have had some success with dropping both my axes and engaging the shielded spearman by grabbing their spear with one hand, then levering the spear to control the shield and stabbing with a knife.

In general I would say that going shieldless is very foolish, but I portray a lower class slinger and in our game the sling is a purely for show weapon, ie I can only target shields, not actual opponents, so if I want to really get involved in the fight I need to be able to do so without a shield and preferably with the most low-status weapons possible.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Nov, 2012 11:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Scott Woodruff wrote:
I have found dual wielding to be next to useless against any shielded opponent


I've done two-weapon vs shield on both sides, in SCA and informal unarmoured sparring. The two-weapon user needs to be faster on their feet, and it helps if their weapons are at least as long as the shield-users weapon. Two short weapons against shield and longer weapon would be hard (in the absence of excellent armour).

Scott Woodruff wrote:
[...] and completely suicidal against shield and spear.


What do they do to you? Do you cross-block? I fight a lot with two-handed spear, and almost never with spear and shield. Teaching people two-weapon versus spear makes them more dangerous opponents than leaving them with one short weapon (but teaching them spear is even more effective). Lesson 1 is why 1 short weapon against spear is very hard. Lesson 2 is how to fight two-weapon against spear. Lesson 3 is how to fight spear against two-weapon. For 3, the key is, if two-weapon cross-blocks, to avoid the centre and attack the periphery (and they really must cross-block, or they're easier to poke in the torso than somebody using a single short weapon). I don't find one-handed spear agile enough to do this reliably.

Scott Woodruff wrote:
In general I would say that going shieldless is very foolish [...]


On the battlefield, unless your armour will save you from arrows, and you're not using a two-handed weapon, yes.

Chinese two-weapon is largely a civilian martial art technique, for bodyguard work or self-defence, to reduce the advantage of long weapons such as spear. Easy to wear two small weapons at your side, harder to carry shield or spear.

Japanese two-weapon is civilian, for duelling, self-defence, and police work. As well as katana + wakizashi together, there are exotic weapons such as kusarigama and manrikigusari that while technically single weapons, they are effectively double (they are chain weapons). At the Chinese influenced end, there are two jutte/sai. No shields other than pavises, but two-handed weapons dominated the battlefield.

European two-weapon is civilian, for duelling, self-defence, and sporting. Rapier and dagger, two rapiers, basket hilt broadsword + basket hilt dagger (or their wooden sporting equivalents).

Filipino two-weapon is civilian (there's a lot of mythology floating around, but the roots of escrima/arnis/kali appear to lie in civilian self-defence, including defending against Moro pirates).

Korean two-weapon can be civilian self-defence or military, or for art or magic. There is a two-sword form in Muyebodotongji, which can be seen in the modern reconstructions of traditional Korean martial arts. For example, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeuikEBI6kg . Muyedobotongji being a military manual, this was part of Korean training. What it might be used for in fighting, I don't understand (I've only looked at it, not done it, so don't have a feel for it). For art, we have traditional sword dances, such as http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUdkQQQnOXA which is not unrelated to the Muyedobotongji form (which is also related to Chinese two-sword forms), and I think sword dances also feature in traditional shamanism.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Tue 13 Nov, 2012 8:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo, one thing to keep in mind is that all of our fighters fight almost exclusively with spear and shield and are really good at it, while dual wielding is something we have only begun to experiment with. You will have to define "cross-block." It just seems impossible to defend against the spear thrusts, close and get around the shield all at once, the spearman is just too fast, has too much range advantage and too good a defense. Sometimes a more beserk strategy will work, but not reliably. I have had more success dropping both axes and wrestling the opponent to the ground where I can draw my knife, but it is no easy thing to catch a fast-moving spear thrust and wrestle a shield carrying warrior to the ground.
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T. Arndt




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Nov, 2012 8:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not convinced duel wielding is anything other than SCA fantasy.

I'd be willing to change my mind if I saw some historical evidence of western duel wielding outside of later rapier/dagger, etc combos.

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Olov Tidemalm





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PostPosted: Wed 14 Nov, 2012 9:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

@T. Arndt
We have discussed this in my fencing group, and the only "historical evidence" I've seen so far is this image below. So I still regard dual-wield as fantasy for the most part.
http://wiktenauer.com/wiki/Mathern_Fechtbuch_(2°_MS_Math.7)



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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Nov, 2012 12:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

T. Arndt wrote:
I'm not convinced duel wielding is anything other than SCA fantasy.

I'd be willing to change my mind if I saw some historical evidence of western duel wielding outside of later rapier/dagger, etc combos.

How late do you mean? Manciolino was teaching sword and dagger and two swords in the 1520s. Fiore briefly covered two clubs and staff and dagger in the 1400s. The Icelandic sagas mention it occasionally in the context of small-scale violence in early Iceland. I suspect that using two edged weapons at once was very rare before the 16th century, because it isn't a very good idea in most contexts, but it happened occasionally. But "it happened occasionally" doesn't mean that every Viking group of ten people should have someone doing it.
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Christopher Lee




Location: Sunshine Coast, Australia
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Nov, 2012 2:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

T. Arndt wrote:
I'm not convinced duel wielding is anything other than SCA fantasy.

I'd be willing to change my mind if I saw some historical evidence of western duel wielding outside of later rapier/dagger, etc combos.


From the Irish the Book of the MacSweeneys:

These were the names this Eoin had, namely, Eoin na Láimhe Maithe, “Eoin of the Good Hand”, Eoin na nlngnadh, “Eoin of the Wonders”, and An Ridere Buidhe, “The Yellow Knight”. He was a noble wondrous man who travelled many lands in all the world because of his greatness, his deeds and his exploits. For no sword or weapon ever drew blood of him. He always carried two swords, and with equal dexterity he smote every opponent. He made three portions of everyone he hit, and he was the last man in Ireland and in Scotland who employed two swords as with two right hands.

The timeframe would have been about the 1280's to early 1300's if I’m not getting my Eoin's mixed up (there were a lot of Eoin's).
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T. Arndt




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Nov, 2012 2:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Christopher Lee wrote:
T. Arndt wrote:
I'm not convinced duel wielding is anything other than SCA fantasy.

I'd be willing to change my mind if I saw some historical evidence of western duel wielding outside of later rapier/dagger, etc combos.


From the Irish the Book of the MacSweeneys:

These were the names this Eoin had, namely, Eoin na Láimhe Maithe, “Eoin of the Good Hand”, Eoin na nlngnadh, “Eoin of the Wonders”, and An Ridere Buidhe, “The Yellow Knight”. He was a noble wondrous man who travelled many lands in all the world because of his greatness, his deeds and his exploits. For no sword or weapon ever drew blood of him. He always carried two swords, and with equal dexterity he smote every opponent. He made three portions of everyone he hit, and he was the last man in Ireland and in Scotland who employed two swords as with two right hands.

The timeframe would have been about the 1280's to early 1300's if I’m not getting my Eoin's mixed up (there were a lot of Eoin's).

This seems to support the view that duel wielding is exceptional and rare, contrary to what one sees from movies, LARPers and "re-enactors".

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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Nov, 2012 4:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Scott Woodruff wrote:
Timo, one thing to keep in mind is that all of our fighters fight almost exclusively with spear and shield and are really good at it, while dual wielding is something we have only begun to experiment with. You will have to define "cross-block." It just seems impossible to defend against the spear thrusts, close and get around the shield all at once, the spearman is just too fast, has too much range advantage and too good a defense. Sometimes a more beserk strategy will work, but not reliably. I have had more success dropping both axes and wrestling the opponent to the ground where I can draw my knife, but it is no easy thing to catch a fast-moving spear thrust and wrestle a shield carrying warrior to the ground.


What I call a "cross block" is also called "X-block". It's blocking/parrying/deflecting with your two weapons crossed at right angles to make a cross or X.

The following is all based on two-handed spear. I don't know how well it translates to spear and shield, but I'm interested, so any comments on that are much appreciated.

If the opponent with a short weapon doesn't close with the spear user, they will lose. They must close, but this isn't easy.

If you hold the spear towards the opponent, you have about 1 arm's length extension to move the point forwards. The opponent's weapon can be about 1 arm's length + the length of the weapon past the grip in front of their body. So, unless their weapon is very short, they can place their weapon against your spear while their body (and maybe their upper arms and legs) are out or reach of a direct thrust. So, in principle, they can deflect your spear away from their body with their weapon (which will put them in about the same position as if they had deflected a thrust), and attempt to move in before you can get your spear point back to the other side of the deflecting weapon (where you can reach their body).

With one weapon such as sword (or axe, or mace, or similar), this isn't very dangerous, because you do a quick circular disengage around the grip, and thrust. This is a very quick move, and it's very likely to get them if they're moving in quickly. It's also a good way to hit them if you're attacking them while they're standing still. So, unless you are caught napping, it's hard for them to close with you like this using a single weapon.

If they use two weapons in a cross, this circular disengage has to move much further out to clear the second weapon, and since they can move their weapons while you're trying to disengage, it's much harder to disengage, go around, and hit them before they get past your point. You can move backwards to get more time and distance, but if you are caught moving the wrong way and/or they are fast, this doesn't always work. This "trap in the cross" can be done offensively, reaching out and trapping actively, or defensively, when deflecting a thrust. Against a naive spear user, it can work very well.

I find the simplest antidote is to keep the point away from their centre, which means keeping it away from the cross of their weapons. They need to keep their weapons crossed to use it to deflect thrusts, so if they have two weapons and don't hold them crossed, you just thrust at the torso, and if they deflect it (with one weapon), you do the circular disengage and hit them with the next (unless they run away fast enough). Keeping the point away from the centre, you can feint and lure the cross to one side, and loop around and try to hit them elsewhere. Thrusts to face and thighs, cuts to face and feet, are good, while thrusts to the torso can let them trap you for long enough to close.

I don't know whether this method can work with a one-handed spear, since you have much less leverage to swing it around quickly. So I'm interested in knowing what the spear-and-shield antidote actually is. The battlefield antidote is obvious - the spearmen next to you in the shieldwall. Cross-blocking/trapping your spear leaves them completely open to those of your neighbours. In a one-on-one duel, this isn't available, so what do you do?

One can try to trap a spear in a similar manner with sword and shield. A very long cross on a two-handed sword will work similarly, too.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Thu 15 Nov, 2012 1:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

T, you are of course quite correct, there is no evidence that I am aware of for dual wielding during the Viking Age. In the group to which I belong we fight almost exclusively with spear and shield, as is historically correct, and would discourage members from using two axes in a demonstration. It is just fun to mix things up a bit at practice.

Timo, my experience has been that crossing weapons is dangerous in that it makes it easy for ones opponent to control both of your weapons, at least when fighting axes against axes. I will have to experiment with the "X-block" against spear and see how that works. It is indeed really hard to close on a spearman. We often shorten our spears to the point of holding the shaft right under the socket when pressed, so that the spear becomes a dagger. I got this idea from reading about the 15th century knight Jaque Lalaing http://www.thehaca.com/essays/Lalaing.htm. I'll get back to you after I have experimented a bit more. It would be cool to show each other videos of our combat, I will see if I can get some video of me fighting with two axes, a picture is worth a thousand words, moving pictures a million Wink
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Christopher Lee




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PostPosted: Thu 15 Nov, 2012 2:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Scott Woodruff" , you are of course quite correct, there is no evidence that I am aware of for dual wielding during the Viking Age.


Then each man egged on the other, and Gunnar guarded himself with his bow and arrows as long as he could; after that he throws them down, and then he takes his bill and sword and fights with both hands. There is long the hardest fight, but still Gunnar and Kolskegg slew man after man.”
Njal’s Saga

Kari caught sight of him, and leapt up as the blow fell, and stretched his legs far apart, and so the blow spent itself on the ground, but Kari jumped down on the spear-shaft, and snapped it in sunder. He had a spear in one hand, and a sword in the other, but no shield. He thrust with the right hand at Sigmund Sigfus' son, and smote him on his breast, and the spear came out between his shoulders, and down he fell and was dead at once, With his left hand he made a cut at Mord, and smote him on the hip, and cut it asunder, and his backbone too; he fell flat on his face, and was dead at once.
Njal’s Saga

But when he was on the way back again, out came Bersi and Halldor to meet him. Bersi had a halberd in one hand and a staff in the other, and Halldor had Whitting. As soon as Vali saw them he turned and hewed at Bersi. Halldor came at his back and fleshed Whitting in his hough-sinews. Thereupon he turned sharply and fell upon Halldor. Then Bersi set the halberd-point betwixt his shoulders. That was his death-wound.
Kormak's Saga
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Fri 16 Nov, 2012 3:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Scott Woodruff wrote:
Timo, my experience has been that crossing weapons is dangerous in that it makes it easy for ones opponent to control both of your weapons, at least when fighting axes against axes.


That's what I believe too. Later 16th-century treatises on the two swords seldom require that the swords ever be crossed at all; the vast majority of attacks and defences are along parallel lines or on two separate, non-crossing lines.


Quote:
I will have to experiment with the "X-block" against spear and see how that works. It is indeed really hard to close on a spearman.


I've tried this against somebody who's pretty good with polearms (he mostly studies PHM's short staff and earlier quarterstaff/polearm works). Most of the time I get the spear's butt in my face or ribs; using both ends of a polearm is a really good way to deal with somebody who thinks he can get away with anything once he gets past the spearpoint.
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