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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
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PostPosted: Sun 13 Jul, 2014 7:16 am    Post subject: the cutting capacity of spears/ spearheads?         Reply with quote

Just a general question,

spearheads vary in design in every possible way, and its been debated about how capable at slicing and slashing these blades might actually be..

Zombie go boom on youtube recently used a cold steel boar spear to devastating effect against a simulated head, casing massive damage, even decapitating the target.

how often is this utilised? how effective is it?

Im just curious, and trying to grab some info from people who know a bit more.
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
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PostPosted: Sun 13 Jul, 2014 8:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Just a general question,

spearheads vary in design in every possible way, and its been debated about how capable at slicing and slashing these blades might actually be..


Since you are favoring videos, maybe the answers are there.

Here is one for you

http://vimeo.com/7051676

Cheers

GC
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Sun 13 Jul, 2014 8:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It just depends on the spearhead design. I recall some cutting techniques with the boar spear in Mair. Most partizans could certainly cut well. Various Japanese spears look made to both cut and thrust. Etc.

Based on George Silver's short staff, which was a 8-9ft staff with a simple metal point on each end, you don't even a bladed head to made effective blow with a stout staff weapon. On the hand, masters like Joseph Swetnam warned that your staff might break if you strike blows with it.

Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Mart Shearer




Location: Jackson, MS, USA
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PostPosted: Sun 13 Jul, 2014 7:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A kitchen knife cuts well. Add a couple of meters of leverage and it cuts better.
ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sun 13 Jul, 2014 9:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
I recall some cutting techniques with the boar spear in Mair.


On the other hand, I think it's noteworthy that the overwhelmingly vast majority of spear techniques are shown thrusting, rather than cutting. I have little doubt that some spears could cause slices and lacerations. But, to answer William's question, I think the best answer is "not very often at all". No matter how well a spear head can cut, the spear will always be a thrusting weapon, because their design is predicated upon that function. You might use the spear to cut, just as a sword can be used as a bludgeoning weapon, but you're not using the weapon in the main ways it was designed to function. I suspect historically that very few spear wounds were caused by lacerations with a spear. In life and death combat, there's simply no reason to cut or slice with a spear when you can drive it deep into your opponent and end the fight.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Sun 13 Jul, 2014 10:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think it depends on what style you're looking at, Craig. George Silver considered the blow just as important as the thrust with his short staff, and it didn't have any cutting edges. I feel confident he would have cut with any spear capable of doing so, and struck mighty blows with any sturdy enough staff weapon regardless of the head. Joachim Meyer's staff system also includes numerous blows. Giacomo di Grassi did advise against cutting with the partizan in single combat, but partizan cuts for single combat appear in other Italian manuals.

It's not my main focus, but what I've seen and read about Japanese spear technique indicates that it commonly employs cuts.

Overall preferences appear to have ranged from equal emphasis on cut/blow and thrust - Silver - to thrust only - Joseph Swetnam, di Grassi when it comes to the partizan in single combat, etc.

Note that di Grassi thought partizans capable of extremely potent cuts even though he recommended against them for single combat. He described partizans as able to cut through pikes on the battlefield.

Also note that Silver's technique for staff against two opponents armed with sword and dagger involved alternating between a blow at the head and a thrust at the body. He argued that only a high ward could defend against the former and that only a low ward to could defend against the latter.

Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!


Last edited by Benjamin H. Abbott on Mon 14 Jul, 2014 12:28 am; edited 1 time in total
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Ben Coomer




Location: Colorado
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PostPosted: Sun 13 Jul, 2014 11:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So, I've done a bit of work on this and I did find that my frankish style spear cuts fairly well. It was against milk jugs to be sure, but still.

But I don't think that it'd be a preferred method of use even so. I could use it somewhat like a halberd, but without any of the things that make a halberd worthwhile, like the axe blade to power cuts and luges to hook and bind. More tellingly, the cuts were a lot slower. Most of the deadliness of spears from my experience is the quick thrusts and sudden disengages to thrust again. I only have a chance with my sword if I can interrupt that and bind up the spear. Disengaging and swinging out to cut would give me a heck of an opportunity to bind and move in to where I want to be.

Now, I'm not saying that you would never cut with a spear, and can see that quick slashes might have some value, but I think you should play to the strengths of a weapon. And for the spear that's thrusts.
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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Mon 14 Jul, 2014 5:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I own a Windlass long-bladed hewing spear mounted on a five foot shaft with a buttcap. It is by far the favorite weapon in my collection. Soda bottles filled with water stand no chance. Get one...sharpened....You will not regret it. Big Grin ....McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Mon 14 Jul, 2014 5:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Though the 11th century at least, the spear was usually used one-handed, with a shield. Hard to see how you could make an effective cut that way. Awkward in a line of battle, too, though of course there were duels and more open skirmishes sometimes. Good way to whack the head off your own spear?

Matthew
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Mon 14 Jul, 2014 1:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Cutting with a spear is really a two-handed technique. There are ways of doing it one-handed, using the body for leverage; one sees these techniques in Jackie Chan movies. One-handed, you're fighting a lot of rotational inertia without much leverage. Which is part of the reason why one sees a lot of square and equilateral (or close to it) triangular section cavalry lance heads. You don't lose much by sacrificing cutting ability on a spearhead you're not going to cut with.
"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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William P




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PostPosted: Tue 15 Jul, 2014 12:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

i guess the reason i wondered this was partly just to understand just, how mechanically good you could cut and chop and slice with various spearhead designs

and partly because it was discussed due t the fact that in certain (reenactment) fights, 2 handed spearmen have, in rear rows, used their 2 handed spears to deliver downward strikes, and it was debaed how mnuch damage that could actually achieve since some people argued that being hit by that should be ignored 'because it wouldnt be a lethal blow

so.. what sort of damage could you achieve with a spear, would cutting a gambeson be too much to hope for, with the longer, wider winged spears?
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Tue 15 Jul, 2014 2:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A lot of spears don't seem to be very well balanced for cutting, and if hitting something hard, that balance and flexibility of the haft can limit the force applied to the target when cutting. So not as good against armour as halberds, bills, etc.

But a long haft gives you a lot of speed. On soft targets, it will be a matter of blade geometry and sharpness. It should cut as well, or maybe better, than a sword with similar tip geometry. Doing tip cuts, that is. Potentially better, because with a long haft, the spearhead can move very fast.

What is harder to do with a spear is a slicing draw cut. Note the effect of slicing if you want to go through a gambeson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dn1VmbtEum8

Since spearheads tend to be pointy, they need some thickness at the point, and will cut similarly to pointy swords. Which means they might not cut as well as thin-tipped round-tipped swords. But flattish, sharp spearheads will cut well.

"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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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Tue 15 Jul, 2014 2:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A lot of spears don't seem to be very well balanced for cutting, and if hitting something hard, that balance and flexibility of the haft can limit the force applied to the target when cutting. So not as good against armour as halberds, bills, etc.

But a long haft gives you a lot of speed. On soft targets, it will be a matter of blade geometry and sharpness. It should cut as well, or maybe better, than a sword with similar tip geometry. Doing tip cuts, that is. Potentially better, because with a long haft, the spearhead can move very fast.

What is harder to do with a spear is a slicing draw cut. Note the effect of slicing if you want to go through a gambeson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dn1VmbtEum8

Since spearheads tend to be pointy, they need some thickness at the point, and will cut similarly to pointy swords. Which means they might not cut as well as thin-tipped round-tipped swords. But flattish, sharp spearheads will cut well.

"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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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
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PostPosted: Tue 15 Jul, 2014 5:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:
A lot of spears don't seem to be very well balanced for cutting, and if hitting something hard, that balance and flexibility of the haft can limit the force applied to the target when cutting. So not as good against armour as halberds, bills, etc.

But a long haft gives you a lot of speed. On soft targets, it will be a matter of blade geometry and sharpness. It should cut as well, or maybe better, than a sword with similar tip geometry. Doing tip cuts, that is. Potentially better, because with a long haft, the spearhead can move very fast.

What is harder to do with a spear is a slicing draw cut. Note the effect of slicing if you want to go through a gambeson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dn1VmbtEum8

Since spearheads tend to be pointy, they need some thickness at the point, and will cut similarly to pointy swords. Which means they might not cut as well as thin-tipped round-tipped swords. But flattish, sharp spearheads will cut well.


holy... timo, thanks for that video, *gulps* that is very frightening, as someone who desires to reenact a byzantine trooper wearing a kavadion... i would have been dead as a doornail if i was cut by him, so wow thats quite eye opening...
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
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PostPosted: Tue 15 Jul, 2014 6:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:
What is harder to do with a spear is a slicing draw cut. Note the effect of slicing if you want to go through a gambeson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dn1VmbtEum8


What are those gambesons made out of? They look like they're stuffed with fluffy poly fiber-fill. They certainly aren't 30 layers of tightly quilted linen.

Sword cuts like that are obviously devastating, and test cuts like that can certainly be scary, don't get me wrong! But most Byzantine troops survived the battlefield, William, so I'm guessing you'll be fine out there, eh?

Matthew
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William P




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PostPosted: Tue 15 Jul, 2014 8:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
Timo Nieminen wrote:
What is harder to do with a spear is a slicing draw cut. Note the effect of slicing if you want to go through a gambeson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dn1VmbtEum8


What are those gambesons made out of? They look like they're stuffed with fluffy poly fiber-fill. They certainly aren't 30 layers of tightly quilted linen.

Sword cuts like that are obviously devastating, and test cuts like that can certainly be scary, don't get me wrong! But most Byzantine troops survived the battlefield, William, so I'm guessing you'll be fine out there, eh?

Matthew


i believe kavadia were cotton with silk on the outside preferably, thik as they could, they were padded gambesons, the epilorikion was the heavily quilted one (those were worn only on top of armour i think.. )

actually i really wanna see what a danish war axe would do to a kavadion, quite a lot i suspect..


i also mention cutting spears since the byzantine menavlion was supposed to have quite a long spearhead, with a 28cm blade, which coincidently matches the winged spearhead found in the serce limani shipwreck,. http://www.pinterest.com/pin/442126888389790880/



 Attachment: 17.42 KB
317f69000fede85b5e43b40a1bc80391.jpg
Serce Limani hunting spear head. This is a good choice for the Menaulion head. Dimensions: length of overall head 0.37 (metres); length of blade 0.278; length of socket 0.092. This is almost identical to the 28 cm length attributed to the menaulion (in he
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Tue 15 Jul, 2014 8:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William P wrote:
so.. what sort of damage could you achieve with a spear, would cutting a gambeson be too much to hope for, with the longer, wider winged spears?


At partizan size such weapons can cut through nearly anything according to Giacomo di Grassi. He wrote that partizans had historically been designed to "break the mail and divide the iron" and that they could cut through pikes and "any other forcible impediment." Based on di Grassi's text and the physics involved, I suspect partizan-type spears could cut better than any longsword or smaller sword, at least against hard targets.

Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Tod Glenn




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PostPosted: Tue 15 Jul, 2014 10:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The thrust is to be preferred over the cut because the human body, even without armor, is designed to ward of slashing blows better than piercing attacks. Still, some of the leaf blade spear designs can do some amazing cutting.
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M. Livermore





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PostPosted: Wed 16 Jul, 2014 5:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would be interested to hear any specific comments Jean has on this topic based on the large spear head that Michael made for him. Jean, if you are reading this do you have any thoughts?

I have a number of spears of different cross section. The only one I would try in the cut is one very similar to the Limani example posted above. Such a strike would not be my first choice but I suspect the geometry would be satisfactory.
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