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Nicholas Penner





Joined: 27 Jan 2016

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PostPosted: Wed 09 Mar, 2016 8:22 pm    Post subject: Combining spear and quarterstaff/stick fighting         Reply with quote

The fantasy book that I am writing is a more primitive, ancient other Earth, so the main weapons each race uses is the spear and staff. They have various clubs, primitive axes, but spears and staffs are favored because the land is heavily forested, and thus the cheapest, most plentiful, and also simple weapons to make.

I have encountered a little problem: I want the main action to be spear and staff fighting. I want it so that most warriors are proficient with both, but the weapons and fighting styles are not the same.

So my problem is finding a way to effectively combine spear and staff fighting. The spear tip would probably get in the way and unbalance the staff, and the staff would have no point to use as a spear. I know a really easy way out would just have the spearhead be a regularly detachable thing, but I think that that would just be too easy.


Are there any fighting styles I can research that are similar to what I'm looking for? Like fancy, but effective spear fighting? Or what about dueling with short, close range spears?


ps: I know that this is primarily for arms and armor, but I think this forum would be great for advice on fighting styles and techniques, so I hope you do not mind.
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Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
Joined: 24 Jul 2011

Posts: 325

PostPosted: Wed 09 Mar, 2016 8:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In KDF the staff is the root training weapon for all polearms from the spear to the halberd to the poleaxe to the pike. Paurnfeyndt and Meyer are the two best sources that describe the core system, a lot of the poleaxe-specific material incorporates anti-armor techniques.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Mar, 2016 10:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's quite possible to use a staff like a spear. You need to thrust harder to be as effective, but the basic plan is the same. For an example of spear-like staff, see:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Em28n5sxqsg

For more "staff-like" staff, see:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDRKnaV48gg

A big difference is whether you focus on thrusts or swinging strikes. With a spear, thrusts are the main thing (depending on the type of head, cuts can be anything from effective to useless). But note that if you're using a spear, and the opponent moves in very close, you use the spear like a staff - you swing and hit, using both ends.

One-handed spear, used with a shield, will be very different.

There are lots of fun wooden clubs, which can work quite well with a shield:
http://www.oriental-arms.co.il/item.php?id=320
http://www.tribalmania.com/TROBRIANDSWORDCLUB.htm
http://www.xupes.com/Xupes-Magazine/403/Antiq...-Club.html
and these will be very different in use from spear/staff, if you want more variety in fighting styles.

"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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Bram Verbeek





Joined: 27 Mar 2007

Posts: 217

PostPosted: Wed 09 Mar, 2016 11:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

With the bo, thrusts are a thing too, it is a small target area, and a fast attack. Look for Silver as well, he describes the staff as the base for all polearms. Mayer does something similar.
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Thu 10 Mar, 2016 1:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Combining spear and quarterstaff/stick fighting         Reply with quote

Nicholas Penner wrote:
So my problem is finding a way to effectively combine spear and staff fighting. The spear tip would probably get in the way and unbalance the staff, and the staff would have no point to use as a spear. I know a really easy way out would just have the spearhead be a regularly detachable thing, but I think that that would just be too easy..

I think your problem is the confusion between real staff fighting and theatrical stafff fighting. What many people think of as a quarterstaff was invented by Elizabethan actors for stage-fighting and the techniques used with this shortened weapon have little in common with those used with real quarterstaves. A real quarterstaff was a lot longer and the techniques used for that weapon were very similar to those used for spears and other polearms.

Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
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Benjamin H. Abbott




Location: New Mexico
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PostPosted: Thu 10 Mar, 2016 4:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There's hardly any reason not to put a sharp point on a staff, assuming it's for lethal combat. George Silver's short staff, which was 8-9ft, had a metal tip at each end. His technique includes both blows and thrusts in about equal measure. I guess a sharp point does potentially threaten the wielder and maybe weakens the staff for blows that strike right by the tip, but that's small cost to pay for improved thrusting ability.
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 Thu 10 Mar, 2016 8:36 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Matthew P. Adams




Location: Cape Cod, MA
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PostPosted: Thu 10 Mar, 2016 5:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

And you can cut with a spear, so you have the perfect circle of technique. One just favors thrusting a little more while the other favors swinging.

A thing to keep in mind is a staff really is a weapon secondarily to being a walking stick. No wars were fought with the staff, if you know your going to be in combat it's a great idea to affix a bit of sharpened metal to your staff, then it becomes a weapon.

But all the pole arms can be used the same, except that a staff can't be used to hook. Even a spear can hook if it has lugs.

"We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training" Archilochus, Greek Soldier, Poet, c. 650 BC
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Mon 18 Apr, 2016 4:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If we look at our own "real" world, you're more likely to have several different fighting systems, each of which can use either the spear or staff. After all, documented and/or staff-fighting systems are quite diverse -- some hold the staff near the end like a sword and never strike with the back, some hold it in the middle and strike with both ends, some slide and/or swap the hands all over the place and strike with just about every part of the staff (including the part between the hands). Not to mention the possibility of letting go with one hand for a single-handed thrust or blow that maximises reach at the price of leaving the attacker vulnerable due to the slow recovery -- it's done rarely in some styles, very often in others, and completely anathema to yet others. Then there's propping the point against the ground for some blocks, or (much more rarely) as a vaulting pole for flying kicks.

Even the same historical source can be interpreted in very different ways. Here are two renditions of the plays in Johan Georg Pascha's late 17th-century work on the Jagerstock (hunting staff/double-ended spear):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgb3cC9aRsU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeA3qtoLVDQ

They're based on exactly the same text but the results have some really important differences, especially in how the "Spanish thrust" is done.

Just to add some more examples for diversity's sake:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOBMmMHeDJ4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuOEBCUbYbw

http://ejmas.com/jalt/jaltart_Coetzee_0902.htm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfBvSOA5Kck

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKAcP81W9jE
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Mon 18 Apr, 2016 4:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Note that all of the systems I mentioned/linked to are from "civilised" societies. Even the Zulu/Nguni stick art -- while the Zulu empire might have looked "primitive" to contemporary 19th-century Europeans, it was still an Iron Age civilisation thousands of years ahead (in both technological and sociological terms) of the truly "primitive" societies you seem to have in mind.
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