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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sun 15 Apr, 2007 8:03 pm    Post subject: Use of the thrusting spear on horseback         Reply with quote

I believe we're all quite familiar with the underarm and overarm manner of wielding a thrusting spear. Recently, however, I saw a horseman in a Chinese wuxia movie (I think it was House of the Flying Daggers wielding his spear against an opponent in front of him by sticking it out forward, arm fully extended, just like presenting the point of a thrusting sword. This technique looks quite sensible to me, but I haven't found any texts or statements that can back this up--so can anyone help me with this?

(Especially for Peter Bosman, I'm curious about whether the furusiyyah manual you got mentions this.)
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Felix Wang




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PostPosted: Mon 16 Apr, 2007 3:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have forgotten that scene from Flying Daggers. I am afraid I don't quite understand what the horseman was doing.

Was he thrusting the spear forwards at the last moment from an underarm position? Or was the spear held forwards for some length of time (a second or more) prior to contact? In the first case, he would use the velocity of his arm as well as his mount, while in the second, he would rely on the horse's speed.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Mon 16 Apr, 2007 8:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

No, he's not thrusting it forward. I said he was holding the spear ahead like presenting the point of a thrusting sword, and that in itself should be enough to imply that he's making no independent thrusting motion with his arms. I wouldn't want to do any such thrusting myself if I were on a galloping horse--the shock on the arm would be too great.

(Well, maybe stabbing downwards while I ride past an enemy on foot, but in this case the shock of impact is not directly opposite to the direction of motion so it's much more bearable. This is off-topic to the discussion, though.)
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Felix Wang




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PostPosted: Wed 18 Apr, 2007 7:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The 14th century Mamluk Munyatu'l Guzat describes four methods of using a spear on horseback; one of them is a single-handed grip with the lance resting against the forearm, which sounds like an underarm grip (Daylam style). In one method (Sagr) uses two hands but does describe thrusting "without stretching your arm out too far" and return to "tilting" quickly. It sounds rather like a thrusting maneuver, rather than holding the spear out there as you are describing.
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Felix Wang




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PostPosted: Wed 18 Apr, 2007 7:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dom Duarte's book of Horsemanship does suggest that the technique you describe might work - in section 5, chapter 11 he says:

"If our horse is moving fast or we are carrying our spear very much forward, we do not need to use our body's weight to push the spear into the [prey's] body; it should be enough to hold it in our hand with all our strength and the beast will suffer a big, deep wound."

He does not explicitly say the spear is held underarm and extended, but just before this he discussed what to do if you are not moving fast - and says to lean into the thrust of the spear with your body weight. This is meant for the spear held horizontally, and resting over the forearm (which is made clear when he discusses thrusting with a sword from horseback).
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Thu 19 Apr, 2007 4:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very interesting. So, the results up to this point show that there are passages in the manuals that can be interpreted as supporting this thing, but only as one possible interpretation that can't rule out other possibilities?

I guess I should try it out myself when I get the chance to ride--perhaps in the next long holiday.
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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Thu 19 Apr, 2007 3:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Very interesting. So, the results up to this point show that there are passages in the manuals that can be interpreted as supporting this thing, but only as one possible interpretation that can't rule out other possibilities?


Well, Felix has interpreted the two books the same way as I have. 'Interpration' being your way of understanding what is written without illustrations.
What has to be understood that Duate writes mostly about the use in the hunt of boar, thus a low pointed position whereas the mamluks are writing about battle with another horseman, thus a high position.

Meanwhile I have prepaired two lenghts of bamboo to make two different light spears. (@Felix. Yellow of coulour Wink )
An interesting thing namely is that the mamluk manual deals exclusively with a spear/lance as light as possible and Duarte distinguishes between a lance that needs to be as heavy as possible and spears light enough to be able to be thrown.

For Duarte the long weapon is about thrusting mainly if not exclusively. The fact Duarte states the weight of the spear at speed is enough to deliver a powerfull thrust is informative as the mamluk spear is nót.
For the mamluks it most definitely is more like a long sword and state it needs to be as lightweight as possible to allow for managing the thing which is akward enough because of its lenght anyway.
What I find both striking as well as amusing is that bóth add a trace of humor when writing about aquiring routine in handling the thing. It must have been the funny-show of cavalry drill Laughing Out Loud

Anyway, I think Felix has been as clear as can be.

Peter
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Felix Wang




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PostPosted: Thu 19 Apr, 2007 9:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter,

Thanks for the vote of confidence. And thank you for pointing out the difference in the targets between the Mamluk and Dom Duarte's texts - I should have thought of that.

Please keep us posted as to your experiments with lances - sometimes a little practical experience can clear up a lot of confusion.
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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Apr, 2007 12:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Will do.

There are several other marked difference that I think I noted.
Could you have a look at one Felix?
I find the difference in dealing with footman day and knight Razz .
Duarte states that the best technique to deal with a meléé is to ride through whilst hacking away indiscriminately, turn and have another go.
The mamluk manual advises to stay well clear and avoid.
Classical 'heavy' versus 'light' from the core to the tips.

What I particularly like about Duarte is that he goes into the mínd of the one wanting to sstudy, the reader.
What I like about the mamluk manual is that it is so fundamentally about living to fight another day and the tactical interaction of the actions of the óther guy.

Almost everything oozes a different perception (save for the saddle and the rider's 'seat') and that is só interesting if you take the time to think about it. Só utterly applicable today. I réaly value these two works.

Off topic but on riding books. Those of you interested in horse riding might want to source 'The Caprilli Paper' by Caprilli, translated and edited by Major Piero Santini. It has NOTHING to do with the claim present day riding claims to have with it.
Proof of the vital importance of reading the source!

Peter
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Apr, 2007 1:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Bosman wrote:
What has to be understood that Duate writes mostly about the use in the hunt of boar, thus a low pointed position whereas the mamluks are writing about battle with another horseman, thus a high position.


Now this is another interesting point. In the movie, the horseman (actually a mounted policeman) was attacking a woman on foot. The height difference here probably plays a similar role in determining the choice of technique.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Apr, 2007 1:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Bosman wrote:
Duarte states that the best technique to deal with a meléé is to ride through whilst hacking away indiscriminately, turn and have another go.
The mamluk manual advises to stay well clear and avoid.
Classical 'heavy' versus 'light' from the core to the tips.


I suspect armor and formation may have something to do with this. Spanish men-at-arms in Duarte's time, like their French and Burgundian counterparts, had heavy armor on both man and horse and charged in relatively shallow formation of two or three ranks at most. Such a formation lends itself easily to the formation of lanes through which the two formations could pass through each other at the gallop with few or even no collisions between horses, and in the split-second of contact before the two formations drive clear past each other it would have made sense to deliver as many blows as you could, even if this generally means only two or three blows at most. The men-at-arms' armor would have given them considerable protection against the attacks they'd receive during this brief moment of contact and therefore made them more confident in plunging into such a situation.

On the other hand, the Mamluks and the Turkish heavy cavalry seem to have inherited more of a Classical paradigm in cavalry tactics--they preferred to keep their formation and not get into a confused melee with the enemy. After all, Mamluk cavalry tactics were descended from a blend of Turkic weapons-handling for individual situations and Byzantine-Persian formation drills for large-scale tactical movements--and the latter advised to keep formation whether in or out of engagement range. This was reversed after European cavalrymen discarded armor on a major scale, and by the end of the 17th century we see the European heavy cavalrymen preferring to keep their formation at all costs while the Turkish sipahis tried to break in and engage them in a mingled melee.
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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Apr, 2007 3:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You may find this interesting http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiVn9vu9M_g

If you look closely you will see two techniques. The one for the tent-peg and the other for the ring.
The first is 'boar', the second 'jousting' to use terms we can mentally picture clearly today.

Slightly more 'authentic' is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jQErhbXrw0&NR=1

And this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8NNSHP7Ow8 is a mix of 'boar'-position and 'jousting'-hold which is fairly common where I live. Form follows function as this 'boar' needs to be 'jousted' Laughing Out Loud

Peter
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Dariusz Dario T. W




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PostPosted: Sat 21 Apr, 2007 9:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Bosman wrote:
Will do.

Off topic but on riding books. Those of you interested in horse riding might want to source 'The Caprilli Paper' by Caprilli, translated and edited by Major Piero Santini. It has NOTHING to do with the claim present day riding claims to have with it.
Proof of the vital importance of reading the source!

Peter


just to add to books on horsemanship - internet has again proven its value
you can download pdf format books via google books
or internet archive
especially interesting is former Russian Imperial cavalry officer and later horse trainer and teacher Vladimir Littauer on the history of horsemanship - because he adds perspective after Caprilli
http://www.archive.org/details/horsemansprogres017879mbp
Also do not forget cpt Horace Hayes, Nolan or Baucher himself amongst many others
on goggle there are some old books on farriers, also cavalry manuals, seats and saddles to name a few
well, thousands of pages to read and digest, all free Happy
also a very interesting outlook on the present day riding www.horsemanpro.com at times funny and/or outrageous

"veni, vidi, Deus vincit"
Jan Sobieski, Rex Poloniae et Dux Lithuaniae

http://dariocaballeros.blogspot.com/
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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Sun 22 Apr, 2007 12:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dariusz Dario T. W wrote:
[especially interesting is former Russian Imperial cavalry officer and later horse trainer and teacher Vladimir Littauer on the history of horsemanship - because he adds perspective after Caprilli
http://www.archive.org/details/horsemansprogres017879mbp


WOWWWWWWWWW.
If you were a pretty lady, I would smother you with gratefull kisses.
I've read the book in one go....

I lóve page 101
The part on Caprilli explanis well why I ride completly unbridled and pages 193-194 describes my riding pretty well. The only difference is that my pace is slightly more moderate but not much.

I am impressed by the depth of study of this rider. He is a rare person indeed to know bot óf and teh contents of the Kikkuli text. More so as this was at the time only just translated and I mean JÚST.This gentleman must have had impressive contacts and even more impressive depth and width of knowledge.

I did not know of the existence, THANKS!

HC
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Felix Wang




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PostPosted: Mon 23 Apr, 2007 1:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It is interesting that even at the end of the 19th century, a British cavalry charge correpsonds to Dom Duarte's conception of a cavalry charge. This is an account by a serving British cavalry officer, present at the time, who later went on to become a famous war correspondent and military historian.

"Two hundred and fifty yards away the dark-blue men were firing madly
in a thin film of light-blue smoke. Their bullets struck the hard gravel
into the air, and the troopers, to shield their faces from the stinging
dust, bowed their helmets forward, like the Cuirassiers at Waterloo.
The pace was fast and the distance short. Yet, before it was half covered,
the whole aspect of the affair changed. A deep crease in the ground--a dry
watercourse, a khor--appeared where all had seemed smooth, level plain;
and from it there sprang, with the suddenness of a pantomime effect
and a high-pitched yell, a dense white mass of men nearly as long as our
front and about twelve deep. A score of horsemen and a dozen bright flags
rose as if by magic from the earth. Eager warriors sprang forward
to anticipate the shock. The rest stood firm to meet it. The Lancers
acknowledged the apparition only by an increase of pace. Each man wanted
sufficient momentum to drive through such a solid line. The flank troops,
seeing that they overlapped, curved inwards like the horns of a moon.
But the whole event was a matter of seconds. The riflemen, firing bravely
to the last, were swept head over heels into the khor, and jumping down
with them, at full gallop and in the closest order, the British squadrons
struck the fierce brigade with one loud furious shout. The collision was
prodigious. Nearly thirty Lancers, men and horses, and at least two hundred
Arabs were overthrown. The shock was stunning to both sides, and for
perhaps ten wonderful seconds no man heeded his enemy. Terrified horses
wedged in the crowd, bruised and shaken men, sprawling in heaps, struggled,
dazed and stupid, to their feet, panted, and looked about them. Several
fallen Lancers had even time to re-mount.
Meanwhile the impetus of the
cavalry carried them on. As a rider tears through a bullfinch, the officers
forced their way through the press; and as an iron rake might be drawn
through a heap of shingle, so the regiment followed
. They shattered the
Dervish array, and, their pace reduced to a walk, scrambled out of the khor
on the further side, leaving a score of troopers behind them, and dragging
on with the charge more than a thousand Arabs. Then, and not till then, the
killing began
; and thereafter each man saw the world along his lance,
under his guard, or through the back-sight of his pistol; and each had
his own strange tale to tell.

Stubborn and unshaken infantry hardly ever meet stubborn and unshaken
cavalry. Either the infantry run away and are cut down in flight, or they
keep their heads and destroy nearly all the horsemen by their musketry.
On this occasion two living walls had actually crashed together.
The Dervishes fought manfully. They tried to hamstring the horses,
They fired their rifles, pressing the muzzles into the very bodies of
their opponents. They cut reins and stirrup-leathers. They flung their
throwing-spears with great dexterity. They tried every device of cool,
determined men practised in war and familiar with cavalry; and, besides,
they swung sharp, heavy swords which bit deep. The hand-to-hand fighting
on the further side of the khor lasted for perhaps one minute. Then the
horses got into their stride again, the pace increased, and the Lancers
drew out from among their antagonists. Within two minutes of the collision
every living man was clear of the Dervish mass. All who had fallen were
cut at with swords till they stopped quivering, but no artistic mutilations
were attempted.

Two hundred yards away the regiment halted, rallied, faced about,
and in less than five minutes were re-formed and ready for a second charge."

The River War, by Winston Churchill
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Dariusz Dario T. W




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PostPosted: Fri 27 Apr, 2007 4:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Bosman wrote:

WOWWWWWWWWW.
If you were a pretty lady, I would smother you with gratefull kisses.
I've read the book in one go....


I did not know of the existence, THANKS!


HC

hey Peter,
no kisses, just one day let's drink a good vodka or wine while we ride .. let's say ... in the Caucasus Mountains free of Russian imperila designs, the home of Adiga dzhigits and their wonderful Kabardian horse Happy
http://kabardians.echelon.pl/index.en.php
just sharing the info that is out there, so my pleasure Happy
Littauer is and has been a treasure indeed!
But I also like very much Cpt Horace Hayes - very plenty info and practical knowledge on the long gone world of pre XX century horsemanship...

"veni, vidi, Deus vincit"
Jan Sobieski, Rex Poloniae et Dux Lithuaniae

http://dariocaballeros.blogspot.com/
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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Tue 08 May, 2007 11:24 am    Post subject: Hanwei spearhead & - socket         Reply with quote

Made two spears. One just over 3.0 meters, the other 1.9 meters, using the advised 'yellow' bamboo and the Hanwei spearhead & -socket.
The bamboo was well dried. I oiled the rods, exposed them to dry again, all as described.
As the text does not mention that I did not finish or straighten the baboos. I simply used fairly straight ones to begin with but they still are by no means straight. Obviously any unstraightness will result in earlier bending when thrust with force but as this is not the advised technique anyway it probably is of no importance.
After wiping hem clean, cutting to measure and cutting down (avoiding any steps) to fit, I stuck the metal ends on, bedding them well down. After this I greased the whole lightly with saddle-grease.
Final finish was literally handpolishing, rubbing them with my calloused hands only.
The longest weiging only 748 grammes complete, ready to go!!

Sofar I have only been dry-practising and I am nót going to make a longer one because the longest is quite unwieldy enough. As I live in an inhabited house and not military baracks a 6 metres long bamboo rod with an accutely sharp end is not a good idea.
Also, nonwithstanding texts that séém to mention well over 6 metres long spears, none of the 18 illustrations of 26 mamluk fighting riders show long ones either.
All of the mounted fighting ilustrated shows fairly short spears, about 1.8 - 2.0 meters. The hunting illustrations display the longer 3 metres spear.
I strongly suspect an error in translation or a mix-up between spears of varied length in the text as the descriptions about where to position the hands on the pole do not add up unless the length is considerably shorter.
Finally I think the bamboo will become too whippy if the spear would be more than half a metre longer as the 3 m. one can be made to vibrate already. I guess both lengths are just about right for the purposes described. Cavalry duels, throwing and hunting.

Sofar the only observation worth mentioning (apart from the bamboo flexing) is the easy with which the light spears can me manouvred and with which they can be held véry short with the butt in the armpit.
Again, the unstraightness does not seem to affect the handling in any way and the accutely sharp head will probably pierce damagingly deep into the human body through mail when used with precision before the trusting force flexes the bamboo to bend.

I will keep you informed about my experiences with further manouvring, later targets and last on horseback.
Now, I was intending to make leather lance-'buckets' attached to the stirrups but now do not see the sense of that. These lightweight spears are só easy to carry and rest in a wide range of positions that it seems superfluous but maybe saddle-exerience will show otherwise.

The Hanwei design reflects the illustrations very well and I think it is véry good value for money.
Should I make a 'test' about this? and if so what would you want to know?

Peter
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Tue 08 May, 2007 9:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm still wondering about the original question--whether it'd be plausible to hold the spear like you would a thrusting sword by presenting it beside the horse's head. I'm already planning to conduct my own experiments on this, though.
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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Wed 09 May, 2007 12:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, with the light mamluk spear you can. Even the 3 m. spear only weighs 750 grammes.
The crux is twofold. The length means you will need some leverage against your forearm to counter the weight all the way out there ánd to deal with the considerable effect of riding wind.
The latter becomes a factor when you tilt the spear upwards or downwards and is not to be underestimated when you hold the spear all the way at the back end.

Peter
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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Wed 09 May, 2007 8:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The ultralight (480 grams) '2 m.' spear can be manouvered quite confidently with only some 20 cms. resting against the underarm. This means the point can reach out wéll beyond the horses nose if one so wishes.

The very light weight of this spear means it is not the most effective when thrown.
When used to thrust however it is very exact and stiff, needing minimal force to be pushed through a wet, compacted, staw bale whereas I could not thrów the tip though the same bale.
This said, the tip would still enter at least 30 cms. when thrown with controlled force. No doubt a potentially lethal weapon when thrown but it is not its fuerte. This is its use as a lightweigth overlong estoc. I can now better understand the use of the word 'thrust' over and over again in the manual.
I am going to reread the feature-article on this site about the effectiveness of thrusting swords.

Oh, the tip of the Hanwei head is too acutely sharp in combination with the rather soft stainless steel. I blunted the tip a bit when I was sanding (literally) the stainless steel mirror polish to a more 'used' gloss.

Peter
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