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Stephen Curtin




Location: Cork, Ireland
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PostPosted: Wed 28 Nov, 2018 11:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you very much Mark. I feel silly now but throughout the lecture Mr. Coudre often does not pronounce the "H" at the start of words, so I was searching for Hoplomachia instead of Oplomachia. For those interested here's a link to download a PDF of the treatise. The text is in Italian but the images are worth a look. The diagram that Mr. Coudre speaks about in his lecture is on p141.

http://hroarr.com/manuals/other/pistofilo-bon...a-1621.pdf

Éirinn go Brách


Last edited by Stephen Curtin on Thu 29 Nov, 2018 4:10 am; edited 1 time in total
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Mark Millman





Joined: 10 Feb 2005

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PostPosted: Thu 29 Nov, 2018 3:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dear Stephen,

I'm glad I was able to help.

Best,

Mark
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Stephen Curtin




Location: Cork, Ireland
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PostPosted: Sun 02 Dec, 2018 1:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So I've been looking at the treatises that deal with the use of staffs, pollaxes, halberds, and two handed swords. I've been trying to see how well the techniques for these weapons could be applied to the use of the sparth. Of course they all have some useful bits of information, but none of them quite match how I envisage sparths being used. Of these weapons, funnily enough, I think that the two handed sword material is probably the closest to how I think sparths were used.

However If we look outside of Europe, there's a Ming Dynasty military treatise named the Wu Bei Yao Lue, written by Cheng Zi Yi. This treatise deals with the use of many weapons, including; the ji (halberd), the guan dao (glaive), and the fu (battle axe). The battle axe section of this book (an English translation of which can be purchased here: https://www.chineselongsword.com/axe ) is the closest thing I've yet found to how I think a gallowglass might have used his sparth.

From what little I've been able to find, the Wu Bei Yao Lue seems to be a manual used to train raw recruits in the basic battlefield combat techniques used to fight against pirates known as wokou. It contains 10 techniques for the use of an axe against a long spear. The axe in question looks to be of similar proportions to sparths, and the author states that the techniques used with it are fairly simple and that the weapon should be given to the bravest troops. Sounds a bit like gallowglass, who were picked for their size, strength, and bravery.

The 10 techniques all involve striking or parrying the spear shaft, followed by one or more chops to the enemy. There are no thrusts, hooks, butt strikes, or hammer strikes. The axe haft is gripped with the left hand near the butt and the right hand about a foot above that, similar to how you would grip a two handed sword. Indeed there are many similarities between the axe techniques in this book, and those of the dan dao (Chinese two handed sword, based on the Japanese nodachi) in a book called the Dan Dao Fa Xuan, written by the author's uncle Cheng Zong You.

So as the methods for axe and two handed sword are related in Chinese martial arts, perhaps they were also related in Gaelic martial arts. This makes some sense as both weapons were basically used interchangeably by Gaelic heavy infantry. Anyways I hope that at least some of you found this as interesting as I do.



 Attachment: 40.06 KB
da_fu.png
Drawing of Ming Dynasty battle axe taken from greatmingmilitary.blogspot.com

Éirinn go Brách
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J. Nicolaysen




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PostPosted: Sun 02 Dec, 2018 6:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Stephen, I for one certainly do find all this interesting and I'm sure that as a matter of body mechanics, two-handed sword techniques probably do have some crossover with long axe work. Matt Easton did a nice schola video on Danish axes with some Montante drills and it looked very plausible and effective.
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Stephen Curtin




Location: Cork, Ireland
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PostPosted: Mon 10 Dec, 2018 4:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dashiell Harrison wrote:
My guess would be that the sparth was optimized for cutting to such an extent that adding a point would just add a bit of extra weight in the wrong place on the axe


After playing around with the techniques in the Wu Bei Yao Lue, I think that you might have been on to something here Dashiell. As the axe is held with both hands close to the butt, similar to how you would grip a two handed sword, you want the head to be fairly light. Otherwise it would be too hard to control. As all of the techniques in the Wu Bei Yao Lue deal with defending against an opponent armed with a long spear, each technique involves parrying the spear then closing quickly and cutting him down. Spears held in two hands are really fast weapons to fight against, if your axe isn't light enough to be weilded just as fast, then you don't stand a chance.

Éirinn go Brách
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