Spear & shield vs. Sword

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Postby Carletto » 22 Dec 2007 22:26

admin wrote:
Lyceum wrote:I have somewhat of a fetish for Roman Gladii. I wonder if there is actually a system for using such blades outside of Wreastling? Sorry, n00b here.


Yes, with a shield. :D


I cannot say for the gladius, but mid sized swords can, I think, be used by crossing the renaissance dagger technique with the sidesword technique.
You will happen to do more blade on blade work than the former and more single time counters than the latter. I would keep the hend and blade in a conservative position, such as coda longa et stretta, low and close to the body.
You can also use other guards, such as porta di ferro larga and also have the left foot foreward, at times.
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Postby admin » 22 Dec 2007 22:32

I agree Carlo. Against longer weapons you'll really want a shield though. Short sword and shield is more than a match for longsword.
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Postby Lyceum » 22 Dec 2007 23:47

admin wrote:
Lyceum wrote:I have somewhat of a fetish for Roman Gladii. I wonder if there is actually a system for using such blades outside of Wreastling? Sorry, n00b here.


Yes, with a shield. :D


Bah, bastard. Points though. XD

Carletto wrote:I cannot say for the gladius, but mid sized swords can, I think, be used by crossing the renaissance dagger technique with the sidesword technique.
You will happen to do more blade on blade work than the former and more single time counters than the latter. I would keep the hend and blade in a conservative position, such as coda longa et stretta, low and close to the body.
You can also use other guards, such as porta di ferro larga and also have the left foot foreward, at times.


As a n00b this is knowledge I covet and will be saved and stored away for the future. I know that the strength of the Gladii was in tight shield formation rather than duelling and that for about 1200 years of what is recognisable as Rome it was only used for about 250 but you must admit..there is something undeniably cool about them, I guess in many ways I get the same thrill anime nerds get for banana.

admin wrote:I agree Carlo. Against longer weapons you'll really want a shield though. Short sword and shield is more than a match for longsword.


Hmm I'm guessing one could simply hide behind the shield or some such? On the other hand what about half swording? There are so many variables it is amazing really.

I think in all honesty, when asked exactly where I'd be on the medieval battlefield the most likely answer really is safe behind the lines designing siege machines.:lol:
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Postby admin » 23 Dec 2007 01:28

It's the kind of thing which is easily demonstrated in 10 minutes but difficult to explain on an internet forum, without writing an awful lot. But basically, sword and buckler is roughly equal to longsword (assuming no armour is involved) - each have different advantages and disadvantages, but roughly they equal out. I would give sword and shield a slight advantage overall against longsword, out of armour, which is maybe not that surprising when we remember that sword and shield was used universally in Europe before plate armour came along*.


*All of the above said whilst adding the caveat that swords are of course just sidearms in most historical contexts, and spear or spear and shield beats all of the above.
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Postby Corporal Carrot » 23 Dec 2007 01:43

admin wrote:It's the kind of thing which is easily demonstrated in 10 minutes but difficult to explain on an internet forum, without writing an awful lot. But basically, sword and buckler is roughly equal to longsword (assuming no armour is involved) - each have different advantages and disadvantages, but roughly they equal out. I would give sword and shield a slight advantage overall against longsword, out of armour, which is maybe not that surprising when we remember that sword and shield was used universally in Europe before plate armour came along*.


*All of the above said whilst adding the caveat that swords are of course just sidearms in most historical contexts, and spear or spear and shield beats all of the above.


Isnt spear and shield a bit awkward though? I have no experience in the matter, I'm just curious. I mean, you'd have to hold the spear closer to the middle, wouldnt you, and thus sacrificing a lot of the spears reach? I just imagine it shouldnt be too difficult for a man with sword and shield to close and make things really difficult for the spearman.
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Postby Lyceum » 23 Dec 2007 01:45

Corporal Carrot wrote:
admin wrote:It's the kind of thing which is easily demonstrated in 10 minutes but difficult to explain on an internet forum, without writing an awful lot. But basically, sword and buckler is roughly equal to longsword (assuming no armour is involved) - each have different advantages and disadvantages, but roughly they equal out. I would give sword and shield a slight advantage overall against longsword, out of armour, which is maybe not that surprising when we remember that sword and shield was used universally in Europe before plate armour came along*.


*All of the above said whilst adding the caveat that swords are of course just sidearms in most historical contexts, and spear or spear and shield beats all of the above.


Isnt spear and shield a bit awkward though? I have no experience in the matter, I'm just curious. I mean, you'd have to hold the spear closer to the middle, wouldnt you, and thus sacrificing a lot of the spears reach? I just imagine it shouldnt be too difficult for a man with sword and shield to close and make things really difficult for the spearman.


I think that's how the Hoplites did it, using an 8 foot spear with a counterweight on the butt end and grasping it around the middle whilst thrusting over head or using an underarm defensive grip.

Would require some conditioning I'd guess.
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Postby admin » 23 Dec 2007 02:36

Corporal Carrot wrote:Isnt spear and shield a bit awkward though?


No. Didn't you ever wonder why spear and shield has been just about the most popular hand-to-hand weapon combination all over the world since time began? ;)
There are several ways to grip a spear, and it has two ends.
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Postby admin » 23 Dec 2007 02:40

Lyceum wrote:Would require some conditioning I'd guess.


Not really. It's much easier to learn than sword and shield. If you give one untrained person a spear and shield and the other a sword and shield, the one with the spear will win most of the time.
Having said all that, once you introduce a shield into the equation I find the advantage of spear over sword reduces a bit - you could say that shield becomes the primary and most important factor involved, and the weapon you're holding becomes secondary. The primary weapon of Roman soldiers, in my opinion, was their scutum, because whether they were using spears, javelins or swords, it was their large shields that dictated the way they fought.
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Postby Corporal Carrot » 23 Dec 2007 03:30

admin wrote:
Corporal Carrot wrote:Isnt spear and shield a bit awkward though?


No. Didn't you ever wonder why spear and shield has been just about the most popular hand-to-hand weapon combination all over the world since time began? ;)


No, I'm quite aware that it was very widely used, but thought it might have something to do with tight formations and such, limiting the usefulness of swinging a long sword about, lest you hit your mates standing next to you. A formation of spearmen would seem more suited for that task to me. I meant in single combat.
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Postby admin » 23 Dec 2007 03:41

Well all I can say is, try it. And see what the people who have tried it say. A few people here have.
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Postby Lyceum » 23 Dec 2007 12:20

admin wrote:
Lyceum wrote:Would require some conditioning I'd guess.


Not really. It's much easier to learn than sword and shield. If you give one untrained person a spear and shield and the other a sword and shield, the one with the spear will win most of the time.
Having said all that, once you introduce a shield into the equation I find the advantage of spear over sword reduces a bit - you could say that shield becomes the primary and most important factor involved, and the weapon you're holding becomes secondary. The primary weapon of Roman soldiers, in my opinion, was their scutum, because whether they were using spears, javelins or swords, it was their large shields that dictated the way they fought.


True, it's easy to forget the shields use as a "weapon", I definately agree here.

As to their prevalence of use, I think that the method involves just jabbing and thrusting is one thing, what about the use of manufacture? I'm sure trapped in the wild (why would I be trapped in the wild, who would put me there? what did I do?) I could make one.

Also, the large picture of the Kukri earlier: I thought they were small dagger sized things!
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Postby admin » 23 Dec 2007 13:44

Lyceum wrote:As to their prevalence of use, I think that the method involves just jabbing and thrusting is one thing, what about the use of manufacture? I'm sure trapped in the wild (why would I be trapped in the wild, who would put me there? what did I do?) I could make one.


That spears are easier to make is true, but remember that many historical spearmen have carried swords as well, as secondary weapons. Everyone in Schola agrees on the superiority of the spear in one-on-one, with or without a shield - I expect some more of them will comment soon.
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Postby Carletto » 23 Dec 2007 14:08

I'm practicing with a 6 feet pole, as long as I grab it near the middle, I can thrust with both ends and even make some blows and basic blocks, which is more than you need to do, if you also have a shield.
It is not a matter of condicioning, as much as it is a matter of getting used to a 3 feet pommel.
Imho, tall people are favoured, but not for a matter of strenght, they are because thrusting from above the shield is one of the simplest and more effective techniques of the one handed spear.
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Postby admin » 23 Dec 2007 14:29

We have found height to be of little significance with spear.
There are a number of ways of effectively holding the spear one-handed nearer the 'back' than the 'point', which of course give you greater reach.
One way is to tuck it under your arm like a lance and extend and contract the arm when necessary, so as to keep strength in the spear arm. Of course if you are using a shield then you can also rest the spear on the edge of the shield and do the same thing. So long as the spear is either stabbing forwards or pulling back then it's no problem holding it near the back - it's only when you try and hold it in guard this way that it becomes tiring and weak. Hence resting it either on the top of the shield or under the arm in between movements. Another 'trick' is to have a tapered shaft, where the back end is thicker than the front end - this brings the point of balance nearer the back of course, increasing your point-end length.
Neil and I had a bout, both with spears and shields, and I think it was one of the longest, probably THE longest, one-hit bout of my life.... (Neil finally got a good thrust on me, but there were no hits at all for about 10 minutes). The length of the spears and the cover of the shields made it very hard for either of us to hit the other!
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Postby The Guardsman » 23 Dec 2007 14:40

admin wrote:We have found height to be of little significance with spear.
There are a number of ways of effectively holding the spear one-handed nearer the 'back' than the 'point', which of course give you greater reach.
One way is to tuck it under your arm like a lance and extend and contract the arm when necessary, so as to keep strength in the spear arm. Of course if you are using a shield then you can also rest the spear on the edge of the shield and do the same thing. So long as the spear is either stabbing forwards or pulling back then it's no problem holding it near the back - it's only when you try and hold it in guard this way that it becomes tiring and weak. Hence resting it either on the top of the shield or under the arm in between movements. Another 'trick' is to have a tapered shaft, where the back end is thicker than the front end - this brings the point of balance nearer the back of course, increasing your point-end length.
Neil and I had a bout, both with spears and shields, and I think it was one of the longest, probably THE longest, one-hit bout of my life.... (Neil finally got a good thrust on me, but there were no hits at all for about 10 minutes). The length of the spears and the cover of the shields made it very hard for either of us to hit the other!


We will have to do that again sometime, it was without a doubt my most enjoyable sparring session ever. Spear and shield are an awesome combo.
I would reccommend anyone to get some rattan spears like Matt has and have a go at spear fighting. Then go get a shield and see what that is like. it is amazing how someone untrained in spear can just pick one up and not only fight but fight effectively.
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Postby Carletto » 23 Dec 2007 15:37

admin wrote:We have found height to be of little significance with spear.
There are a number of ways of effectively holding the spear one-handed nearer the 'back' than the 'point', which of course give you greater reach.
One way is to tuck it under your arm like a lance and extend and contract the arm when necessary, so as to keep strength in the spear arm. Of course if you are using a shield then you can also rest the spear on the edge of the shield and do the same thing. So long as the spear is either stabbing forwards or pulling back then it's no problem holding it near the back - it's only when you try and hold it in guard this way that it becomes tiring and weak. Hence resting it either on the top of the shield or under the arm in between movements. Another 'trick' is to have a tapered shaft, where the back end is thicker than the front end - this brings the point of balance nearer the back of course, increasing your point-end length.
Neil and I had a bout, both with spears and shields, and I think it was one of the longest, probably THE longest, one-hit bout of my life.... (Neil finally got a good thrust on me, but there were no hits at all for about 10 minutes). The length of the spears and the cover of the shields made it very hard for either of us to hit the other!


I don't much care of reach, in this case, I want maximum manouvrability.

PS: your way seems to me the renaissance one, Manciolino comes to mind.
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Postby Lyceum » 23 Dec 2007 15:48

One day I'll put together a full Bronze Age Hoplite kit. 8)
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Postby swordflasher » 23 Dec 2007 16:50

I've not fought sword and buckler against spear and shield, but I have s&b against spear alone.
With sword and buckler you're trying to get past the spearhead, while the spearman can always reverse the spear with a step back. The butt is almost as dangerous to an unarmoured man as the point. A spear held in two hands is very manouverable for making a series of powerful thrusts in different places in quick succession. The spearman can also step forwards on the other foot and release what was the lead hand, whipping the point forwards - often at the leg adainst s&b.

Also the the spear guy [or longsword guy] can make make the sword-and-buckler guy do a lot of running round while he himself only needs to pivot with weapon extended.

Just from my own limited experience anyway. I'd be very interested in what historical sources have to say. I know Matt teaches Fiore spear, for instance.
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Postby admin » 23 Dec 2007 17:45

Carletto wrote:I don't much care of reach, in this case, I want maximum manouvrability.


Better to have both, if possible. I think you need a sparring partner.

PS: your way seems to me the renaissance one, Manciolino comes to mind.
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I gave a couple of examples, not the description of a system. Resting one's spear, held overhand, on the top of a shield is hardly very similar to Manciolino.
Greeks used their spears in all manners, underhand, overhand, in two hands and used as javelins. Same for the Saxons. The Zulus used a 3 foot long spear predominantly.
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Postby admin » 23 Dec 2007 17:47

swordflasher wrote:Just from my own limited experience anyway. I'd be very interested in what historical sources have to say. I know Matt teaches Fiore spear, for instance.


Fiore only briefly touches on spear vs. longsword. He states the obvious: that the swordsman will try to rebat (beat) the spear aside and close in, the spearman will let him do that, reverse the weapon and stab him with the other end.
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