Safe weapon or safe person - using unusual weapons

Irish and European fighting styles and techniques, and the required Arms & Armour

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Re: Safe weapon or safe person - using unusual weapons

Postby Andrea L Redden on Mon May 19, 2008 1:47 pm

brendan wrote:As I understand it the rationale is as follows:
-Irish reenactors have used long, 2 handed spears from time imemorial. These 2 handed spears vary in accounts from about 6' + head to 9'+head.
What surviving evidence do they base their spear lengths on? The 3 spears from Ballateare couldn't have have had shafts longer than 1.5m "unless they had been broken" to fit in the grave. The 2 outside the coffin are referred to as "a Celtic type". The one from Cronk Moar was "longer than 1.8m" so 6'ish. If you go to Anglo-Saxon stuff the spear in grave G.2 at Finningsley was also about 6' long.
-There is a shot known as a "slip shot" which involves using a 9' length of wood with steel on the tip one handed. In this technique the weilder lets go of the fore hand while taking a full step forward with the rear leg and driving as hard as they can. A few people can even control these shots.
-As you can imagine the "slip shot" has been banned for safety reasons.

:shock: Can't imagine why.
The short spear involves using a spear with a spear head one handed. ERGO it must be a slip shot and dangerous.
Granted, there is a slight loss of control when parried Vs 2 handed, but the spear is used very differently anyway.

With a shield and/or another 2-3 people (preferably including a 2H axeman) backing you up if it's anything like here.
PS> You will have (hopefully) noted the point where the logic breaks down.

Wasn't rocket science. Are there weight, edge & point restrictions on the spears? Our rules allow a spear with a maximum overall length of 215cm (7'ish) to be used 1H. A spear with a shaft up to 150cm can have a 1000gr head, over that they can't be heavier than 700gr. Maximum edge thickness before rounding 2mm, maximum tip 21.5mm with a thickness before rounding of 3mm.

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Re: Safe weapon or safe person - using unusual weapons

Postby brendan on Mon May 19, 2008 3:44 pm

I think that you presume a lot more clarity than exists here! Standards as specific as you have mentioned in terms of weight/spear length would never catch on over here - too much like telling people what to do! :)

For the most part people use the exact same spear for everything from early Irish to C15. It is usually the first (cheapest) weapon that people buy. Hopefully they put a head on the spear. The longer weapons probably owe more to the C15 stuff than anything else.
It is probably a reenactorism for them to have drifted back so far.

very interesting points on the grave finds.

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Re: Safe weapon or safe person - using unusual weapons

Postby the_power on Mon May 19, 2008 7:57 pm

Andrea L Willett wrote:The organisers are paying for the insurance? The ORGANISERS are paying for the insurance?!? :shock: How'd you arrange that? We pay our own public liability insurance down here. It's $16.00 per head per year for AUD20,000,000 PL with a personal injury cover thrown in.


Cheap! Here, each group will have its own insurance, then the event organiser has their own insurance. The idea is that the event organiser wants to be able to blame (and sue) a reeanctor if they do something stupid, but if 'something happens' like a stray arrow that can't be blamed on a specific person, or a heart attack in the crowd, then the event organiser has to cover that.

Why are single-handed spears and glaives considered so dangerous? I'm not a combatant myself but my husband is our group's training officer and he uses them on and off without a problem. The only injuries he's had are from knife fighting.


Glaives can be tricky - they are heavy (mine is very heavy), and most Irish reenactors can't afford much armour. So, when fighting, you are whirling around 5kg of wood, steel and lead, and trying to feather-touch someone's soft area - enough for a kill shot, but not enough to bruise. I think I can count on one hand Irish reenactors who have used one.

Ask Brendan pointed out, most of the single handed spear fear is due to abuse of double handed spears. I'm not sure there is any evidence for double handed spear use - lots of pike use, mind, as they are often just a spear that's a few feet longer. Though there were huge numbers of bog finds in Denmark; one that I remember was a battle site, where a big mixture of spear poles were found, ranging from 1.50m to 4m. When I get my "An Archaeology of Weapons" back from Martyn, I'll dig up the reference and the exact proportions. It's very possible that even the long spears were used with shields, of course.

As to 'why' Irish reenactors use them ... Irish reenactment was seeded from Scottish medieval reenactment, where they are big into events like Bannockburn - the last time Scotland won an international. At the original Bannockburn, the Scots effectively used shiltrons for the first (and only ?) time. These were based on unusually large spears - 5 meters and longer. Of course, such spears don't fit into cars, so a "nine-foot" spear was invented, which is reminiscent of the big shiltron spears but portable. And the rest is history. We've managed to invent a whole discipline around a weapon that wouldn't have been that useful at all, as soon as the archers/slingers/javelin men turn up...
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Re: Safe weapon or safe person - using unusual weapons

Postby Neil on Mon May 19, 2008 8:59 pm

I think one of the main reasons why the glaive is banned often is quite simply cause it's big, heavy and scary looking. I still can't understand this mentality as it is (in my experience) much easier to pull a shot using a staff weapon like the glaive than say a two-handed sword like the claymore. One of the reason that was explained to me before for the banning on single-handed spears at events was because of cases of people at events fighting with two-handed spears against people with single-handed spears and half-way through the fights changing their fighting to single-handed even though they are using spears 7'+ in length. And as John and Brendan have said there are very few reenactors who can do those kind of moves with a two-handed spear with the level of control you would need to make them safe.
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Re: Safe weapon or safe person - using unusual weapons

Postby Andrea L Redden on Tue May 20, 2008 1:51 am

the_power wrote:
Andrea L Willett wrote: We pay our own public liability insurance down here. It's $16.00 per head per year for AUD20,000,000 PL with a personal injury cover thrown in.


Cheap! Here, each group will have its own insurance, then the event organiser has their own insurance. The idea is that the event organiser wants to be able to blame (and sue) a reeanctor if they do something stupid, but if 'something happens' like a stray arrow that can't be blamed on a specific person, or a heart attack in the crowd, then the event organiser has to cover that.

So you’re all completely separate groups? There’s no peak body for Irish reenactors? The ALHF http://www.alhf.org/ formed in Oz in 2002 and almost all Australian re-enactment groups are members. I’m pretty sure the main impetus behind it was the affordable insurance problem. One peak body with 1500 members has massively more pull when negotiating an insurance policy than 70 little groups with 5-40 members each. They have a set of general safety regulations and are currently working on a set of authenticity principles so that groups that allow their members to act like dangerous knobs or wear obviously ahistorical kit can be weeded out. No insurance, no shows. Affordable insurance was also one of the 2 things, along with a standardised set of combat and weapon safety regulations, that drove the amalgamation of the NVG’s 7 separate branches under a national body in about 1995ish though we now get ours through the ALHF as well.
Why are single-handed spears and glaives considered so dangerous? I'm not a combatant myself but my husband is our group's training officer and he uses them on and off without a problem. The only injuries he's had are from knife fighting.


Glaives can be tricky - they are heavy (mine is very heavy), and most Irish reenactors can't afford much armour. So, when fighting, you are whirling around 5kg of wood, steel and lead, and trying to feather-touch someone's soft area - enough for a kill shot, but not enough to bruise. I think I can count on one hand Irish reenactors who have used one.

5Kg? Lead? No offence but I don’t think any club in Australia would allow your glaive on the field. Apart from swords and spearheads most re-enactment weapons (the heads anyway) in Australia appear to be cut out of 3mm mild steel to reduce the weight to a level where any competently trained person can easily pull the blow. You must have muscles like Arnie!
As Brendan pointed out, most of the single handed spear fear is due to abuse of double handed spears. I'm not sure there is any evidence for double handed spear use - lots of pike use, mind, as they are often just a spear that's a few feet longer. Though there were huge numbers of bog finds in Denmark; one that I remember was a battle site, where a big mixture of spear poles were found, ranging from 1.50m to 4m. When I get my "An Archaeology of Weapons" back from Martyn, I'll dig up the reference and the exact proportions. It's very possible that even the long spears were used with shields, of course.

As to 'why' Irish reenactors use them ... Irish reenactment was seeded from Scottish medieval reenactment, where they are big into events like Bannockburn - the last time Scotland won an international. At the original Bannockburn, the Scots effectively used shiltrons for the first (and only ?) time. These were based on unusually large spears - 5 meters and longer. Of course, such spears don't fit into cars, so a "nine-foot" spear was invented, which is reminiscent of the big shiltron spears but portable. And the rest is history. We've managed to invent a whole discipline around a weapon that wouldn't have been that useful at all, as soon as the archers/slingers/javelin men turn up...
As far as I can tell spear length depends on what period you “do”. If you look at the Mispronounski Bible http://www.medievaltymes.com/courtyard/ ... _bible.htm which is mid-13th C they definitely had 2H spears used without shields. The guy on the LHF of leaf 10, by the way, has what I believe is an early form of glaive. By the 16/17th C they had 17’ pikes. The DA/early med grave finds that I have references for all seem to indicate a maximum spear length of 6’-7’.

Bye for now,

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Re: Safe weapon or safe person - using unusual weapons

Postby brendan on Tue May 20, 2008 8:58 am

Andrea, you are dangerously close to opening a can of worms there with your comments about "organisation".
Suffice it to say that a long time ago (well 10 or 15 years) a somewhat successful attempt was made to unify Irish reenactors. Then there were allegations of financial irregularities; power mongering and various other nefarious acts that cannot even be mentioned. The whole thing fell apart.
One or two smaller scale attempts have been made to organise/coordinate groups for Insurance purposes. These have been partially successful but limited by inter personal politics and the nature of the groupings.
That was the "hoping not to insult anyone" version

Back on topic, John's Glaive (actually its an awl spice (sp?)) is more like a sword on the end of a staff than the traditional glaive. A lot of the weight is balanced out by the counterweight. It is fairly OK on slashing shots but harder to control on stabs (which is why he mostly doesnt do them unless his opponent is fully armoured)
The weight is due nore to quantity of steel rather than thickness!

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Re: Safe weapon or safe person - using unusual weapons

Postby Andrea L Redden on Tue May 20, 2008 11:50 am

brendan wrote:Andrea, you are dangerously close to opening a can of worms there with your comments about "organisation".
(snip)
That was the "hoping not to insult anyone" version

That's a pity. Like I said in an earlier post, ALHF's been VERY good at getting us reasonably priced insurance.
Back on topic, John's Glaive (actually its an awl spice (sp?)) is more like a sword on the end of a staff than the traditional glaive. A lot of the weight is balanced out by the counterweight. It is fairly OK on slashing shots but harder to control on stabs (which is why he mostly doesnt do them unless his opponent is fully armoured)
The weight is due nore to quantity of steel rather than thickness!

Er, what's an "awl spice"? The description sounds a bit like that proto-glaive I mentioned in the Mac with a counterweight and a longer stick.

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Re: Safe weapon or safe person - using unusual weapons

Postby the_power on Tue May 20, 2008 2:35 pm

Andrea L Willett wrote:Er, what's an "awl spice"? The description sounds a bit like that proto-glaive I mentioned in the Mac with a counterweight and a longer stick.


Alas, brendan is an illterate who can't spell. It's an 'Awl spiess', spiess being the German word for 'spike', and 'awl' being..er...a leatherworkers awl.

http://www.manningimperial.com/item.php ... =1&c_id=58

Manning Imperial's reproduction:
Image
And mine:
http://picasaweb.google.com/john.looney ... 0062252994
http://picasaweb.google.com/john.looney ... 2947154898
http://picasaweb.google.com/kate.a.ward ... 4458484114
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Re: Safe weapon or safe person - using unusual weapons

Postby the_power on Tue May 20, 2008 2:49 pm

Andrea L Willett wrote:5Kg? Lead? No offence but I don’t think any club in Australia would allow your glaive on the field. Apart from swords and spearheads most re-enactment weapons (the heads anyway) in Australia appear to be cut out of 3mm mild steel to reduce the weight to a level where any competently trained person can easily pull the blow. You must have muscles like Arnie!


Heh, in the early days, it did seem heavy. Repeated training with it, shields and double handed spears have deformed the muscles in my back to the extent that my physio noticed a visible size difference - my left side was way over developed.

Anyway. I don't think I've ever hurt anyone with the glaive. I'll get some video shots of me using it..weight isn't as big a deal as manuverability you get from a balanced weapon that you hold with both hands. I put the lead on one end, because it was way too hard to pull blows with all the weight up front. As Brendan said, direct stabs can be tricky to pull on unarmoured folk, though the range allows me to stab past, and 'cut' instead. A good stab on a breastplate will stop someone dead though :)

I don't find it that much different to a 3 meter spear anymore. It's amazing what you get used to.

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Re: Safe weapon or safe person - using unusual weapons

Postby Andrea L Redden on Tue May 20, 2008 9:02 pm

the_power wrote:Heh, in the early days, it did seem heavy. Repeated training with it, shields and double handed spears have deformed the muscles in my back to the extent that my physio noticed a visible size difference - my left side was way over developed.
Like the archers on the Mary Rose.

the_power wrote:Anyway. I don't think I've ever hurt anyone with the glaive. I'll get some video shots of me using it..weight isn't as big a deal as manuverability you get from a balanced weapon that you hold with both hands. I put the lead on one end, because it was way too hard to pull blows with all the weight up front.
I'm surprised because it's so much heavier than anything we use.
That Awl Spiess you've posted off Craig's website is different to yours. It's square in cross-section all the way to the tip where it ends in a sharp pyramid. He made a reenactment combat version for Cherilyn that's lighter and has a rounded tip. Yours appears to have a bladed head, not a spike.

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