Safe weapon or safe person - using unusual weapons

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

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Safe weapon or safe person - using unusual weapons

Postby brendan on Mon May 12, 2008 10:31 pm

So,
over the last year or so a number of events have had "banned weapons" lists. This thread is NOT about an organisers right to do that - it is very clear that organisers can make this decision and should if it meets the need of their event.
Weapons that I have an interest in that have been banned include:
    short spear
    glaive

My thought on this is simple: If a person is safe using a weapon they can field with it. BUT :!: Who gets to decide on whether a person is safe or not? - certainly not the person themself ("sure boss, train with the flail ALL the time, never hit myself across the head with it, nah the spikey bits are to stop it moving is all")

I think that the reason weapons are banned is that it is a lot easier than trying to enforce a weapon competency check. BUT this creates an implicit assumption that other weapons are safe. Thoughts?

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Re: Safe weapon or safe person - using unusual weapons

Postby the_power on Tue May 13, 2008 9:00 am

People can get very antsy about competency checks. Imagine someone coming to a big gig like Bunratty all the way from Iceland, looking for a good fight to be told on the day 'Sorry, you don't fight the way we do, you can't play'. It's much easier to keep all weapons to a standard and hope they are competent. The organisers is paying for the insurance; they have the last word.

One of the reasons I have warm fuzzy feelings about the EHCG is that they seem to offer 'ribbons' of competency. Granted, it's only for Kata rather than 'safety in combat', but it's something. I liked the 'freemans test' that the Northland Mercenaries and perhaps some other groups had years ago - fight 10 people at once, and a circle of your peers look on and gauge if you are safe or not.

Perhaps a hybrid model would be enough - if you use a standard weapon, and your group leader says you are safe, that's good enough for the organiser. If you use anything out of the ordinary, you are told 'Expect a tough competency test on the day, and bring a sword or double handed spear in case you don't pass'. Or be told 'you may only fight against the two specific people that you have trained against'.

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Re: Safe weapon or safe person - using unusual weapons

Postby Gerard on Tue May 13, 2008 9:29 am

That circle test is a solid enough one in my eyes. You can put someone under quite an amount of pressure that way and also induce tiredness pretty quickly. Its at that point you find out how safe someone is going to be.
Are they going to start swinging wildly or will they tighten up?
Where is the weapon as they turn? is the tip out of line of sight? Is it too high or low?
How quickly do they start getting aggressive? (I think this is important. You can have a certain level of aggression and still be safe but when you are pretty tired and getting knocked about people will tend to concentrate less on landing a safe blow and more on the landing of any blow.)


When it comes to unusual weapons i think if you havent come across it before and you are uncomfortable about the glean in the eye of the holder then a swift about turn is the wisest option. Is it interesting to come up against a new weapon? Hell Yeah! Is it always safe? Probably not. Safety is a 2 way thing,, you have to feel safe with your own weapon but also that the person you are fighting against can deal with a mistake if you happen to make one.

As for letting them on the field. I think you shouldnt fight someone with you are not comfortable with it. Should be personal preference on the day, if no-one wants to fight the guy who turns up with something strange then refuse him entry onto the field. But...if one person wants to take on that person i think they should be designated to fight one another unless others also gain interest.
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Re: Safe weapon or safe person - using unusual weapons

Postby knightofredemption on Tue May 13, 2008 10:14 am

We also use the circle exorcise, one of many we did not get to on Sunday (one day is of course not enough ;) )

I feel that unless there is some kind of standard for at least basic weapons training, then there is no standard by which to judge competency. We all need to be reading from the same song sheet. I'm not talking here about style of fighting, but those basic things of; eye contact, balance, intention, and basic physicality.

An unusual weapon or weapon combo, is not in itself unsafe. Its the person wielding it. I would far rather face someone who had trained with say single handed spear and shield, than the same person using a sword that maybe they were less competent with. It is worth repeating over and over. It is not the weapon that is unsafe, its the person wielding it.

There is only one way to become safe...Practice, Practice, Practice. Not by dancing around with a sword/spear trying to get one over on your mate (great fun though that is :D ) But by constant and regular drilling in the basics.
Everything in moderation, including Moderation.
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Re: Safe weapon or safe person - using unusual weapons

Postby Neil on Tue May 13, 2008 6:23 pm

I think there is a reluctance to do competency checks particularly at bigs gigs where people travel far because of a fear that people won't turn up the following year. If someone comes to an event with an unusual weapon and is told they can't use it in an attempt to make the event safer that doesn't mean they're going to be safe with a sword or spear either. Any weapon in the wrong hands is dangerous, not just the big scary ones.
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Re: Safe weapon or safe person - using unusual weapons

Postby SS-Peiper on Tue May 13, 2008 8:23 pm

This is a great insight for me guys how groups of different time scales conduct themselves in the use of weapons. Our group has health & safety days every few months at a local rifle range were each member is tought the in's and out's of handling both hand guns and rifles before being let loose with the real thing using live ammo. These lecture's are drilled into everyone both newbies and auld hand's alike. For large scale battles, we would train for that event for month's on end so everyone knows where they will be and what is happening, on the day of the battle, we receive live firing weapons from the armourer just before we take to the field(blank firing ammo of course), the general rule is, you don't aim your weapon directly at any person and you do not discharge that weapon at a range of 15 metre's in front of someone who is attacking you( forward venting blank firing rounds can still cause injury). It is important for anyone who take's part in ww2 re-enactment to have group insurance as you can never tell what might happen no matter how well you are trained. I took part in a steam railway event at Downpatrick in September last year and was given the honour of using a ww2 German detonator command box, the type you see in the movies were you whined the hell out of it and press down on the plunger, the pyro expert was beside me to give the order to fire, I got ready to drop the plunger when (they don't know this, sorry guy's :oops: ), at least eight members of Battle Group South while attacking the enemy, stop on top of the charge I was about to detonate :o only for observations from the pyro expert and quick reflexes from myself, BGS would now not be one of the largest German re-enactment groups in Ireland :oops: :cry: :roll: :lol: The moral is, you can NEVER be too careful when handling weapons at events, ALLWAYS BE AWARE. Once again, sorry to meine kameraden in Kampfgruppe sud.

Joe.
Last edited by SS-Peiper on Thu May 15, 2008 6:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Safe weapon or safe person - using unusual weapons

Postby Sekhemet on Sun May 18, 2008 8:35 am

SS-Peiper wrote:I was about to detonate :o only for observations from the pyro expert and quick reflexes from myself, BGS would now not be one of the largest German re-enactment groups in Ireland :oops: :cry: :roll: :lol: The moral is, you can NEVER be too careful when handling weapons at events.


Probably would have looked a bit like this (Russian Event): Image
Image

But also to consider is that people on the field may misjudge the competency of the individual they engage in combat. Particularly in 15th century combat there are a whole variety of weapons that can find their way onto the battlefield - poleaxes, great axes, long sword, sword and buckler, bills, two handed swords, mauls, you name it! As an archer with a buckler and falchion, I tend to avoid those with axes and poleaxes as they tend not to (or not be able to) control the downward strike of the weapon (and they inevitably ignore the H&S call for no head shots).

My buckler from a 2007 Whitby event:

Image
Shot with N70-1.

The dent you can see is about 1 cm deep into the boss. It was made by a guy weilding a poleaxe which he brought down vertically towards my head. If I had not had the ability to block this blow with my sword and buckler in the correct way, it would definately have broken my arm. As it was, the two guys behind me lost confidence and ran back to their line with the other archers leaving me at the side of all the advancing bill lines.

Afterwards, I commented on this to a re-enactment colleague, who infuriated me by saying that the poleaxe guy was 'the best swordsman he had ever seen' and who had probably sized me up as 'knowing what I was doing'. Great. But what if I had not.... I'd have been nursing a pot on my arm...or a hole in the head...

Unless someone has had a large amount of training with unusual weapons, and knows when to halt a blow, perhaps that helps - but generally I would suggest some kind of standardised weapons on the field, or allow arrangements for engagegments betewwn guys who had a routine for the battlefield together and had trainined together with the unusual weapons.

There is no such thing as a 'safe weapon'. It is ALWAYS the person's competence to weild the weapon, and the opponent's ability to cope with how to block the attack from it. Health and Safety has to put its foot in somewhere.
“In these modern times, many men are wounded for not having weapons or knowledge of their use.”
- Achille Marozzo, 1536
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Re: Safe weapon or safe person - using unusual weapons

Postby brendan on Sun May 18, 2008 10:29 am

I have a dent like that in the thigh piece of my leg armour. The problem is that some people see Bucklers. Armour and the like and presume that it is OK to hit as hard as they like.
-This is often the case with people who are not used to fighting against armour.

As to the specific instance you are talking about, being good with the sword is not the same as being good with a Polearm. 2 handed swords have an entirely different balance to pole weapons.
On the other side of things, reenactment melee combat *IS* a contact sport; it is normal to be hit. Bruises are normal, breaks should not be.

I remember that one of the first things I was taught to do when fighting new opponents in a battlefield situation was to give them a tester shot to assess their ability. It works well. However, on the negative side, this has become a habit which I now have to break when fighting against opponents I know.

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Re: Safe weapon or safe person - using unusual weapons

Postby Andrea L Redden on Mon May 19, 2008 9:04 am

the_power wrote:The organisers is paying for the insurance;


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.

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.

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Re: Safe weapon or safe person - using unusual weapons

Postby brendan on Mon May 19, 2008 9:37 am

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.
-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.

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.

Brendan
PS> You will have (hopefully) noted the point where the logic breaks down.
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