Fighting: Spear tutorial

The following is a sequence of exercises we've used for basic spearmanship. They can be adjusted for one- or two-handed spear as required.

1) Handling a spear
Experienced members demonstrate how to hold a spear safely: point down, butt not braced against the back hand, choice of over- or underhand grip depending on the user. They them demonstrate how to use the spear: the importance of making full use of its length, avoiding "snooker cue-ing" a two-hander, changing direction without bringing the point up etc.

2) Placing attacks
One person takes the spear and places attacks on the sides and thighs of an unarmed and un-shielded partner. Points to emphasise

  • the blow should be a side-on tap or a thrust past the body to touch the opponent on the way back, not a stab
  • the spear head, not the shaft, should make contact with your opponent. It should not go too far past them
  • keeping the point down is very important, especially as your arms start to tire!
  • as with a sword, your footwork should keep you balanced

Badly-placed or overly-zealous attacks should be pointed out. This can then become a distance exercise: step away, step in and place the blow. Adjust yourself to the correct distance, step away and repeat as required.

3) Attacking an opponent with a round shield
a) Experienced member demonstrates how to hit a shield: controlled punch to the bottom right quarter (on a right-handed opponent, from attacker's perspective). The danger of attacking too high on the shield should be shown. New spearmen have a go. Again, instructors should look out for control and distance.
b) Experienced member then demonstrates knocking the shield away and attacking exposed flank, emphasising the transition from a punch to a relaxed and safe attack. New spearmen try this.
c) Now two spearmen attack an unarmed opponent with a round shield: one moves the shield, the other puts in a killing attack on the exposed flank. The goal here is to encourage cooperation between the spearmen, and awareness of what each other is doing and when.

4) Attacking an armed opponent
Spearman vs. swordsman: spearman should focus on keeping the opponent at a distance and when and how to disengage. Also, the spearman should be ready to move his spearpoint down if it should get knocked upwards. The benefits of carrying a backhand weapon will become apparent.

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