Actual vs. Actual, more combat stuff Actual Spears vs. Actual Swords

From: Mike Dawson <>
Date: Sat, 27 Jan 2001 17:46:21 -0500

Actual weapons vs actually hitting, swords vs. shields To:
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On Friday, January 26, 2001, at 02:47 PM, Joe Mills wrote:

> The combination is too awkward and the targets too small. No=20
> face thrusts is an integral part of that problem.=20

Not all regions of the SCA disallow face thrusts. Both Atlantia (where I = come from--no that's not Atlanta) and the East Kingdom allow them. Even = so, I agree that the targets are too small, and the ability of spearmen = to strike at the face is not a deciding factor, especially when the = shieldmen all tuck their heads below their shields at the end of the = rush. It is HARD to stab a guy in the face when he and 8 of his buddies = are rushing you, and I use a 2 handed spear.

Don Oddy provided a good explanation of how his type of live steel = fighting works.
Now, he's seen some of what my kind of fighting is like, and I've never = seen what his kind is like, but here's what I think is the big = difference:

If you think actually striking with full force in all situations (all = parts of the body regardless of how armored,with both chops and thrusts) = then you'll feel that SCA combat is a more realistic simulation.

If you think that actually using real weapons is more important, then = you'll feel that Don's recreation fighting is more realistic.

R. Vesmterman wrote:

"The SCA's success in sword charge vs. shield wall relies, unless I'm mistaken, upon "Sure, what the hell, I'll charge flat out." You know beforehand that it's going to happen, you know beforehand that you're = not
going to get seriously hurt (let alone die), you get yourself psyched up = to
do it beforehand, there are no surprises, you know beforehand that in a couple of hours you'll be yapping about it to a buddy over a beer, and there's no reason for you not to do this thing which, were those actual spears, would seem appropriate for a kamikaze pilot."

Excluding the part about no surprises (which I'll debate--there are = plenty of surprises in SCA melee)
how different is this from Orlanthi melee? Let me try a rewrite:

"Our tribal fyrd's success in sword charge vs. shield wall relies upon =

"Sure, with the blessings of Mastakos, I'll charge flat out."  We know =
beforehand that it's going to happen, we know beforehand that if we're =
going to get seriously hurt (let alone die) we'll earn great honor, we =
get ourselves filled with Orlanth's blessings beforehand, you know = beforehand that in a couple of hours you'll be yapping about it to a = buddy over a beer either at the clan hall or at Orlanth's Hall, and = there's no reason for you not to do this thing which, successful or not, = is guaranteed to earn God's favor."

With the certainty of a fine afterlife for the brave, and the presence = of morale magics, I think it's possible that a well-led fyrd might = charge as "bravely" as an SCA unit.

Andrew Larsen wrote:

"In many ways, the SCA's battle experience has been badly skewed from = the
'real world' experience by the fact that most large battles have some = sort
of resurrection system by which the 'dead' fighters can return to the battle. As a result there's little incentive to hold units in reserve, = and
absolutely none to retreat. "

Not always. The types of battles that groups organize seems to have some = variation from area to area.

Many large battles are to the last man, with no resurrection. The =

Midrealm (often my kingdom's opponent) has used something like reserves =
in many years. I think the main reason reserves aren't used in SCA open =
field combat is that the fighting is over very quickly compared to real =
world fights. Remember, 4000 fighters decide the matter in about 30 = minutes or less of fighting time.

Limited frontage battles (bridges, gates, mountain passes) often have = reserve units, waiting for battles of attrition to go one way or = another. And even in resurrection fights, everyone tries to keep aware = of the need to "save up" some energy for the end, when the thing is = usually decided.

There's plenty of reason to retreat, if you and yours are going to get = killed without winning some tactical or strategic point at the cost of = your "lives." Even in a resurrection battle.

Michael Schwartz wrote:

"To be quite plain, SCA swords, axes and maces do not weigh anywhere = near=20
as much as their real counterparts. If they did, SCA combats would=20 devolve, as historical melees often did, into chaotic scuffles wherein=20=

the victor was the bloke who got his wind back quickest and could lift=20=

his rather heavy chunk of metal skyward one last time in order to bring=20=

it down upon the skull of the other poor sod. Spears are comparatively=20=

quite light and require much less physical conditioning to wield. "

Well, you sure state things with certainty. I wonder what SCA weapons = you have seen, held or weighed? How broad a selection? Some SCA regions = (the Atlanta GA area, for example) tend toward very light rattan = weapons, others (like the SF bay area) toward very heavy. Most fall in = between.=20

I just took my real sword, a single handed 34" cross-hilted norman = broadsword, and weighed it out at right around 2 lbs.

I also took my current favorite SCA combat sword, a single handed 34" = basket-hilted broadsword, and weighed it out at right around 2 lbs.

I can't get a more accurate weight, because I've only got a bathroom = scale.

I'm sure my 7.5 foot SCA polearm, made of rattan and foam, is heavier = than my 7.5 foot "show" glaive, made of ash and steel. (I can't check = right now, since the steel one isn't in my house.)

I'm also curious about what examples of "chaotic scuffles" so dominated = the entirety of "historical melees" that you feel you can make such a = blanket statement? Cannae? Marathon? Richard I at Antioch? Your post = seems to suggest single combats, not melees.=20

Using a one-handed spear to strike through shields and armor takes quite = a bit of strength and conditioning in my experience. Very few SCA = fighters ever manage to make a kill with a one-handed spear. (Not that = people try this form, since, as I mentioned it is considered = impractical. But when you lose 1 arm in a fight, you make do.) My = two-handed spear (9 feet long) is heavier than any of my other weapons.=20=

More on Michael's other points later.

Mike Dawson Macintosh Tech Director on severance Sent to you using Mac OS X - the future of Macs!=

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