Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
specifics in Spear fighting combat
#1
Hello all ...

I have been looking for articles or books detailing specific fighting techniques for an ancient greek hoplite. but, i have yet to find any. I know that when a spear-tip was broken, then the hoplite would generally draw his short sword and fight as such. But, id imagine that he would have a very specific and precise spear fighting style to get the brittle tip into flesh as opposed to breaking it against armor.

The spear tip wasnt all that great for piercing armor, but it was great at cutting and making huge, gaping wounds. So, i was wondering if there was a specific fighting style archived somewhere that could help me out. Im more interested in re-enacting combat, both group and one on one. So i want my fighting style to be as close as possible to what was period.

Ive found through practice that its quite easy to get in a neckthrust, and maybe an upper thigh. but im sure that there is more than that. Help, anyone? please?
Reply
#2
You answers are in this section.
Basically thre threads: "Othismos true nature" "Commands in Greek" and "Wheeling the Phalanx".
Please read carefully. When I post something there I know full well what I am talking about.

Kind regards
Reply
#3
Quote:Hello all ...

I have been looking for articles or books detailing specific fighting techniques for an ancient greek hoplite. but, i have yet to find any. I know that when a spear-tip was broken, then the hoplite would generally draw his short sword and fight as such. But, id imagine that he would have a very specific and precise spear fighting style to get the brittle tip into flesh as opposed to breaking it against armor.

The spear tip wasnt all that great for piercing armor, but it was great at cutting and making huge, gaping wounds. So, i was wondering if there was a specific fighting style archived somewhere that could help me out. Im more interested in re-enacting combat, both group and one on one. So i want my fighting style to be as close as possible to what was period.

Ive found through practice that its quite easy to get in a neckthrust, and maybe an upper thigh. but im sure that there is more than that. Help, anyone? please?
The appropriate martial art was called hoplomachia ("fully armed combat") and it seems that some studied it and some didn't. I think Plato complained that it distracted men from learning to stand in the line and protect their comrades. So at least down to the 5th century or so, I personally suspect that most hoplites had minimal martial arts training, just like I suspect most knew just enough drill to form line and column, march forward, and charge! On the other hand, some Greeks would have been very good with aspis and dory.
Nullis in verba

I left this forum around the beginning of 2013, but I hope that these old posts have some value
Reply
#4
Yes,well trained armied learned how to act as a whole,with order,qiockly and without leaving gaps. In a phalanx formation knowing different tecniques of striking witht eh spear were worthless.Most probably you didn't have the space to do anything fancy and after all,opposing another phalanx,you always had many targets available in front of you.
Alexander Polemos(by the way you'll need to put your real name in your signature) made a really valid comment.The neck would be a very usual vulnerable target,and after this,what we most usually seen in vases is upper thigh wounds. After all,the purpose was to bring the oponent down.Once he was there he was either useless or could be counted as dead,leaving a gap in the enemy line.
Khaire
Giannis
Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
a.k.a.:Thorax
[Image: -side-1.gif]
Reply
#5
Homer Ilias 23rd Rapsody 131-133, 145-150 proves that by 8th centyry formed spearmen would stop welltrained aristocrats who cast javlines anc charged with swords.

A spear block as an offensive weapon is atttibuted to the Argive king Pheidon , 7th century B.C

The following steps should be perfomed exactly with this order:
1.Level spears (1st 2nd line)
2. Lock shields
3. Advance steadily. (It is important not to crouch behind your shield because you mess with the formation)
4. Take aim for the opponent to your right.
5. jog with the intent to crush upon them

Malee development.

If you can't kill the opponent to your right:
1. Guard yourself against incoming attacks from your right and shove
2. If you can try to cut with your sharp spear point the necks of the rear rankrers the idea is to hamper them pushing and aid the othismos of your fellow troopers at your right.
3. If your spear breaks you stab with the savrotir to your right. There is a good chance that you go past the opponents shields
4. If your comraids to your left give you edge in the above described ways and you find yourself in strike to your right.

The sword comes handy in 2 cases:
1. If you are a rear ranker who is forced to contact you have better chance with a sword because you can't level the spear in locked shields.
You can strike overarm again aiming to your right
example:
http://s254.photobucket.com/albums/hh84 ... 840026.jpg

2. If you are a rear ranker whose "stichos" pentrated in the enemy formation the sword or dagger is handier that the vertical spear you hold-
This is is a guide line if your opponent is Greek pahlanx.

If you face Persians after the sparabara are literally shoved out of action your sword is good for executing the archers.

Most probable extanded swords actions took place when the Athenian "Logadae" cleared the Sakas out of the Marthon forest.
It was fight between elite troops and it was a messy brutal bussiness.
Aischylos mentions it on his gravestone(!)
Kind regards
Reply
#6
Quote:I have been looking for articles or books detailing specific fighting techniques for an ancient greek hoplite.

Opinion over the utility of Hoplomachia was divided in the ancient world. Xenophon, probably expressing the spartan tradition, thought such martial arts training useless, because hitting with a sword is as natural as striking with your hand. Sparta was notoriously unreceptive to teachers of hoplomachia.

Some of the success of the Thebans was attributed to their skill as wrestlers. This has led modern authors to conjecture all sorts of leg-sweeps and joint locks that could be used in a phalanx clash. Greek wrestlers did a lot of pushing, so I think we need look no further than the sense of balance and weight distribution wrestling brings.

Hoplomachia was thought useful after a battle had been lost. In the chaos of pursuit you might find yourself in single combat where such skills could be brought to bear. This may be why Spartans had no use for it.

You have already mentioned the major targets- neck, thigh, also foot, probably under the right arm, the arm itself, and face, especially with later helmets.

The swords themselves tell us how they were used. They could stab, but they were point-heavy for choppping and the force is derived mainly from a wrist-flick, like the modern Kukri or Ghurka fame, for there is little room in a phalanx to swing the arm. Smaller Laconian daggers were probably best in the press and could be stabbed overhand, palm away, into neck, face and underarm.

Spears, in formation, were always used overhand, but presumably they used them also underhand in loose order as we see on many vases on one on one combat.

You probably had a chance for a few good spear strikes as the phalanxes tightened together, but once in othismos you mosty struck blind into the enemy ranks. If your spear broke, you turned the spear and brought the sauroter to bear- palm away from your face. Stabbing with is could be quite effective, and I'd hate to just get clubbed with one. In this phase the overall disruption of the enemy formation was more important than striking killing blows.

I have at least one paper on greek foorwork that might be useful to you if you email me. A friend of mine runs an SCA group based on spartans that might interest you:

http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/Sp ... d=37441076

Oh, and you need to use your real name as Giannis said.
Paul M. Bardunias
MODERATOR: [url:2dqwu8yc]http://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/viewtopic.php?t=4100[/url]
A Spartan, being asked a question, answered "No." And when the questioner said, "You lie," the Spartan said, "You see, then, that it is stupid of you to ask questions to which you already know the answer!"
Reply
#7
off topic: my first name? because my middle name is alexander. I do go by it, a fair amount of time.

Thank you for that group, This is part of the reason that i wnat to learn these tactics. SCA combat.

It is not quite true that Greeks only fought in group combat. Thats all that they were trained for in basic training.But there were tutors of the sword who tought in single combat, to preserve one's life. These men, hoplomachoi, taught to fight when ranks were broken. Generally, the side whose phalanx had broken lost. But a fair amount of the time they also seemed to just break ranks simultaneously or nearly so. Greek Hoplite, 480-323 BC

From what i have read about, the phalanx formation generally spread out after the initial impact. After that, most of the front line spears are broken or damaged, and ive read that this is when the sword comes into play most. Correct me if im wrong, but from various sources it appears to me that after the impact and a short shoving match, battle wore down quickly into isolated patches of one,two, and threes combat. Not necessarily breaking the phalanx, but after impact any momentum is lost and the object then was to kill as many as possible to break the enemies formation.
paragraph two
greek sword and swordmanship
If you still had your spear intact in these smaller, grouped fights, then why not use it?
Reply
#8
Hmm,some of these ideas are indeed written in books,however I truelly recomend reading the thread "othismos true nature"
http://www.romanarmy.com/rat/viewtopic. ... t=othismos
The victorious phalanx had better not ever break in groups of thres and fours.Apparently,this is all a phalanx had to do to win. Killing as many opponents as posible was not first priority,as it came naturaly after one of the phalanxes broke. Do read the above thread.
Khaire
Giannis.
Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
a.k.a.:Thorax
[Image: -side-1.gif]
Reply
#9
It is not quite true that Greeks only fought in group combat. Thats all that they were trained for in basic training.But there were tutors of the sword who tought in single combat, to preserve one's life. These men,
Quote:hoplomachoi, taught to fight when ranks were broken. Generally, the side whose phalanx had broken lost. But a fair amount of the time they also seemed to just break ranks simultaneously or nearly so. Greek Hoplite, 480-323 BC

This is not true. Perhaps you misunderstood that one side often broke prior to contact- they simply ran away.


Quote:From what i have read about, the phalanx formation generally spread out after the initial impact.

Actually the reverse happened. As the two forces came into contact became more dense as the rear ranks piled up against those before them. This is the prelude to othismos.


Quote:Correct me if im wrong, but from various sources it appears to me that after the impact and a short shoving match, battle wore down quickly into isolated patches of one,two, and threes combat.

Spear-fencing occurred primarily in the moments after initial contact, befor ethe ranks closed up, and in lulls, where two exhausted phalanes might pull back from each other and disengage. The formation did not "break-up" until one side ran away and the other pursued. Where'd you read of these isolated groups? This is wrong.

Quote:Not necessarily breaking the phalanx, but after impact any momentum is lost and the object then was to kill as many as possible to break the enemies formation.

This is based on a lack of understanding by the authors you are reading in how two groups of men collide. They did not collide like rams, they may in fact have pulled up short prior to contact and spear-fenced. SCA guys will tell you that you cannot rush and bowl over a line with more than two ranks, though you are deep. This is because the force is not transmitted the way a battering ram does. What hapens is that you both become crowded ranks of pushing men. Only then can one side force the other back effectively.

last week I began a series of posts on my blog addressing this issue, it will be worth a look over the next few days.

http://hollow-lakedaimon.blogspot.com
Paul M. Bardunias
MODERATOR: [url:2dqwu8yc]http://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/viewtopic.php?t=4100[/url]
A Spartan, being asked a question, answered "No." And when the questioner said, "You lie," the Spartan said, "You see, then, that it is stupid of you to ask questions to which you already know the answer!"
Reply
#10
I had read these atricles before asking here, and then i asked because they confused me a fair amount.

Thanks for the information Smile This topic is going back more to the group combat, i was hoping that there was a more specific way to fight one on one with a spear and shield. I thought that the greeks, if anything, would be the ones to have perfected this. but apparently not.

A short spear wielded with one hand and a shield would seem to me to be an effective combination. I thought that maybe the ancient Greeks would have done more with it, and that it may have been recorded somewhere.

I did not mean to get into the group combat and phalanx formations, but i was trying to find a scenario where a one on one fight would have occured. Sorry about that...
Reply
#11
Please read carefully my previous post.
We have come as close as possible to test these conclusions.

Also swords were valuable in a street fight after citywalls were breached.
In a deck figh on a trireme too!

If you try one to one to stab your opponent with a spear and fail he can get passed your defence and close on you with a sword. He can do that very easy if the guys behind you or at your side stab and jab with their spears.

Plus ancient sword fight had mothing to do with 3'musketeers type of fencing.

Kind regards
Reply
#12
Quote:Thanks for the information This topic is going back more to the group combat, i was hoping that there was a more specific way to fight one on one with a spear and shield. I thought that the greeks, if anything, would be the ones to have perfected this. but apparently not.

Well, lets not throw the baby out with the bath water! The reason we keep going back to group combat is that you are trying to find a use for this in heated battle, for which there is little evidence. That said, just the fact that there were so many teachers of homplomachia implies that there were relatively advanced techniques that needed such teaching. Since most killing probably occurs in the phase after one army flees, being able to defend oneself, as opposed to tossing your aspis under a bush and sprinting, would be useful. Think of it this way: You and your friends are chasing fleeing foes. To the right you have a group of men fleeing like rabbits with skirts flapping- there might as well be a bulls-eye drawn across each cheek! On the other side there's a dude who gets all Bruce Lee every time someone get close. Who do you go after?


Quote:A short spear wielded with one hand and a shield would seem to me to be an effective combination. I thought that maybe the ancient Greeks would have done more with it, and that it may have been recorded somewhere.


The hoplite spear was actually pretty long- probably near the limit of what can be effectively handled with one hand and and overhand stab. There is some evidence that they were tapered and balanced well back from the halway point. This would give it a long reach for its length, but may have been a bit awkward compared to the shorter spears we see elsewhere.
Paul M. Bardunias
MODERATOR: [url:2dqwu8yc]http://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/viewtopic.php?t=4100[/url]
A Spartan, being asked a question, answered "No." And when the questioner said, "You lie," the Spartan said, "You see, then, that it is stupid of you to ask questions to which you already know the answer!"
Reply
#13
well, i was wondering if maybe in singular combat the spear may have been held lower... mid chest? waist height? from a little experimentation it seems to be a little bit more stable and manueverable.

However all references i have found have pointed at the spear held overhead, which makes sense in group combat (so you dont stab your buddy behind you with the butt spike...) but seems to me like a waste of energy holding it up over your head in single combat.

just a few thoughts...
Reply
#14
Yes,the spear in single combat could be held underhand,as shown in art. Just remember that when you were in single combat and you were a hoplite,it meant that you were in great danger and you had already lost a battle. You would use your skills(if you had any) only to prevent the victorious enemies slain you. And also remember that your oponenent would normally still have his shield covering all his chest so your targets would still be the thighs and face/neck. The overhand grip is still better for these targets. On the other hand,as I said,you would want to retreat safely,and this includes an amount of running and comfort. Thes are favored by the underhand grip. All in all, I think that when it came to this hell after a defeat,you would do whatever you found best at the spot. Hoplomachia would teach you how to use your spear in every situation,and also your sword(that was not part of the basic training).
Khaire
Giannis
Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
a.k.a.:Thorax
[Image: -side-1.gif]
Reply
#15
Simulating Ekdromos (outrunner) we found out that underhand grip is better for engaging skirmishers. Overarm is a hindrance when chasing off light troops.
Kind regards
Reply


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  Some practical approaches on spear fighting. hoplite14gr 4 1,366 01-30-2014, 05:16 PM
Last Post: hoplite14gr

Forum Jump: