Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Roman army training dummies
#1
How many sources are there describing Roman army training equipment? You see, I was imagining a Roman army sword training area, with wooden dummy posts. I always see, in movies and games, these plain wooden dummies, standing in non-combat posture, all dummies the same height.

But realistically, the Romans had glorious sculptors, so the art must have been well-known and widespread to at least the largest cities. Wood was probably practiced on?
And when practicing strikes in martial arts, a partner in combat posture is more realistic than some relaxed posture.
Also the techniques you emphasize are different when fighting someone taller than you, or shorter than you.

So put these 3 facts together, and we get wooden dummies of different heights, sculpted to combat postures with the right foot first, or the left foot first. In contemporary martial arts, the heights could be 160cm, 170cm, 180cm, 190cm, 200cm, all heights having their orthodox and southpaw stance, to get some 10 different dummies to practice against.

Now the training area looks different, more professional. On a 2 sq km training field (eg Campus Martius) with 1000s of soldiers training for war, I'd say it seems more realistic?

Someone should draw a picture of stereotypical vs sophisticated training areas to illustrate... too bad I'm such a novice.

Whaddaya think? Is there any non-circumstantial evidence about how the dummy posts looked?
Reply
#2
Highly improbable, in my opinion. The sheer impracticality of producing such dummies in sufficient numbers militates against it. Vegetius 1.11.5-7 seems perfectly clear on the point:

'Each recruit would plant a single post in the ground so that it could not move and protruded six feet. Against the post as if against an adversary the recruit trained himself using the foil and hurdle like a sword and shield, so that now he aimed at as it were the head and face, now threatened the flanks, then tried to cut the hamstrings and legs, backed off, came on, sprang, aimed at the post with every method of attack and art of combat, as though it were an actual opponent.' (Milner's translation)
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
Reply
#3
Does this look like a human?

[Image: legacy_pb.jpg?v=1494741818]

And yet it works very well for teaching power, footwork, and overall form for strikers. 

A sturdy pall in the ground is cheap and easy way to create a basic target to teach the basic shield and sword strikes that a soldier needs. For instance: Attack forward, bash pall with scutum umbo at head level, thrust low to the right of the pall simulating an attack against the left leg or left abdominals, then recover to safety, all while an experienced soldier critiques form. The more complicated stuff can be done with one on one sparring or group mock battles, using "button tipped" wasters, per Livy and others.
Reply
#4
Renatus:

Thanks for the quote, seems convincing for mass use. Still weird if no realistic dummies at all, but maybe the artists' training statues would be used for decoration anyway, rather than for beating.



Bryan:

No it doesn't look like a human, but this does:[Image: s496890397937105423_p4_i1_w1200.jpeg]
I haven't seen any combat posture dummies from modern days either, but the advantage would be that you could beat it freely, unlike a live opponent who eventually gets hurt and needs a rest. A dummy in combat posture has its hands on the way, and one leg is farther away. It's definitely different from a mere post, not saying a plain post wouldn't be useful, simply maybe not equal to a combat posture dummy. The expensiveness of manufacture is the only drawback I see, and if practicing high kicks, the hand would block too much if not made from some bending material. But this is doable in the ancient days also.
Reply
#5
So you found a very expensive modern molded foam rubber training dummy that no reputable boxing or MMA traiiner uses to demonstrate why the Romans should have build wooden mockups of people in order to teach basic form how to thrust or cut with a sword or hit someone with a shield? 

Okay then!
Reply
#6
Also note Polybius 10.20.3 (Scipio's training regime in Spain, trans. Paton).

On the following day they were to practise, some of them sword-fighting with wooden swords covered with leather and with a button on the point, while others practised casting with javelins also having a button at the point.

No dummies involved here, nor is it clear to me what the training value of such an elaborate proposition might be. Modern militaries shoot targets molded to look like enemy soldiers (Crazy Ivans in US Army slang), but this practiced developed after WWII out of fears that troops might hesitate to kill human beings if they only training with bull-eye style targets. It is doubtful any pre-modern army had such compunctions, least of all the Romans, who enjoyed watching people be killed in the arena for fun.
Reply
#7
(08-28-2017, 02:56 AM)Michael J. Taylor Wrote: Also note Polybius 10.20.3 (Scipio's training regime in Spain, trans. Paton).

On the following day they were to practise, some of them sword-fighting with wooden swords covered with leather and with a button on the point, while others practised casting with javelins also having a button at the point.

No dummies involved here, nor is it clear to me what the training value of such an elaborate proposition might be. Modern militaries shoot targets molded to look like enemy soldiers (Crazy Ivans in US Army slang), but this practiced developed after WWII out of fears that troops might hesitate to kill human beings if they only training with bull-eye style targets.  It is doubtful any pre-modern army  had such compunctions, least of all the Romans, who enjoyed watching people be killed in the arena for fun.

I'll add to this that the best training the US military has to adequately prepare combat forces with the mindset for battlefield domination is force on force training. With rifles and tanks, we do it with blanks, lasers and alarms that sound off when the laser triggers them. But the ancients did this as you describe, sparring individually or in large groups as part of mock battles. The pallus was to learn the form to conduct an attack, sparring was to practice it.
Reply


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  Question regarding training in the Pre-Marian army Corvus 3 784 01-04-2017, 05:13 PM
Last Post: Bryan

Forum Jump: