Sunday, January 18, 2015

New Weapons, new challenges... time is running... on...

So I have a Sergeant's Halberd, and being the kind of guy I am, I need to know how to use it.. it wasn't being used as a weapon as much as a symbol of authority by the 17th Century, and by the 19th Century, it was cast off by modern military in favor of more bullets and cannonballs, since muskets had bayonets and you could always carry a knife, axe, tomahawk or shovel for killing when the ammunition ran out or the powder wasn't dry. Yep, a symbol of authority. Still, since George Washington's Marblehead boatmen would use boarding pikes instead of muskets with bayonets, and one of his generals did an important night attack with unloaded bayoneted muskets - the idea that a halberd wasn't dangerous wasn't in anyone's mind.

The 1783 Advice to The Officers of the British Army, 6th edition, Chap. XIV "To the Sergeant" As by your appointment to the halbert, you are probably at the summit of your preferment (unless you have a pretty wife, sister, or daughter). you may now begin to take a little ease, and relax from that rigid discipline you observed, when corporal. Into whatever company you are admitted, you must be careful to impress every one with an idea of your own consequence, and to make people believe, that the sergeants are the only useful and intelligent men in the corps.
  I suspect that the comments about Sergeants, Corporals and Privates are humorous with intent.

  In the manual of arms for the British Army, and Baron Von Steuben's drill manual of the American Revolution period, include the espontoon for officers and the halberd for sergeants. The best depiction of the British Regiment in line order with a Sergeant with a halberd was in the great battle on Revolution, with Donald Sutherland as the British Army Sergeant? But like one can't trust cinema for realism with firearms, edged weapons and such are a very lost art. So although you may watch repeatedly battles from the periods of pikes and two handed swords - you aren't going to become enlightened by them.

  When the original Swiss Guard were hired for the Vatican and the Pope, they probably practiced with the halberd, but they have gone to guns for real, and tradition for parades. I am sure there are some guards that do practice and learn, but it would be an after duty hobby, maybe? Since these really are edged and pointy weapons, the folks at 'pretend' medieval faires and such are blunted and sheathed and often tied safe with safety lines of bright colors - cause they are sure some fool will hack and slash someone by accident and the law suits would follow the first aid fun.

  Friday as I goofed off from my normal YMCA workout I noted in the yard clean up, that the back woods is growing wild (no one is in charge and there are many trees and bushes that need my attention with the halberd and the two handed sword. One of my favorite Musashi stories, famed Japanese master swordsman, was about his examining a cut flower from another master swordsman and sending a cut flower in return - clearly demonstrating their own skills in making the stroke and understanding the other's message.

  Weapons control begins with a foundation, and balance, and drill, drill, drill -- and question, reflect and drill, drill, drill. Mastery will only be achieved when the student has control of self, then the form, then the weapon, then the situation.... and it is best never to need more than the control of self - but, drill, drill, drill.


  1. Good demonstration of the halberd, not of the techniques nor types of swings and stabs, and no parries. Unless you are carrying another weapon you really want to use more - don't throw yours away at one attacker - it would be disarming a fool.

  2. Oh... THAT is one nasty piece of kit...