16thC German Staff Weapons

staff

Brief Summary

Polearms (including staves, spears, pikes, pollaxes, and halberds) were perhaps amongst the most widely spread weapons, yet outside of the pollaxe, few treatises wrote extensively about their use prior to the 16th century. Masters such as Paulus Hector Mair and Joachim Meyer wrote extensively about the use of the staff, halberd and pike, and often treated the staff as being the foundation of the other polearms.

A simple staff might be around 6 feet, whereas a pike within these systems could be up to 14 feet. A pike would generally be used to thrust with only, whereas both strikes and thrusts would be used with shorter polearms such as staves and halberds. These weapons may have been used in a Fechtschule, however they would also have been used in battles and skirmishes.

Additionally, Paulus Hector Mair detailed the use of more exotic polearms, such as the flail, scythe, or peasant staff (a two handed club). These disciplines seem like nothing more than novelties at first, however they may also train useful and interesting skills and techniques. It is unclear if farmers actually did fight with these weapons as Mair shows, or if Mair was simply experimenting in an attempt to apply principles and techniques to new weapons.


Main Sources

- Paurñfeyndt, Andre. Ergrundung Ritterlicher Kunst der Fechterey (or Foundation of the Chivalric Art of Swordplay), 1516.
- Mair, Paulus Hector. MSS Dresd.C.93/C.94, 1542. (aka Opus Amplissimum de Arte Athletica, or The Greatest Work on the Athletic Arts)
- Meyer, Joachim. Gründtliche Beschreibung der Kunst des Fechtens (or A Foundational Description of the Art of Fencing), 1570.


Equipment

To begin practicing this discipline in the Academy of Historical Arts, you will need the following items:

- an appropriate staff
- fencing mask
- padded gloves

The links will take you to the appropriate pages on the Corsair's Wares website, where you may purchase the necessary equipment. Buying through Corsair's Wares puts money back into the Academy of Historical Arts so that we can further our educational activities.


Protective Gear Minimum Requirements

According to the AHA Health and Safety Policy, these are the current minimum requirements to engage in activities safely for this discipline. Items marked with an asterisk (*) are mandatory, items marked in italics are recommended. Most of these items are available through Corsair's Wares; buying through Corsair's Wares puts money back into the Academy of Historical Arts so that we can further our educational activities.

- drilling with wooden/synthetic staffs
* Head: CEN level 1 mask
* Hands: well padded gloves
Head: CEN level 2 mask (recommended)
Head: padded mask overlay (recommended)
Head: back of head protection (recommended)
Neck: rigid throat protector (recommended)
Torso: rigid chest protector (recommended)
Torso: padded jacket or gambeson (recommended)
Torso: groin guard (recommended)
Arms: forearm & elbow protection (recommended)
Legs: knee & shin guards (recommended)

- sparring with wooden/synthetic staffs
* Head: CEN level 1 mask
* Head: back of head protection
* Torso: padded jacket or gambeson
* Arms: forearm & elbow protection
* Hands: well padded gloves
* Legs: knee & shin guards
Head: CEN level 2 mask (recommended)
Head: padded mask overlay (recommended)
Neck: rigid throat protector (recommended)
Torso: rigid chest protector (recommended)
Torso: groin guard (recommended)


We have gone to great lengths to ensure that we do not mandate and price people out of the activity. It should always be possible to participate in training, even if only to a lesser degree of intensity. Obviously the more intense and less safe the activity becomes, the more protective gear is necessary to mitigate the risk of harm. You are always welcome to wear more protective gear than the minimum requirements, we will never tell you to remove protective gear (unless it poses a risk to yourself or other participants, for whatever reason).


Useful Resources

book cover
(More information about this book and where you can purchase it.)
Farrell, Keith (ed.). Encased in Steel Anthology I. Glasgow: Fallen Rook Publishing, March 2015. ISBN 978-0-9926735-6-7.

Alex Bourdas has presented a handout for his workshop on Mair's peasant staff, which outlines all 8 plays within the system: workshop handout (.pdf format)

For a comprehensive list of treatises, transcriptions and translations, there is no better resource than the Wiktenauer: http://www.wiktenauer.com/