Was using spears defensively to kill effectively required little training & physical

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Closed
Nov 2013
19
Algeria
Was using spears defensively to kill effectively required little training & physical

I notice many movies portray spears as being a very easy weapon to use. You just hold the spear and wait for the enemy to stupidly run into it.

The best example is the Stirling Battle Scene in which William Wallace's soldiers awaited for the English Heavy Cavalry to charge at the Scots. At the last minute, the Scots suddenly pulled out their large wooden stakes on the ground and angled it at the English Horses and they were slaughtered as they charged into it. So many other movies with troops using spears as their primary weapon portrays using spears in a similar fashion. You hold it and form whole wall of spears and just wait for your enemies to stupidly run into it and die.

Even after the initial charge, using the spear to kill is portrayed simply as pushing it to the next guy in front of you, wait for that guy to be impaled and fall, then hit the next guy in line with it and repeat. 300 shows this perfectly in which for every Persian killed, the Spartan simply pulls the spear back and waits for the next Persian in role to appear and they suddenly push the spear into the next guy and kill him and keep repeating until an entire Persian unit was decimated.

So its portrayed as so long as you don't lose your balance and remaining holding it pointed at your enemy on the defensive, you simply stay where you are and let your enemy charge you and the killing commences.

Even martial art movies portrays spears int he same manner. Often the master martial artist awaits for his gang of enemies to run at him and suddenly he starts killing hordes of men with simple pushes of the spear as the come nearby with a fancy trick from staff fighting thrown in every 3rd or fourth bad guy.

However I remember a martial arts documentary in which some guys were in Japan trying to learn how to use Yari. The weapon was heavier than many martial arts movie portrays them as. In addition the martial artist teaching them showed them just how clumsy using the weapon was if you are untrained as he made them hit some stationary objects.

The martial artist even made the guests spar with him and he showed them just how goddamn easy it was to deflect and parry thrusts from a spear and he showed them just how vulnerable they were once a single thrust was parried. He also showed that spears were very easy to disarmed if you weren't train.

So I am wondering after seeing this documentary. Movies show spears as being such simple weapons anyone can use them as I stated in my description above. But the Martial Artist int he documentary really makes me wonder how hard it is to simply just stand there and wait for your enemies to charge into your spear and also how simplistic it was to push your spear into new men repeatedly.

Was using a spear much harder than movies portray and require a lot of training like the martial arts documentary I saw show?
 

Menshevik

Ad Honorem
Dec 2012
9,413
here
I think for most of history and pre-gunpowder warfare, the spear( or variation of it) was the most common weapon. I think your conclusion is correct, in that, compared to other weapons, the spear was a less demanding weapon to acquire proficiency with. Not that someone couldn't be highly skilled and deadly with a spear, I just think an axe or especially sword, would take longer to master. Also, I think swords, and to a lesser extent, axes and maces, have a certain mystique surrounding them that demands they be used by someone more noble than the common man. A good blade isn't fit to be wielded by some dirty, worthless, laboring peasant!:)
 

Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,630
Spears were so common (much more so than swords) also because they are cheaper and easier to make. Less metalworking is involved.
 

Edratman

Forum Staff
Feb 2009
6,709
Eastern PA
You have the gist of it.

Anyone can use a spear with little training. To use it real well requires significant training.

If the opponent has little training, than little training will make you equals. If the opponent is well trained, than your chances are greatly reduced.

And in a situation where there are a hundred poorly trained spearmen against a handful of trained warriors, the chances for the warriors become low.

Any putz can handle a spear with a degree of capability. After that, situational factors will come into play.
 

Nemowork

Ad Honorem
Jan 2011
8,484
South of the barcodes
I notice many movies portray spears as being a very easy weapon to use. You just hold the spear and wait for the enemy to stupidly run into it.

The best example is the Stirling Battle Scene in which William Wallace's soldiers awaited for the English Heavy Cavalry to charge at the Scots. At the last minute, the Scots suddenly pulled out their large wooden stakes on the ground and angled it at the English Horses and they were slaughtered as they charged into it. So many other movies with troops using spears as their primary weapon portrays using spears in a similar fashion. You hold it and form whole wall of spears and just wait for your enemies to stupidly run into it and die.

Even after the initial charge, using the spear to kill is portrayed simply as pushing it to the next guy in front of you, wait for that guy to be impaled and fall, then hit the next guy in line with it and repeat. 300 shows this perfectly in which for every Persian killed, the Spartan simply pulls the spear back and waits for the next Persian in role to appear and they suddenly push the spear into the next guy and kill him and keep repeating until an entire Persian unit was decimated.

So its portrayed as so long as you don't lose your balance and remaining holding it pointed at your enemy on the defensive, you simply stay where you are and let your enemy charge you and the killing commences.

Even martial art movies portrays spears int he same manner. Often the master martial artist awaits for his gang of enemies to run at him and suddenly he starts killing hordes of men with simple pushes of the spear as the come nearby with a fancy trick from staff fighting thrown in every 3rd or fourth bad guy.

However I remember a martial arts documentary in which some guys were in Japan trying to learn how to use Yari. The weapon was heavier than many martial arts movie portrays them as. In addition the martial artist teaching them showed them just how clumsy using the weapon was if you are untrained as he made them hit some stationary objects.

The martial artist even made the guests spar with him and he showed them just how goddamn easy it was to deflect and parry thrusts from a spear and he showed them just how vulnerable they were once a single thrust was parried. He also showed that spears were very easy to disarmed if you weren't train.

So I am wondering after seeing this documentary. Movies show spears as being such simple weapons anyone can use them as I stated in my description above. But the Martial Artist int he documentary really makes me wonder how hard it is to simply just stand there and wait for your enemies to charge into your spear and also how simplistic it was to push your spear into new men repeatedly.

Was using a spear much harder than movies portray and require a lot of training like the martial arts documentary I saw show?
1/ Braveheart is a terrible movie. The battle of Stirling bridge somehow manages to miss out the bridge and bring in some fantasy scene of English knights charging over an open field when the actual battle was fought at knife range in a swamp.

Its fantasy.

2/ any idiot can use a spear. Using it well takes practice.
 
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Fire_Raven

Ad Honorem
Jul 2010
2,776
Oregon
Spears were also the primary hunting weapon for the lower classes for centuries prior to the spread of improved missile weapons like bows,crossbows and later firearms. Most able bodied males (and females in some cultures) had a passing familiarity with the spear allowing for a quick call up if needed.
Similar to some of the medieval agricultural hand tools converted to military uses made it quicker to train commoners up.
 
Feb 2010
598
Alabama
We assume that the average man had no training what so ever. The spear is less complicated to use. The spear is great in groups. Which is why polearms of all kinds are carried into combat. Spears tend to break often from use.
There are may different types of spears and lengths as well. Each with different strengths and weaknesses and different uses. Right tool for the right job.

By the late middle ages and Renaissance, the sword(many different types) were easily attainable by the masses. If you went to town to go to the market, you didn't carry a spear. You carried a sword.

The late middle ages, Renaissance Europe was the only place where the sword was a large part of the culture. Its availability to everyone in all classes and genders is why.

What weapon was the most used and carried weapon in the field and in civilian self defense in Europe during the Late middle ages and Renaissance? The sword.
 
Apr 2012
450
Houston
I see no reason other than habit to say the spear really is that much easier for the untrained to pick up and use. Any weapon will require training and drill to be effective and lethal against other trained soldiers. What I think is happening here is that we mistake economy and the inherent mechanical advantages a heavier two-handed weapon with substantial leverage will have in good hands.
 
Sep 2011
443
A spear , I suspect, was meant to hold ones opponent at a distance It may be less training in usage but what I have read about Greek and Roman infantry it took considerable steadiness to hold firmly.
 
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