shields fell out of use? Someone should tell the riot police, because they seem to be using them all the time.

Well, i didn´t say anything about WHEN they fell out of use. And i would argue that better armour was not a big part of why. Better offense became more valuable than more defense.

Yes, in a way that normally does not include COMBAT or any kind of similar forces.

Give me a few dozen spearmen or swordsmen and a few weeks of practice and no riot police will be able to hold. Pikemen could work even better, but pikes require a lot more training to use well in formation.

While metal (or metal-fronted) shields can indeed prove heavy, workable shields can be made from much lighter materials such as wood, leather, even wicker.

Mmm, not surprised, i was told the same when training martial arts with weapons. And i would agree that it does help.

Yeah, not so far from what seemed to work best when we used it.

There's a chance here we may be not using the same terms. The default stance I am assuming is a boxer's stance: your feet at a 45 degree angle to each other. It offers good general directional mobility, but does have one shoulder 6 inches to a foot behind the other. At full striking extension, the lead/jabbing hand has a couple more inches of range than the rear/crossing hand. That's why boxers shuffle-step in when they throw a cross: they have to, or else they'll miss.

And yes - boxers use both hands - mainly because the cross is a powerful shot that translates the rotational energy of their hips into straight-line energy of a punch. You get the same effect with a single-handed weapon by performing a forehand (jab), then a backhand (cross) slash, with the benefit of a couple extra inches of range.

I'm talking about being completely square to your opponent: also known as "being flat-footed" - your feet in a perpendicular line relative to your target. Yes, both shoulders are at equal distance to the opponent. It's also a horrible stance to have, as you'll get plowed over very easily.

The correct word to use there is "also". That is, "You ALSO present an easier target if you refuse to move." Standing completely square to your opponent means that your torso is a greater target for thrusts. The narrower your stance, the smaller your target is relative to the person standing in front of you. Of course, this also brings your lead shoulder closer to your opponent, which makes it a bit easier to hit as well.

Yes. I agree. This suggests that we're talking about two separate things. I'm talking about standing completely with both hands at equal distance to your opponent, which requires that your feet be on a line 90 degrees relative to your opponent.

Your argument also depends on the defender not moving, which is silly. At which point they maintain a similar range for the initial strike and a few seconds afterwards, after which one side or the other gains positional advantage and gets a few strikes in. The individual with two weapons has an advantage mainly because he's got a blender-style multistrike combo going on in front of him, which isn't fun to put your arm into. However, that's primarily a defensive advantage, as it tends to knock their opponent's weapon aside.

Speaking as someone who has over a decade worth of heavy sparring in Escrima (helmet, gloves, kneepads, groin cup + unpadded 3/4 inch stick of rattan about 25" long): no, it doesn't. If you'd like to post something that demonstrates what you're referring to, I'd be happy to watch it. But as it is, I can't quite figure out what you're talking about a slower/longer strike - the boxing equivalent of a cross requires that you step in, which means that it's both slower and shorter. And again - rotating your hips in that fashion works just fine for a boxing cross, but a backhand with a lead weapon uses that same rotational power.

EDIT - OK, in thinking about it a bit more, you're probably referring to the longer distance that the shot has to travel from the rear hand in order to hit the target - which is true, except that the arm length is identical - so the total distance covered is the same. And as such, the extra few inches that the lead hand has is the difference between missing and hitting. I know this because knowing this distance to within an inch is where I succeed or fail in fading out/counterstriking. I did this about eight or nine times last Friday, when sparring against one of the bagun pasaks (new entries - white belts). One of the common mistakes is to fight with the weapon in the rear hand, and with an extra inch or two of stick poking out underneath one's grip (like a pommel) - combined, this shortens up the effective range of your strike by up to a foot. (Note that even fighting with the stick in the lead hand, giving up 2 inches of reach is pretty noticeable.) With these two things going on, the the assistant instructor (me) will dance around you, fading in and out, and only get hit when he thinks you're getting frustrated. And yes - both of us were moving. With that much of a range difference, it really doesn't help much.

As I said previously: I do agree that it's SLIGHTLY faster to have two weapon - you chamber your lead weapon up to your offside ear (or chambered lower into your armpit), while your rear weapon moves forward. However, you're still fighting the counter motion of the lead weapon. Figuring out how to make this work pretty much is the definition of using two weapons. But once you get it working...yes, it's slightly faster. Certainly not more powerful, though.

In my personal experience: When facing sinawalli (double-stick), your main issue is getting in for a good strike, as there's usually one weapon or the other in a good position to block. The usual tactic is to wrist-pick, as even if they start throwing combos at you, that just puts more targets of opportunity for you to hit their hands - and because your main defense is hanging just outside of the range of the lead weapon, that puts you outside the range of the rear as well.

Yes, the dual-wielder can charge forward in a cave-man style of attacks, ignoring shots to the hand, leg, and head. If they've got the armor for it (ie, full plate), then good for them. But at this point we're stepping outside the context of technique, and into additional defensive equipment.

...yes. No one is saying it isn't. Most of us are saying that it's primarily a defensive technique, shields work better in mass combat, and for the time and energy spent practicing it you could probably do something else. As a civilian dueling technique, it's OK - but for self-defense purposes you're going to have to be carrying two full-sized weapons around with you (which is a serious hassle.)

If by offense you mean "guns", then yes. But that occurred later on. I believe the general consensus is that knights stopped carrying shields when their armor got good enough that they didn't need it. So at that point - yes, the cumbersome nature of a shield became a major issue, and the benefit of having a free hand (to half-sword your primary weapon, or to grapple, or whatever) become more useful.

And give the police the same amount of training (but with shield AND weapon), and they'd start winning just fine against your only-spearmen or only-swordsman. (especially only-swordsman). Shield + spear is historically a crazy-insane good combo. (The sword is the backup sidearm, not the primary one.) And yes - pikeman were a good development. They were, however, a specialized infantry unit that was vulnerable to a number of issues that the shield+weapon user is not. (ranged attacks and being flanked, mainly.) The solution that fixes the problems that pike formation had was wearing heavy armor, keeping them as part of an integrated army (so they don't get flanked), and giving them hand weapons to fall back on in a closer melee.

Yes, it does. I'm left-handed, which means most of my training is with my off-hand (ie, my right), although my instructor does occasionally have us flip over to the left; probably about 30% of the time, or so. It's encouraged both as a way of developing your double-weapon technique, as well as something to fall back on if your primary arm is injured. Also, outside of fighting (because, let's face it: most modern martial arts aren't really about the in-combat benefits), there are a number of neurological benefits to learning off-hand techniques. For example, it's been shown that such training helps folks control their ADD. (Partially feeding into the so-called "get my kid into martial arts to help him with discipline" effect; something about increasing the connections between the left and right sides of the brain, as a consequence of having your hands working simultaneously and reaching across your full field of vision.)

No i was not at all referring to guns. Nor was i referring to knights, as they were only a tiny minority of the total numbers.

Simple really, on a battlefield of the day, a formation of pikemen became the normative to use for smashing up the enemy, and you can´t carry a shield if you use a pike, while a formation of pikemen could nearly always break a shieldwall. While a shield was not much use for someone without a pike to counter a pikemen formation.

While on a personal basis, ie outside of warfare, shields were just not realistic to run around with.

And then i switch to pikemen and rout the police again.

That is a definite exaggeration. In Japan, as spears grew in length, shields were almost completely discarded, because their protection wasn´t good enough to offset the disadvantage a classic "shield+spear" soldier line had against a line of longer spears handled with two hands.

In Europe, the exact same development happened a few hundred years later but instead ended up with the pikeman.

I suggest you read more about it. For example, during the English civil war, which sounds like where you picked up those notions, the pikemen started out equipped like that. But at the end, most pikemen had dropped their armour because the extra mobility was more valuable(and no armour for pikemen were produced at all since 1640), while it was exceedingly rare to use their "tucks"(short, massproduced low quality sword), essentially, any time pikemen used a backup weapon was because they had already lost the battle.

Maintaining a proper closed formation was far too valuable to allow the kind of spreading out that is required to even draw the sword.

And "SPECIALISED"??? It was THE single most common battlefield unit for centuries! It was the normative soldier. And calling them vulnerable is almost a laugh, considering how a welltrained unit of pikemen could stand against almost any kind of attack. Something NOT true of spear+shield soldiers, simply because they could not handle a determined punch from pikemen, while pikemen could easily defend against spearwielders, especially spearmen encumbered with a shield.


No, it is most definitely NOT a "defensive technique". And shields are not nearly as useful as commonly claimed. Dual wielding is worse than using a shield in masscombat exactly because it ISN`T a defensive technique, because the added offensive ability does not make up for the loss of defense when there are many enemies, AND at least as important, when there are many allies around, because dual wielding often requires more room to move, which is really bad in a closed formation unit in battle.

Oh certainly.

Try carrying a shield instead. MUCH much worse! Carrying two broadswords is a simple matter compared to carrying a sword and shield.

And why do you think absolutely noone uses boxing in serious combat?

And you´re definitely not reading fully. If you move around like a boxer in a serious duel or on a battlefield, you die, end of story. Far too slow, much too rigid, and horribly predictable. If you keep moving so that you are always constantly with different parts of you at the same or similar relative distance to the opponent, you´re definitely doing something wrong.

If i´m to assume any basic stance then it would likely be that of a fencer, which means showing the side only to the foe, or a brawler/wrestler, which tend to mean being square against the foe. As those would be "of the time".
For martial arts the stance tend to be more in the 60-75 degree area for the more common ones, and just about anything except having your back to the opponent for martial arts in total.

Personally i prefer a square on stance simply because it doesn´t look like a ready stance and with ninjutsu being my main preference, it´s very convenient that it trains just about any moves from that stance.

No, it´s a totally superior stance, because if anyone TRY to "plow you over", you can sidestep MUCH faster than if you´re angled forwards, and avoid getting hit at all. And instead counter very easily and quickly and put the "plower" on the ground.

It also does not look like a ready stance which means you can sucker people into just bullrushing ahead instead of actually attacking smartly. And a bullrush is just doomed.

Just try it yourself. Stand square on and see how far sideways you can get in a tenth of a second, and how far with a 45 degree angle. If you stand angled, you have to take TWO steps minimum to get out of the way of a rush, if you stand squarely towards the foe, you only need a single step, and that single step can also move you further AND faster sideways as well.

Actually, that´s only really just relevant if ranged weapons are involved(which of course is why it became the norm for formal duels). Otherwise, if you can´t react to an attack, you´re too close anyway.

That´s what i´m referring to as well yes.

Eh? How on earth did you manage that idea? Just how exactly does it matter how the opponent moves when YOUR reach is changed because you move relative to the opponent? If i take 3 steps forward during which i strike with the hand originally closer to the target, then at the end with the other hand which is then closer, the movement of the opponent only matters if i do not change my own attack based on his movements. That just about only happens if he´s so fast that he can step aside too fast for me to react, and get on the opposite side of me compared to my "other arm".
Anyone who can do that, you run from ASAP because you´re utterly screwed anyway.

I really can´t see how you can call that a defensive advantage ONLY. And fact is that the downside of dual wielding is that you´re more restricted in how you can move(or else you will be forced to drop one of the weapons when it ends up going one way while you´re trying to move you or your hand another way), which means you´re actually at a defensive DEFICIT in many ways. The multistaged combined attacks with 2 weapons is nearly always designed as a quick kill way of fighting, NOT for defensiveness.

Using 2 weapons for defense, well sure you can look at how sai, jitte or tonfa has some good defensive moves, but those are outspokenly defensive weapons anyway.

I´m not an expert dual wielder(far far from it even), but when i use 2 weapons, i prefer using a stance that is in the 90-60 degree range. With the rear weapon held BEHIND me. Essentially making the front weapon a "poke and parry" with the rear weapon used to deliver a more powerful strike. Or, by stepping backwards, switch their roles by blocking sideways with the rear weapon during the step and then instead counter with the originially forward weapon.

Then you´re not thinking properly about what a weapon like a sword can do. If you keep someone busy with the "front" weapon, and then take the time to swing the rear weapon in a widely arcing attack, it´s long and slow, but done correctly it can be damned hard to defend against at the same time as they´re defending against your forward weapon.

That´s only a mistake if you do it unintentionally. Or do it for no good reason. For example, one of the most basic parts of knifefighting, dont run around with it far in front of you, preferably, shield it completely by holding it so that your other hand is between the knife and the eyes of the opponent.

Anyway, there are many valid reasons for holding your weapon in the hand away from a foe. I guess you haven´t seen any of the styles i´m used to in that regard.

A knife up front for example, i don´t really consider that a threat, because the more the person has the arm towards me, the less force he can apply with the knife and the less flexibility of movement does he have with the knife. A knife in the forward hand is usually a knife quickly gone from that same hand. And that is at least somewhat true for weapons overall(but short ones in particular), that up front the weapon itself and the hand and arm that holds it becomes vulnerable.

My standard sort of sideways snapkick and my friend´s equally standard rapid move inverted V kick are both VERY effective at removing a weapon from someone silly enough to hold them in a hand closer to us. Though ironically, my friend´s standard disarming kick is actually ineffective against novice knife users, as his up-down kick would risk hitting an upwards held blade in a bad way.

It can be MUCH faster, or it can put a lot of power in part of an attack.

Ah, but now you´re talking about DEFENSIVE WEAPONS. That´s vaguely like someone with dual tonfa, and that´s totally not comparable to dual OFFENSIVE weapons.


OR you could "dance around you, fading in and out"... Sheesh, you can´t apply expert tactics or ability to just ONE side of a fight unless it´s the PEOPLE you´re comparing rather than styles!

I'm going to have to stop having this conversation with you, DireWolf - there are a number of issues going on here, not the least of which is that I do this on a regular basis. As such, I am speaking from direct personal experience - both in using stick and shortsword in single and dual-wielding capacities. So - to be clear: a good portion of the techniques you describe, in my experience, don't work in the context of "everyone starts five feet from each other, and we've got a decent amount of room to maneuver" dojo-style sparring. My techniques do. I can't be any more clear than that. Perhaps what you know works better in a different context. If you'd like a demonstration, feel free to show up at the Bellevue Martial Arts Academy in Redmond, WA - T/Th, 6:45-8:45. Heavy sparring is on Thursdays. Perhaps I am wrong, and you can demonstrate how good these techniques are.

Regarding the superiority of the pikeman - well, you seem very sure of yourself. Perhaps you should update the Wiki article then. Let us know once you've done that, so that we may all learn the truth from you.


If the japanese version is relevant to the discussion, consider spending a minute wathcing the first minute of this.
Warning: link is to youtube.

pikemen are useful in a formation, preferably against cavalry. In small groups or alone they are easy pickings. They also work well when you have a frontline sword and shield and a rear line with pikes to put more weapons in the enemies face. Third line should be archers...

Let us all remember that individual combat, small groups and armies use different tactics and equipment for very different purposes. So a technique that works well in one-to-one combat (such as dual weapons) can be completely useless in mass combat, and vice versa.

Shields have their use and are very efficient for some purposes, but next to useless in others. They work quite well as a tool to block access to someone else who is fairly static (shield grog for a magus), or to anchor a force fighting more defensively or facing long-range fire from archers. Dual weapons can be great for quickly moving combat such as skirmishing or when facing multiple opponents in a fluid situation.

But no single set of equipment or tactic is great for everything. That's been true for as long as humanity has waged war.

well, for recorded history. I suspect that tree branch beats fist was pretty universal

Exactly. And dual wielding in general seriously sucks outside single combat or very loose/no formation. This is similar to how some of the best personal weapons are horribly bad in armies, like battleaxes and similar very large and unwieldy weapons.
(edit: although it needs to be noted that there were occasions where pikes were used very successfully as 1 on 1 duellist weapons)

And an equal number of welltrained pikemen will always beat welltrained weapon and shield users, as long as the number of soldiers on each side are numerous enough. Pikemen really hate archers far more than soldiers with shields though. But shields are not much good against firearms(they simply get too heavy to be worthwhile if they are to protect against bullets), and that was pretty much the final nail in the coffin for shields.

The obvious solution to this debate is to equip your ultimate ideal soldiers with dual-wielded pikes and a buckler on the face.

... Sorry, there's too much serious in my thread, I just felt the need to bring the silly back a little bit.

Thanks for everyone's help on the mechanics btw. I wonder, rather than having Single Weapon and Dual Weapon as separate skills keyed off each other, what if we did something similar to the Craft skill "associated material" rules, where Single Weapon and Dual Weapon are separate skills, but that can be substituted for each other with significant penalties. So a person who spent their life training in wielding two swords simultaneously is still fairly competent with a single sword, and a person who spent their whole life training with Single Weapon fighting styles would be able to pick up a second sword, but they'd be far less competent than the other at the field. It also still favors the Single Weapon side, since situations where a dual weapon fighter would have to rely on a singular weapon are certainly far more common than situations where a person with one weapon has no choice but to add a second...

Quite good example yes, nicely shows off several things i mentioned.

Yup. Not surprisingly, they became the common troop type at the same time as the common size of battles got larger. Pikemen alone are near useless, but in large, tightly closed formations, they can totally rule a battlefield, with their only serious shortcoming being ranged weapons.

Pikemen is most effective when several ranks/lines deep. Mixing weapon loads in a single unit is usually a really BAD tm idea. Training your soldiers so that you can have archers up front up until the last moment, then retire behind pikemen(without messing up formations) is vastly more effective.

Yes, and apparently the style you´re trained in is far too strict and inflexible for me to like it.

Well, MY "techniques" work in actual personal defense outside a dojo. 3 times in my life have i needed to defend myself, all 3 times i walked away without a scratch. Twice against stronger AND more numerous opposition, and once against several kids thinking they´re really cool playing with knives and trying to be a badass pack of gangster wannabes.

Because i´m going across the Atlantic just to... Eh no.

And i don´t rely on wikpedia because i already have better books on the subject myself already. So in this case i actually don´t even know what the wiki article said until reading it now.
And if you want wiki, well maybe you should look at this:


I much more favour having dual weapons being limited by skill in single weapon, because you can´t really learn dual without single. This also justifies having a more "realistic"/higher bonus to dual wield, as in a fight not involving formations of soldiers, it generally is clearly superior to a single weapon.
And learning dual wielding is much harder than single, and the need to spend XP in 2 skills would show this.

More like Offhand Weapon for the second one.