The single handed spear is quite different to the double handed spear. In your stronger hand, you can hold a spear between 120 and 165cm long, depending on preference. In your 'off-hand', you can hold a large shield (Greek, Viking) or a small shield & light spare spear (Irish, Roman Hastati). You should be very familar with the double handed spear before attempting to use the single handed spear, as it requires considerably more wrist and forearm strength.
The primary difference between single and double handed spear is footwork. Where double-handed spear has the wielder side-on to their
Spears can be held loose, around the midpoint, or couched. Couching the spear can give extra range and power, though flexibility is considerably reduced. Spears should be held around the balance point. It is tempting to hold it further back to get extra range, but this will put a lot of strain on the wrist. If you need the range, couch the spear briefly.
When held at the midpoint, the spearman can attack and block with both the tip and back end of the spear shaft. this sort of twirling motion is not easy to acheive, but is well worth practicing. You can try make use of an attackers momentum by rotating the back end into an attack, then using the bounce to power a stab with the head. [TODO: include video clip].
Initially, the hardest part is being able to control the momentum with a single hand. Practice calibrating your thrusts by repeatedly tapping a small target, like a fence post. Try not to lock your elbow when thrusting; you will lose the ability to pull the shot.
The next thing to practice is maintaining control of the tip of the spear when a stronger weapon is trying to bat it away. The best way to work on this is against an opponent with a double handed spear. It's really really difficult until you build up the required forearm and wrist muscles to block or stab-knock a double handed spear. Have your opponent try to catch your spear with theirs, and toss it to either side. They will have momentum and leverage, and should force you to learn speed and accuracy very quickly. Any thrusts will usually be significantly deflected away from the target - expect this when planning your thrusts, especially in line fighting.
Once you move on to actually sparring with someone, make heavy use of your shield initially. Don't try block with your spear until you get comfortable with it. Initially, you should target the chest, stomach and thighs, if the
target is armoured or padded. If they are naked, all shots should slide
past the target, then be dragged back to look like a kill shot. Keep the spear and the spearhead low. You can also often use slashing shots, to the lower arms, hips etc. as with a large heavy
sword. Most people will not take such chops as a kill shot, but they
look good and can be distracting; so telegraph them well.
As you get comfortable, start practicing overarm (like the Normans above). This is really dangerous; over arm is intended to make it easy to stab someone in the face or neck. It should only be done with the permission of person you are attacking. Be especially careful of high stabs to a shield - the other person may deflect or bring the spearhead up into their face. Try be aware of your total body footprint; with a single-handed spear, your spear can stick out a meter or more behind you, and up to half a meter to each side with deflections. Don't let your line-men crowd you - you require more room to work than sword and axe men.
After a while, you will notice that your thrusts are being deflected to the left or right in a predictable manner, depending on which side of the attacker you thrust toward. Use that momentum to block the countershot. When attacked, you can use the back end of the spear to block, and use the resulting momentum to power a nice thrust. With practice, shots can be blocked repeatedly like a one-handed quarterstaff. [TODO: INCLUDE VIDEO OF AWESOMENESS]
Before you field with the single handed spear, you need to practice in a 'crush'. The single handed spear is very awkward in a melee environment; it can be almost as tall as its owner. Your primary aim should be to be safe.
New Additions to be made;
Copyright 2008, John Looney.
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