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#1
Old 12-07-2005, 08:02 PM
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How to defend against a mace, or a ball-and-chain?

I watched Kill Bill this weekend (both volumes) and was reminded of a question I have every time I watch a martial arts or jousting-type film: how exactly is a person supposed to defend him/herself against a heavy metal ball being swung around at high speed? I mean, the thing is so heavy and moving so fast that even if you block it with a shield, it will knock you over and probably knock you out.

So?
#2
Old 12-07-2005, 08:08 PM
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The classic defense against a ball and chain, which I have learned through my countless hours of watching Hollywood movies (and no other training, I should point out), is that you stick something into the chain (sword, pole, whatever) and let the chain/ball wrap around that, then give it a good yank and pull the whole thing out of your enemy's hands.
#3
Old 12-07-2005, 08:14 PM
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#4
Old 12-07-2005, 08:15 PM
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based on what I've seen on the history channel (I love TV) most midevil weapons are only 2-3 pounds because anything heavier is hard to control. Anything lighter is too weak to do any damage.

So a 2-3 pound mace or ball and chain is not going to be nearly as hard to defend with a shield as you may think.
#5
Old 12-07-2005, 08:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sattua
I watched Kill Bill this weekend (both volumes) and was reminded of a question I have every time I watch a martial arts or jousting-type film: how exactly is a person supposed to defend him/herself against a heavy metal ball being swung around at high speed? I mean, the thing is so heavy and moving so fast that even if you block it with a shield, it will knock you over and probably knock you out.
As an aside, where did they use a mace in Kill Bill. I don't recall.

As for the question I think you are over estimating how much a mace or ball and chain weapon weighs. There is no reason for it to necessarily knock you over or knock you out if you are using a shield...unless perhaps you mean while standing on the ground and being attacked from horse back? Besides using the method engineer_comp_geek said, I'd simply angle the shield so that it glanced off (instead of taking the full force head on).

-XT
#6
Old 12-07-2005, 08:24 PM
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I always wondered if a ball and chain style mace was a good weapon at all. It looks like a really hard weapon to use. It seems to me that after the first swing it takes a good deal of time and effort to get the thing under control for the second pass.
#7
Old 12-07-2005, 08:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gazpacho
I always wondered if a ball and chain style mace was a good weapon at all. It looks like a really hard weapon to use. It seems to me that after the first swing it takes a good deal of time and effort to get the thing under control for the second pass.
I imagine if you have the strength (and skill) to use it the weapon would be great against someone using a light wooden shield and wearing chain mail...or perhaps no armor at all. Even someone in plate getting hit on the head...well, they'd know they'd been kissed I imagine.

I think the ultimate hand to hand weapon was proably the mace though.

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#8
Old 12-07-2005, 08:49 PM
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First of all, there's a reason they used clubs for thousands of years: beating people with hard, heavy things works really well.

Second, letting the chain wrap around something of yours and then yanking on it only works if you're faster on the yanking part than the other guy, and he's probably more used to the timing of the thing than you are.

The big advantage of a chain weapon is that if it wraps around a body part, you can control that body part. If you can exert force with it, you can hurt your opponent, whether he's wearing armor or not.

The real destructive power of the flail is that if the chain hits something, the ball keeps moving, and accelerates as it spins around whatever the chain hit. So, if the chain hits the top of a shield, the ball pivots around the top of the shield and hits the helmet really, really hard... harder than it would have if the shield wasn't there.

So, the defense against a haft, ball & chain weapon is to block the ball, or don't get in the way of it at all.
#9
Old 12-07-2005, 08:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xtisme
As an aside, where did they use a mace in Kill Bill. I don't recall.


-XT
The crazy young schoolgirl who was O-ren's bodyguard has this ball thingy on a chain, which has spikes poking up from it when a button is pressed.
#10
Old 12-07-2005, 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by ExtraKun
The crazy young schoolgirl who was O-ren's bodyguard has this ball thingy on a chain, which has spikes poking up from it when a button is pressed.
Gogo Yubari
#11
Old 12-07-2005, 09:09 PM
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The best defense against a ball-and-chain is a pre-nup.
#12
Old 12-07-2005, 09:45 PM
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As others have noted, the weight of a chain wepaon was never so great as to be able to knock someone over if they are properly balanced. And if they are off balance a poke from a sword will still be easier to use to knock them over than anything swung.

The second point to consider is that real fighting is nothing like hollywood fighting. The objective of a fight is not to stand back 3 feet, square off and hit the other guy's sword or shield very loudly. Real fights take place with all sorts of ranges, often with less than 6 inches between combatants. They also take place off square. And most importantly the idea is to hit the other guy, not his weapon or shield.

Becase a real fight is so dynamic it becomes fairly trivial to simply step inside a chain weapon, or off square where it can't be brought to bear. It's all about timing. In fact chain weapons are easier to get inside of than almost any other weapon. They get one good swing and then have to complete at least a quarter circle before they can be brought to bear again. In that time an experienced fighter can easily step into a position where the weapon is useless. In contrast a weapon with a cuttting edge can initiate another cut immediately as part of the recovery stroke. Even a simple mace or club can recover more easily than a chain weapon.

And once someone does get inside a chain's range it is almost useless. If you have a ball -and-chain and I am standing against you nose and toes what exactly can you do with the weapon? You can attempt to use the handle as as a club and that's about it. Whereas as a cutting weapon can be used perfectly effectively at that range and even a club is useful. In contrast a chain weapon tends to become a liability for extremely close in work.


For those reasons it's often actually easier to defend against a chain weapon than most other weapons. Manouvering alone can render it almost useless. The great advantage of chain weapons was never that they couldn't be defended against. Their advantage lies in their speed and unpredictability.
#13
Old 12-07-2005, 10:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blake
As others have noted, the weight of a chain wepaon was never so great as to be able to knock someone over if they are properly balanced. And if they are off balance a poke from a sword will still be easier to use to knock them over than anything swung.

The second point to consider is that real fighting is nothing like hollywood fighting. The objective of a fight is not to stand back 3 feet, square off and hit the other guy's sword or shield very loudly. Real fights take place with all sorts of ranges, often with less than 6 inches between combatants. They also take place off square. And most importantly the idea is to hit the other guy, not his weapon or shield.

Becase a real fight is so dynamic it becomes fairly trivial to simply step inside a chain weapon, or off square where it can't be brought to bear. It's all about timing. In fact chain weapons are easier to get inside of than almost any other weapon. They get one good swing and then have to complete at least a quarter circle before they can be brought to bear again. In that time an experienced fighter can easily step into a position where the weapon is useless. In contrast a weapon with a cuttting edge can initiate another cut immediately as part of the recovery stroke. Even a simple mace or club can recover more easily than a chain weapon.

And once someone does get inside a chain's range it is almost useless. If you have a ball -and-chain and I am standing against you nose and toes what exactly can you do with the weapon? You can attempt to use the handle as as a club and that's about it. Whereas as a cutting weapon can be used perfectly effectively at that range and even a club is useful. In contrast a chain weapon tends to become a liability for extremely close in work.


For those reasons it's often actually easier to defend against a chain weapon than most other weapons. Manouvering alone can render it almost useless. The great advantage of chain weapons was never that they couldn't be defended against. Their advantage lies in their speed and unpredictability.

I will agree with almost all you have said, but will mention thatI can certainly see how a chain weapon can be used close-quarters for leverage.

I hear a similar argument when speaking about longswords. People tend to think that once your inside, they are useless. Not so, they remain a useful leverage tool (with sharp edges even!) to bring to bear on your enemy.
#14
Old 12-07-2005, 10:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kinthalis
I will agree with almost all you have said, but will mention thatI can certainly see how a chain weapon can be used close-quarters for leverage.
Care to expland on that? I can see how the handle could be used for leverage just as a club can be, but i already mentioned that. But how can a chian provide leverage? Isn't it flexible by definition?

Quote:
I hear a similar argument when speaking about longswords. People tend to think that once your inside, they are useless. Not so, they remain a useful leverage tool (with sharp edges even!) to bring to bear on your enemy.
I'd be far more concerned with the sharp edges and being hit between the eyes with the pommel than any potential leverage. 'Longswords' weren't normally razor sharp but they were axe-sharp, which is plenty sharp enough to cause serious lacerations when drawn across the skin. And there are plenty of other moves that make a sword dangerous at close range without worrying about leverage. A sword is every bit as dangerous up close as it is from 3 feet away.
#15
Old 12-08-2005, 01:43 AM
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Blake's answer is much right on. I think the leverage Kinthalis was thinking of is in grappling and strangling attacks. You can use the length between your hands as a lever, a bit like using a staff or pole weapon shaft for the same thing. It's hard to explain in words, but you'd get it immediately if you saw the principle demonstrated.

Like Blake said, the advantages of a flexible weapon are speed and unpredictability, though I'd also add the advantage of range. If you void the reach by getting inside the arc, you've taken away a lot of the advantage he's got over you. Trapping the chain or binding it in a way that doesn't allow your opponent to regain control and mobility of the weighted end is another way to counter it.

The unpredictability is the reason why you don't find many examples of those kind of weapons outside the cinema. It takes a lot of practice with something like this kusarigama to get good enough to use it against someone who is even halfway decent at fighting. On the other hand, if you are good, you can do some really nasty things, hitting your opponent from angles they wouldn't have believed possible or swiftly entangling and unbalancing them unexpectedly.

Flails usually had very short chains whose only purpose was to enhance the impact of the head. A lot of stuff you see being offered for sale now is not historically accurate; the chains are usually way too long to be useful.

Another advantage to long flexible weapons is that you can entangle and partially immobilize an opponent. That can work against you, however, in that you can have half your weapon tied around someone when you really need it. Even if you were successful in killing the first guy, you might have his corpse inconveniently tangled in your chain when his buddy decides to try and gut you. A lot of long flexible weapons have a blade weapon attached to the handle not only for dispatching your primary but for some kind of defence against a secondary target if your weapon gets tied up.

Close in, flexible weapons can be used for binding, strangling, and grappling attacks, but again this takes a decent amount of training. While I might be able to use a kusarigama or a kyogetsushoge successfully against a guy with a sword, as I have trained with using them, I wouldn't have that as my first choice if I were alone. Working with a partner, its advantages are clearer.
#16
Old 12-08-2005, 02:13 AM
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I don't know anything about the sort of fights where one would be attacking me with a mace, but there's a rather clever training sequence in the Shaw Brothers film, "Five Shaolin Masters," where one of the 5 remaining members of the destroyed Shaolin temple devises a fighting style based around a bamboo pole as a weapon, to defeat the invincible flying axe (an axe head on a rope) of somebody-or-other.

I suppose it's the sort of thing you'd want to practice a while before using this defensive tactic in a fight.
#17
Old 12-08-2005, 08:13 AM
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There's a pretty neat description of the use of ball-and-chain weapons in China in the Robert van Gulik Judge Dee novel The Red Pavilion, where a dwarfish constable (nicknamed "The Crab" )is an expert in their use. One aspect of the book I liked is that The Crab was constantly practicing, using melons they grew as targets and being drilled by his companion at odd and unpredicatable times so he'd always be ready to use them. It's one aspect that's rarely shown in martuial-arts flicks -0- if you're going to be proficient in the use of some weird weapon, you've got to practice, practice, practice. Gogo Yubari would've been tough to hang out with, even if she didn't fillet casual companions all the time.

Van Gulik's characters claimed that the use of those chain-and-mace contraptions was restricted to small,light people, and that The Crab's companion couldn't use it because he was too big a guy. I don't know how much truth to that there is, but van Gulik usually researched things pretty well. And Gogo certainly fit the bill.
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#18
Old 12-08-2005, 08:41 AM
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In films following the western tradition, I've often seen them used from horseback. Decent-sized haft, short chain, moderately-sized spiked ball. Used in a ride-by attack. I suppose they give extra flexibility (in more than one sense) over a sword.

What's not realistic is the Witch-King's mace from Return of the King. Totally OTT.
#19
Old 12-08-2005, 11:28 AM
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In the "real world", as I understand it, the most commonly used ball-and-chain weapons were adapted from threshing flails.

i.e., 3'-6' of pole, at most 1' of chain, and an oblong ~four-pound weight.

The idea is that you have a weapon which is at least passingly familiar to your emergency peasant armies (the examples I'm thinking of were used during one of the Bohemian rebellions in the 1300s-1400s), and you combined the flexible defense of a quarterstaff with a significantly enhanced bit of striking power in the whirly-chain-thing on the end.

Other types certainly existed, but I don't know much about them, and my medieval studies classes indicated that what I'm describing was the original/most common of the type.
#20
Old 12-08-2005, 01:12 PM
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I once saw some show on the History Channel in which they explained that the giant-axe wielders in Harold Godwinson's Anglo-Saxon army spun them to create a large, unapproacheable area. Could a flail be used similarly? Of course, even with the Saxon axemen, it seems, that there was a danger that the movement of the axe would be stopped and the axeman would become defenceless.
#21
Old 12-08-2005, 01:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeriel
In the "real world", as I understand it, the most commonly used ball-and-chain weapons were adapted from threshing flails.

i.e., 3'-6' of pole, at most 1' of chain, and an oblong ~four-pound weight.

The idea is that you have a weapon which is at least passingly familiar to your emergency peasant armies (the examples I'm thinking of were used during one of the Bohemian rebellions in the 1300s-1400s), and you combined the flexible defense of a quarterstaff with a significantly enhanced bit of striking power in the whirly-chain-thing on the end.

Other types certainly existed, but I don't know much about them, and my medieval studies classes indicated that what I'm describing was the original/most common of the type.
ISTR these were used in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
#22
Old 12-08-2005, 01:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sattua
How to defend against a mace.....

I don't know; the class I was taking only showed me how to defend myself against a banana.

.....as well as passion fruit, oranges, apples, grapefruit...Whole and segments. etc.
#23
Old 12-08-2005, 01:30 PM
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Don't forget the intimidation factor, either. Regardless of how well it actually works, a big spiked ball whirling around on a chain looks nasty. And in most fights, if you can get your opponent to panic, you've won.
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#24
Old 12-12-2005, 12:08 PM
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[i]Posted by Ethilrist:[/b]
Quote:
The real destructive power of the flail is that if the chain hits something, the ball keeps moving, and accelerates as it spins around whatever the chain hit. So, if the chain hits the top of a shield, the ball pivots around the top of the shield and hits the helmet really, really hard... harder than it would have if the shield wasn't there.
Bad advice; actually if you can get your shield edge up to interrupt the passage of the chain, you'll get less impact from the ball than you would have otherwise.

Historically, you just don't see weapons with long chains very much (as noted). A mace (iron spiked head on a wooden or iron shaft), on the other hand, can be very useful for close-in fighting.

As a general rule, you can discount about half of what you see on the History Channel.
#25
Old 12-12-2005, 01:47 PM
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So what's the advantage of a mace per se, chain or no chain? I can see how a big heavy thing for hitting people would be handy, but surely a big heavy sharp thing ie a sword, would be even better.
#26
Old 12-12-2005, 02:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Atticus Finch
So what's the advantage of a mace per se, chain or no chain? I can see how a big heavy thing for hitting people would be handy, but surely a big heavy sharp thing ie a sword, would be even better.
I'm sorry, mr. peasant. You are not nobility. You must surrended your dword, else you might rebel against us.

Your long pointy farm implements are perfectly legal, however. Carry on.

Also note that swords don't exactly grow on trees. Staves, clubs, and most of a mace, however...
#27
Old 12-12-2005, 02:36 PM
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That's meant to be "surrender your sword", of course. No one is making you give up words that start with D.

Dammit.
#28
Old 12-12-2005, 03:36 PM
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Not all swords were illeagal for non-nobility to carry at all times (laws varied by location and throughout the middle ages).

However, JSexton has got an important point. Up until the high middle ages (maybe a little earlier) swords were very expensive, and even after, outfitting hundreds or thousands of men with them must have been prohibitively expensive. Why damage your nice, expensive sword, when a spiked club will do fairly well?
#29
Old 12-12-2005, 03:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Atticus Finch
So what's the advantage of a mace per se, chain or no chain? I can see how a big heavy thing for hitting people would be handy, but surely a big heavy sharp thing ie a sword, would be even better.
The advantage is that if you hit somebody hard enough in the head with a mace, you might crush their whole skull, which would be totally sweet. But then again, if you have a sword you can skewer their whole head, which is pretty awesome, too. I guess each weapon has its advantages.
#30
Old 12-12-2005, 03:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Atticus Finch
So what's the advantage of a mace per se, chain or no chain? I can see how a big heavy thing for hitting people would be handy, but surely a big heavy sharp thing ie a sword, would be even better.
Armor is much less effective against impacts than cuts. A solid blow from even a light mace or war hammer can break bones through armor whereas the same blow from a sword would be warded off by the same armor. Also, it doesn't matter if a mace gets chipped. It's just as deadly.

I have a mace, a ball and chain, and some swords. It wasn't until I got the mace (it was last) that I understood why they weren't used more than swords. Maces are slow to get up to speed and require much more energy and strength to use effectively. After a few good swings with the mace, i'm tired. With the sword, I'm swinging away for much longer. The speed factor is not to be under-rated either. Against a thrusting weapon, the mace wielder will get stabbed at two or three times for each swing of his own weapon. A mounted warrior might put a mace to good effect in ride-by attacks where he can take to time to set up a good polo-match shot at a foot-soldier, but he'd probably switch to a sword when it came time to trade blows with another mounted man.

With a ball and chain, another problem is the ricochet of the ball. The weapon can only have 6" of chain or have a really long haft. Otherwise, when the ball hits, it can come back at you. Those agricultural flails mentioned above were 5-6' long with only two or three links attaching the 1' bar to the end. This provided all the thrashing capability the peasant needed without the danger of him beaning himself on the head or knuckles.
#31
Old 12-12-2005, 04:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Atticus Finch
So what's the advantage of a mace per se, chain or no chain? I can see how a big heavy thing for hitting people would be handy, but surely a big heavy sharp thing ie a sword, would be even better.
From a physics standpoint a mace or war pick is "brutally efficient" - handle with most of the mass concentrated at the end will give a heck of a whomp when it hits something. A pick certainly qualifies as a "big heavy sharp thing", what I've read is that they were very handy for punching through armor. As others have said they are also relatively cheap and simple to make (compared to a sword) and it's pretty intuitive to use (so you don't have to get too fancy with the training).
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Old 12-12-2005, 05:11 PM
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Thanks for the answers, guys. If I ever need to break a guy's head through plate mail, I know where to come for help...
#33
Old 12-12-2005, 06:10 PM
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Aha. This thread has given me the answer as to what the heck that weapon was that some anime character was drawn with in the Saiyuki anime. Specifically, something that looks like a quarterstaff, yards and yards of chain (artistic license, I'm sure), and a fishtail-shaped blade on the end.

Plus whether that thing would actually have been an usable weapon. *ponder* Would it help if we considered the chain retractable and the user could reel it back in like a tape measure, converting the weapon to a pike?

Either way, the SDMB has done its work today in fighting ignorance.
#34
Old 12-12-2005, 06:20 PM
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I am so touched that a thread of mine finally caught on with y'all.
#35
Old 12-12-2005, 08:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lizardling
Aha. This thread has given me the answer as to what the heck that weapon was that some anime character was drawn with in the Saiyuki anime. Specifically, something that looks like a quarterstaff, yards and yards of chain (artistic license, I'm sure), and a fishtail-shaped blade on the end.

Plus whether that thing would actually have been an usable weapon. *ponder* Would it help if we considered the chain retractable and the user could reel it back in like a tape measure, converting the weapon to a pike?

Either way, the SDMB has done its work today in fighting ignorance.
I'm thinking that anything with more than, say ten feet of chain would be difficult to even get moving off the ground, and impossible to actually control. At best, you could get it swinging in a big circle over your head. Slowly. And if you ever managed to hit something the whole works would stop in a big tangle, probably with you in the center of it.

Retractability would not be a big plus.
#36
Old 12-12-2005, 09:11 PM
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There is a story about a famous Japanese swordsman who had to fight a kusarigami expert. He retreated to a bamboo grove, where there wasn't enough room to get the flail part swinging.

The disadvantage of a mace or flail is that you cannot thrust with it. Thus it is most useful when armored, so that your opponent cannot stick you whilst you wind up. But cheap to manufacture, unlike (as has been mentioned) swords. Bishops sometimes used a mace instead of a sword - because their oath did not allow them to shed blood.

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#37
Old 12-12-2005, 10:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shodan
The disadvantage of a mace or flail is that you cannot thrust with it.
As anyone who has ever used mace will tell you, that isn't even remotely true. You couldn't run someone through with a mace, but that is not all all the same as saying you can't thrust with a mace. You can thrust with pretty much any weapon aside from chains, but maces almost invariably have a terminal point precisely so they can deliver a thrust that is capable of stabbing.

Quote:
Thus it is most useful when armored, so that your opponent cannot stick you whilst you wind up.
A mace doesn't require any more wind up than a sword.


Quote:
Bishops sometimes used a mace instead of a sword - because their oath did not allow them to shed blood.
Is there any truth to that outside of Dungeons and Dragons? It makes ittle sense since the types of injuries inflicted with a mace will likely result in more blood loss than most knife or sword wounds.
#38
Old 12-13-2005, 12:46 AM
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I wonder if all that about priests uses maces comes from Bishop Odo, depicted on the famous Bayeaux Tapestry, wielding a mucking big club at Hastings.

Hypno-Toad, it sounds to me like your mace may be heavier than it should be. Given the shorter length, it shouldn't be any more tiring to use than a sword. Lots of modern "medieval" weapons are made heavier than they should be. (At the local Renaissance Fair, I used to see a merchant who sold nothing but swords at least twice as heavy as they should have been, with big ball bearings for pommels. Year after year, he fed his customers bullshit about how that was the authentic weight and only the strongest men could use a sword in the old days.)

In SCA fighting, we use "maces" made of a rattan shaft with some form of heavy, but padded head. (Don't actually want to kill anybody.) I made one using a big Kong brand rubber dog-chew toy; I've also seen them done with Nerf balls. There's something uniquely satisfying about getting in close and bashin' a guy in the face with one of those.
#39
Old 12-13-2005, 04:51 AM
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I made one using a big Kong brand rubber dog-chew toy
Form of..... CHEW TOY!
Power of..... KONG!

Graaaaaaaaaaah!!
#40
Old 12-13-2005, 02:29 PM
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In regards to Shodan's comment and Blake's query, about bishops and maces, there is a supporting reference made in either The White Company or Sir Nigel, two novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Hardly a cite, but I imagine that Sir A probably did some research on the subject. He also includes a great list of the names for collections of animals (parliment of owls, quarrel of bears, etc.) in The White Company. The books are, by the way, ripping good yarns.
#41
Old 12-13-2005, 02:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blake
As anyone who has ever used mace will tell you, that isn't even remotely true. You couldn't run someone through with a mace, but that is not all all the same as saying you can't thrust with a mace. You can thrust with pretty much any weapon aside from chains, but maces almost invariably have a terminal point precisely so they can deliver a thrust that is capable of stabbing.
They also have most of their weight in the head, which is less than optimal for thrusting.
Quote:
A mace doesn't require any more wind up than a sword.
Well, yes, if you swing the sword. If you thrust with the sword, you don't. As above, it is perhaps not impossible, but not particularly effective, to thrust with a mace, even with a point on the head.

A sword thrust also will tend to penetrate to the vital organs much more effectively than the short point on top of a mace. And the longer the mace point, the more it becomes similar to a unwieldy thrusting sword with no edge and poor balance.

Hybrid weapons - like a thrusting mace - aren't often successful against standard ones. To use a mace successfully, you need enough armor (if you can get it) to survive the faster cut of a sword, the longer range thrust of a spear (or sword), long enough to bash his head in. If you are both wearing armor, the balance shifts, because he is likely to be using a longsword or other cutting weapon, and will be swinging just like you are.


Maces and clubs were common because they were cheap, low-tech weapons which required little training. They were rarely the weapon of choice for trained fighters.

Regards,
Shodan
#42
Old 12-13-2005, 04:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moes lotion
Hardly a cite, but I imagine that Sir A probably did some research on the subject.
He probably did, but Conan Doyle is notorious for putting urben legnds into his works as well, so I'd be cautious about anyhting base don just his work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shodan
They also have most of their weight in the head, which is less than optimal for thrusting.
True, and swords have their wight distributed evenly along their length, which makes them less than optimal for sweeping. Nonetheless nobody would say that a sword can't be used for a sweep.


Quote:
Well, yes, if you swing the sword. If you thrust with the sword, you don't. As above, it is perhaps not impossible, but not particularly effective, to thrust with a mace, even with a point on the head.
How much experience do you have using maces or similar weapons? It's very effective to thrust with a light mace.

Quote:
A sword thrust also will tend to penetrate to the vital organs much more effectively than the short point on top of a mace. And the longer the mace point, the more it becomes similar to a unwieldy thrusting sword with no edge and poor balance.
1) You don't need to penetrate deeply to strike the vital organs or incapacitate an opponent. In fact the one thing you don't want to do is penetrate deeply because that produces a real risk of the weapon jamming. Roman soldiers for example were warned not to penetrate more than 3 inches into an enemy for exactly that reason. The point on top of mace, at about 3 inches, is more than adequate to penetrate vital organs. Maybe not as good as a sword, but effective.

2 Simply putting a point on a mace doesn't make it an unweildy sword. The balance of a well-made mace is different to a sword, but no poorer. A mace is a seprate weapon and used in quite differnt ways to a sword. The design and balance reflects that difference.


Quote:
Hybrid weapons - like a thrusting mace - aren't often successful against standard ones.
Cite?

And what exactly is a "thrusting mace". As I said earlier most maces have a terminal spike to allow them to be used to stab. So what distinguished a thrusting mace from a standard mace?

Quote:
To use a mace successfully, you need enough armor (if you can get it) to survive the faster cut of a sword, the longer range thrust of a spear (or sword), long enough to bash his head in.
What is that claim based on?

Quote:
Maces and clubs were common because they were cheap, low-tech weapons which required little training. They were rarely the weapon of choice for trained fighters.
Cite? I have never heard this claim before.

If this is true how do we account for cavalry maces? At that time cavalry were all trained fighters were they?
#43
Old 12-14-2005, 03:36 PM
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Quote:
He probably did, but Conan Doyle is notorious for putting urben legnds into his works as well, so I'd be cautious about anyhting base don just his work.
It does, at least, show that the idea (true or not) of clergy using blunt weapons predates Dungeons and Dragons. An if it's not historically accurate, it would be interesting to track whence Doyle got the idea.
#44
Old 12-14-2005, 05:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos
It does, at least, show that the idea (true or not) of clergy using blunt weapons predates Dungeons and Dragons. An if it's not historically accurate, it would be interesting to track whence Doyle got the idea.
Odo of Bayeux, the half brother of William the Conqueror, is depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry as wielding a cudgel in the Battle of Hastings. The received view is that Odo was prohibited from wielding a blade by canon law. More information can be found in D. Bates, "The character and career of Odo, Bishop of Bayeux", Speculum 50 (1975). It is highly likely that Odo himself commissioned the tapestry.

Blake,

Quote:
True, and swords have their wight distributed evenly along their length, which makes them less than optimal for sweeping. Nonetheless nobody would say that a sword can't be used for a sweep.
There is tremendous variety in the weight distribution among different classes of swords. However, the weight of even a 12th century arming sword is by no means distributed equally. This claim is false on its face.

Quote:
How much experience do you have using maces or similar weapons? It's very effective to thrust with a light mace.
This also strikes me as patently absurd. A "light" mace of the 16th century is roughly 26" long. A contemporary 15th century German or Italian longsword for blossfechten has a blade roughly 40" in length. Thrusting with your mace against an opponent armed with a sword strikes me as a fantastic way to lose your arms, even if you are already infighting.

SCA and other reenactment does not count as "experience".

At least I agree with your assessment of wound penetration. Fewer than 2 inches of penetration to the vital regions of the upper body is typically enough to deliver a fatal wound, if not instantaneously.
#45
Old 12-14-2005, 05:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blake
The second point to consider is that real fighting is nothing like hollywood fighting. ...They get one good swing and then have to complete at least a quarter circle before they can be brought to bear again. In that time an experienced fighter can easily step into a position where the weapon is useless. In contrast a weapon with a cuttting edge can initiate another cut immediately as part of the recovery stroke. Even a simple mace or club can recover more easily than a chain weapon.
Speaking from many years of experience training and fighting with a variety of handheld (non-projectile) weapons, I'd say this is right on the money. The only thing about those weapons that might have been useful is that if you are facing opponents wearing armor and carrying heavy weapons such as two-handed swords or long weapons such as halberds or spears, a chain-mounted weight can give you a) a chance to wind up and hit with the full momentum of the swung weight and if that misses or does little damage, what the hell, you're getting to wrap some chain around the limbs or body of someone who is even more dependent on being "at range" than you are (if you have a knife or a club or something handy so that you can move in once your enemy is inconvenienced by the chain, and work on getting past that pesky armor). Chains might also be useful from an anti-cavalry standpoint (wrap around legs).

If you're a lightly armed fighter with full mobility, chain weapons are pretty trivial to overcome precisely because you can't feint/feint/strike, and can't recover quickly from one strike to initiate another.

G
#46
Old 12-15-2005, 07:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neur0mancer.

If you're a lightly armed fighter with full mobility, chain weapons are pretty trivial to overcome precisely because you can't feint/feint/strike, and can't recover quickly from one strike to initiate another.

G
I hardly would call it trivial, otherwise the weapons would never have been used. Without armor you are in doubly serious danger at any time you are fighting with lethal melee weapons.
#47
Old 12-15-2005, 10:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sattua
I watched Kill Bill this weekend (both volumes) and was reminded of a question I have every time I watch a martial arts or jousting-type film: how exactly is a person supposed to defend him/herself against a heavy metal ball being swung around at high speed? I mean, the thing is so heavy and moving so fast that even if you block it with a shield, it will knock you over and probably knock you out.

So?
OK, the best way to defend against this is to step back and let it go by and then step back inside the range with something pointy and sharp. Aside from that, maneuver the guy into a place where he is cramped and can't swing well. If the weapon has a short chain as several people have pointed out as being more normal and less Hollywood, you just block the thing at an oblique angle like any other club-type weapon.

Take it for what it's worth, my own experience is 7 years of Kali-Silat and 3 years of Jiu-Jutsu. The Kali is more applicable since it is an armed art that uses sticks of various sorts.

Regards.

Testy
#48
Old 12-15-2005, 03:40 PM
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I know this isn't strictly germane to the OP, but this seems to have become a discussion of chain-based weapons in general.

I'm no expert, but my Kung Fu instructor back in the day could make a chain-whip look pretty damn scary.

It had a weight on each end and was long enough that you could keep either end spinning and attack with both alternately. I'd guess that, with grip adjustments, he could get a reach of anywhere from six to eight feet or more. As far as it being predictable to the point that you could step in and out of its reach, I'd be very skeptical. Most of the time, the head was just a blur.

If you attempted the above-mentioned "get it to wrap around something" defense, you'd better not be anywhere near the thing it was wrapping around.
#49
Old 12-15-2005, 04:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maeglin
SCA and other reenactment does not count as "experience".

Why not?
#50
Old 12-15-2005, 04:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BMalion
Why not?
Because historical accuracy, and serious martial study is (usually) not a goal of these groups.
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