Q&A: Haladie

Hi, so my character uses a haladie in their fighting, i was wondering how that fighting style would look? Thank you! your blog is awesome and super helpful!

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure.

In spite of being a fairly widely distributed weapon, ranging from India to Syria. I can’t find much information on the haladie. This is especially surprising given the weapon was still in use into the early 20th century.

Often times, my first impulse when someone says, “how do you use this,” is to refer them to google, but this time, that doesn’t really work.

What I can find is slightly conflicting. The original haladie were status symbols for the Rajput in India. The Rajput were a militant caste in India, though I should say, “are,” since the Rajput still exist today. There’s also a lot of discussion about their history, and debate whether they were descendants of invading groups, or if they were of indigenous origin, who rose to leadership. (They’re not the only militant caste, so this isn’t like, “these are the warriors tasked with defending our lands.”) Also, worth noting, the entire concept of the militant castes vs, the non-militant ones has it’s roots in the British occupation, so this whole topic is a little bit complicated, and the term itself is somewhat indiscriminate, including multiple clans.

If you seriously want to dig into this, I’d recommend researching the Rajput, and India in general. The haladie is not simply “another weapon,” it is a part of culture and civilization in India, and it is strongly tied to those social structures.

So, with that tangled mess on the table, the simple answer is that the Haladie was a status symbol (in India).  Though, I’m unclear how exclusive these weapons actually were. They were clearly traded outside of the Deccan Plateau, as they did appear in Syria, and were later produced there, even being called Syrian Daggers by those unfamiliar with the provenance.

The haladie is one of those weapons that are more dangerous to an untrained user than their opponent. (I can vouch for this from personal experience; I have a scar on my right index finger from mishandling one almost 20 years ago.) Normally, I would say that means the weapon probably never saw use, except, but this is an Indian weapon. Indian martial arts never shied away from weapons that were difficult or dangerous to wield. In particular, the Urumi still comes to mind as an excellent example of this.

As far as I can tell, the haladie was used in combat. I don’t know what that looked like, and I’m not really sure if anyone alive does. From what I understand the primary weapon of the Rajput was the Khanda, a double edged straight sword with a flat tip. They carried the haladie, they used it, but I don’t know how, or more importantly, when. And, the information I can find on short notice isn’t particularly comprehensive.

I can’t fault you here. If you want to use this, and do it “right,” you’ve a lot of research ahead of you. We talk a lot about how the right weapon is about picking the correct situation to use it. In most cases, we’re talking about things when you should use a knife, versus a sword, versus a polearm or firearm. And, some of that is Eurocentric.

Europe has some symbolism with weapons. The sword has meaning as a badge of office, for the king, or knights. The gun has meaning. The kind of gun has meaning, just like the kind of sword has meaning.

When you step into another culture, (in this case: India’s), you need to assess what that weapon means. The haladie isn’t just a cool looking dagger. It’s a symbol that says, “this is who my character is.” For them to carry it, they need to be a specific kind of person, a specific caste, and clan. It’s not enough to just give them the weapon “because it belongs to that culture.” It’s also not their main weapon, or wouldn’t be.

In this case, I’d recommend reading up on the Rajput. I condensed what I could, but there are, literally, entire books on the subject. Their history, their identity. All of this is relevant to creating a character. You’re learning who they are. In the process, learning about where they’re from will create a richer story.

I am sorry I can’t give you a more direct, “this is how you use it,” answer, because all I can find are people experimenting with ones, nobody who knows what they’re doing.

If you just want a practical, “exotic,” knife in a modern setting, I’d recommend the karambit. It’s a curved knife of South-East Asian origin, with a lot of flexible combat applications. There’s also some pretty good demonstrations on YouTube for how to use these. (It won’t teach you to use one in a real situation, but it should give you some ideas how to incorporate one into your writing.)

-Starke

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