Tag Archives: pike

Do you have any insight on the use of a spear or pike in battle?

We got this ask earlier (it’s the first one under the tag: obsidianmichi answers) so if you want to look that up, it’ll give you more insight. My answer is: yes, a little, but most of what I’ve been trained in is basic staff fighting, which is essentially the spear without the pointy-end. We’ll probably be doing a write up on it soon, like we did with archery.

Like the bow, the spear is one of the oldest weapons in existence. Just about every culture at one point in history or another has used the spear in battle, but since you mentioned the pike, I’m guessing you mean combat in medieval Europe. There’s a huge difference in style between Europe and China, for example. The Greeks also made great use of the spear (for it’s greater length) as a primary weapon.

The question is though, do you want to know how the spear was used tactically in battle by footmen in mass numbers or in single combat?

The answer to that question is actually very different, because in tight quarters the best use for the spear is to point it at an incoming opponent and make use of the weapon’s greater length such as against cavalry. The pike was a primary defense against cavalry (examples of massed pikemen are the Orcs versus Rohan Cavalry in Lord of the Rings), where it was used as stopping power against incoming horses. The spear was a common weapon because it’s easier to train someone on than a sword and is cheaper to produce.

In single combat a spear, particularly one made entirely of metal like some in China, has a greater reach than a sword and it can attack from the front (the pointy-end), it can sweep across from side to side, and switch to the back (the butt) to create a very fluid defense. The wielder has fewer worries about dulling the weapon because only the tip is sharp and a very solid wooden staff, such as the quarter-staff can actually withstand a slashing attack by a sword.

The spear can also be used in conjunction with a shield like the Greeks did, but that ends back up in the realm of basic stabbing and a frontal assault.

The only thing spears aren’t really good for is throwing, but that’s just because you have now lost your spear and need to go retrieve it if you wish to continue fighting.

The spear is a dynamic weapon, all you need to do is pick what culture, region, and historical period you want to begin your search and you’ll find a huge amount of data to sift through.

-Michi