Queue de la Hache

Yes, that’s a play on words.

Been working feverishly on the Jeu de la Hache translation. It’s pretty much complete, but there are some technical aspects of the interpretation that need finessing.

Like the plays using the queue.

Sometimes it’s high.

Sometimes it’s low.

The authour tells us to never keep the head lower than the tail. So we follow his advice. Wha’ happens? We come to plays where the tail is clearly held higher than the head. The text makes it clear, and in practice, trying the other way around just don’t work. Crap. Back to the drawing board.

Maybe the queue is just slightly higher – yeah, that’s it…

Problem is, this position is almost horizontal. Seems against incoming attacks, you want to cross it a little more.

So, scratch that.

The head really low position just is soooo wrong, scratch that out right now, at least as a starting guard.

Ah, so can we use it as a cover? Is that what this is? Sure, seems to work.

Except this position is reallly hard on the wrist. Seriously. Not very comfortable, and seemingly contrary to the basic mechanics of the system as we understand it.


So what gives?

Using Occam’s razor, which states: “when you have two competing theories that make exactly the same predictions, the simpler one is the better,” we’ll work back through the plays individually. Problem is, neither theory is necessarily simpler, but in general terms we can weed out the “wrong” interpretation by keeping the one that seems simplest. Grand! This also happens to be in keeping with the tenets of the system, which I call “poleaxe for dummies.”

Except the only dummy here seems to be me.

So, from a bind at the croix, I can bring up the queue and strike aside the croix. Does this use an up/down motion or a slightly sideways motion? Does it end in the croix higher or lower than the queue?

Question, questions… always questions. I think either will work, but I favour keeping the croix relatively high in this scenario.

When he comes the queue devant, is the croix high or low? According to the authour, it should be higher than the croix, but then we get plays that assume otherwise. So are we fighting the so-called “bad fencer?” Not enough information to decide for certain.

And then there’s the bind at the croix. How do you come to this? Likely from a bind at the croix, invert the axes, boom! Bind. It would seem from the text that the croix is lower in this instance as well. Is this acceptable because there’s no or little threat to the palm? I believe so, since attacking the palm requires two separate actions rather than just thrusting to the palm.

Where does that leave us?

Here are my thoughts:

From a bind at the croix, or to set aside a tour de bras as the first three plays do, keep the croix high, strike with the queue.

Advance queue devant: I’ll need to comb the manual for references to this. Do the plays work either way? Queue high or low? This is not necessarily described as a guard, but rather an attack or entry attempt.

Defending a queue: lower the head somewhat to achieve a better cross. Otherwise you end up with a very shallow crossing of the queues, and you may quite simply just miss. Better safe than sorry, and after the bind, you can always readjust your stance.

What think you?