The past two weeks have been focused on the spear, what Greg Mele refers to as the “common method” of Italian spear fighting, as opposed to the “dueling” method that is represented by Fiore dei Liberi’s short section. This is the first time I include the spear in the novice/apprentice curriculum, and it was certainly an eye opener. I always appreciated it as a pedagogical tool for learning to deal with the thrust and point-on guards, but it’s much more than that.
Using the spear as an introduction to the principles of fencing and fencing theory will now be a standard part of the curriculum. Furthermore, using the spear as an introduction to light freeplay was a resounding success. Using rubber-tipped spears and restricting grappling makes for some really clean play, and even the novices shone against some more experienced players – they actually applied what they had been taught, and to marvellous effect.
The spear is an excellent tool for illustrating the openings (L/R, H/L), lines (inside/outside), closing said lines, changing lines, developing attacks, and using feints or provocations. We went through the basic parries with the spear (inside/outside, low line parry) and the infamous entering with a butt strike when the points go wide. Several set-plays were shown and practised, and after the second week of spear training, I let them loose on one another to see what could happen. The experiment’s results were a net positive, and as I said earlier in this post, I will be repeating the experience.
So, you heard it here first. Spear is now an official part of the Novice/apprentice curriculum. It will *not* be a requirement when testing for rank, but rather will be used as a pedagogical tool to bridge into longsword from the wrestling and dagger portions of the curriculum.
Stay tuned as this coming week we will be focusing on Fiore’s poste and their use as it applies to the spear. I should probably get photos too!