Great Weapons/Two-handed Weapons on Horseback

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    • Great Weapons/Two-handed Weapons on Horseback

      Many people believe that using two-handed weapons on horseback to be a work of fiction. This is actually incorrect. Cavalry, in the past, did actually make use of such weapons.

      From what I have read, it was primarily an Asian tradition. The weapons used varied and were not always constantly used in a two-handed manner. Some of these weapons were both used one-handed and two-handed, depending on the situation the rider faced.

      Some of the weapons used were the following: Spears, Horseback Flails, Great War Maces, Moon Swords, and Spear-Halberds.

      Here are some pictures and videos to prove that what I am saying is true.


      Horseback Flail


      Horseback Spear-Halberd



      Great War Mace



      Moon Sword (Yes, I know it's actually a polearm. I didn't name it.)



      A Moon Sword being used from horseback.





      Video of Equestrian Martial Arts. Skip to 1:15 to see riders using the Spear two-handed and the Moon Sword.



      Video of Equestrian Martial Arts. Skip to 2:50 to see riders using the Spear two-handed and the Moon Sword.




      Some of the places that I got my information from.
      binhdinh-salongcuong.org/GB_EQ…ary%20Horse%20Riding.html
      forums.taleworlds.com/index.php?topic=45918.15


      As you can see, using great weapons on horseback is actually possible and was actually practiced! Granted, as stated before, it was more of an eastern tradition. I do not know why this tradition never appeared in the west...

      Sorry I could not find more videos. I may try looking for more later on... Anyway, I hope this helps people that have been having problems with mounted units wielding great weapons.

      ========
      UPDATE
      ========

      Petterwass found some interesting pictures for me, that I've decided to add to this post. These pictures show that the west did make some use of two-handed weapons on horseback. Though, once again, it seemed such martial traditions did not see widespread use in the west. Upon talking it over with others, I've come to the conclusion that it was just 'one of those things'...

      Russian cavalry wielding Sovnya.



      Early medieval mounted Knight wielding what some believe to be a glaive. (The guy cutting the other guy in half.)

      Skeleton

      The post was edited 6 times, last by Emperor_Zoron ().

    • Good research indeed but i have to diagree with your point.
      Still from a pure historical point of view it is still not much of a gain to use such weapons on horseback.
      Yes there are some polearms and maces/flairs that could be used from a horseback it is quite not as efficent as a heavy one-handed weapons. The great problem with great weapons is their size and weigth making them hard to handel in a saddle. Balance is an issue and you are not able to parry any incoming blows. The weapon you are reffering to are mostly ligth but long weapons which could be used in one singel hand , making them hardly count as great weapons. Great weapons were used by warriors on foot to give them the punch they needed to overcome the enemy defences both parry and armour. Heavier and longer than other weapons you need two hands to use one properly and a firm stand. A rider has the charge of the mount giving him the momentum to give his weapon the extra punch he needs to get the same effect. A greater weapon would have too much momentum, making it even dangerous for its wielder.

      Think of a knight in full armour wielding a giant two handed blade with a weigth of about 11 pounds swinging it down on an enemy in full charge. Yes the knigth will definitly crush anything that stand in the way of his sword but after the blow the momentum of his weapon would lift him out of the saddle. That is one reason why european knigths stuck to their lances and one-handed weapons.
      Another Problem is reach. While a Great Weapon has far more reach than a normal one-handed Weapon, against a lance it is still somewhat short. Seeing how cavalary often faced each other on the battlefield a lance would come in handy if you could trust your opponent before he could even swing his massive weapon at you.

      I still dont mind seeing them in a fantasy setting and i love the look of them in Tabletop but in a real scenario i would bet my money on a groupe of riders with lances or long spears over great weapons.
      :DE: Sa'an'ishar :DE:
    • You are, in fact, incorrect on several points. The weight of typical great swords actually was usually 5-8 pounds. They were not as hefty as one would imagine.

      The same can be said for many other 'great weapons'. The other weapon's weight have been harder to pin down, as there are some conflicting sources. The Chinese spear-halberd, for example, seems to have usually weighed around 4-6 pounds... European halberds seemed to usually weigh around 4-8 pounds. There is not much of a difference there.

      The average weight of two-handed maces and hammers has been particularly hard for me to find... They could weigh around 4-9 pounds. The video below shows a man practicing with a two-handed 'training mace' that has a 5 pound steel head. I should point out that some of the more heavier two-handed hammer/maces had shafts made of solid metal. Though some of the heavier ones ALSO had shafts made of wood... Go figure.

      The link below the video shows a serviceable replica of a Bec de Corbin, a polearm, that weighs less than four pounds! Below that a Italian Pole Hammer that weighed just over 4 pounds. Below that link is a Burgundian poleaxe weighing in at 4.3 pounds! They are all of reasonable lengths, I might add.

      My point here is that what you consider a 'great weapon' was not actually THAT much heavier than the weapons used by the asian cavalry above. In some cases, they were actually equal to or even lighter than them! So, yes, the above CAN and DO count as great weapons. Weapons that could be, with proper training, used on horseback!

      I won't argue the fact that lances are probably superior to such alternatives. They, indeed, probably are and were the superior choice. (I never said they were not, by the way.) They offered greater reach and allowed the horseman to usually strike his foe first. They were also, comparatively, easier and safer to use for the rider. Regardless, though, that was not the point of this entire topic...

      The point of the above post, was to prove that it was POSSIBLE. Effectiveness of such weapons, especially in comparison to lances, was not a factor in this. I was trying to prove that using such weapons on horseback was not impossible. As I had noticed many people expressing their dislike that several cavalry units could use great weapons or two-handed weapons. (Halberds were a particular offender.)

      Anyway, I hope that this has quelled any doubt that you may have had. I also hope that this was enlightening for you, as it certainly was for me. I am most certain I will have dreams filled with polearms, war-hammers, and maces.



      Two-Handed Mace Drill


      myarmoury.com/othr_aa_bec.html <=== Bec de Corbin
      arms-n-armor.com/pole232.html <=== Italian Pole Hammer
      arms-n-armor.com/pole217.html <=== Burgundian poleaxe
      thearma.org/essays/2HGS.html#.VmT2VbgrLIU <=== Great Sword weight

      Skeleton

      The post was edited 6 times, last by Emperor_Zoron ().

    • IMO the main problem with anything two handed on a horse is:
      - Slow transition from one side to other, usually you have to chop infantry on both sides at the same time. For cavalry to cavalry combat Lance > all.
      - With Lance you have an easy transition from impact weapon to one handed sword since you already have a Shield attached to your off hand.
      - No wrist/hand protection (swords have guard) which is very important in fast driven combat and is often neglected in Fantasy. Full plate gauntlets do help.
      - If you don't have Lance apparently you do not need reach. You have speed. Your horse is much faster than your swing that is why Lances are not a swing weapon.
      - Polearm can get stuck in an enemy weapon, shield or body. And if you don't let go of the weapon you will be pulled off a horse. Sword is easily pulled out, as well as lance.

      It really just comes down to what you are fighting. Flail on a horse indeed looks more terrifying than a Lance and once you impacted enemy you draw a sword. But with Lance you already have a shield equipped, Lance is effectively two handed weapon in one hand.


      Yes two handed weapon on a horse was possible. But is clearly sub par to Lance/Sword and board transition.
    • People seem to be forgetting that I was just wanting to prove that this was possible. I never said that great weapons or two-handed weapons were better than lances...


      waschbaer wrote:

      Yeah you can clearly see that u cannot pull your arms in the way the riders do but its fantasy

      I've looked back at the footage and don't see what you mean. From what I saw, it looks like you could replicate most, if not all, of what was done in the other videos.

      Skeleton

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Emperor_Zoron ().

    • LoreSeeker wrote:

      Krokz wrote:

      Yes two handed weapon on a horse was possible. But is clearly sub par to Lance/Sword and board transition.
      I think possibility is what we are discussing here! History (or at least, western history) has already given us proof that lance, spear and sabre were cavalry weapons of choice!
      And Eastern history proves that they were not, not until comparatively recently.
      Used yes, but not exclusively.
      I haz a blog! the-ninth-age.com/blog/index.p…-the-moment-aslo-batreps/.

      Mostly KoE and ID stuff. Now also some Void
    • LoreSeeker wrote:

      Krokz wrote:

      Yes two handed weapon on a horse was possible. But is clearly sub par to Lance/Sword and board transition.
      I think possibility is what we are discussing here! History (or at least, western history) has already given us proof that lance, spear and sabre were cavalry weapons of choice!
      I think this was more of a matter of custom and tactical doctrine than the effectiveness of the weapon in question. In the west cavalry culminated into the heavy shock cavalry that was the knight. For him the primary weapon was the lance for its shock properties. Not just to attack blocks of enemies, but also to have a chance to harm opposing (heavily armoured) knights. And even these two 'obvious' points are rather uncertain; we still don't know much about the actual mechanics of medieval combat.

      Did knights slam head-on into the enemy lines to break them open? To demoralize the enemy hoping they would flee? Or did they make quick probing attacks into weak spots to disrupt enemy lines (something which today we would attibute to light cavalry)?

      What we do know for sure, it that Western Knights were a purely melee unit (and even that is under revision, as latter-day knights were not above using guns). Not so for Eastern 'knights'. They had actually had much in common with Arab and Tartan cavalry: missile cavalry. Even the famed Samurai considered their bows their main weapon, employing the sword as a last resort (their love for the katana came late in their history, when they faded as pure military units and became a class in society).

      Their tactics were to dart into range, loose a volley of arrows, and dart out again before the enemy could respond. This has little effect on the front of a block of infantry with shields ready, but works wonders on flanks, rears and weak points. Likewise, a long polearm could easily be used to strike at exposed and surprised infantry in a quick passing.

      Polearms probably weren't intended for chaotic melees. Not because you cant parry with them or something: western medieval martial arts considered the spear and polearm an integral part of a knight's martial skills, and had many techniques to fight and defend with them. It can be expected Eastern martial arts had something similar. And using a polearm on horseback is no harder than using a sword on horseback. It is more a case of Eastern Knights didn't want to find himself in one or else he'd be dead.

      In a chaotic melee one can expect a cavalryman to have lost all forward momentum, and quickly be surrounded by enemy infantry. And that is something that even is deadly for today's modern Main Battle tanks. Battles like Crecy and Courtrai ended as they did because heavy cavalry reached enemy lines piecemal, confused and disorganized, where they were easily stopped surrounded and overwhelmed. In the case of Crecy the excellent protection of the french knights ensured that after each assault enough survived to make it appear another assault was possible and viable. All with the same result because the next attack was as disorganized as the last.

      But one should not use these examples as the achetyical knightly cavalry tactic: they were, after all, utter fiascos. One does not study tank tactics by using the French and Soviet examples in 1940 and 1941.

      But I digress...

      TLDR:
      The European knight was a product of his culture, which saw his role as that of a battle tank, while Eastern knights were more for skirmishing and harrasment. The former relied on shock and protection, where lance and massive armour were essential, while the second preferred speed and range.
    • On a note, pole arms on horseback were used by the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean; mostly glaives, but halberds were used as well. I wouldn't count them as 2hnded weapons, but I don't object overly much.

      The Koreans even used a double handed flail!

      Queen of Pants


      To plagiarize Cato the Elder "And further WYSIWYG must be destroyed"

      facebook.com/FirebrandProductions/
    • Taki wrote:

      On a note, pole arms on horseback were used by the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean; mostly glaives, but halberds were used as well. I wouldn't count them as 2hnded weapons, but I don't object overly much.

      The Koreans even used a double handed flail!

      Taki wrote:

      On a note, pole arms on horseback were used by the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean; mostly glaives, but halberds were used as well. I wouldn't count them as 2hnded weapons, but I don't object overly much.

      The Koreans even used a double handed flail!
      Most of which are in the OP :)
      I haz a blog! the-ninth-age.com/blog/index.p…-the-moment-aslo-batreps/.

      Mostly KoE and ID stuff. Now also some Void
    • Petterwass wrote:

      Taki wrote:

      On a note, pole arms on horseback were used by the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean; mostly glaives, but halberds were used as well. I wouldn't count them as 2hnded weapons, but I don't object overly much.

      The Koreans even used a double handed flail!

      Taki wrote:

      On a note, pole arms on horseback were used by the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean; mostly glaives, but halberds were used as well. I wouldn't count them as 2hnded weapons, but I don't object overly much.

      The Koreans even used a double handed flail!
      Most of which are in the OP :)
      The image links are broken for me, but that's probably the work firewall

      Queen of Pants


      To plagiarize Cato the Elder "And further WYSIWYG must be destroyed"

      facebook.com/FirebrandProductions/
    • Taki wrote:

      Petterwass wrote:

      Taki wrote:

      On a note, pole arms on horseback were used by the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean; mostly glaives, but halberds were used as well. I wouldn't count them as 2hnded weapons, but I don't object overly much.

      The Koreans even used a double handed flail!

      Taki wrote:

      On a note, pole arms on horseback were used by the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean; mostly glaives, but halberds were used as well. I wouldn't count them as 2hnded weapons, but I don't object overly much.

      The Koreans even used a double handed flail!
      Most of which are in the OP :)
      The image links are broken for me, but that's probably the work firewall
      I hope that's the case. I've gone to some effort to make sure the images remain viewable in this thread. I'm terribly sorry you can't view them yourself. Try googling some of the names that I've typed above the pictures, as well as the term 'Equestrian Martial Arts'. You'll be able to, hopefully view some of the stuff, for youself, that way.

      Skeleton

    • Emperor_Zoron wrote:

      Taki wrote:

      Petterwass wrote:

      Taki wrote:

      On a note, pole arms on horseback were used by the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean; mostly glaives, but halberds were used as well. I wouldn't count them as 2hnded weapons, but I don't object overly much.

      The Koreans even used a double handed flail!

      Taki wrote:

      On a note, pole arms on horseback were used by the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean; mostly glaives, but halberds were used as well. I wouldn't count them as 2hnded weapons, but I don't object overly much.

      The Koreans even used a double handed flail!
      Most of which are in the OP :)
      The image links are broken for me, but that's probably the work firewall
      I hope that's the case. I've gone to some effort to make sure the images remain viewable in this thread. I'm terribly sorry you can't view them yourself. Try googling some of the names that I've typed above the pictures, as well as the term 'Equestrian Martial Arts'. You'll be able to, hopefully view some of the stuff, for youself, that way.
      They work for me, at least
      I haz a blog! the-ninth-age.com/blog/index.p…-the-moment-aslo-batreps/.

      Mostly KoE and ID stuff. Now also some Void
    • Emperor_Zoron wrote:

      Taki wrote:

      Petterwass wrote:

      Taki wrote:

      On a note, pole arms on horseback were used by the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean; mostly glaives, but halberds were used as well. I wouldn't count them as 2hnded weapons, but I don't object overly much.

      The Koreans even used a double handed flail!

      Taki wrote:

      On a note, pole arms on horseback were used by the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean; mostly glaives, but halberds were used as well. I wouldn't count them as 2hnded weapons, but I don't object overly much.

      The Koreans even used a double handed flail!
      Most of which are in the OP :)
      The image links are broken for me, but that's probably the work firewall
      I hope that's the case. I've gone to some effort to make sure the images remain viewable in this thread. I'm terribly sorry you can't view them yourself. Try googling some of the names that I've typed above the pictures, as well as the term 'Equestrian Martial Arts'. You'll be able to, hopefully view some of the stuff, for youself, that way.
      Ah I see, they work on my phone with wifi off

      Queen of Pants


      To plagiarize Cato the Elder "And further WYSIWYG must be destroyed"

      facebook.com/FirebrandProductions/
    • LoreSeeker wrote:

      Krokz wrote:

      Yes two handed weapon on a horse was possible. But is clearly sub par to Lance/Sword and board transition.
      I think possibility is what we are discussing here! History (or at least, western history) has already given us proof that lance, spear and sabre were cavalry weapons of choice!
      Not really. Maces, axes and various other weapons have been used for quite some time. Swords and sabres are pretty worthless against armoured opponents (especially on horseback where slashes are easier than well-placed thrusts) and other weapons were used for quite some time:
      upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia…1st_English_Civil_War.jpg