Fencing pikes- project update

13 May

The proposal is in the final draft stage.  When this has been approved by everyone, it will go to Don Collin Monro, the supervising marshal so that he can submit it to the East Kingdom Marshal and the Deputy Experimental Weapons Marshal.  From there… its a waiting game.  This has been a huge learning experience from historical research to modern day process.  The whole team has been fantastic, many thanks.

Excerpts from the proposal.

The half- pike
The weapon being proposed as an experimental weapon and weapons form is half-pike. This is a short pike, sometimes carried by officers of infantry, sometimes used in boarding ships. It was a weapon having a long tapering double-edged blade mounted on the end of a long shaft, used chiefly in the 16th and 17th centuries.


  • Introduce a period weapon and that would have been used against rapiers in one on one combat.
  • Expanding the breadth of knowledge of historical sword play through an additional weapons form.
  • Provide structure and a rule set to allow safe play for the rapier community.

Proposed weapon
While there are similarities to a standard pike, the half-pike is a different weapon. The chief difference is the length from the waist to the head. This is significant as it changes the balance towards the head of the weapon. The fencing pike is the modern weapon that most resembles the half-pike.

Alchem Fencing Pike
This is the only weapon we plan to use in this experiment. The fencing pike consist of a highly flexible 37 inch blade, similar to a flat tang rapier blade, mounted in a tubular steel socket. Blades and sockets may be ordered alone or hafted on a 1 1/4 inch diameter wooden pole. Hafts are available in lengths of 5 or 6 feet. Blades are held in the socket by a tubular spring steel tension pin. The pin may be pressed out so that the blade can be removed for transport.

Impact on the Rapier community
As the Rapier community branches out into areas of sword play beyond the application of the “duel”, fencers should have access to weapons and weapon forms which would have been historically correct in time frame and application. The half pike is a weapon which has been employed in military units and protecting ships and cities from invading forces. Most of the fencing masters of the time, German, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, and English, had specific techniques developed for the rapier on half pike scenario.

Fencing is a family of sports and activities that feature armed combat involving cutting, stabbing, or slapping bludgeoning weapons that are directly manipulated by hand, rather than shot, thrown or positioned. Examples include swords, knives, pikes (half pikes), bayonets, batons, clubs, and similar weapons.

Masters of Defense of London
The Company of the Masters of Defense of London was an officially recognized guild of teachers of fencing in England .Henry VIII gave the guild a charter in 1540 granting it a monopoly to teach proficiency in all of the weapons of war that a gentleman should know. To achieve rank in the guild, members had to prove worthiness through prize challenges.

Master prize challenges
Challenges are recorded as taking place before Henry VIII, Edward VI, Philip & Mary, and Elizabeth I, with a wider variety of weapons than was used in the prizes. Weapons used include axe, pike, rapier, rapier and target, rapier and cloak, dagger, and two swords

Other schools and military units

  • Spaniard Atanasio de Ayala wrote a short text dealing with staff/pike weapons.
  • Dutch Johannes Georgius Pascha, offered a rapier text that included substantial material on the pike and unarmed combat.
  • Fabris’ fencing treatise offers techniques for rapier to defeat half pikes. “If the sword and buckler fighter isn’t trained in fighting someone with a pike, the pike will win every fight. But then show the sword and buckler fighter how to defeat the pike, and the tables will be turned.”
  • Fencing master, George Hale adds “…as I have seene upon the publique Stage, a single Rapier most shamefully foyle both Halberd and halfe Pike.”
  • 16th century, Italian defense schools did not consider a martial swordsman well rounded unless they had training in all of the knife/sword weapons including the partisan (pole-knife).
  • Landsknecht/Swiss units through out the 16th century were known for having mixed military units with rapiers, pikes and artillery.

The addition of the fencing pike (half-pike) will expand the tools available for the study of historical sword-play and we will have the opportunity to practice as the masters did in period. A broader choice of weapons available to the fencing community encourages deeper study in their use, and thereby encourages a deeper and more sincere for the individual fencer to increase his or her skill.

Introducing the half-pike into SCA rapier combat encourages study in the techniques used in history.

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Posted by on May 13, 2009 in Swordplay


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