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Pollaxe Combat:

Principles and Tactics

By:

Hugh T. Knight, Jr.

Pollaxe Combat: Principles and Tactics By: Hugh T. Knight, Jr.

Pollaxe Combat: Principles and Tactics

T his paper will discuss the general principles and tactics of pollaxe combat in armored duels. It will not address specific techniques, as such; for those, see my book The Play of the Axe available from Lulu.com. Rather, in this paper I will

discuss the general process of combat, and how to use the axe most efficiently in that process. The principles here are those which underlie the art of the axe and which are necessary in order to understand how to use the Fechtbuch techniques correctly and effectively. Some of this is not explicitly discussed in any Fechtbuch, but through careful practice over many years I have found these principles and tactical principles to

be plainly implied by the masters and absolutely necessary in order to make their published techniques work correctly in an actual fight.

GUARDS

You may grip the axe in one of two ways: Thumbs opposed or thumbs aligned. Thumbs opposed means that the thumb of each hand faces the other. Thumbs aligned means that both thumbs face the croix of the axe (NB: you should never hold your axe with the left thumb pointing toward the queue—it will always point toward the croix). While the thumbs-aligned grip is more intuitive for most men, the thumbs-opposed grip is actually more versatile, and is worth learning to use well. It gives somewhat less reach with a thrust double, but is just as effective for other techniques.

In all single axe play, you must take care to hold your axe in thirds, with the croix above your right hand and the queue below your left hand; thus, one third of the shaft will be between your hands. In war you may hold the axe long so that when you strike you do not accidently hit your friends with the other end as you do so. In single combat, however, it is important to be able to use either end of the axe at will, and to be able to switch from using one end to the other effortlessly (just using each end—not switching grips; see below). If you hold your axe too close to one end you will find it harder to bring that end into play instantly.

Do not hold your axe too close to your body when in the guard of the low queue because when you do so it presents less of a static defense against your opponent’s attacks; be especially careful to hold your queue well out in front of your knee, but not so far out that your opponent can knock it without stepping. Also, do not hold your axe parallel to the ground at any time, but especially when displacing attacks, because doing that means your defenses will have too small of an angle of incidence with regard to your opponent’s axe, and thus his axe may slip off of your displacements too easily.

Avoid standing in guard as much as possible. This does not mean to switch from one guard to the other while awaiting your opponent’s attack—that is foolishness, because you are most susceptible to being hit while changing from one guard to another (c.f. the plays of the vier Versetzen with the longsword). Rather, you are to attack first when you can, a Vorschlag, and not just stand awaiting your opponent’s attack except in special circumstances, of which more below.

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There are times when you may wish to stand in guard briefly to await or invite your opponent’s attack. This is useful when your opponent is in guard and his guard is such that you think a simple attack may be dangerous to use because he is ready and prepared to use a powerful counter against your attack. You can judge this by his demeanor: if he is confident and steady, you may suspect he is skilled enough to counter your attack easily. Do not wait long under even these circumstances, however, because doing so is of little use. If you wait for a few moments and he still does not attack, then you must attack, but you should do so with a feint to draw him from his guard so that you may hit him where you wish—that should upset whatever counterattack he had planned.

THE PARTS OF THE AXE

The axe is, by definition and intent, an unbalanced weapon. The croix is heavy, while the queue is fast and agile. Many believe that the croix is the primary “business end” of the axe, but they are mistaken; the author of Le Jeu de la Hache says this explicitly, saying that an expert will advance with his queue forward. When someone attacks with the dague or mail, the attack will necessarily be slower than your counter with the lighter, faster queue. Thus, you should normally prefer to assume a guard with the queue forward, either low or high, so you are better prepared to use it. If you also pay attention to the importance of length and measure, so that your opponent cannot attack you without taking a step to do so, it should be all but impossible for him to strike you successfully with a simple attack since a quick movement of your hands will interpose your queue against his attack in the Time of the Hand.

The croix of your axe is better used for attacks in the Krieg after you have displaced an attack with your queue. One exception to this is when you are in the guard of the low dague: This guard is useful for thrusting attacks against an unwary opponent using the thrust single, which has a very long range your opponent may not expect. Be wary of using this, however, as a successful displacement of such a thrust will make it hard to defend against follow-on attacks since your axe may fly far out to the side because of how far down your hands are toward the queue. This guard is also useful for countering blows from above with either the Absetzen or Hinterbinden.

The bec de faucon is never used for striking, despite what many believe. Armor is proof against such attacks, and they slide off too easily to be of much use for percussive effect. The only thing for which the bec is used in any Fechtbuch we have is as a hook, to yank or pull. Such yanking techniques are most often applied to the neck (Halsreissen) or knee (Kniereissen) to throw your opponent forward or backward, respectively, to the ground, or against the shaft of your opponent’s axe (Axtreissen) to remove it from his hand.

When you hook anything with your bec, be it your opponent or the shaft of his axe, you must pay attention to do it correctly. Many men simply reach out with their axes and

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attempt to snag the bec on the target. This approach often results in a shallow hook, and this can easily result in your bec slipping off of its target. The correct way to hook a target is to strike at the target with the shaft of your axe immediately below the bec so that the bec goes past the target. For example, if you wish to hook your opponent’s knee, don’t reach out with a snatching motion to hook the knee, instead, strike the side

of his knee with the shaft of your axe just below your bec so that the bec passes behind

his knee. That way, your bec will be firmly on the target when you begin to pull, and a moderate amount of force in the strike will also help to break your opponent’s balance.

THE ZUFECHTEN AND THE KRIEG

A Vorschlag will be successful only in rare instances, such as when your opponent’s

attention wanders. This is because of length and measure: If your opponent is the

correct distance away, you must necessarily take a step in order to hit him in the Time

of the Hand, Body, and Foot. This means your attack will take longer to land than it

would take for him to simply interpose his axe between your attack and his person since he can do so in the Time of the Hand. Thus, it is pointless to try to force the Vorschlag to land, such as by trying to move extremely fast, because that will only make it harder to move on to the next action. The Vorschlag is not really expected to land, although it would be delightful if it did—take care not to make a half-hearted attack, as it may well work.

The real purpose of a Vorschlag is twofold: First, it allows you to close from the Zufechten into the Krieg safely because your opponent will need to defend himself as you close rather than attacking you. Second, it puts you into the Vor since, again, he is forced to defend himself as you attack, which puts him in the Nach.

Once you close into the Krieg, you must apply the principle of frequens motus, or constant motion. Whether you attack in the Vor or counter his attack with a technique that takes the Vor, in both cases you must work to maintain the Vor at all times, never giving your opponent a chance to leave the Nach so he can attack you. So if he displaces your Vorschlag, then you must move to another attack Indes so he is forced to displace that attack, and so on until he misses a displacement and is struck. In general you will best accomplish this by moving from end to end with your axe. Thus, if your first attack is an Oberstich with your queue and it is displaced, then you should strike with your mail. If that is displaced, do the next thing, whatever it may be, with your queue, switching back and forth, end to end, until your opponent is defeated.

Frequens motus also means that you should constantly be looking for targets for light attacks, especially when your queue is forward, as it should be the majority of the time.

Look for quick, light thrusts single to the palms of your opponent’s hands, his face if his visor is up or off, or his feet if he is not wearing sabatons. Keep your queue in constant motion so he does not know where it will strike, but take care he does not have a chance

to strike your queue when it is extended away from you lest he knock it out of your

hand.

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In addition to targets for quick thrusts, you should also watch carefully for any weakness in your opponent’s stance or guard. If his stance is weak, you can attempt a Kniereissen with your bec or queue. If his guard is weak, you can attempt to knock his axe out of his grip (see below) or you can try to slide your queue through the gap between one of his arms and the shaft of his axe in order to apply one of the arm levers.

ATTACKING THE SHAFT

While it is a general principle of the Kunst des Fechtens that we attack the man, not the weapon, some of the attacks you use in pollaxe combat may be strikes against the shaft of his axe in the hopes of making him lose his grip. Thus, if you attack with an Oberschlag with your mail, and he displaces with his croix, you may strike the back of his croix with your queue in order to try to knock his axe out through the fingers of his right hand. Thus, some of your attacks may be at his weapon rather than at him; note, however, that it is still preferable to move from end to end (croix to queue in this case) as you do so.

When you attack his weapon, take care to strike against his grip. This means to strike the shaft of his axe on the same side as the back of his hand so that you knock the shaft out through the weak of his grip—that is, through the fingers. For example, if he is in the right guard of the low queue and he starts to lift his queue so it comes into your reach, circle your queue over his axe and use a powerful backhanded stroke (i.e., from your right to your left) so that you knock his queue out through the fingers of his left hand toward your left. If he is holding his axe right handed with the croix forward, strike forehanded with your queue from your left to right to knock his axe out through the fingers of his right hand to your right. These knocking techniques can often follow after a simple displacement. For example, if he attacks with an Oberschlag from his right, you can displace with your croix, then strike the back of his shaft with your queue to knock it out of the fingers of his right hand to your right.

One exception to the rule about moving from end to end is that when he places his demy hache in the way of your axe you may wish to hook his axe with your bec de faucon (Axtreissen) in an attempt to rip it out of his hands. Learn to twist your axe quickly in your grip so that you can rotate it while starting to pull back with the bec de faucon—try to avoid doing it in two motions.

THRUSTS

There are three kinds of thrusts: Thrusts single, thrusts double, and Ansetzen; all three kinds can be done with the queue or the dague, and thrusts single and double can be done from below or above (Oberstich or Unterstich). A thrust single is done by relaxing the grip of your forward hand (i.e., your left hand for a thrust with the queue and your right for a thrust with the dague) and driving the thrust with your rear hand so that the shaft of your axe slides smoothly through your forward hand, then recovering back to a

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normal grip immediately (sort of like using a pool queue); you will often lunge forward as you do so. To execute a thrust double, grip the shaft of your axe firmly and thrust forward with both hands while lunging toward your target.

The Ansetzen is a special version of the thrust double; it is essentially a “thrust and push” attack. The Ansetzen is not a percussive thrust; instead, it is a heavy, driving push. To execute it, grip your axe firmly with both hands, and place the point (queue or dague) firmly against the target. “Couch” your axe under your armpit and lock it in place by pressing your rear arm over it. Then drive the point into the target with a powerful pushing motion by stepping in with your feet in order to use your entire body to push the point in. Although no source discusses the footwork for such thrusts, experiments have shown that a passing step works best for driving the point in. Ansetzen are normally used against targets covered in mail; the idea is to place your point into the links of the mail then drive hard enough to push the point into the target through the mail either by simply sliding through a link or by breaking one. An Ansetzen can also be used to drive or push your opponent where you want him to go, such as in “showing him the gate” (see below).

ATTACKING ARMOR

While armor is very effective protection, it can be defeated by attacking it correctly. Plate armor is practically invulnerable to significant penetration, but it necessarily has gaps at the joints, and thrusting attacks to these openings can be very effective even when they are covered by mail. You should thrust to the insides of the elbows; the armpits and the entire surrounding area not covered by the breastplate; the back of the neck if your opponent is wearing a sallet; the backs of the knees; the backs of the thighs if your opponent’s cuisses do not fully cover them; the palms of the hands; the feet if your opponent is not wearing sabatons; the junction between the top of the sabatons and the lower edge of the greave; and any other location not covered by plate. Of course, if your opponent is not wearing a visor, something quite common in lethal fights, his face is one of the best possible targets for a thrust (although sometimes a mere turn of the head can interpose the side of his helmet); even if he is wearing a visor, however, a heavy thrust can still have significant percussive effect, and can stun as effectively as a blow of the mail.

Striking attacks with the mail of your axe against armor function differently. There are two goals for striking attacks: You can either seek to damage your opponent through his armor, or you can seek to limit his actions by damaging the armor itself. Some helmets worn in foot combat were padded with relatively thin liners, often stuffed with animal hair or wool, so a heavy blow to the helmet can be quite effective at stunning your opponent. Great bascinets, however, do not suffer from this weakness, so pay attention to the kind of helmet your opponent is wearing. When you strike the helmet, try to turn your axe so that the face of the mail impacts perpendicularly to the slope of the helmet. Although the teeth on the mail will help it to “stick” when it lands, a straight-down blow will often glance off because the slope creates a glancing surface which prevents

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most of the blow’s force from being transmitted to the target. Another effective target for striking blows is the hand, especially the fingers. Gauntlets are usually quite thin in order to make them light, and as hands are quite delicate a blow there can be very effective. Hands are, however, quick and highly mobile, so they can be difficult to target.

The armor itself can be vulnerable to striking attacks. The lames, which allow armor to articulate, are usually of thinner metal than the rest of the plates. Thus, a heavy blow to the lames at the joints can cause the armor to fit improperly or make it difficult or impossible for your opponent to move the limb they protect. A blow to the lames of a pauldron, for example, can prevent it from sitting correctly on the shoulder, which can create a gap into which you can thrust; such a blow can also make it very difficult for your opponent to move his arm.

SHOWING THE GATE

In addition to striking, thrusting, and hooking, you can also use the shaft of your axe to drive your opponent where you want him to go. Some judicial combat rule sets consider driving your opponent from the lists through one of the two gates in the list enclosure a victory condition; this is called “showing him the gate.” We have already discussed doing this with an Ansetzen above; to do this with your shaft, you must use a technique that causes him to present his back to you—a lever action on one of his arms with your queue, or a wrenching with your bec, for example. The instant his back is turned to you, you must immediately (Indes) press the middle of your axe shaft—the demy hache—against his back at or just below his shoulder blades with your axe horizontal and parallel to the ground. You want your axe to be well above his waist since the higher you go the harder it will be for him to resist since you are on the “weak” of his body; take care not to go too high, however, as that will make it easy for him to slip out under your axe. Your hands should be in a thumbs-opposed grip and just outside the sides of his body. Start driving him in the direction you want him to go by pushing on the end of the axe on that side, but make sure to keep the entire shaft of your axe against his back. You must use Fühlen as you push so as to know how he is responding; he may turn right, left, or try to rush forward faster than you are advancing, and you must feel his action through the shaft of your axe and respond accordingly, by either pushing against the direction of his turn or speeding up to prevent him from breaking contact.

FIGHTING LEFT HANDED

Some Fechtbücher show left-handed techniques, that is, ones done with the left hand gripping the shaft toward the mail. Le Jeu de La Hache, by contrast, only shows how to fight someone who is using an axe left handed, it does not show anything about using the axe that way yourself. There is no indication that using an axe left handed is in any way tied to handedness; rather, it just seems a tactical choice. If you choose to use your axe left handed do not be tempted to switch to that grip, nor to switch back and forth,

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while in the Krieg, nor even in the Zufechten. Take up your grip only when out of range, never in any situation in which your axe can be struck while doing so. A certain famous instructor with rather confused ideas about how pollaxes are meant to be used teaches ways to change grips during an engagement and urges people to practice this foolish action. Be aware, however, that doing so is the height of folly because the switch is somewhat unsure in gauntlets, and even the lightest strike to your axe could cause you to lose your grip to your great detriment.

LENGTH AND MEASURE

All arts have length and measure, the masters say. For the pollaxe, length and measure are somewhat complex because of the different ways the axe can be used. When you hold an axe correctly in thirds swinging blows and thrusts double have very short lengths; that is, their reach is quite short and you must, therefore, use them at very close measure—dagger fighting range, really. This is especially true since the interaction between gauntlets and the lower cannons of the vambraces limits the motion of the wrists. This seems counterintuitive to most people given the length of the axe, which can cause inexperienced combatants to either miss with their attacks or unbalance themselves by reaching in more than is safe.

Balanced against that, however, we must consider the fact that the axe can be swung “long” (meaning holding it at the far end rather than in thirds), and the fact that thrusts single have extremely long reach, especially when coupled with a lunge. These techniques can be done from a normal guard, too—even the long strike, you can just slide your hands down the shaft as you strike—making it very difficult to tell when your opponent is going to use such a technique. For these reasons you must be careful when considering measure in combat and be careful to watch your opponent closely.

GENERATING FORCE SAFELY

When using a longsword we are carefully taught not to over swing—not to make huge, cleaving cuts because such cuts put you out of position if you miss; and after all, very little force is required to kill with a longsword in unarmored combat. When striking with a pollaxe in armored combat, however, the circumstances are quite different; a light strike with the mail will have no effect whatsoever, and great force is required to do any damage. Striking with great force is likely to put you in a bad position if you miss your target, however, and even if you do not over swing the effort you put into the swing is likely to make you somewhat stiff, thus making you slower when you try to go on to the next action. Indeed, the author of Le Jeu was careful to warn us that when we strike at someone we are to be careful not to let the axe go past our opponent because that would be dangerous.

In order to strike with great force without over swinging you must take care to strike with your entire body; aim the strike of your mail through your target, but only just. You have to aim where the end of your arc of attack is intended to go (just past the

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target, not to its surface), not just swing blindly. In addition, and just as importantly, you must use both hands to generate the force of your strike. Too many men drive forward with the right hand, but let the left hand lie still; this is comparatively weak. Instead, you must pull back with your left hand as you drive forward with the right— both hands work together to generate the force, and the left hand also gives better control. This is not just true for strikes: You must also use a push-pull motion of both hands when using a lever action (e.g., an arm rip) or a displacement (e.g., the Hinterbinden).

ABSQUATULATION

The word absquatulate means to leave abruptly; it’s a lovely word rarely used today. In Le Jeu de La Hache, the author often tells us to escape backward from an attack, re- grabbing the shaft of our axe if we have lost our grip, and taking up a new guard out of range. He describes the action in a relatively piecemeal fashion, however, never explaining it as a general principle. In practice, he means for us to use this in any untenable position, and that usually refers to a displacement or strike against the back of the shaft of our axe, especially one that knocks it out of our hand. This is no mere jumping out of the way wildly; it is a specific way of recovering your shaft while moving safely out of range. It is this action I have chosen to call “absquatulation,” since the books give us no explicit term for it.

To explain the principle of absquatulation, we will examine a specific situation to make it simple to describe; be aware, however, that this is but one of numerous examples of absquatulation in Le Jeu, and that there are others, although they are all pretty much the same. In our example, your opponent attacks with an Oberschlag and you respond with an Absetzen with your dague. Before your thrust can land, however, your opponent strikes the back of your croix with his queue with a forehand action from his left to his right. This knocks the shaft of your axe out through the weakest part of your grip—your fingers—and off to your left side. Having done so, he prepares to follow after you with a blow of his mail while you are helpless because you are only holding your axe with one hand. What do you do? You can simply drop your axe and charge in to grapple, but let’s assume you prefer not to do that and want to continue using your axe.

You have two primary goals: First, to re-grab your axe, and second, to be safe against your opponent’s follow-on attack. In order to do that, your best move is to back out of the engagement to give yourself time and room. Since you just did an Absetzen, your right foot is forward. Therefore, you must take a very large passing step backward by passing back too far with your right foot then dragging your left foot back to assume a good balance stance. At the same time, you need to re-grab your axe with your right hand. Since the croix end of your axe can be anywhere, the safest approach, and the one that requires the least attention from your conscious mind, is to grab the part of the axe of whose location you can be sure—the part near your left hand. Therefore, grab the shaft of your axe right against your left hand, and do so thumb to thumb in a

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thumbs-opposed grip. It’s easier to grab with a thumbs-opposed grip when doing this because you don’t have to turn your wrist over. Once you have your grip, slide your right hand up toward the croix until it’s in its normal “thirds” position, pulling your croix back as you do so to assume the guard of the low queue, hopefully as, or even before, you have resumed a good balance stance.

You can’t pause there, however: You must act Indes, either to counter your opponent’s follow-on attack, or to attack him if he foolishly paused, so as to give yourself the Vor. Frequens motus applies here, too; the absquatulation is not simply a means of starting a fight over from scratch with ach of you glaring at the other over your axes.

That is, in general, the absquatulation. Of course, there are several variations. If you have your queue forward and he knocks it out of your hand, you reverse these directions, stepping back with your left foot and grabbing your shaft with your left hand, ending up in the guard of the high dague. Or you can lunge backward to end up in the guard of the low queue. You should see absquatulation as a principle, not a specific, rigid, technique. You must learn to do this quickly and surely, and it must be automatic—not requiring conscious thought—else you won’t be able to respond quickly enough to an opponent who knows to rush in with his attacks when you are helpless. Knocking an opponent’s axe out of his grip is one of the most preferred and advantageous tactics in the source material, so you must learn to respond Indes and well to such attacks.

ACTIONS FROM DISPLACEMENT

It is necessary to have a pre-prepared plan ready when you attack, whether you do so in the Zufechten or in the Krieg. There is usually little time to decide what to do after your attack is displaced, so, as the anonymous author of the so-called Döbringer Hausbuch (HS 3227a) tells us, we must go in with a plan for what to do if our attack is displaced, preferably one that is simple and can be done automatically. One way to do that is to create a matrix of all of the simple attacks and simple defenses to show how to react to the most common situations. All of the techniques to be described here are contained in the Fechtbücher—I’m not making anything new—this is just a way of organizing them and preparing for them in context; looking at them as an organized whole, not just as disparate techniques.

Despite the many and varied techniques for using the pollaxe, simple attacks can be broken down into a relatively few groups: Attacks with the queue, attacks with the croix (either mail or dague) except for thrusts single, and thrusts single with either the queue or the dague. Likewise, most simple displacements can be broken into just a few categories: A bind to the front of your shaft, a bind to the back of your shaft, and a bind with the demy hache.

Understanding what is meant by a bind to the front or back of your shaft can seem confusing, but it’s quite simple. It has to do with the position of your fingers on the

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shaft of your axe. A blow to the back of your shaft is one that is likely to knock the shaft

of your axe out between your fingers; thus, it is a strike against the side of your shaft

where the back of your hand is. A blow to the front of your shaft is one that tends to drive your shaft into your own palm; thus, it is one struck to the side of your shaft where your fingers are. Obviously, as we discussed above, a blow to the back of your shaft will be more effective for your opponent since it will tend to drive your shaft out

from between your fingers and thumb, causing you to lose control of your weapon.

The direction of such blows will depend upon which end of your axe is struck. If you

have your croix forward, then in order to strike the back of your axe your opponent will have to use his queue in a motion from his left to his right. To strike the front of your shaft, he will have to use his croix in a motion from his right to his left. If you have your queue forward, it is just the reverse: To strike the back of your shaft he will have

to use his croix in a motion from his right to his left. To strike the back of your shaft he

will have to use his queue from his left to his right. This is much more simple than it probably seems when written out.

A displacement with his demy hache is just what it sounds like: He interposes the

middle of his shaft against your attack. This will usually be done to counter a blow of the mail (although we do see it in the “Kniereissen bricht Unterstich” from Talhoffer). Typically it is used against vertical blows, but in truth, for this purpose it can be any displacement with the demy hache, such as that used in the technique “Hintertretten bricht Oberschlag,” too.

As you look at the table below, you will note that absquatulation seems to be the most common defense, which, given the Kunst des Fechtens’ propensity for defenses that move aggressively forward, may seem out of proportion. The simple fact is that blows

to the back of your shaft are extremely dangerous and difficult to counter, as are

displacements of thrusts single, as we discussed above. Both situations involve you losing control over one end of your weapon, something rather less common in other forms of our art. The author of Le Jeu was cognizant of this, because in several places he

was careful to warn you not to let your opponent get his axe behind yours—i.e., to strike the back of your axe. In truth, however, most simple displacements by poorly skilled opponents will be empty displacements against the front of your shaft, so absquatulation will less frequent in actual use than the matrix might suggest.

The other defenses are ones common to the axe material. The “binds of the queue” are simply the actions from a soft or hard bind of the queue from Le Jeu. The “queue knock” isn’t the one where you strike his queue as he starts to lift it, but the one from the second play of the croix versetzen in which he displaces your Oberschlag with his croix and you respond by striking the back of his axe with your queue after the bind. The “Axtreissen” is a universal technique in Harnischfechten, we see it in the play from the bind of the demy hache in Le Jeu in which you rotate your shaft so the bec hooks his shaft and you then yank downward.

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This is not to say that these specific acts are your only choices; obviously, the Fechtbücher contain a wide range of techniques for dealing with most situations. This is more of a simplified “go to” list for emergency situations when your attack has been displaced. You should train these actions until they happen automatically when your attacks are displaced. If you strike with your mail and he displaces with his croix, it should be automatic for you to strike the back of his shaft with your queue—you shouldn’t even have to think about it. And if the back of your axe is struck, or if your thrust single is struck away, you should immediately absquatulate without even having to think about it.

Nor is this matrix comprehensive. This looks only at simple defenses—empty displacements. This won’t tell you how to counter the more sophisticated counters from the Fechtbücher, such as the forward roll throw counter to a Halsreissen, for example. Those have to be learned through hard work and simple rote training, unfortunately. However, the fact is that many of the displacements in combat are simple displacements, so this matrix will help you in many of the situations that arise.

 

He strikes your axe:

   

You attack with:

Front

Back

Demy Hache

Queue

Binds of the Queue

Absquatulate

N/A

Croix (dague or mail)

Queue Knock (as in Croix displacement)

Absquatulate

Axtreissen with Bec de Faucon

Thrust Single

Absquatulate

Absquatulate

N/A

The pollaxe is a complex, sophisticated, and deadly weapon, and it is as elegant as it is brutal. It, and not the vaunted sword, should be considered the premier knightly weapon for armored foot combat. Learning to use it well requires studying the axe as a coordinated whole, and understanding all of its parts and their best place in the art. The general underlying principles of the Kunst des Fechtens certainly apply, but the axe has its own rules and principles, too. It is not enough to know and practice the techniques of the axe from Le Jeu, or Talhoffer, or Kal, you must learn how to apply them in an actual fight, which means understanding more than just the plain techniques. I hope this brief paper has made some of these ideas clearer and easier to understand.

Train safely and with honor, Hugh T. Knight, Jr. Fechtmeister, die Schlachtschule San Bernardino, CA 2015

© Copyright 2015 by the author. Permission is hereby granted to copy and distribute this document freely as long as it is done in whole and attributed correctly.

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