Realism and Weapons Part 2: Staff and Stick Weapons

THe last one was fun, and this might make for a good youtube series and I have alot of time on my hands.

So here we go:

Staff weapons. I will mostly foucus on long staffs like quarter staffs, but I will give some love to the short staff.

Possibly the earliest of human weapons, somewhere one of our ancestors realized a big stick can hurt something a lot more then their fists.

This is also a wide ranging weapon in the world. It was a go to weapon amongst Robin Hood's Merry men, and the go to weapon of Kung Fu Fighters. Even in modern media, it gets some love as the favored weapon of Donatello: the smart guy of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Robin number 3: Tim Drake.

While you could get lucky and find a good walking stick in the woods, most are man made. The term quarterstaff doesn't come from the length but from the practice of quartering logs, which these staves were made from.

There are a few advantages to them.

1. They were common. Much cheaper than an ax or a sword, they were a good weapon for personal defence. They probably not much of a weapon of war, but in a jiffy they could do. As a blunt weapon, they can still leave a mark. Break bones, bruise body parts, make nut shuts unbearable, crush windpipes, and give you a nasty concussion.

image

2. They are none threatening compared to more typical weapons. A dagger, knife, spear, ax, or sword are going to be obvious forms of violence. A walking stick? Less so, especially if you pull the old man trick like Gandalf did in the Two Towers. Most of the time it you can use it as a walking stick, but if you get attacked by brigands you can still defend yourself and have a weapon already out.

3. Perfect weapon to start training with: THere was a documentary I found on Youtube that I think was done by Great Briton, but it was looking at the top ten Kung Fu weapons. This was the first one covered, and one of the reasons they picked this was because its the first weapon kung fu practitioners learn. As a two handed weapon, you learn to have balance to work it well. And lets be honest, some of the more interesting weapons both on that show and elsewhere are not as forgiving in mistakes as this is. Seriously, anyone seen a hooked sword Mortal Kombat's Kabal uses?

4. Length. The same documentary also said a common phrase is 2 inches longer is 2 inches stronger. The basis for this maxim is simple: As its a weapon with reach, meaning you can strike the enemy from farther out than you would with a sword or mace. Said swordsman has to farther away not to get hit.

It doesn't have to be too terribly long, just taller than the user so a good six to nine feet is effective.

In a modern setting, you may not see too much of this outside of the Ninja Turtles, but a broom in the garage or a walking stick while on a hike can be effective.

image

Even shorter staves can get some use. Things like the Hanbo can see more modern day use with law enforcement and self defence. Looking up the wikipedia page there are even several styles and types in Japan alone.

Or a simple cane. THose that need the extra help in mobility short term or long term could use it to whack someone pretty good, while a gentleman in some time periods needed to have them as a proper accessory to their attire. Heck, that's still the case in for some people.

Probably easier to carry around and consel, or to find a stick this length laying in the woods.

image

FInally there are the shorter ones. Escrima Stick fighting in the Philippines comes to mind as they can easily be carried on the body and taken out to defend oneself in a jiffy. THere are also tonfas, night sticks, batons, and the like. While they can do damage, they are mostly to be a deterrent, which is something all of these weapons share in common. You want a dedicated killing weapon, have a mace, a dagger, a spear. This will hurt, but you can aim it to not kill. However its these smallest ones I can see in a more modern setting, especially in tight quarters.

If you wanted something that could kill to the longer staffs, have a metal cap. The added weight will definitely bring on the hurt. More metal for the shorter staffs as well.

image

So how would largly keep it as is. For the long staffs, they are pretty well used. Nearly every kung fu loving film has the long staffs; a proper Robin Hood has at least quarterstaff fight or fighter. Its a go to weapon for Mortal Kombat's Raiden and Ninja Turtles. And its a must have item for wizards. Needless to say, it gets enough love, and I don't know how to improve on it.

The Shorter staffs I would simply have more of it. Unless your name is the Penguin and you fight a guy in a bat suit, you are probably not going to see alot of the bo or cane fighting. Have at least one scene like say the 1920's, someone that looks like a dandy gets cornered by some thugs and beats the crap out of them while still looking spiffy.

The latter probably more of as well. You see it now and then, but not often. Heck, it would definitely make the wizarding fights in Harry Potter more interesting.

What I miss, what I got wrong, what I got right, your ideas?

AFAIK, you've greatly underestimated the power of the quarterstaff. Usually, everyone does.

You can get a lot of power and leverage out of a long lever. Forget bruises, you could smash someone's head in rather nicely. Even wearing a helmet might not save you, can't speak for all helmets, but I'm led to believe that at least some of them (circa the Norman conquest) don't protect you from a full power hit.

Length doesn't always make for a better weapon, but with a quarterstaff you can change your grip to hold in at the centre or towards the end. I'm told there is a specific length you were "supposed" to have for your quarterstaff (I think it was as high as you can reach or something), but not like someone enforced that.

As an aside, canes came into fashion for gentlemen when wearing a sword went out of fashion. Upper class men still wanted to attack people, just the style of the implement changed.

I disagree that smaller stick are necessarily intended as a deterrent. Sure, you can try not to hurt people too much, but there's no reason you can't be out to kill with them.

Thaluikhain:
AFAIK, you've greatly underestimated the power of the quarterstaff. Usually, everyone does.

You can get a lot of power and leverage out of a long lever. Forget bruises, you could smash someone's head in rather nicely. Even wearing a helmet might not save you, can't speak for all helmets, but I'm led to believe that at least some of them (circa the Norman conquest) don't protect you from a full power hit.

The efficiency of a metal helmet in saving you from head trauma is very much tied to its padding. If you have little or no padding on the inside, your head is still banging around inside a metal can. If you have a lot of padding (such as a coif) most of the concussive force is absorbed by it and you will be mostly fine. However, one should also keep in mind that the neck is quite flexible and repeated hits to the head or even one hard enough hit can cause straining damage to the neck. Just look at whiplash damage for an idea of what can happen if you take a bad blow to the head.

Thaluikhain:
I disagree that smaller stick are necessarily intended as a deterrent. Sure, you can try not to hurt people too much, but there's no reason you can't be out to kill with them.

Modern police batons are designed not to break bones, but the old wooden kind used in the first half of the 20th century most certainly can and often did. The extra leverage from the length of the baton and that hardness of the material greatly increases the capacity for bone crushing damage if limbs are struck, especially repeatedly.

Gethsemani:

Modern police batons are designed not to break bones, but the old wooden kind used in the first half of the 20th century most certainly can and often did. The extra leverage from the length of the baton and that hardness of the material greatly increases the capacity for bone crushing damage if limbs are struck, especially repeatedly.

While I have no doubt as to the bone breaking efficacy of a hardwood baton or billy club, modern police telescoping batons are made of steel. So I suspect any lack of broken bones is down to a change in applied technique rather than the materials involved in their construction.

Thaluikhain:
AFAIK, you've greatly underestimated the power of the quarterstaff. Usually, everyone does.

You can get a lot of power and leverage out of a long lever. Forget bruises, you could smash someone's head in rather nicely. Even wearing a helmet might not save you, can't speak for all helmets, but I'm led to believe that at least some of them (circa the Norman conquest) don't protect you from a full power hit.

Length doesn't always make for a better weapon, but with a quarterstaff you can change your grip to hold in at the centre or towards the end. I'm told there is a specific length you were "supposed" to have for your quarterstaff (I think it was as high as you can reach or something), but not like someone enforced that.

As an aside, canes came into fashion for gentlemen when wearing a sword went out of fashion. Upper class men still wanted to attack people, just the style of the implement changed.

I disagree that smaller stick are necessarily intended as a deterrent. Sure, you can try not to hurt people too much, but there's no reason you can't be out to kill with them.

I mentioned bone breaking with the long staff, its the first thing I mentioned with them. If something can break bones it can probably kill. If nothing else due to alot of internal bleeding.

Better weapon, also I didn't say. I was parroting back something applied to the advantage of length. Skill is a big factor, but so are many others.

I also mentioned the fashion accessory part of the cane and in some time periods. I do like you added why, but I am just mentioning they could be used in a way for offence and defence (heck, an old man in congress nearly beat a younger politician 40 years his younger a few years prior to the civil war while they were in session).

As for baton like things, yes they were killing weapons at times, but you mostly see them now with law enforcment as their less than lethal option (less than because nothing is truly none lethal. Pepper spray can have an alergic reaction, stun guns can cause heart failure, ect). And if they are in a dangerous situation where they have to use this, say in a riot, they may use more force than is necessary simply because they do not wish to die.

@Gethsemani: I will have to do a few armor episodes, but this was the main reason armor was effective. French knights would also have the padded cloth over their armor, which acted as an early form of kevlar for crossbow and bow shots. Most would probably shatter on the breastplate, but with mail armor that these shafts could go through, the padded gambeson proved more than enough to take out much of the energy from the bolts and arrow.

@Gordon_4: The older ones were basically mini baseball bats. They were designed to hit hard and hurt. Metal hits harder but wood is still effective.

Gordon_4:

While I have no doubt as to the bone breaking efficacy of a hardwood baton or billy club, modern police telescoping batons are made of steel. So I suspect any lack of broken bones is down to a change in applied technique rather than the materials involved in their construction.

Telescoping batons are designed to be flexible, which takes a lot of the force out of the blow as the baton flexes backwards when it hits its target. It hurts like hell and causes bruising and minor soft tissue damage, but the force dissipation means breaking bones is unlikely.

saint of m:

@Gethsemani: I will have to do a few armor episodes, but this was the main reason armor was effective. French knights would also have the padded cloth over their armor, which acted as an early form of kevlar for crossbow and bow shots. Most would probably shatter on the breastplate, but with mail armor that these shafts could go through, the padded gambeson proved more than enough to take out much of the energy from the bolts and arrow.

I'm aware that armor pre-modern era was largely down to having multiple layers of different armor to provide a protective whole, my point was that just a metal helmet (as worn by vikings for example) prevents a cracked skull but can cause lethal concussions instead. That's probably one of the major reason the padded coif was introduced for knights, because a thick layer of cloth does wonders for lessening the concussive forces if someone slams your helmet with a wooden stick.

saint of m:

1. They were common. Much cheaper than an ax or a sword, they were a good weapon for personal defence. They probably not much of a weapon of war, but in a jiffy they could do.

2. They are none threatening compared to more typical weapons. A dagger, knife, spear, ax, or sword are going to be obvious forms of violence. A walking stick? Less so, especially if you pull the old man trick like Gandalf did in the Two Towers. Most of the time it you can use it as a walking stick, but if you get attacked by brigands you can still defend yourself and have a weapon already out.

Yep. Cheap, easily available, probably rather less overtly threatening if it can be passed off as a walking aid. Also I guess as your point 3: if used for training, it's likely people would be used to them.

3. Perfect weapon to start training with: THere was a documentary I found on Youtube that I think was done by Great Briton, but it was looking at the top ten Kung Fu weapons.

Europe, too: staffs seem to have been regularly used for training. For a fair chunk of time in the medieval ages, of course, polearms like billhooks, glaives and halberds were commonly used for which a staff may be particularly appropriate.

4. Length.

Maybe.

A 6+ft wooden pole is likely to be heavy and will generally require two hands; 2 metres of 3cm diameter wood is about 6-7kg. By contrast, a medieval one-handed weapon like an arming sword will be tipping the scales around 1-2kg.

Whilst a staff could undoubtedly be gripped mostly at one end and jabbed like a spear or swung like a long club, it would become relatively slower and unwieldy. (To be fair, spears were perfectly good, but then they've got a point on when you jab someone and staffs don't). More normally I would guess it would be gripped much more centrally with hands about 1-2ft apart, where it's not going to provide much more reach than a man with a 2-3ft long blade/hafted weapon.

Whichever, the other problem I suspect is that most long weapons tend to require space to use. A spear not so bad because it wasn't swung, and halberds / bills tended to be swung overhead and downwards, at least in battles. Consequently a staff is more likely appropriate to a duelling-type scenario in relatively open ground.

In general, if you want to step into a proper fight, you'd want the added lethality of some sort of blade or spike on your polearm.

 

Reply to Thread

Posting on this forum is disabled.