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Self Defense/Was using spears defensively to kill effectively required little training & physical conditioning?


Since you answered questions before about Samurai armor and Japanese swordsmanship as well as comparisons to HEMA and prison fighting in this site from other users, I'll go ahead ask this.

I notice many movies portray spears as being a very easy weapon to use. You just hold the spear and wait for the enemy to stupidly run into it.

The best example is the Stirling Battle Scene in which William Wallace's soldiers awaited for the English Heavy Cavalry to charge at the Scots. At the last minute, the Scots suddenly pulled out their large wooden stakes on the ground and angled it at the English Horses and they were slaughtered as they charged into it. So many other movies with troops using spears as their primary weapon portrays using spears in a similar fashion. You hold it and form whole wall of spears and just wait for your enemies to stupidly run into it and die.

Even after the initial charge, using the spear to kill is portrayed simply as pushing it to the next guy in front of you, wait for that guy to be impaled and fall, then hit the next guy in line with it and repeat. 300 shows this perfectly in which for every Persian killed, the Spartan simply pulls the spear back and waits for the next Persian in role to appear and they suddenly push the spear into the next guy and kill him and keep repeating until an entire Persian unit was decimated.

So its portrayed as so long as you don't lose your balance and remaining holding it pointed at your enemy on the defensive, you simply stay where you are and let your enemy charge you and the killing commences.

Even martial art movies portrays spears int he same manner. Often the master martial artist awaits for his gang of enemies to run at him and suddenly he starts killing hordes of men with simple pushes of the spear as the come nearby with a fancy trick from staff fighting thrown in every 3rd or fourth bad guy.

However I remember a martial arts documentary in which some guys were in Japan trying to learn how to use Yari. The weapon was heavier than many martial arts movie portrays them as. In addition the martial artist teaching them showed them just how clumsy using the weapon was if you are untrained as he made them hit some stationary objects.

The martial artist even made the guests spar with him and he showed them just how goddamn easy it was to deflect and parry thrusts from a spear and he showed them just how vulnerable they were once a single thrust was parried. He also showed that spears were very easy to disarmed if you weren't train.

So I am wondering after seeing this documentary. Movies show spears as being such simple weapons anyone can use them as I stated in my description above. But the Martial Artist int he documentary really makes me wonder how hard it is to simply just stand there and wait for your enemies to charge into your spear and also how simplistic it was to push your spear into new men repeatedly.

Was using a spear much harder than movies portray and require a lot of training like the martial arts documentary I saw show?

Hollywood gets a lot of stuff wrong. Spears (or polearms) are no exception.

First off Braveheart is Hollywood. The real battle is called the Battle of Stirling Bridge.   

That's right, it didn't happen in a wide open field where a Scottish rebel suddenly invented pikes. It -- like the Gates of Thermopylae -- was a narrow choke point that the larger numbers couldn't be used against them.

It would take some time, but the pike wall/square was an effective counter against the heavy cavalry (knights) charges. The mounted lancer (heavy cavalry) had the ability to blast through a shield wall. The pike walls created equal length of weapons and put lots of points into the same space that a knight only had one lance.

However in time, special infantry units were developed with great swords to approach, hack off the pike heads and then let the knights charge blast through what were now just sticks.

Thing is, the pike square was a blast from the past. The Greeks called it the Phalanx. And Alexander the great used it.

The challenge was: How do you break the square?

Now the spear has been on the battlefield longer than the sword or even the bow and arrow. It in fact, didn't go out of common usage until near the end of the last century. A bayonet turns a rifle into a spear. There are still incidents where they are used

A spear is a nasty assed weapon in the hands of someone who knows how to use it.

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Marc MacYoung


Street self-defense, crime avoidance and personal safety


I grew up in the streets of Los Angeles in 'situational poverty.' I have dealt with criminals and violent people all my life -- both personally and professionally. I have written 15 books and 6 videos on surviving street violence. I was originally published under the name Marc Animal MacYoung. (Animal was my street name). I've taught police and military both internationally and within the US. I've lectured at universities, academies and done countless TV, radio, newspaper and magazine interviews. I'm a professional speaker on crime avoidance and personal safety. And I am an expert witness recognized by the US court system. My bio is at My abridged CV (Curriculum Vitae) is at

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