The Instigator
Dufflepud
Pro (for)
Winning
3 Points
The Contender
MacDaddy98
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Polearm vs Sword

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
Dufflepud
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/10/2014 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,733 times Debate No: 48785
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)

 

Dufflepud

Pro

Note: I have reposted this debate due to the previous Con forfeiting both rounds. Please, do not accept this debate unless you intend to actually take part.

In this debate, I will be arguing that spears or other polearms designed for single combat (that is, exclusive of enormous weapons such as pikes that were used defensively in large group formations) hold a massive advantage over swords. Con may either argue that, generally speaking, a sword wielder would hold the advantage in a duel, or that there would be no clear advantage. For the purposes of their argument, Con may refer to a single sword design, or speak generically.

It is to be assumed that both combatants are completely equal in terms of variables such as training, skill, size, strength, etc. Round structure is as follows:

Round One - Acceptance ONLY

Round Two - Arguments ONLY

Round Three - Arguments and/or Rebuttals

Round Four - Rebuttals ONLY
MacDaddy98

Con

Swords are more nimble, and easier to use. Pole Arms move very slow, while swords can enter strategic positions in the opponents stance. Pole arms may be more useful for blocking, and more powerful in striking power, but swords can take advantage of the slow speed of the pole arm to put in some quick stabs or slashes. My experience comes from fencing, and being a member of Nashville's Medieval Combat Group. I am trained in both pole arms and swords, along with things like battle axes. Pole arms can crush armor, making it useless, but swords can take advantage of the gaps in the armor, like around joints, and gaps in the face shield of the helmet.

" Well, he's going to have a whole lot more room, and he'll probably make use of a whole lot more thrusting maneuvers. If he has any skill at all he will be able to really take advantage of the length he has. But, if you're equipped with a shield, that advantage goes down the drain, because it allows you to smother his offense (the biggest strong point of a pole arm), and rush in with your own. The closer you get the poorer a pole arm is at the defensive.

There are big differences between a two-hander, a hand and a halfer, and a singlehander w/ shield in terms of use against a pole arm (or against anything for that matter. A true two hander gives you more length to work with, but no free hands for shields. Which means you'll have to be fast moving in, because a pole arm is not slow. Even if you've batted it to the side, rushing in can be tricky against a skilled user. Again, if he's familiar with the weapon, he can keep you at a distance, especially if you only have one thing in your hands. A bastard sword gives you the advantage of length and power, while still giving you the freedom of an extra hand when you need it. This is excellent for grabbing pole arms. If you can tug on it, there's not a whole lot they can do, especially if it's long. Sword and shield, well, the advantage there is obvious."
-Justin Gifford
SwordForum.com

While Swords are better in maneuverability, pole arms keep their enemy away from them. Once the swordsman get up close and personal, the pole arm becomes a stick. The pole arm does have an opposite side for closer encounters, but only a trained professional will be able to use it, and only a very well trained, battle hardened veteran will be able to think of changing ends during a fight. Since both combatants are the same size, have the same experience,skill, etc., it is easy to assume that both combatants are complete strangers, and do not know each others fighting style.
Debate Round No. 1
Dufflepud

Pro

Due to Con's ignoring that I clearly stated that round one is only for acceptance, they should lose the point for conduct. We will continue, but in the last round Con MUST write "no round as agreed upon." Should Con post an argument in the last round, they will be forfeighting the debate.

Now, for my opening arguments:


The spear, one of human kind’s oldest weapons, is also one of its most effective - at least, in the melee department. Although in modern times, the common view is that the sword was the superior weapon of choice on the battlefield, I will attempt to demonstrate why, in fact, the opposite was true.

Distance

One of the key advantages the spear holds over the sword is distance. Now, I don’t say “range” here, because obviously a weapon can have immense advantage at longer ranges, but be found to be lacking in close quarters. The spear, on the other hand, can be retracted to any length, allowing it to perform effectively well outside and even well inside the reach of a sword. This means that throughout a fight, the spear wielder would have complete control of distance, as they can keep the sword wielder at bay, with far reaching thrusts and cuts, while simultaneously being able to pull the length back should the sword wielder manage to close in. In my first video, this is explained wonderfully[1].


Offensive Ability

Unlike a sword, a spear can change the direction of an attack incredibly quickly, oscillating between the feet and the head with barely any motion. This is because of the length of the spear. Much like a lever, a small amount of motion in the back translates to enormous motion on the front, so a small movement of the arms can extraordinarily quickly bring the weapon to bear on a new target. The result is that parrying a spear thrust or cut, even if you have a shield or buckler, is incredibly difficult. As my second video demonstrates (and as is explained in my first video), while a swordsman’s arm needs to make an enormous motion going from the head to the feet, it takes little effort on the spearman’s part to make the same transition[2]. The result is that if a swordsman is deceived by a feint for even the tiniest fraction of a second, the spear can already be thrusting into a completely different part of their body. Even if they do manage to catch this, the spearman’s disengage can be made so quickly that any opening the sword wielder leaves will be taken advantage of.


Defensive Ability

Contrary to popular belief, the spear is an excellent weapon for parrying. It is speedier than the sword, but it also holds another key advantage - that of leverage. Because of the length of the weapon, and the wide placement of the wielder’s two hands, a spear is incredibly hard to displace. Not only can it easily disengage from a swordsman’s cut or attempt to displace the head, but even at direct contact, a spearman would have little difficult shoving aside a sword blade before lunging in for the kill.

Now, many might think that the solution to this is to cut off the spear’s head, but this is not at simple or easy as it might seem. The blow itself would be difficult to land on the ever moving spear, but even beyond that, it would take significant force, meaning that the blade itself would need to be heavy (and therefore harder to land a blow with) and the perfect angle to prevent it from simply bouncing away. This is a likely occurrence, especially when one considers that the spear is suspended in the air, not supported firmly from underneath. In addition to that, as shown in the picture below, many spears or other polearms had metal langets running down the sides (or were made entirely out of metal), resulting in almost zero chance of the swordsman effectively carrying out a decapitation[3].


Weapon of Choice

Throughout medieval history, the polearm has been the weapon of choice, not only of the foot soldier, but of the military nobles such as the Samurai or Knight. In Japan, the Naginata or Yari was used as a primary weapon in battle over the Katana, and in Europe, Knights would usually carry lances, or other weapons such as the bardiche, only using the sword out of necessity. The sword was known as a “sidearm,” as it was an easily carried weapon in civilian life, and a great backup on the battlefield. However, few soldiers ever charged into battle with only their swords in hand.



Sources:

2. https://www.youtube.com...

MacDaddy98

Con

My argument is what was stated before hand. I did not know what was meant by acceptance, especially since I am fairly new to Debate.org. Thank you for your consideration
Debate Round No. 2
Dufflepud

Pro

Note: the argument I am responding to is in bold, and my response is the unbolded text underneath.


Swords are more nimble, and easier to use. Pole Arms move very slow, while swords can enter strategic positions in the opponents stance. Pole arms may be more useful for blocking, and more powerful in striking power, but swords can take advantage of the slow speed of the pole arm to put in some quick stabs or slashes.


As both the video I posted demonstrates, as well as the very quote that Con references later in his post, "a pole arm is not slow." As explained earlier, the polearm wielder can use the weapon like a lever or see saw, with a small amount of motion in the hands translating to a large amount of blade motion. Completely contrary to what Con argues, it is the sword's guard that faces difficulty because of how quickly the polearm can change direction.


My experience comes from fencing, and being a member of Nashville's Medieval Combat Group. I am trained in both pole arms and swords, along with things like battle axes. Pole arms can crush armor, making it useless, but swords can take advantage of the gaps in the armor, like around joints, and gaps in the face shield of the helmet.

The Nashville Medieval Combat Group is not a HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) organization, they are a LARP organization. They focus on fantasy as opposed to replicating historically accurate and proper technique. As for fencing, I myself am a competitive sabre fencer with some experience studying proper historical sabre manuals. Although one learns to duel quite effectively (although sport fencing still doesn't translate exactly), learning to defend against a polearm is a different thing altogether that no fencing club prepares you for. I contest Con's claims to personal experience, especially given that what they've said is demonstrably false given the video of an actual spear vs sword duel I provided, containing two master martial artists and historically accurate technique (and some catchy music, too!)



" Well, he's going to have a whole lot more room, and he'll probably make use of a whole lot more thrusting maneuvers. If he has any skill at all he will be able to really take advantage of the length he has. But, if you're equipped with a shield, that advantage goes down the drain, because it allows you to smother his offense (the biggest strong point of a pole arm), and rush in with your own. The closer you get the poorer a pole arm is at the defensive.

Not important in the context of this debate. I might as well make the argument that if the spear wielder is a knight in full plate armor on an armored horse with a polearm that the shield's advantage is rendered useless.




There are big differences between a two-hander, a hand and a halfer, and a singlehander w/ shield in terms of use against a pole arm (or against anything for that matter. A true two hander gives you more length to work with, but no free hands for shields. Which means you'll have to be fast moving in, because a pole arm is not slow. Even if you've batted it to the side, rushing in can be tricky against a skilled user. Again, if he's familiar with the weapon, he can keep you at a distance, especially if you only have one thing in your hands. A bastard sword gives you the advantage of length and power, while still giving you the freedom of an extra hand when you need it. This is excellent for grabbing pole arms. If you can tug on it, there's not a whole lot they can do, especially if it's long. Sword and shield, well, the advantage there is obvious."


This quote only serves to emphasize the inherent advantage of the spear. There are certainly work arounds for a skilled swordsman, but that doesn't eliminate the advantage. It's comparable to learning techniques to defeat a larger, stronger opponant in hand to hand combat. Are there things you can do to defeat them and take advantage of their weaknesses? Certainly! However, if they're of equal skill to yourself and have a foot on you, you'll be at a serious disadvantage regardless of the actual outcome. Additionally, although this quote correctly suggests trying to bind the spear and close in, as the video that I have referenced so many times shows, this is extremely difficult to pull of, especially if the spear wielder retracts the blade or uses the butt end. Additionally, if they can hit you several times before you can close regardless, there is still an obvious disparity.




While Swords are better in maneuverability,

As previously demonstrated, this is false due to leverage. Also, spears of mid length is not particularly heavy or unwieldly due to its wooden construction.


pole arms keep their enemy away from them.

No disagreement here.


Once the swordsman get up close and personal, the pole arm becomes a stick.

Not so if the spear is retracted and used like a dagger or short sword. Additionally, a stick (or in this case, a wooden shaft) is more than capable of killing a sword wielding human, as Miamoto Musashi was happy to demonstrate.


The pole arm does have an opposite side for closer encounters, but only a trained professional will be able to use it, and only a very well trained, battle hardened veteran will be able to think of changing ends during a fight.

Yes, but we've already established that both fighters are equally skilled, and it takes FAR more skill to effectively bind and close in on a polearm.


Since both combatants are the same size, have the same experience,skill, etc., it is easy to assume that both combatants are complete strangers, and do not know each others fighting style.

I disagree, since both were standard weapons in the east and west, and anyone following a true martial art would learn about both. The fact that among those who learned both with extreme effectiveness (knights and samurai), the polearm was far, far preferred makes this point quite clearly.
MacDaddy98

Con

Before beginning my next argument, I want to make it clear, that
a. In my argument, I used a quote. I couldn't change that without taking out a lot of the information I was using.
b. The LARP group, or at least the part I like, actually tries to make use of real combat strategy.
c. You never said it was European combat in question until your argument in round 2.d. I would rather have been on the Pole Arm side, because I do believe Pole Arms have the advantage in the fight.
e. It was easier (in my opinion) to argue the swords advantage over the pole arm than that is has no clear advantage.

And One question I would like you to answer in your response. What type of pole arms are you using? Just a spear, or anything but the more defensive ones like Halberds?

Now on to my argument. I feel like I am beating a dead horse.

I honestly feel like I am going to lose this debate, but I am going to try any way. While pole arms have the advantage of length and leverage, swords can be used for bot stabbing and slashing, as well as defense. And your answer to my question could change the importance of that sentence. I fully agree with Dufflepud. Pole Arms do have the obvious advantage of leverage and size. But with, lets say, a wooden spear with a steel head, goes in for a jab at the stomach, the swordsman could just cut off the tip of the spear. As the combatant with the spear advances or defends against the swordsman, the swordsman could just hack away at the remaining shaft of the spear. Once the shaft is too short for reasonable use, it would take serious luck to do any real damage with a blunt stick no bigger than the household kitchen knife. From what I understand, luck is not being taken into consideration.

This being my final point, I surrender to Dufflepud, under the circumstances that Pole Arms hold the clear advantage over swords with their speed, size, leverage, and technique. I was just playing the devil's advocate for my last argument.
Debate Round No. 3
Dufflepud

Pro

Dufflepud forfeited this round.
MacDaddy98

Con

MacDaddy98 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Dufflepud 2 years ago
Dufflepud
Note to any voters, please don't penalize Con for violating the terms of the debate, he simply misunderstood them.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Geogeer 2 years ago
Geogeer
DufflepudMacDaddy98Tied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Con concede the argument.