The hardest part about studying pike is actually finding a pike. During Meyer’s time, the late 16th century, a typical pike would range from 15 to 22 feet long. Even if something that long could be found, transporting it would be unthinkable for most people.
By chance I happened upon a solution to this problem. The Wooster Sherlock Extension Pole is an 8’ hollow pole containing an 8’ shaft. When fully extended, this gives us 16’ of length to work with. On the end is a large diameter screw that easily fits a Revival Polearm Tip or a Purpleheart Spear Tip. The Revival one fits slightly better, but I have no qualms about using either.
The extension pole locks in place using holes about a foot apart and a spring-loaded pin. This allows you to adjust the length of the weapon so that you can start with something a bit shorter and work your way up to the full 16’ length.
At this point I can only say that it is durable enough for the basic drills in the air. I have not yet tried it for drilling against a fixed target.
One thing I’m thinking about is that spring pin. If I set the length to just in front of a hole, the pike can collapse by nearly a foot before the pin locks into place. You would have to manually reset it each time, but I could see this reducing the impact on your opponent or target and the wear and tear on the simulator.
There are X guards in Meyer’s Pike system. (Not counting any he may be hiding in the later lessons.)
Oberhut – High Guard
Mittlehut – Middle Guard or Gerade Versatzung – Straight Parrying
Nebenhut – Side Guard or Wechsel Change
Oberhut zum Stoß (Stoss) – High Guard for the Thrust
Underhut – Low Guard
Dempffhut – Suppressing
This is a variation on Mittlehut.
This isn’t a named guard, but it is important. You use this when you’ve lost control of your pike and need to parry counter-thrusts until you have time to recover your weapon.
There is a mistake in this photo. For Recovery, you want to pass back the lead foot, which in this case would be the left foot.
A thing that Meyer repeatedly talks about with the pike is control and the loss thereof. With such a large weapon, it is really easy to lose control and find your point buried in the ground. In the posture we’ve named “Recovery”, you can see what he does to deal with a loss of control. However, it is better to not get into that situation in the first place.
To that effect, Meyer has a simple drill to teach you how to control your weapon.
- Start in Oberhut zum Stoss such that the pike is resting on the left shoulder.
- Give the pike a “covert swing”. Basically this means to turn the point in a small half-circle, descending then ascending.
- While it is in the upswing, step forward with the left foot and thrust to the face such that the arms are fully extended.
- As the point starts to fall, step further forward again with the left foot and pull back the haft into Underhut.
- From the low guard, give it another swing.
- As it swings upwards, thrust with both arms extended.
- Recover into Oberhut zum Stoss with the pike on your left shoulder.
Why the Swing?
Meyer doesn’t tell us why we use it, but I’ve found that the little swing at the start of the thrust to be incredibly helpful. First of all, it increases the time in which I have to work before the point starts falling and I need to recover. This means I don’t have to rush my steps as much.
The swing also improves my overall accuracy. I’m not thrusting at targets yet, but even just in the air I can tell that I’m hitting much close to where I’m aiming than I do without the swing. This sounds weird, but it feels like the stabilizing spin of an arrow to me.
Meyer seems to be leaving out some important information regarding footwork.
Either the step in #3 is fairly small or you need to gather at the end of it in order to take another step with the left in #4.
In actions 5 thru 7 no steps are mentioned at all. Does this mean you should remain firm footed? Or does it mean that he thinks the footwork is too obvious to bother writing down?
Considering that this is literally my first time using this weapon, I can’t answer definitively. But my instincts say to go ahead and use a gathering step in #3. Probably gather in #5 as you do the swing so you can step forward further in #6. For #7, gather backwards into Oberhut zum Stoss. That said, I’m still going to experiment with other options.