Gaining Advantage

Blue Spur: Finding & Gaining the Spear

Last week we looked at the three advantages of True Edge, Leverage, and Crossing as they apply to the spear or polearm. This week we are examining the mechanics of finding and gaining.

Finding the Spear

spear exchange mairTo find your opponent’s spear, cross your spear tip over top of your opponent’s debole.  The amount of debole you have to work with will depend on the lengths of your weapons, but in general if you aim to cross the spear shafts behind the head of the weapon you will have a sufficient finding.  However, if you’re dealing with a long-bladed spear — some partisans and boar spears, for example — you might have to cross over the bladed portion.

At this point you have not completely closed the line, and the spears may or may not be touching.  If your opponent decides to push against your spear you should be able to resist quite easily with downward pressure.

With polearms, finding is done more often on the inside line.  Because the body is in the way, it is difficult to find on the outside line without leaving the lead arm exposed under the spear.  (An outside finding can be a provocation or invitation, but that’s beyond the scope of this post.)

Gaining the Spear

spear thrustOnce you have found the spear and your opponent does nothing, you are free to fully gain her weapon by turning your true edge (knuckle side of lead hand) towards her spear.  From here you can extend your weapon and prepare to strike with a firm-footed, lunging, or long strike, depending on your measure.

The pressure you exert against your opponent’s spear is sideways rather than downward now, and you should be able to resist an attempt to push your spear aside.


spear exchange 2At the Blue Spur level we are not asking you to find and gain against combative resistance, but you should be able to control the line against firm pressure.  To work up to this, begin with your partner offering no pressure, then have him increase his resistance.

To add difficulty, have your partner begin to move around while you follow in a finding position. When he begins to apply pressure, respond by gaining and striking.

Next week: Disengages

Current Schedule

Although most of these courses have started, there are a few drop-in spaces available.  Contact the front desk at 604 568 9907 to register.

Beginner Riding & HorsemanshipLaura & Jack

New or relatively new to riding?  This class is for you!  Learn everything you need to know to get your journey in the saddle started, from handling, grooming and tacking up, to confidently riding at a walk and trot.  Course fees include a riding or horsemanship assessment on the afternoon of November 22nd.

Sundays 18 October – 22 November
10am – noon
cost: $300 + gst for 6 classes;
drop-in: $60
prerequisites: none

Riding & Horsemanship Level 2Jenn flag

If you have completed Horsemanship Level 1, you have the option of staying with the Beginner course or moving on to this class as you work towards your Riding Levels 1 and 2.

Sundays 18 October – 22 November
10am – noon
cost: $300 + gst for 6 classes
drop-in: $60
prerequisites: Horsemanship Level 1 and some riding experience


Riding Level 3+ Jack 2

FULL – drop-in spaces available on Nov 8 & 15

This series of six classes is tailored to the participants’ needs as they work towards the higher riding levels in the program.  Course curriculum consists of improving the quality of walk, trot and canter, lateral movements, quadrille and pas-de-deux work, mounted games skills, trot poles, gymnastics and jumping courses.

Sundays 18 October – 22 November
noon – 1pm
cost: $200 + gst for 6 classes
drop-in: $45
prerequisites: Riding Level 2 or permission of instructor

Mounted Combat – BeginnerDuello_Mounted-Combat_Chena_2897

Learn swordplay and grappling techniques from the ground and from the falsemount to prepare you for mounted combat.  By the end of this course, you should be able to sign off your Mounted Combat checklist, and if you have your Riding and Horsemanship level 1 you will be eligible for Green Spur classes.

Sundays 18 October – 15 November
1:30 – 3pm
cost: $120 + gst
drop-in: $35
prerequisites: none

Mounted Combat – Intermediate (Spear Focus)Christian quintain

This course is designed for riders who have achieved their Green Spur and are working towards the next rank.  You will spend roughly half the time on horseback and the other half on the ground and falsemount working on your grappling, swordplay and spear skills.  Each five-week course will have a specific focus to address one area of the Blue Spur checklist — this month we will be focussing on the spear.

Sundays 18 October – 15 November
1:00 – 3:00pm
cost: $160 + gst
drop-in: $50
prerequisites: Green Spur

Cavaliere Assessments

This is the last assessment date of the year.  Make sure you set aside time for this to level-up before the 2016 season starts!  A single assessment (Riding, Horsemanship, or Mounted Combat) is included in the cost of the above courses.  Additional assessments are $50 or $80 for two parts.  Even if you are currently registered in a weekly course, you must sign up ahead of time to ensure you have a space in the assessment.

Sunday 22 November
1:00 – 4:00pm
cost: $50 for 1 section; $80 for 2 or 3 sections
prerequisites: permission to assess

Mounted Combat PlaydayKailea & Steph

Finish off the year with friendly competition to test your skills in mounted games, archery and combat!  Spectators welcome, and volunteers always needed.  Hot chocolate and goodies will be on offer.  Come out and celebrate with us!

Sunday 6 December
1:00 – 4:00pm
cost: $15 + $15 if school horse used
spectators: free!


Jennifer Landels Jennifer Landels heads up Academie Duello's Cavaliere Program. She has been swordfighting since 2008, and riding since before she could walk. She started the program as an excuse to combine those passions.
Read more from Jennifer Landels.