The quarterstaff is a weapon that has a long and varied history, mostly due to the fact that it is very easy to manufacture. The quarterstaff is essentially a long, slender club like structure that was used to deliver blunt, crushing blows or as a spear to impale enemies. It has traditionally been made of ash, oak, hazel or hawthorn. The length can vary anywhere from 1.8 to 5.4 meters. The weapon is believed to have originated in East Asia, but is also associated with Medieval European culture where it played a prominent part in the legend of Robin Hood.
Quarterstaff Fighting Stance
As with any fighting technique, your initial stance is of fundamental importance to the likelihood that you'll be successful in your attempts to attach an enemy or defend yourself. Your feet should be set a little wider than shoulder width apart with one foot in front of the other. You should be facing your opponent with your dominant foot closer to him and your other foot behind you in support. The staff should be held by your non-dominant hand at the base of the weapon. The other hand should be placed a quarter of the way up the staff. Many believe this is why the weapon is called a quarterstaff. There are a number of different pictures available online if you feel you need a little extra help getting the proper stance down.
Avoiding the Downward Strike
The most common attack with a quarterstaff is the downward strike. The most common starting place for most combatants learning quarterstaff fighting techniques is how to defend themselves against the downward strike. You want to begin by stepping to the inside of your adversary, avoiding the potentially devastating blow. At the same time, you want to drop your top hand so that you can deliver a blow with the quarterstaff as it is parallel to the ground. The key to this move is to deliver your blow and avoid your enemy's attack in one smooth motion. Once you have attacked your enemy's mid-section, it is instructed that you deliver and overhead blow to the back of your enemy as they crouch over in pain.
Common Defense Maneuver
There are two common defense maneuvers utilized with the quarterstaff. The first is to simply block any overhead blow by moving your dominant hand which should be placed a quarter of the way up the staff. The bottom hand should remain stationary and the dominant hand should move in the direction that the blow is coming from. The second is a defense move used to block a sweeping leg attack. This involves switching the position of the bottom hand and the top hand without releasing them from the quarterstaff.
- Quarterstaff: A Practical Manuel; Thomas McCarthy; 1883
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