Kult of Athena


Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Fond Farewell

Last Thursday’s (Feb. 3) class was interesting because we shifted gears to an entirely new weapon. It was Jarkko’s, one of our senior member's, last night with us in the US until he went off to Switzerland forever where his knowledge of weapons and combat would be utterly wasted on the indigenous population. Coincidently, his weapon of choice is the poleaxe.

Described by Charles and Jarkko as “two swords at once” this gigantic two handed weapon was a splendid mash-up of ass kickery that used a crushing combination of hammer or axe head (sometimes both), sharp, pointed spike, and 6 feet of wooden staff. It was widely used in Europe during the 13th to 16th centuries to overcome the obstacle of heavy plate armor. Infantry needed something to crush the steel shell of mounted knights in heavy plate and not get their heads knocked in at the same time. Naturally, this was the way to go.

The sword didnt have the reach or the stopping power. The spear was meh, ok, but not scary enough to make a noble soak his codpiece. The Pattons of the day figured “What’s more badass than an axe, a hammer, and a spike mounted on top of 6, 8, 10 feet of hard wood?” This thing was the Swiss army knife of disgruntled medieval Europe.

Plus, Fiore was a big fan. So, we learned.

The experience was entertaining but nothing like the sword. The weapon itself was more cumbersome, unbalanced (I feel), and slower than the sword but more effective for shock-and-awe swings. More reminiscent of the standard issue for inept guards with no name tags, the poleaxe was used more as defensive, unlearned weapon, with little style, and looked pretty in formations. It was and is a blunt instrument meant to attack at a distance, unlike the finesse and acquired skill of a sword that's used to out maneuver your opponent. I’ll wager it gave the sword wielder a run for his money, but it's doubtful that it took ages to master.

After a lot of sneaky, hockey-style hooking moves, fake downward chops, delicious homemade cookies (for the bon voyage party), and running through the poste of the poleaxe, the night was drawing to a close. It was time to say our farewells to Jarkko with a warm handshake and a team photo.

Saying my goodbyes, I didn’t really to know what to think. I didn’t really know my Finnish friend (if he can be called that) too well, but first impressions and the four weeks he spent as one of my teachers told me he was a good guy and well on his way to being a master of the sword. I know that his absence robs us Zugadore (beginners) of vital Fiore teachings and interpretations, and that’s never a good thing. But, much as it tends to do, life continues, and others take the place where they must.

Hopefully, I will be among them...


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