Written by Ld Hrothgar the Smith. Previously appearing in the Online Bird of Prey, Vol 10, 2004
To make the Axe:
I used a piece of rattan about 4.5 feet long (remember, I started out using this as a bardiche and still use it as such, just with the axe head instead of a bardiche head) and put thrusting tips on both ends.
You CAN use this system without the top thruster, but I’m an advocate of having them, you never know when that thruster will save your butt. 😉
To make the axe head, *I* went to “play-it-again-sports” (a local used sports store) and picked up an old boogie board. I used this because it’s tough foam and will last a while. I cut the axe head shape out of that, making a sort of “U” shape in the BACK EDGE, this will be where the rattan sits and allows you to get a cleaner bond. A few pieces of foam on the back edge (That is, opposite the blade, where the axe head in real life would “wrap around” the shaft) and strapping tape to hold it all on… viola!
Now, if you don’t have access to some nice tough, stiff, foam… use camp pad foam (closed cell) and cut enough shapes out to make it the legal thickness (in other words, if it’s half inch foam, you need 5 pieces to make an inch and a quarter width) and spray glue them together, make the “U” channel in the backedge and strapping tape it up.
To Fight With the Axe
I recently (yesterday) rebuilt my bardiche. Before, I had the classic hole-through-the-blade-for-my-hand look. Now it’s more like an axe so my hand will rest under the blade. I wanted to rebuild it because the blade that was on it was far too soft to use it effectively as an axe (though the new blade is smaller so using it to block thrusts just got harder). but it can really help keep those mutants off you if you use the butt spike effectively…
Most of my work with the axe in my off hand is to block, it makes a very nice long (but skinny) shield. When someone goes deep to throw a wrap around you, stick the axe out about a 45 degree angle from your body (into their forearm/elbow/upper arm) and you’ll effectively throw their shot off. Much like two-stick, you’ll have to be careful of thrusts… these are harder to block. 🙂
The most common attack I use (being right handed, I have the axe in my left hand) is to move it around their shield and buttspike to the belly/chest/swordside leg/swordarm. If you can get them to open up some you can just toss a straight on buttspike in there. BUT! Check this move out…
- Hold your arm out in front of you like you have an axe gripped under the head, with your elbow bent, make a fist with your thumb on top, straight out from the elbow.
- Now, leaving your elbow tucked in (mostly), rotate your left fist (and forearm) OUT 45 degreee, and turn your fist fingers up.
- Now, a fast thrust (towards your pinky) and imagine where that buttspike went. 😉 Into your opponent, AROUND their shield.
(ok, I’m having trouble describing this… does anyone not get that?)
This is a nice surprise… but don’t do it so often that they expect it because they’ll blow your arm OFF if you aren’t careful.
Also, about the time they forget that you’ve got your hand just below an axe head, a nice punch to the side of the face, or armpit is a fine wake up call…
Be CAREFUL when punching with a weapon like this… gauntlet’ing someone in the face is a bad deal and will get the marshals on your back most likely. That said, it’s really fun to watch the surprise on your opponents face when, in a clutch, you suddenly punch them with the axe bit. Face or body (with appropriate levels of force) are both good… whatever you can reach. (Heck, even the arm… deprive him of that sword;))
I also, occasionally, use the bit of the axe to sweep my opponents shield out of the way (down is good). Grab the corner of the shield with the bit, pull it down, and throw a shot with your sword at the same time, sailing it right over their shield (or, grab the shield, pull it down.. let them yank it back up, as your underhanded thrust to the ribs sails under the, now, way too high shield!)
Against center grip round, use the buttspike at it’s natural range, pin their shield to their chest, step in, throw the wrap. While they are thinking of moving the shield over to block the wrap, you’ve pinned it to them so they can’t.
Now, I get into bad habits sometimes… I’ll get to where I’m throwing the same opening shots (buttspike as you move into range, followed by close up swordwork while I block with the axe). Don’t fall prey to this… just because you’re in sword range doesn’t mean you can’t buttspike them, just get them high in the leg or low on the body instead of center-of-mass, it’s still a kill if you gig them in the belly from two feet away. Throw combos, 1-2-3 sword blows, but don’t forget the axe, toss in a buttspike or a punch with the blade… throw a fake with the buttspike (out to the left with the “around their shield motion”) and while they are moving that shield over to block, hit em with the sword in your other hand.
Two years ago (roughly) [CN: Circa 1998] when I started, it was an ALMOST dead system. Few people fought it, now.. it’s popular again [CN: Circa 2000-2002]. Lots of them went to sword and spear… because they get range on ME that way. Oh yeah, if you’re fighting someone with a bardiche/spear/off-hand axe and they have a longer off-hand weapon… use your offhand weapon to sweep theirs outside (or past you inside is better even) and then charge in, don’t be afraid to get in close.. unless they have a bladed weapon they can’t punch you, and you can punch them. If they have a bladed weapon, watch for that punch!