North with Dane Axe and Scram

(A few pointers for young Vikings)

by Sir Hrolf Arnorsson

I have been in a few combats in my time and would like to tell you some of the important things about fighting. The most important thing about fighting is not to do it alone. Always make sure that you have someone on your side. This stops you getting butchered by your opponents.

It is also useful to have someone to fight against. Or you end up looking silly standing in a field in armour with all your mates and no-one to fight. Make sure you have got more mates than the other guy. This is another good way to stop getting killed. Also, make sure your mates are better at fighting than your enemies.

The main trick is to make sure that no-one sticks something sharp and pointy in you. This is done in four ways. These are called : I) Armour, II) Shield, III) Running Away and IV) Hitting them first.

Some people say that you can't do Armour, Shield and Running Away at the same time, but all it takes is practice. People will laugh at you running around in armour every week. But they won't laugh once you outdistance them on the field when they're running away. Ever again. It also means that they will be surprised when you run away really fast. Backwards. Faster than they do forwards.

People ask me, "Hrolf, what weapons should I learn?"

Well, actually, they don't. What they say is, "Go away , Hrolf, I'm not interested."

But I'm going to tell you anyway.

You should learn all weapons because I) My brother is a weaponsmith and I can get you discount and II) You never know what you will have to use when you drop your Dane Axe on the battlefield. I have found the following fighting skills useful: hand axe, sword, scram, spear, langseax, broken spear, Saxon leg, Norman head, peasant's arm and just about anything else. But the running away is really good as a combat skill, especially when you have dropped your weapons.

Always try and get back to the battlefield after everything is over. Especially if your brother is a weaponsmith. Because used swords are still worth quite a bit. So are used spears, and axes. But not peasant's arms. Unless you know a dodgy butcher, like my cousin Ragnar the Smelly.

Norman heads can be worth a bit though. But you are more likely to get a decent price for the whole Norman, so never split a set. Money is the main reason for fighting. Some people say that it's status and honour and everything but that's not true. All of that comes down to money. Except for blood feuds.

Blood feuds are not about fighting. They're about killing. Preferably when the other family is asleep, or at least unarmed, and you outnumber them five to one, and they're all in their longhouse and you have got a good fire going.

I have noticed that it is often a good idea not to kill someone if they are rich. Because you can make their family less rich and yourself more rich. This is called ransom. But if you kill them then you end up being less rich and their family gets more rich. This is called wergild.

Anyway, the best way to gain weapons training is to come along to combat practice on Sundays.

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Knights, Ladies and Squires of Albion
email Alastair for details of combat practice.