In this short post I want to talk about a topic of which I have spoken with some friends in search for a broader debate with different opinions. The subject is about the target zones in Viking reenactment combat, and more specific, about the use of the upper arms as a valid target for swords and axes, and the thighs for the spears.
In some of the most famous Viking reenactment festivals, such as Trelleborg and Moesgaard, and inside many groups, when they are fighting in Western Style, the target areas are the torso and the thighs. You can make cuts with swords and hits with the axes in any part of this area, but the thrusts (with any weapon) are only allowed in the torso (from crotch height).
|Valid target area in traditional Western style fighting|
Personally, and not matter how much I have asked, I cannot understand the reasons for not using the upper arms as a valid target area. In my opinion, this makes the combat less realistic, especially considering that in one handed weapon and shield combat this was one of the most attacked parts of the body, according to the archeological evidence from the Middle Ages (see here).
Besides this, I think that it also makes the fights more dangerous because the hits are (necessarily) closer to the face. I understand that stabs cannot be allowed in these parts because they could cause serious muscle damage, but I do not see a real good reason for not counting the hits and cuts with swords and axes. Usually, some people say that fighting without upper arms makes you more accurate, but I think that you can be accurate even fighting with these targets. Practicing without counting these zones can be a good training exercise in order to put some stress on the combatant and work on focus hits, but in festivals, especially in those that involve hundreds of warriors fighting at the same, it does not only make it less realistic, but more dangerous because, in addition to the adrenaline that goes up, it is an impossible task for the organizers to check that every participant have the right training for hitting the opponents in the shoulders without risk.
In regards of the valid zones to hit with the spears, I cannot understand either why the thighs are not a target area. My opinion is based in the same reasons that were exposed before, specially the one that says that it is a much less realistic fight. I do not know why you can stab someone in the ribs or the pelvis but not in the thighs, a place with much more resistance than those.
This short text is written with the intention of creating a debate to improve the fighting in Viking reenactment groups and festivals, considering both safety and realism at the same time.