Middle-eastern mounted warfare

Change and combine weapons

The combination of ranged and meleé weapons is a great power of the eastern cavalryman. The annoying, uncatchable horse archer unit can turn back in some seconds and attack as lance-wielding heavy cavalry. A warrior should be able to change his weapons swiftly. First we must be able to carry all the weapons while riding without using our hands. As I wrote, the lance hangs on the right shoulder (supported by the right stirrup), the sabre in its sheath and the bow in its bowcase are on the left side, the arrows are in the quiver on the right side and the shield hangs from the right shoulder to the left side. A secondary weapon, like a mace or an axe may be on the horse harness.
From this position it is evident to grab any of the weapons and get into attack position.


After the job is done, or an other weapon is quickly required, the easiest way is putting this weapon back into its place. I think this should be done swiftly with every weapon by everybody in the army.

There are some interesting combinations which you must have seen on period illustrations, like resting the saber on the drawing hand while shooting the bow. Theese „moves” should be regarded as special in my opinion, not the basic weapon combination in the army. I suppose in the case of battles, when large units are manouvering, there must be enough time to change weapons by putting the previous one into its proper place. Thoose special moves are required rather in the case of duels or festivals.

However I put great emphasis on them, because they develop agility and I want to represent the elit.


First you have to learn to draw any weapon and then put it back. The sabre to its sheath, the bow into its bowcase, the lance to your shoulder.

After you can do it quickly on horseback, try thoose „special moves”. First on the ground of course. I list the main versions:


Sabre and Bow: shoot the bow while the sabre hangs from your wrist or lays on the forearm of the drawing hand.


Lance and Bow: shoot the bow while the lance is under your thighs.


Shield and Bow: shoot the bow while the shield is on your bow-hand.


Lance and shield: it sounds obvious, especially to the Western world. However this combination is not advised in the Mamluk manuals, because the lance is more mobile if held with both hands. Advised or not, there are illustrations that show this combination, like the one here in Period illustrations. The shield makes the „lance-fencing” more difficult, but it works well with the Damascus style tilting (which is identical to the European knight’s method).


Sabre and shield: a basic combination, according to the manuals this is the way of fighting archers. In this case you should hold the shield with its centre-grip thus you can move it quickly.


Of course, you can combine thoose further, like shooting the bow with the shield on your hand and the sabre on the other hand, while the lance is under your leg.:)


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