Information on quarterstaff

I’m looking for a new hobby, one which might get me some exercise, and I’m rereading the WOT at the moment, and I thought that the quarterstaff sounded fun (I have no intention of ever fighting with this obviously:))

Are there any books which speak in detail about the specifications for a quarterstaff (so much taller than the weilder etc, thickness etc)? Are there any that speak about weilding one?
Did anyone ever write a manual for fighting with medievil weapons?

I’ve put in a call to my local fencing/quarterstaff expert. Waiting now to see if she joins up or chooses to reply through me.

I would recommend a book that just came out actually: POLEARMS OF PAULUS HECTOR MAIR

It covers poleax, halberd, spear and shortstaff, lance and longstaff. The original German and Latin is also there.

I’m looking around for something less technical and with an emphasis on an introduction into Historical European Martial Arts which might fit you better. If I find something I’ll post it.

As for the size, I believe different traditions had similar recommendations. I found this tidbit from George Silver which can be found in his 1599 Paradoxes of Defence:

“To know the perfect length of your short staff, or half pike, forest bill, partisan, or glaive, or such like weapons of vantage and perfect lengths, you shall stand upright, holding the staff upright close by your body, with your left hand, reaching with your right hand your staff as high as you can, and then allow to that length a space to set both your hands, when you come to fight, wherein you may conveniently strike, thrust, and ward, & that is the just length to be made according to your stature. And this note, that these lengths will commonly fall out to be eight or nine foot long, and will fit, although not just, the statures of all men without any hindrance at all unto them in their fight, because in any weapon wherein the hands may be removed, and at liberty, to make the weapon longer of shorter in fight at his pleasure, a foot of the staff being behind the backmost hand does no harm. And wherefore these weapons ought to be of the lengths aforesaid, and no shorter, these are the reasons: If they should be shorter, then the long staff, morris pike, and such like weapons over and above the perfect length, should have great advantage over them, because he may come boldly and safe without any guard or ward, to the place where he may thrust home, and at every thrust put him in danger of his life, then can the long staff, the morris pike, or any longer weapon lie nowhere within the compass of the true cross, to cross and uncross, whereby he may safely pass home to the place, where he may strike or thrust him that has the long weapon, in the head, face, or body at his pleasure.”

I don’t know what historical differences there were in how they were used, but books about the use of the bō staff aren’t hard to find. As far as I know, it’s more or less the same weapon (a six-foot staff), only Japanese.

More sources you might want to look into: Joachim Meyer mentions staff as does Joseph Swetnam in his 1617 treatise:

You may want to start with a book that introduces the principles of Historical European Martial Arts, preferably with the longsword and/or spear (the spear being the basis for staff and pole arm work). Then take a look at more technical fechtbuchs once you can understand the principles and interpret the manual in a correct (and martially sound) way.

My local expert utterly declined to be called such and primarily wished me to emphasize the following point:

Not really a quarterstaff, but you might want to do some research on bojutsu.

Found some staff plays from Meyer on youtube.

Check out a lot of what thsi group does. Perfect show and tell for anyone interested in this stuff.

The more I look at that video, the more I think you should start with longsword:

There is sooo much info and books and videos on longsword that cover the basics of footwork, grappling and the core of the martial system, that you’d be hard pressed to get a better start. The medieval masters didn’t spend so much time on it for nothing. As is evident in the original staff video, the techniques flow from one instrument to the other and the longsword is probably the best palce to start.

Protip: Get yourself a buck and a quarter quarterstaff. Just don’t tell anyone.

Eight or nine feet seems pretty unwieldy, to me. And that’s what he’s calling a short staff?

Another tip: You want something that’s nice and smooth. Several types of swing with a staff involve sliding one hand along the length of the staff, and you don’t want to get splinters.

The number one virtue of the staff, above and beyond any other weapon, is that they’re really, really cheap. I have a couple of staves that I got for a buck or two each at a hardware store: They’re oak, 6’ by 1.25", and were sold as closet rods. So it really doesn’t hurt at all to get one, play around with it a bit, and decide you’re not interested.

Did you read his reasons why it should be around that size?

Got timed out. Shorter staffs are mentioned however by Mair at least and a few others.

All of the above has been fascinating, thank you all. I am surprised that there is so much information available.

To the hardware store!

I’ve got two, unfinished…perhaps never will be. Had cut from some woods that a friend owned. Plenty of sapplings to chose from.

1: White Ash, 6’. Cut over 15 years ago. The head of it turns about 30 degrees and is perfect to be carved into a Dragon head if I ever get around to it.

When I was doing Karate 10 years ago, I used it to practice the Bo forms, in order to work my arms and my speed up with the real thing.

2: Elm, 6’. Cut about 12 years ago, still has the bark on it.

Yes, because if your reach is longer than your opponent’s, you can whack him without him being able to whack you. I just disagree that “…will fit, although not just, the statures of all men without any hindrance at all unto them in their fight, because in any weapon wherein the hands may be removed, and at liberty, to make the weapon longer of shorter in fight at his pleasure, a foot of the staff being behind the backmost hand does no harm.”. That may be true for the styles of staff fighting shown in that YouTube link, but with the style I’m familiar with, you’d end up hitting the ground, your legs, or your face trying to swing a staff that long. What training I have is karate-based; it may be that Asians and Europeans developed different styles of staff fighting.

I have a dragon head carved into one of mine, too. I also did a wolf head as a gift to my niece; the other one I have was in anticipation of carving it as a gift, too.

GLOVES. (Preferrably with smooth, semi-ridged surface over the palms and plated over the knucles, fingers, joints and wrists. Also, plated bracers over at least two layers of cloth.


Back when I was doing ju-jitsu, we occasionally forayed into nearlying styles, like karate, judo, akido and so on. The, by far, most painful one was bojitsu. I was gone the week before that session and as such hadn’t been told to bring protective armwear. Owwwww. (My knuckles were fine, but I couldn’t properly hold anything for two days afterwards. My right-hand wrist and finger joints were so swollen at the end, I had to skip the week after . . . )