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the wonderful history of cleats

[MFD] I know, I know.... it'll be gone shortly
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I was watching the movie ‘300‘ yesterday, which was followed by 'King of Kings', and was reminded of an idea which occurred to me long ago: all those badass warriors locked shield to shield, trying to poke their spears and swords over the tops and strike at the helmeted heads of their opponents were doing it all wrong. To a man, they were either barefoot or wearing open-toed sandals, and they were completely unprotected from the knees down. I posit that a truly ingenious commander would have seen this flaw and invented cleats, with which to stomp the unprotected toes of his enemies, much sooner than they were actually invented.


By the way, I've seen pictures of caligae, the hobnailed sandals worn by Roman Legionaries, but I don't think they could be considered cleats. The hobnails didn't protrude far enough to stick down between the leather straps of an opponent's sandals and do any damage, at least not that I can see.

21 Quest, Apr 10 2012

samurai iron shoes http://en.wikipedia...ke_armored_tabi.JPG
[not_morrison_rm, Apr 10 2012]


       din't mediaeval knights wear pointy armoured shoes ?
FlyingToaster, Apr 10 2012

       I'm not sure what the wooden platforms that Samurai wore were all about, but I'll bet those could deliver a nasty knock.

       Speaking for my own ancestors, anyone trying to kick a Viking in the shins would be begging for a battle wytch upside the ear. I've been in a swordfight or three (not the killing kind, but painful enough in recreational sort of way), and the last place you want to be looking is down at your enemy's feet. There's none of this dramatic looking him straight in the eyes, either; you watch his weapons.

       [Toasty], mounted knights wore metal spats and greaves because their feet were right at hacking level to anyone on foot. The pointed toes deflected blows away from the foot and the flank of their horse, much like a pointed helmet deflects blows from the head and sloped armor on a tank deflects projectiles.
Alterother, Apr 10 2012

       There have been some studies of Anglo-Saxon skeletons looking for sharp object trauma, and heads and shins were the top targets. An enemy shin is much easier to hit with a spear than with a leg. Also, poking a spear forward and down into range of enemy weapons is less foolish than poking a leg in the same direction.
pocmloc, Apr 10 2012

       Hoplite warfare was a bit like being in the front of the queue for the January sales. Once the opposing lines closed up, the guys in the front were just pushed along by the weight of all the guys behind. Stabbing at any exposed flesh that came into view was about as good as you could hope for, the throat and groin area being particularly vulnerable.

Trying to stab your spear into someone's foot would be difficult in the initial impact because you are marching shoulder to shoulder with your shield held in front of you, which restricts your field of action and vision somewhat. If the lines thin out sufficiently for you to be able to take some more individual action then stabbing down would require you to move your shield out of the way, leaving you vulnerable yourself, and you would also have to take your eyes off of your opponents actions momentarily in order to look down, also leaving you vulnerable.
DrBob, Apr 10 2012

       //Hoplite warfare// that would be after your opponent had stomped your foot, no?
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 10 2012

       so a better solution would be to have shiny objects and whirligigs on the footwear to distract the enemy.
FlyingToaster, Apr 10 2012

       // heads and shins //

       // spears //

       Ah, yes, spears. Bit of a different issue, that. Running headlong into a pikewall wasn't exactly our specialty. We were more of a 'nip around the side and catch the buggers in the flank' sort of warrior race. Unless it was us holding the spears, of course.

       Further rumination on this topic reminds me of a passage in a book of long-forgotten titleage in which the author proposed (and quite adequately defended) that the footwear of an infantry soldier had (and has) far more to do with where and when he's going to be marching than it does with the actual fighting. When it comes right down to it, no more than 1-2% of a soldier's service is spent in combat.
Alterother, Apr 10 2012

       //There's none of this dramatic looking him straight in the eyes, either; you watch his weapons.//

I had a friend who said he had been taught kendo by his step father and had mastered it.
When I told him I thought he was full of shit he whipped up a couple of ballanced practice swords and used me for a smacking dummy for about two weeks, (the length of time it took me to learn to stop looking at his weapon and look him in the eyes so that my body could react to peripheral attacks and not fall for feints), after that he couldn't touch me anymore but it took months before I was finally able to slash his throat once... just once.
Took one helluva knock to the forehead for my trouble but, damn it felt good.

       I have been similarly trained to look into my opponent's eyes in Krav Maga ( and similarly punished), and I do when practicing such, but in midieval-style swordfighting my training has been this: yes, look into your opponent's eyes until somebody makes a serious move, then your focus is on his weapons (a shield is also a weapon, if you know how to use one) until the fight is over. This is for two reasons: 1) the fight will likely only last two or three strokes, so the placement of the first blow pretty much determines how the whole fight will play out, and 2) unless you are very good, cocky, foolish, or any combination of those three, you will be holding a rather large shield and can afford the luxury of looking wherever makes the most sense at the time. Feints are useful, but they are not a serious factor in your overall level of ability. Learn how spot 'em, use 'em if ye dare, that's about it.

       This method is what I've learned from a series of informal and/or impromptu instructors, half of whom I've surpassed. It's definitely not everyone's way, but I'm doing okay with it. I have tried to import techniques from Krav Maga, but since there is no difference between practicing and fighting in the 'art'* of midieval swordplay, experimentation always begins with a period of painful and humiliating arse-thrashings.

       * If 'go kill that guy with this long metallic sharp object' can be described as an 'art'
Alterother, Apr 10 2012

       Just because if I don't say it somebody will probably ask, I've been asked multiple times how I think I'd stand against a kendo fighter of equivalent prowess, and my answer is this: I honestly don't know, but he'd only get one mistake.
Alterother, Apr 10 2012

       //Just because if I don't say it somebody will probably ask, //
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 10 2012

       //learn to stop looking at his weapon and look him in the eye// Watch out for those kendo masters wearing sunglasses

       //wooden platforms that Samurai // Photo please. I could be wrong here but I think you're talking about "geta" clogs, which are just for day to day wear for wandering around in a place with a high rainfall.
not_morrison_rm, Apr 10 2012

       I seem to recall from some documentary that stomping on the enemy at every opportunity was, in fact, explicitly encouraged and practiced in the Roman army.

       Spikes would cause infection, and thus help win the war, if not the battle.
spidermother, Apr 10 2012

       Wounding an opponent's lower legs was a fairly large part of sword combat, if you were both on the same level. It's difficult to manoeuvre if one of your legs is not working properly.

       However, stepping on someone means you'll be close enough for them to stab or slash you. Probably not that clever.

       Romans wore bronze hobnails on the soles of their sandals because they had to walk everywhere, on dirt, stone, mud and slippery surfaces.
UnaBubba, Apr 10 2012

       Sure, "let's go over and tread on their toes" is not going to be a winning strategy, but when you _are_ too close to swing a sword, something is better than nothing.
spidermother, Apr 10 2012

       Headbutt. Warhorses were taught how to do it, too.

       Humans have a long and illustrious history of devising ways to maim, injure and kill each others in unpleasant fashion.
UnaBubba, Apr 10 2012

       Indeed. But I'm pretty sure my memory is correct about stomping on the enemy. Probably more for those who had fallen or stumbled, though, just to make it less likely that they'll get up again.
spidermother, Apr 10 2012

       ...like rugby.   

       No, I prefer cycling. It took me quite a while to work out what was meant by //cleats//, for that reason.
spidermother, Apr 10 2012

       There's certainly an advantage to kicking a man while he's down... especially if he's going to run you through if he gets back up again.

       Probably more fun to fill his helmet with boiling porridge, while he's wearing it, particularly if you're a Pict.
UnaBubba, Apr 10 2012

       Stomping would also level the playing field. After all, you don't want your comrades to trip.

       I wonder if that's the origin of goose-stepping. Lift foot high, bring it down forcefully, thus stomping on, rather than stumbling over, the fallen. (No, it's not. Apparently it's to "keep troops lined up correctly")
spidermother, Apr 10 2012

       Good guess though. I always figured it was to inspire fear as the pounding came closer.   

       Goose-stepping just looks awkward and weird... and strangely North Korean, these days.
UnaBubba, Apr 11 2012

       // I could be wrong here but I think you're talking about "geta" clogs //

       No, I'm sure your right. I really don't know much about Oriental history before 1931.
Alterother, Apr 11 2012

       The solution is stilts. I envision a sort of stilts arms race, with longer and longer stilts devised to kepp the upper hand.
bungston, Apr 11 2012

       (accidentally deleted:)

       // Wounding an opponent's lower legs was a fairly large part of sword combat //

       Yes, but with a sword. In fact, one of my go-to moves is a high shield-block with an underhand strike at the hamstrings or femoral artery. It works well for me because I'm tall and everyone expects me to go high. But I'm certainly not out there trying to kick anyone.
Alterother, Apr 11 2012

       Interesting conversation. Now the choice I must make is thus: shall I delete, as befits an idea that was known to be MFD fodder at the outset, or keep it for the sake of the annos?
21 Quest, Apr 11 2012

       Keep it. It's a perfectly good idea.
mouseposture, Apr 11 2012

       Let it stay. It's better than a lot of the trash we've accumulated over the years.
UnaBubba, Apr 11 2012

       So sayeth the congregation.... stay it shall.
21 Quest, Apr 11 2012

       // I could be wrong here but I think you're talking about "geta" clogs //

       I was going to say the origin of "geta" is when someone thought, "I have to get a better pair of clogs".
not_morrison_rm, Apr 11 2012

       I keep seeing "The wonderful history of Keats", which gets me to thinking Tennis-on and what a Word's worth.
UnaBubba, Apr 11 2012

       And tortoises!
pocmloc, Apr 12 2012

       Are you seeing a terrapinst?
UnaBubba, Apr 12 2012

       Well I am somewhat acupuncturphobic.
pocmloc, Apr 12 2012

       Don't worry, they're just little pricks.
UnaBubba, Apr 12 2012

       So are the Normans, but that doesn't stop them stomping on your feet in battle. It wasn't the lack of cavalry that soured things for the Saxons, you see, it was [21]'s combat cleats.
Alterother, Apr 12 2012

       And I just keep thinking about John Cleese. I'm sure there's a pill for that somewhere.
RayfordSteele, Apr 12 2012


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