Of the “Battle Axe Culture”, both literally and extended. This will be a writing of martial arts perspectives while using an axe. European martial arts. As it can be easily viewed, that the axe obtained prevalence in Europe. That on the land of Europe, humans used the axe far more excessivly ,then is present on other continents. Yet first, when speaking of European martial arts. One should first understand what the word European actually means. This will be an extremely general overview. Academic perspective of writing can be silly at times, causing an over categorization that does not need to exist, in terms of overall understanding. I avoid writing in such a way, as we must expand our thinking. Very little in history, especially pre history is set in stone. It is built upon the imagination of intellegent men, who view artifacts and apply it to “cultural” understandings of contemporary times or times shortly there after, along with enviroment knowledge. It will change and is ever changing. We often categorize things using language, but when speaking of such old times, one cannot. And yet still identify.
Long ago, Europe was settled by Neanderthals. This is a reasonable point to start as we are speaking of European humans. These tribes, or small kin groups existed for tens of thousands of years, in a changing landscape. European Neanderthal was a “fairish” coloured creature. Hair, skin, etc. Over time came what one would call modern human. By the time they actually lived within Europe on a large scale, one in which we can view, they had developed unique characteristics from the land. We are speaking in terms of thousands of slow years of movement and integration. This contact would result in an Extremely slow assimilation of species. Both displacement of neanderthal, and interbreeding. Thus why those of modern European descent have neanderthal genes. This European species, now exists as hunters gatherers. It will remain this way for thousand upon thousand of years. The environment changing over time. Small movements and mixing with other “local” small groups. The landscape ever changing of course, as well as the animals similar and unfamiliar. Slowly from the south, agricultural practices grow greater and greater, and of course hunting continues. Wild land is ripe with meat, and hunting is not difficult. The pure hunter cultures become not pushed, yet simply existed further north due to climate. A way to separate culture academically, the hunters and the growers/ hunters. The landscape is greatly different. Europe was a large connected land mass. The British isles connect to land as well as Scandinavia, with a great mass between. We call this Doggerland. The landscape continues to change. The waters take much of the northern lands. Onward with late stone age cultures. Religion and mythologies continue to develop. Neanderthal man tens of thousands of years prior practiced what can be viewed as spiritual rites. The bronze age comes. The late stone and bronze age stand out both for the change of technology as well as what seems a change of rulership practice. It is genetically viewed that humans from the eastern european steppes came across Europe over these centuries. This is not an invasion, this is not a sweep. It is a slow moving migration of of kin groups. Some displacement, some setting up new aristocratic families, some just picking up new ways of existing. This will basically happen other times through and into the Iron age, under different cultures and names.. One can always count on mingling groups to mate with one another, especially when these groups appear similar in appearance. This changes the genetic data, if only slightly. Yet, this culture seemed more war like. We call this spreading culture the Battle Axe culture, or Corded Ware culture. Due to the beginnings of extensive axe motifs. Yet there is nothing unified of this culture, just art forms across areas and slight variations. Perhaps it was due to an increase of population pressure. Causing a more warlike perspective. A sense of competition as neighbors became too close. This is mankind’s instincts at work. These herders speak what we might begin to call Indo-European. In these times language is not a functional way to classify groups, as we know so little. During the bronze age, an extensive amount of cultures appear archaeologically. We over categorize things. Yet it does make sense. Yet understand what will separate two cultures within books. This culture created butterknives with a triangle drawn upon them. This other culture created the same knife with circles drawn upon it. This is often the depth of differences within neighboring cultures. Look at the large scale… Some of Mediterranean Europe begins what scholars call becoming more “asiatic”, this means middle eastern, as in the land said cultures existing upon them for tens of thousands of years. Then comes the Iron age, at various points across Europe. Once again the increased difference within Mediterranean Europe. Although you see in Greece around 1,000bc, what seems a rapid integration from a close northern culture, this happens in other areas as well. This is due to the warlike descendants of steppes cultures already greatly inter mingled with “Greek areas”, displacing some of the larger aristocracies, and large population comings. The Sparta of the Iliad is not the Sparta of classical Greece. This is a strange thing to point out, yet an obvious corrupted truth, the Mediterranean did display a large fondness to homosexual pedophilia perhaps due to their exposure to other eastern cultures who did as well. As well as many “civilized atrocities”. No matter what positive thing I read of the Greeks I always see them as a mockery of respect and ways. Their obsession is very viewable. And we as humans whitewash history with stupidity. It is an enigma as we view cultures. All are Scarred. Much human sacrifice for example, so many “barbaric atrocities”. Can you even separate the two? Your choice of perspective I say, and always present… Sparta was the most obsessed of all with their ways. Sparta is such a silly lie to the average man inspired by such a thing. But then again, my military interest does not lie in modern military perspectives. I am more interested in the aspect of tribal groups and said protectors and culture/ society that created them and they existed in. Pushing into the understanding of modern establishments, the development through centuries. Consequences, importance, misuse, futile actions, advanced thoughts of progression, are why we study history. We desperately need to understand it in order to move properly forward. Too many mistakes to view… Were some cultures more free than others? The ways were so confined, the paths so little. Yet any different than today? In particular places in the world today, yes. We have great choice and freedom, When acting within a culture. While confining, still more free than what others in the past experienced, and many experience today… Thus, long ago, one can on a general level, view Europe as Northern and Southern. Not West and East as we view today, broadly, for one can classify four. Yes, the south created “modern” civilizations and roads and such. Yet personally, I would rather live in a self made cabin in the middle of the woods of Canada, than a penthouse in Los Angeles. Thus a write from my perspective. Cultures continue to develop, and we keep using axes. Time continues, as it does, we understand history more. Christianity brings a somewhat cultural unification of Europe in place of Rome. Or perhaps in place of Rome. Both equally administrative. Yet also splitting, just like Rome. A somewhat foreign unification. On and on. Viking, Knights, etc. And then modern establishments. Back to axes…
From the European martial arts perspective. One can view the peak of the axe as the pollaxe. The go to weapon of the unmounted knight. Yet first we return to the “Battle Axe culture”. In prehistory we have clubs, then you attach stone. Stone that starts looking like an axe. Then we have bronze. Now we have axes. The bronze age gives us many examples. A culture that stands out is the Nordic Bronze age. A time the nordic land was warmer, than becoming very wet, and shortly after cold as one would think today. We have many axe examples, as well as large axe heads we found buried for ceremonial use. These axeheads are not ceremonially unusable. They could easily be used mounted up a large shaft the height of a man. A proto-dane axe if you will. Whether for combat or simply status. There are contemporary Nordic Bronze age images that show men using such axes. Yet can one take the proportions literally.? Yes and no. Yet it is under this path you will find the earliest version of the pollaxe. The nordic bronze age is a collection of artifacts from around 1700 bc-500bc. It is unique in the richness of material we have. It seems it circulated around a sun cult, as well as an earth goddess cult. As well as representations of many twin forms, most likely said two deities. Images of what could be proto-viking gods, yet this is a stretch and not, and never to be pressed further. As inspiration is what the culture seeks. Inspiration expressed in creativity and thoughts passed on. One of the most remarkable discoveries is the Egtved Girl. One who wore a beautiful and extremely attractive outfit, and with ones imagination makes an inspiring figure. Re-enactment, role-play, at it’s peak… Onward and onward. Two handed axes appear in the iron age. and onward to pollaxes. Styles and variations of many sorts. In an excessive amount.
Axe martial arts? There are few. Yet when one is skilled in longsword and ringen you will understand. First, the axe is horrible in an unarmored duel. A combat axe. Tool axes are a wedge, fighting ones a typical even thickness meat cleaver. As a tool, perhaps the single greatest modernly. For one can build nearly anything of natural materials with only an axe. In combat, with a combative one, forget about the sense of axing someone. Thrust and pull in the duel. Many axes are theorized to be mounted upside down if created traditionally. Just for this purpose, as well as better throwing qualities. Thrust push and strike pull. In a boom boom, saw way. This way you pull down shields, throw other off balance if strong, and attempt to strategically use it as a sword than a hook, or perhaps hook than sword. If two handed use as a “staff”. Upon grappling one handed, one may slip hand toward top in order to protect forearm to protect you. Especially if in armour on the field. It becomes more an aspect of ringen than axe. If allowed to swing, than in armour swing, as to dent the opponents. The ax can be used to slip range. As in hold it high then slip low. Yet anyone should know this and understand the slipped range. The two handed axe is to be used erect placed vertically in front of you. An attack of feet and collar. Always defended. Or as a “staff”. One could view in formation a dropping of a great wall of axes, Gallowglass style. An obstacle to say the least to wade into. Yet after the initial striking, no more “axe swinging”. It simply does not pertain to reality. Thus the vertical vortex. Or use as a spear that can pull. The use of the Hema poleaxe. A weapon existing in similar form for thousands of years. The basic axe, and how to wield it, how to create a better one combatively. If anything, one can always appreciate the imagery of the axe. a powerful, capable symbol. When studying, it is best to know what it is you study and why.
Thus a quick over view of Europe. Pre history is often a confusing thing to try and create a fluid timeline with. Especially one that may have any sense of unity. While all the timelines have unity, it is up to what we find in addition to our intelligent imaginations to seek the truth of it. History, Hema, on and on.