Deadliest Warrior Season 3 - Landsknecht vs Koa Warrior

August 13, 2010

How's this for apples to oranges? Next to George Washington vs Napoleon (or American Frontier Patriot vs Napoleon's Old Guard), and King David vs Pemulwuy, this is probably one of my favorite match-up idea for Season 3. You might think this is totally mis-matched and really unfair, but the Koa has some interesting things up his sleeve.


The Landsknecht have been screamed out by dozens and dozens of fans of Deadliest Warrior. But matching them up seems kinda difficult considering how well they mastered and dominated warfare, making the transition from heavy cavalry (defeated by pikes) over to gunpowder beautifully. If you don't know who they are, they were German mercenary soldiers in the 15th to almost the 17th century. They were famed for their disciplined formations of pikes (extra long, sturdy spears) and mighty two-handed greatswords that make William Wallace's claymore look like a toothpick. Some of their force included early gunpowder weapons called the arquebus.


But I am going to present the lesser-known warrior first so that readers can get a firm grasp of what these powerful mercenaries are up against and why I think  this would be an interesting and close match-up. I expect reviewers who read this whole blog to post diversely and argumentatively, going back and forth. I have no preference.






Hawaiian War Chiefs and army

These guys look somewhat similar to the M¿ori Warrior huh? Let me tell you this now before you discredit this; they are similar in size and initial weapon materials, but their techniques and fighting are vastly different, more different from the Comanche to the Apache. Though they are both Polynesian warriors with common descent.


The warrior class of Hawaii, the Koa (derived from the tree where weapons were made from) fought bitter wars and were pretty well organized. They fought in rank-and-file, as skirmishers, and in duels. They even had really interesting pike weapons. Remember that: the Hawaiian people had a specific caste system, and one group of people were dedicated warriors (though they did have basic soldiers from civilians using more simple weapons).

And it's amazing the number of missile weapons the Hawaiians had! They could throw or toss anything they ever made into a deadly thing. In fact, more than 80% of all of their combat weapons could be thrown. The Hawaiians also have an interesting martial art of their own, called Lua. It seems to be some form of Aikido only more simple with pressure points and bone breaking, but upon closer inspection, it's more like a combination of Israeli Krav Maga and Russian Systema. Here's some short demonstrations I think you will find pretty amazing:

As you can see, their fighting style is designed to bring you down with any means possible to make you easier to beat down or stab in the end. In fact, the X-factor for the Koa Warrior is that he will do absolutely anything possible to bring down his opponent, no matter the size, armor, or weapons, and either beat or stab him to death (if the opponent isn't already dead from the initial attack).


Picking weapons for the Koa is like trying to make a party bag in candy store. They have such a variety of weapons. But I tried picking some of the versatile and dangerous ones that were also interesting and widely used. Watching the Koa warriors fight each other was horrifically brutal. As the armies came close, stones (from slings), javelins, throwing axes, and clubs made fighting bare-skinned a nightmare. Weapons were said to "fall from the sky like rain water".

You might think armor or shields would be used to deflect these weapons, like in the case of some of other primitive warriors. For the Koa Warrior? Heck no! How cowardly. These warriors were trained to catch and dodge enemy missile weapons and throw them back! Warriors not killed or too seriously injured from the rainfall of weapons were then forced to fight with broken limbs and bits of shark teeth and wooden splinters into a savage melee combat where they would attempt to throw the opponent down at all costs, and then beat or stab them to death quickly. Or if they could break most of the major bones in the body, take them back for sacrifices.

Now for the weapons list:

LONG RANGE: Pololu Javelin

Replica Hawaiian Pololu Javelin

This 5 foot long missile weapon is ugly. It combines the shark tooth tearing principle and sticks it into a throwing weapon of doom. As an enemy is impaled, if they are still alive, they have to pull it out themselves, ripping and shredding their own flesh as they did so. This gives enough distraction and weight on the enemy to allow the Koa to close the distance and use a more heavy throwing weapon (speed and accuracy is key to Hawaiian warfare). And as that distracts you, they close the distance further and bludgeon or tear you apart, literally. But it does not have to necessarily be thrown (though it is the primary purpose).

Also keep in mind that, unlike most pole arms, like lances, javelins, spears, etc, the Koa preferred to have at least (or close to) half their weapon barbed or pointed, extending the length of the deadliness.

MID RANGE: Throwing Axe

Replica Shark Tooth Throwing Axe

What's great about this weapon is that it can be used standardly for melee or to be thrown. And the Hawaiian warriors are known to be pretty big men like the M¿ori.These weapons had a range of about 20 feet, and since the wood is so hard and the weapon so large and hefty, it can be easily found and picked up for combat again if it misses or is deflected.


Ihe Spear

Choosing between the Ihe Laumeki (barbed) Spear and the La‘au Palau long club (shark toothed sword) was very difficult. But I think if the Koa is to have a chance, he needs to have great control and speed with his weapons. He's got enough slashing and serious maiming weapons anyway. This looks deceivingly harmless but it's actually 3 feet long. The feathers are designed to distract an opponent as it flails around and finds an opening to lunge for the kill. Oh yeah, unlike the Zulu's stabbing spear, this can be thrown like a dart. 

SPECIAL: Pikoi Tripping Cord and Pohaku Mace

The Special Weapons were down to the Sling, or the Pohaku Mace and Knuckle Duster (with spear-tip). It was a really tough decision (shark-tooth punching knuckles, ouch!) but I believe this combo weapon is a strong, ideal choice. As if having javelins, throwing axes, and darts with tiger shark teeth flying at you isn't bad enough, let's add trip wire! This basically combines the Lasso with the Net, entangling and distracting the opponent, making it easy to bash their brains out or stab them. The Pikoi can be used when the Koa is also holding any other one-handed weapon, making it's timing and use very flexible.

This weapon typically had a heavy wooden mallet or something, but I've seen one made out of the piece of jaw from a shark which hooked the wire as it twirled around and caught the ankles of the target making entanglement more possible and harder to get out of.

While in itself hardly lethal, this was often coupled with the stone [flanged] mace. That's right, this isn't some bulky rock on the end of a stick. This was fashioned very similar to the flanged maces seen in Europe and worked almost as effectively. After an opponent was mangled from missiles weapons and tripped, if he was still alive, this was the Koa's finest weapon for finishing him off in combat. If the warrior was still standing, the mace would bring them to the ground so they could be stabbed or bashed again for the kill.

So you can see the trend running for these weapons. Toss, throw, throw, trip, maim as you're doing that, smash down, and kill. The Koa Warrior will do whatever it takes to bring his opponent down to the ground and finish him off if he's still alive, using speed and swift reaction to doge enemy missiles and attacks.



Landsknecht sketch

In the other corner are the European-famed German mercenaries, the Landsknecht. Don't be fooled by their elaborate, clown-colored, and highly decorative dress style. It was frightening to see such a multitude of colors on the battlefield. These men defeated them all: Swiss Pikemen, Janissaries, Knights, swarming armies of peasants, using several weapons designed to be utilized at a different distance of death.

The Landsknecht, like the knights of the Medieval Period, learned combat techniques for the sword and spear, stances and maneuvers that were applicable between both, and wrestling (unarmed combat). Now I'm a lot more familiar with these weapons (though, so are a lot of other people) so finding them didn't take me 10 hours out of my day worth of research and consideration.


Since a Pike is a pretty long weapon, I'm going to post a Wikipedia link so you can see for yourself:

This is a long heavy spear used for keeping a number of enemies at bay, the Landsknecht were legendary uses of the weapon. Their pikes were typically 18 feet long, which would be the longest weapon featured on DW (Alexander's Xyston was 12.5 feet long). While the Koa Warrior also used pikes to a degree, they were not nearly as long or powerful. This was the primary choice of weapon used by the Landsknecht as their whole formation and fighting styles were dedicated around this weapon. A Landsknecht who didn't at least know how to use one would be a fraud.

MID RANGE: Zweihänder

Landsknecht with Zweihänder

The iconic great sword of the Landsknecht. In the hands of a skilled user, this could chop off multiple heads or even limbs in a single swing. The weapon was designed to protect the flanks of the Landsknecht pikemen, smashing aside rows of enemy pikes and taking off limbs or stabbing through unfortunate soldiers and disrupting the lines. These weapons were primarily wielded by the Doppelsöldner, "double-paid mercenary" for the extra dangers he faced on the front lines.

This was actually one of the deadliest, common weapons used throughout all of Europe. When combined with the wrestling techniques used in the day by a skilled warrior (such as the elite Landsknecht), this seemingly harmless sidearm could take down fully-armored knights (before Maximilian but it could exploit the weaknesses of this heavy armor too). It could stab deep into small weak points rapidly and with lethal accuracy. The whole weapon itself is about 12" in length.


SPECIAL: Katzbalger
 authentic Katzbalger

S-shaped handguard

This short sword was about 31" long in total length. It is another common weapon but highly useful for it's lightweight and ease of draw after a chaotic clash of pikes and large swords came underway. The Katzbalger is able to cut and stab, swing around longer weapons yet is strong enough to take heavy weapons and was very commonly used in training to teach most principles of combat alongside the longsword. As a one-handed weapon, a Landsknecht has options, using his open hand to deflect or grab a spear or pike or even wield a dagger, using the Katzbalger to parry attacks.

Note: I purposefully left out the Harquebus because only about 25% or less really used them and it puts them up into a modern warrior class. This is a no gunpowder, no armor match-up.






(I don't know, but I'd love to find out!)