The pros and cons of center-grip vs. strapped shields

Talking about the differences between the two basic shield types in terms of grip design. One is the center-grip style, as seen in Roman, Celtic, Germanian, …

46 thoughts on “The pros and cons of center-grip vs. strapped shields

  1. Collin McLean says:

    Much like anything from axes, maces, swords, and shields… It's all a matter of purpose and preference… Versatility vs. Speciality.
    Center grip shields possess more mobility, a wider range of function, bash your opponent like a Viking rounds shield, block their field of vision like the Timbei and Rochin, use it for a light and quick defense like a buckler, and it's easier to ditch if it gets busted or someone's weapon gets stuck. But you only have one connection point meaning it's also not going to be as stable and you can't make them too heavy otherwise you'll tire out a lot faster from having to hold it up. It's easier to wrench out of your grip and you'll feel the impact of a weapon a lot more.Strap shields are more specialized limiting functionality range. However because you have a more stable platform to rest on, it can be made heavier and reinforced. Which was what I was thinking when Skallagrim brought up the arrow barrage scenario. Yes, if it breaks through your forearm will be at risk but since you can support more weight you can reinforce it and layer it with metal. It's harder to wrench out of a persons grip. But it's more limited in it's use.
    So again, all a matter of what you want to use it for.

  2. Tyler battles says:

    can someone show the pros and cons of the shield achillies used in the movie troy version 2004 looks beast but would like to know some degree of pros and cons of it. The way he maneuvered the shield was epic.

  3. David Craft says:

    the strap shield is worse against blunt damage in a way too. Because it has less give heavy blows that are blocked will transfer more damage to your arm.
    The center grip will give, turning and deflecting more of the force.

  4. Ian Leeson says:

    I'm No expert lol, strictly speaking from opinion. I'd say Spartans proved above all ancient warriors to have the greatest shield style when it came to battle. The spartan shield was a "strap" "sleeve" shield.

  5. Manu Boreali says:

    Strapped shields are also a matter of armor. Wearing armor and having shield = no arrows through the arm, for instance. Also, the shield can be smaller for a more agile and stable use as a deflector. Tried fighting with both types, never unarmored though, and I prefer straps every which way to Sunday. I hate center grip very much because of how they bounce around when people hit it. For instance when hit by a polearm, it does not matter how strong I am (i'm 250 lbs out of which exactly 209 lbs is lean mass. I also lift weights and my gym does fat percentage measurements professionally), so i'm not exactly small. But even I have that problem, because suddenly it's my grip strength in a position of disadvantageous leverage (shield being hit on the side) by a polearm being driven by the opponent's weight, momentum and several major muscle groups… Yeah. To hell with that. I'd like the gambeson, the armor, the wood, the rawhide and the metal to catch that crap and be secured by very tough leather straps. Me and a friend of a similar size and build did a test a couple of years ago with a construction sledge hammer. It was pretty stupid to try, but the strapped shield I had built myself took quite a beating and I felt fairly little from the impacts (I did not even get bruised, although my shoulder was very tired from many, many heavy blows), which in large part was due to the straps, angling it away and of course the construction of the heavy damned thing. Wearing heavy armor, strapped heavy shield, some kind of nice one hand weapon, being big and strong, trained… Pretty much equivalent to a tank. Armors have weaknesses, but they aren't easy to exploit in a fight, not one bit. Especially when backed with a good strapped shield.

    It is actually something that bugs me a lot. Most youtube testers don't have the type of strength that – say – a knight could put behind a sword strike or axe blow, or in how easy it would be to carry heavy armor. I like your channel because you're not weak and you know what you're doing, unlike most. But you'd benefit from gaining about 30-40 pounds of muscle on that frame. A lot of impossible things become possible when stronger, a lot of easy things become harder. Wearing heavy armor from early age did generate quite a bit of muscle growth. It's not unlikely most professional warriors of the old times had quite an amazing shoulder development, arm development, chest, back, legs etc due to the many years their training took as well as the weight they carried doing it. If talking about for example vikings, one would also have to take into account a lot of rowing, which builds immense back, arm and grip strength. To catch up as a modern person, lift weights. Stories of splitting shields, chopping off several heads, severing bodies neck to waist and so forth are likely not exaggerated, merely indicative of greater strength and technique when using the given tools and methods.

    And I am not saying this in a negative way. I want your channel to be even better. It is the best when it comes to weapons, and I watch everything you put out. It is meant as a constructive advice to set you even further apart from larping idiots. Lift heavy things and eat a ton of whey and meat. You got the genetics for it and you're young. If you did that, got some armor and started demonstrating things like they really would have looked… BOOM.

  6. Not Tellin says:

    skal, i know this is an old video but can you please tell me some things about the viability of a heart shaped shield? in my head it seems like it might be good for fighting. the cleft would be good for nocking a spear/javelin/pilum/pike in and the point on the bottom could be used for a sharp surface to do damage. maybe its my imagination but if i was going to spear fools with a shield, id want a heart shaped one. like this…

  7. toonbat says:

    Can you do a video about the different shapes of shields? Like, why were so many of them pointy at the bottom, or why the top was sometimes rounded, and sometimes scalloped, and sometimes pointed. How big could shields get, and what's the smallest buckler that could still be effective? Drawbacks and advantages of spiked shields. And were there specialized shields for bowmen? And so forth.

  8. Saimeren says:

    I think the point of the shield bash is not to open yourself up, but to bash either the opponent away from you, or their weapon away from you thus opening them up to your sword hand.

  9. Creations Maxo says:

    The strapped shields became popular because of the evolution of the cavalry and horse-driven warriors.
    This is because the center-grip shield is really hard to use while riding an horse as you might require to switch which hand hold the reins during the fight.

    Center-Grip shields basically made a horse-rider vulnerable because riding is quite draining the stamina and so having to constantly hold the shield against both arrows and strikes was… a huge pain in the ass… and hand (literally.)
    The strapped shield allowed the warrior to hold both the shield and reins at the same time without any risk of releasing either.
    Also, you'll notice that strapped shield tend to have the straps in the upper side of the shield… that's because, on a horse, the shield longer bottom side could be used to protect the legs and striking attackers who come too close.

    With the raise in the usage of crossbows in defensive fortifications, heavier reinforced shields were also beneficial depending on the situation. Protecting yourself against the piercing power of a bolt with a center-grip shield wasn't that efficient is the bolt was hitting the further side of the shield. As a reminder, crossbow could be shot from any small gaps as small as 6cm x 6 cm and, unlike the bow, the draw time was relatively short making reflex-based blocking much more efficient. As the center-grip shield weren't "part of the body", they involved slower reaction time within a second. Strapped shield, on the other hand, as it's "fixed" to the skeletal structure of the body had better reflex-based movements even through the coverage might have been smaller.
    (Think of it this way. What do you have more ease to block with from any angle. Your fist or your forearm?)

    When it comes to foot soldier against foot soldier, the center-grip shield have a lot of benefits.
    • It was easily replaceable if unusable. Drop it and grab another one laying around. Strapped shield weren't as easy (especially with armor) to replace without any assistance as it wasn't rare that the strap could get stuck to the armor's chainmail or plate straps.
    • As explain in this video, better offensive capacity in front.
    • Could easily be strapped together or on an horse without damaging it during travels. (Strapped shield weren't that useful if you had to travel more than 1 month because the leather straps could easily get "used" and even damaged during the traveling. This is why in joust contest, the shields used for the event were often transported in a crates and not mixed with any kind of weapons or other shield… almost like a sacred artifacts. This was to avoid straps to be damaged (which could be quite a problem) and to make sure the crest or insignia on the shield were as clean as possible.

  10. Phii'shee the Khajiit says:

    I don't think that would be how shield bashing would work. I think it'd be a much shorter motion that would keep you concealed. Also I think it'd be keeping contact with the opponent instead of going abovd their head.

  11. Max Kats says:

    If you can reinforce the strapped shield ( because it is more easy to carry it ) you dont really have to worry about arrows penetrating the shield and hitting your arm

  12. Henry Quattlebaum says:

    pro center grip shield that everyone forgets, you can make as many as you want for your fight group and you don't have to worry if they are right handed or left handed. seems silly to point this out but they group i belong to has people that use kite shields, oval shields, and round shields. it can be frustrating if you have one or too few shields for lefty's. so all loaner shields are center grip rounds. I hope I said that correctly.


    in a one on one, if you hold a round shield as such to throw a punch with it, and the other kept the shield flat and to there body the punch would go nowhere and they would also be in a stance to leave them selves open, plus in a shield wall they would be spear fodder, ive seen alot of videos of people doing it but cant understand why as all the people i fight with dont hold there shields in such a way, if i did vs them i would surely die

  14. DEATH111183 says:

    as I watch this, I am somewhat reminded of variations of armor to match the shield. where the forearm armor has a reinforced gauntlet to give A extra protection. and B an option should the shield be broken/discarded for what ever reason. the armor reinforcement allows for a somewhat more limited guard option and a backup to the loss of a shield…. but like always… a mace/morning star(flail) would break your arm ether way when struck…. so yeah…

  15. alesker iskenderov says:

    I think if you make a round shield out of wood and cover it with light iron that can protect you very well against projectiles even if your arm is straight leaning towards the shield and you wouldn't have to stretch your arm

  16. Rodrigo Ruiz says:

    Also, strap shields are much more comfortable to use while wearing heavy armor (like brigandine). In my experiencie, a center grip is very difficult to mantain while wearing brigandine arm armour and mittens, as they take extra space (and also is more demanding on your arm strength). That's why I think the strap shields became more popular with time, while bucler shields were more popular with lightly armoured troops.

  17. Plastikdoom says:

    People didn't really use strapped shields, until lancers came about though, right? And you pretty needed that on horse back, not to mention, heavier and thicker? Plus the whole stopping a lance when you're both on horses. For the arrows through it, didn't you wear armor under it? Would have to go through the shield, then your armor and padding first.

  18. Charles Brooks says:

    I prefer strap shields to center grip because in my opinion they are easier to use & carry, also when someone gets up close to you I find it easier to shove them back with a strapped shield, because I feel you can get more force out of a shove or "bash" with a strap shield

  19. Christopher S says:

    Also didn't most strap shields have metal coverings? I don't see a lot of arrows puncturing that. Case and point: Thermopylae. The Greek hoplon that the Spartans and others used there stood up against the Persian arrow storm.

  20. Christopher S says:

    The ancient Greeks were probably the only culture from antiquity that used the strap and handle shield and I think the reason for the strap shields in the Middle Ages and when they did use shields in the Renaissance is the same reason for a lot of the things of that time, they got obsessed with the Greeks and wanted o emulate them. Same reason they switched map orientation from east back to north.

  21. Hector Orozco Rdz says:

    I think the strapped shield would make your own arm to absorb the impact!!! Am I right!?? how well a strapped shield would reduce the force!? or it will be painfull to the user to recieve a hit from, let say a Mace or a warhammer!? Would be cool if you'd make a test for this!!! Your videos have made their way across the sea to Mexico!!

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