(I'm reposting this from July 8, 2008, because the original entry is collecting masses of spam comments.)
Henrik Waddell from Sweden taught us his new form for practising Fiore's spear techniques. It was great! The class offered two or three big insights, one about training and a few about the spear as a weapon, and I'll try to explain my thoughts on the latter here; the ones about training have an entry of their own.
The hardest thing for me when using a spear is maintaining the correct distance, because the distance depends on the exact location and position of the hands; they can basically be placed anywhere along the shaft of the spear, they can be palm up or palm down in any combination, and to make matters worse, you have to shift your grip every now and then. No doubt this will get easier with practice, because after all, the thing only has one balance point and it should be easy to deduce how long the "tail" behind your hands is from where the balance point is. But the distance is chosen on the basis of a group of variables, whereas with the longsword the blade always has the same effective length and your grip doesn't shift around like a shifty-roundy thing.
The height of the back hand turned out to be important, at least for me. Just like a sword, you control the direction of the spear with the back hand while the forward hand creates a stable point to rotate it around, but a spear is much longer and the back hand has a number of possible places to be in; and moving it slightly has a much more complicated effect on the spear.
I had especial difficulty with getting the butt end of the spear to pass before me when shifting sides, e.g. when exchanging the thrust from finestra. The key is to think forward, not across. Don't reach, because that leads to overreaching; just think of going forward right from the start, not about setting aside the other spear. Surprisingly this is more crucial than where you grip the spear. (Within reason, of course.)
The spear is a wonderful weapon: simple, elegant and very good at what it does. And besides, it makes clear much about Fiore's system that the sword bits alone don't. Somehow the underlying body mechanics and physics of Fiore's system are easier to grasp with a spear in your hand, not because the spear is a simpler weapon (although it is) but because, well, because it feels like that is where it all comes from, like the spear system underlies all the others. It doesn't, abrazare does (right?), but the spear distills it somehow.