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For the most part I read that the primary way to protect the hands, especially from deflected strikes that slide along the shaft, when wielding a pole weapon is gauntlets; any sort of guard as you may find on a sword would sacrifice your ability to slide your own hands along the shaft.

However, there are illustrations from old textbooks and videos of people sparring with staffs with no hand protection. Some such videos show them wearing helmets, so they clearly expect strikes capable of injury. Does this mean there were techniques to minimize strikes to the hand, or are these just depictions of people accepting a risk?

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Truthfully, I suspect that some of it is artistic license, especially in illustrations. It's easier to show hand positions if you're showing hands not encased in thick gloves or armor. In modern HEMA, they definitely recommend hand protection.

Remember to protect your hands. Any good longsword practicioner will know the importance of protecting your hands and how bad it hurts to get hit on the fingers. The same applies to polearms. Instead of being smashed by steel, you’ll be smashed AND pinched by wood -- and trust me -- it sucks. Hand injuries are always a risk when you do historical european martial arts, and polearms are no exception...

To give a counter-example for manuals, Le Jeu de la Hache, one of the more respected manuals on historical poleaxe fighting, shows most of the combatants in full armor including gauntlets.

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