# What would be favoured weapons and weapon styles of a four-armed human?

I have a race of humanoids with 4 hands. They are on average 7 feet tall and are as dexterous with each of their 4 hands as a human is dexterous with each of their arms. What kinds of weapons would suit these humanoids the best?

Tech levels are late medieval, with some magic, but feel free to include super-clock punk ideas if you like. Ranged and melee weapons are both accepted.

Besides that, with weapons, it is also important to note their grips and usage styles as well. Would they use 4 one-handed weapons, 2 two-handed weapons, 1 big four-handed weapon, or maybe some sort of other combination?

Weapons that immediately come to mind for me are the Nagamaki and polearms in general, but it would be great to include other weapons instead.

META: I also noticed that, to my knowledge, this is the 1000th question in the site. Yay!

EDIT 1: Weapons for both personal combat and formation war fighting would be great.

EDIT 2: They would be fighting each other, as well as other human(oids) of varying sizes. Their arms are arranged with 2 arms in the same position as us, and 2 more coming out from under their arms, from their torso.

• Two arms to handle a rocket powered grenade launcher, two hands to hold drinks. Thanks to Sterling Archer for the concept.
– msw
Feb 5 '15 at 0:54
• I'd think a Tonfa with two handles could be pretty interesting for swinging between the two arms on one side. Feb 5 '15 at 1:38
• I was going to say my choice of weapon a 4 armed 7 foot human would still be semi autonomous drones. Ahh, tech level. Damn. However, I suspect 4 arms means 4 swords as much as 2 arms means 2 swords, in that it doesn't because you swing with the body not the arm. Feb 5 '15 at 10:29
• About multiple weapons: In my experience the biggest limiting factor in using more weapons (like 2 swords for a human) is not mental (like concentration on multiple targets), but that you wield a sword primarily with body motion and not arm motions. Why don't boxers punch with two arms? because you rotate your whole bodyweight into a punch. This would be the same for multiple arms, so most likely there would be one primary attack-weapon and the other arms would hold shields or other tools/helpers Feb 5 '15 at 13:42
• Someone wants to close this question two years, 5 months after it was originally posted. This is completely stupid! Sensible people should realize if a question wasn't closed earlier, when in all probability standards were different, then there has to be a point when questions should be simply left to stand as they are. Aug 1 '17 at 12:30

If we look at ancient Chinese weaponry, we see that the sky is the limit. There is an unbridled creativity when it comes to weapons. Intentionally avoiding the proper names for things like spears and halberds, here's some descriptions that I am familiar with:

• stick
• longer stick
• shorter stick
• stick broken into 2 parts
• stick broken into 3 parts (this one was fun)
• pointy bit
• stick with pointy bit
• long piece of stiff-ish string
• stick with pointy bit and oxtail whip on the other end
• stick with pointy bit and a few other blades attached
• long pointy bit (sword)
• long pointy bit sharpened on only one side
• long pointy bit sharpened on three sides
• 9 pointy bits strapped to the end of a rake

And those are the less exotic ones. They get even more extreme from there.

They key to finding a good weapon is to understand that the weapon is not just about hurting the enemy, it is about flowing well with your anatomy and your mindset. A weapon which does not flow with your body is less of a weapon and more of a lever with which your opponent can manipulate you. Many Chinese weapons were designed for people to study them for years before using them in combat. Others, like the sword, could be acceptably effective in a much shorter time. European weapons were usually designed to be very efficient in a short period of time.

Anatomy is essential for deciding how to design a weapon. There is not a weapon today which does not account for the anatomy of the shoulder. The shoulder is such a special joint that many don't even consider it a fully-fledged joint at all. It's treated more like a few bones strapped together with muscle, a hope, and a prayer. Your four armed humanoids will have even more complicated shoulder structures. Weapons they would use would leverage the particular ranges of motion each arm has.

As an example, if your lower arms have limited vertical mobility (which would not be surprising), consider a scythe with a sharpened bottom tip and a handle near the end of the blade. When wielded by arms on the same side of the body, it would leverage the lower arm's stronger horizontal strength. However, after a cross-body strike is done, it would be trivial for the humanoid to transfer the scythe to the top arms to use the bottom tip like a spear. Finally, because the scythe is shaped like a right angle, when using it as a spear, there would be a dangling blade near you (bad mojo!). However, it is also in a perfect position for the lower arm to grab the handle on the blade. In this position it is simultanously:

• A spear managed by upper arms
• A knife in the lower arm (happens to be strapped to a stick)
• A lever (using 3 of the 4 hands in their strong directions)
• It can turn back into a scythe wielded by upper-arms at any moment if the lower arm imparts momentum into the blade by pushing it in a direction.

The latter part is is interesting because this is a motion that is impossible for a 2-armed individual. You need at least 3 arms to hold a spear with 2 hands and a "knife" with a third, and the exact forces the third hand are terribly hard to fake with the shoulder muscles of a 2 handed humanoid (remember I said the shoulder was magic? Your race just found a way to do something without using a shoulder).

• "flowing well with your anatomy.." is the key. A staff being used by a 2-armed human can spin and provide momentum in various directions. The same is true of the 4-armed human, so long as he is still only using one staff. The greatest advantage of having 4 arms is greater control in the handling of the weapons - as touched on in the last paragraph. Feb 5 '15 at 22:28
• "oxtail whip" -- surely, "long piece of stiffish string" ;-) Feb 6 '15 at 10:33
• Nice =) Totally editing that, Steve! Feb 6 '15 at 17:16

I feel like a major point that is being missed here is that a combatant, unless part of an army where things are issued/standardized has the freedom to choose weapons based on who/what they are facing. So to say physiology would dictate weapon choice is misleading. It adds options but doesn't pigeonhole.

That said there are limitations, four arms does not mean that you can be equally effective with double the weapons. Here's why. THERE IS STILL ONLY ONE HEAD.

Ahem, anyway, moving on. Here are a few things that won't work.

• Dual Ranged Weapons: You can only concentrate on one target, and unless targets regularly require two shots to bring down this doesn't make sense. (not to mention you can't aim two bows at the same time.)
• Dual Great (two handed) weapons: Given that we have two arms coming out of each side their grips would be the same direction. Imagine holding a baseball bat with two left hands. Because you don't have alternate grip directions at the hand it just can't be as stable. So you would have to grasp each great weapon with one hand from each side, meaning one blade would be under the other and frankly just get in the way.

Ok, onto the options that work. I don't feel the need to specify certain weapons sets but more general layout options that seem reasonable.

Defensive Stance

• Two shields (heavy or tower), one weapon (short or long) and the fourth is a free hand or thrown weapon hand. This is sort of the ultimate phalanx soldier, double the shield face, ranged and spear/sword wielding. Very tough to kill when organized.

• Ranged defensive. Bow/crossbow with dual shields. This setup can help improve the survivability of archers.

Balanced Stance

• Two shields (kite or lighter), two weapons (not pole-arms). This is of course the utility player or the set-up when you don't know what is coming. This could be two one handed weapons or a one handed with a thrown weapon in the other.

Offensive stance

• The flurry. Four one handed weapons...this could get crazy. All swords, all maces, all axes, a mixture of the three, maybe throw in a flail. The constant barrage that could ensue would be near impossible to defend against. In my mind this is the style that all other styles are attempting to counter.

• The big *** weapon. This is a cool idea and perhaps this finally makes those video game uber weapons realistically useful. While obviously not as agile the utter force brought down by four arms could be devastating. (This is assuming that your four armed humanoids have evolved to be more sturdy. If the base isn't sturdy the strength of the arm is irrelevant.)

• Polearms. These weapons suffer from the same problem as any other two handed weapon so using two is still impractical. That said with the extra strength and ability to manipulate a weapon that is long, heavy and normally hard to control...you could create some impressive dual ended weapons. This could be a dual bladed sword (naginata) or even a dual halberd. Slashing or blunt weapons make more sense in this style as you'll be going for sweeping strikes rather than targeting a single enemy.

• The brawler. No weapons. Two hands to grapple, two hands to pummel. Its like having a friend hold someone down for you...only you don't need a friend. In general a free hand can be very useful in combat. Whether its to lob a grenade weapon, throw dirt in someone's face, or just grab onto them or their gear, never underestimate the value of a free hand in this system.

• @corsiKa That is a fallacy. To properly aim a ranged weapon be it a bow or firearm you look down the barrel/shaft. Human eyes are not capable of doing that in two locations at the same time. So while we can fire two ranged weapons at the same time it is incredibly inaccurate particularly at any decent range. Feb 4 '15 at 19:04
• It's not a fallacy - you're just choosing to define what "properly aim" means. In any event, considering it takes time to draw arrows from the quivver and back to your shoulder, it's not ridiculous to think that with some practice and four arms that one would be able to look down the shaft of one while firing while (from muscle memory) notching and drawing the other bow. Feb 4 '15 at 19:16
• @corsiKa Me and every professional military on the planet. But you are entitled to your opinion. Feb 4 '15 at 19:57
• Just a quick thought on the "aiming two weapons" debate. What about if one of the weapons was aimed by looking down the barrel/bow shaft/what-have-you and the other served as a sort of personal artillery option. Think of how archers were occasionally used---to rain arrows down upon a mass of enemies. If this were a large scale war situation rather than one-on-one combat, such a configuration might make sense (since a higher rate of fire with rough accuracy might be more important than precision aiming and slower fire). Feb 4 '15 at 20:37
• @Dennis That is a good point. If you are using archers in the manner that say the British did, en masse and over long distances precise aim is far less of a concern. Feb 4 '15 at 21:37

As a student of the Italian School of Longsword Fencing, and a student of medieval weapons in general, I would say this:

• Extra Arms need not be occupied with weapons. It was common practice to grapple opponents, even while wielding a longsword. In fact, Fiori de Liberi recommends pommel-strikes at close distance. Having extra arms could result in special disarms, or grabbing their sword while attacking with your swords. (And yes, people do grab swords in combat, such as when half-swording!)
• You can cut "with your body," or using your body's momentum. Additional weight in the form of arms can increase already considerable momentum. Four-armed individuals may just decide to use the same weapons that two-armed individuals would, but just benefit from the additional mass.
• Extra hands could be used in mounted fighting while using a two-handed weapon. You retain your control and have the use of a two-handed weapon! Additionally, you can have hands free to open doors, help others up, etc.
• Spear + Shield was considered the best combination for war. Obviously, more arms would allow you to hold a longer spear and thicker/larger shield.
• Buckler / Dagger + Arming Sword/Messer/Rapier (One-handed swords) was the staple of civilian melee combat. 2 Bucklers and 2 Arming swords could be a good combination. Shields and Bucklers are weapons just as much as swords are.
• Crossbows! Load with one set of arms, fire with the other set. It would greatly increase your fire rate.
• Two weapon fighting is hard, and comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. Four weapons may likely amplify those issues.

You also run into problems of having additional arms on a human body. I would mostly be worried about them running into themselves! Their physiology would need to be modified to really get the benefit from those extra arms in combat.

• Wow, I always appreciate an answer from someone with HEMA-ish background Feb 5 '15 at 0:30
• @grimmsdottir Italian Longsword is one of two popular schools for HEMA practitioners. Feb 5 '15 at 15:59

I think having four hands doesn't mean that you can target multiple enemies at once since our brain could only focus on one specific target. Dual wielding would also means you're an easy target for the enemy's longbowmen

My suggestion is:

1. A large-long-two-handed club/poleaxe for strong damage and use the last two hands to wield a large shield

2. More offensive option: no weapon at all, but instead use anything around you and throw it to the enemy

3. Ranged weapon: use a customized ballista / catapult - they need more than two hands to operate, which would be a perfect weapon for a four handed man

• Do you need 2 hands to wield a large shield? How much larger and heavier of a shield could you hold with 2 hands? I am also starting to get that people think that they should use 2 different styles of weapons Feb 4 '15 at 13:28
• It should be a shield large enough to even protect smaller allies behind and cover neck to feet. Another advantage on using two handed shield is that you could also attack with it (upper-left hand stands still, while lower-left hand bash the enemy to deal blunt force trauma) Feb 4 '15 at 13:32
• A four-handed archer could have a higher rate of fire than a two-handed one because they can fetch a new arrow from the quiver while still drawing the bow. Feb 4 '15 at 14:50

An extra set of hands does not necessarily just double your attacks, and can just as easily limit your options as they get in the way of each other. I would hesitate before considering doing extra things with the extra hands simply from a split-attention standpoint - the pat your head while rubbing your belly problem squared.

Archery: the strength for using a bow does not come from the arm, but from using your whole body - unless these creatures are severely hunchbacked because of massive additional back musculature, they cannot get double the power or wield 2 bows to double the rate of fire. Besides, extra muscle would just support a more powerful bow, not 2 weaker bows.

While extra arms could allow for slightly more powerful bows (because there would need to be some extra musculature for a second pair of functional arms), the greatest benefit would likely be the ability to hold shields while using other weapons. Holding a lightweight shield in the forward-side extra hand could provide some protection from incoming missiles.

Melee: the dual-wielding problem with added interference - doubling the number of weapons does not increase your ability to attack. Think about the mechanics of how, exactly, those arms will move in detail, and how will they work around each other. They can get two blades swinging together at the same target, but does this compensate for the restricted movements and possibility of interfering with each other when parried? Getting tangled up with your own weapons would be most unfortunate issue. Perhaps the lower arm holding a buckler might be handy - generally kept close to the body but available in case the opponent gets past your own weapon (a larger shield would likely interfere with the motion of the sword arm).

Alternative weapon combinations might be useful - different arms gripping different weapons, such as some sort of hooking weapon to pull against the opposing weapon/shield to create an opening for a stabbing weapon, but more along the lines of one weapon held back out of the way than a sense of a flurry of weapons.

Pole weapons are very attractive here - they get power and extra control from the extra arms, without much worry about the arms interfering with each other. 3 hands on a crow's beak while a forth holds a shield/dagger, or possibly held 2 handed, while the leading spare arm holds a shield and the trailing spare arm holds a dagger/hammer, but this is into likely self-interference territory.

It might be possible to hold one sword and one shield on each side - this does not imply that they would be functionally like two men in terms of combat effect, but it would definitely be useful if fighting multiple opponents (being able to switch focus onto different targets more easily).

How good is their armor? Weaker armor implies the importance of shields, while strong plate armor (think 14th century articulated plate) allows shields to be discarded as a hindrance to focus on armor-penetrating weapons. Are they fighting each other or normal humans? More individually or large battles? Weapons and armor combinations would reflect the threats faced, and that is quite literally an arms race developing different weapons, armor, tactics, and combat styles.

There are examples to draw on here. There is an obvious one:

The main problem with that example is the execution was with a very 'two-armed' thinking. It's similar to Kahn only thinking in 2D. Clearly the style was invented by a person with two arms.

The best examples of four arm use I've seen are actually from watching the Neptunians in Futurama. Re-watch Elzar fricassee a Neptunian Slug and you'll see what I mean. Someone clearly thought very hard about having four arms.

As other answers have demonstrated there are a lot of options for filling four weapon/shield slots. The easiest way to determine what would work (and to be able to better describe the fighting in your writing) is to get a friend to be your second set of arms and try some different mock weapons. Ideally, you have three friends, then try some mock slow-motion combat between two four armed creatures (or a four-armed creature against one or two two-armed opponents). This would be as much fun as it sounds.

• All I can see in my head now is a bad skit from WLIIA. Feb 5 '15 at 21:32

I could think of several different ways.

I could see them using 2 staffs, being able to lay two hands on each. With practice it would make them very dangerous. I could also seem some using four blades like katanas. I think a more common soldier would likely use a combination of swords and shields.

Archers I can think of two designs, one would require 2 arms to hold it and two to pull the string, this would be closer to a balista in fire power. The other would be a double bow. two bows joined at the center, two strings and two arrows, though this would really be just weapon of war, though I suppose hunting large animals it could be useful too.

Anyone using a polearm would also be able to protect themselves with a shield. The more talented might be able to wield a ranged weapon as well, say a sling or a regular bow.

having a sword in one hand a mace in another and a battle ax in a third with a shield in the last would give one the most advantage in a melee fight, but being GOOD with all those weapons takes a lot of training and even there, a certain style might make it hard to put the weapons in different hands. Lots of options but the best for melee is likely best with 2 shields and 1 or 2 preferred weapons.

• I always wonder when I get negative votes, especially when my answer is very similar to those given by others. Feb 4 '15 at 16:41

I would suggest several things:

• Four one-handed swords. What I'm having in mind with this is sort of like General Grievous (Star Wars). And I'm not referring to the spinning hands, rather the ability to do strong one-handed attacks at double the speed and to protect oneself better during flips or fights against multiple enemies.
• Dual bows and arrows, however, each bow is used in either the left hands or the right ones. The "lower" hand holds the bow, while the upper draws. Combine that with some nice forgotten techniques of holding multiple arrows in the draw hand and putting the arrow on the outer side of the bow and you have yourself walking machine-guns.
• One-handeds + shields. This can be quite interesting as you can mix the position of weapon and shield, i.e. lower-right and upper-left have the shields and the other two have the one-handed weapons. This enables a hit with the right hand that is "heavier" as more of the body's mass is put behind it (as it is on the top). Also it enables a sweeping low attach from the left. Attacks that are done in a backhand manner will also be protected very well.
• One usual combination for a pair of the arms and bare-arms/daggers. This will be very effective against two armed opponents. If their weapons ever get locked, the bare arms/daggers can make quick attacks in order for the opponent to lose their stance.
• Nun-chucks. Yep! Swinging like a maniac four of these babies and no-one can hit you.
• Two one-handed/one-handed and sheield and a giant two-handed. I imagine two quite effective attacks. A heavy hit at the beginning and a attack with the other hand in order to finish anything that might have been missed and also gives our 4-armed freak time to recover limiting his/her vulnerabilities. Perhaps the lower hands should carry the two-handed weapon in this case. Alternatively, wielding normal weapons with the lower hands and "waiting" for a chance to hit with the upper. This might be used with a spear as well - in a scorpion-like manner.
• Throwables. Either only one pair of arms - to keep attackers from the side away, or all fours - a walking machine gun.

I find it hard to believe that if their "right" arms are identical, there will be much use of a two-handed in both right arms for example. This will actually limit the movements of the weapons and will give nothing, but strength of direct hit in return. Might be useful in a limited set of situations, but will definitely not be their usual style.

I think two two-handed weapons would get in the way of each other. Remember also that two handed weapons have shorter range that one handed ones. I don't think this can be answered with certainty (I don't know of anyone with first-hand experience on this hehehe!), but what about a combo:

• two blades and a staff
• a bow for long range and swords/blades for the person to person combat

I think that for person to person combat 4 swords/blades would give you what you need story-wise.

• Two handed weapons generally have more reach than one-handed ones. That was a large part of the design for pikes, halbards etc. Feb 4 '15 at 14:45
• I feel like a bow in lower arms and blades for person-to-person would get in the way of each other, too. Feb 4 '15 at 18:02

One of the biggest factors in real-world combat is fighting with the right weapons in the right range. For example, guns are easy to defeat at very close range by an unarmed opponent, but a couple of feet of separation makes them much more effective. Likewise, a knife or short sword at very close range beats a staff or a spear. This is even true in hand-to-hand combat - knees, elbows, and headbutts work at close range, punches and kicks at mid-to-long range.

So if I were a four-armed human, I would select weapons that let me fight at close, medium, and long range at all times. If we are talking about melee weapons, that would probably mean a knife, a long sword, and a spear, with a shield for defense against missile weapons. The spear could be wielded with two arms and the sword with another, with the knife on a belt or some other easy-to-access place, since they wouldn't need it unless something had gone very wrong. This would work for formations as well as for one-on-one fights: think of a Roman centuria combined with a Greek phalanx. You combine the effectiveness at close range with the stand-off effectiveness of the spear, and still have full shield protection.

If missile weapons are an option, then a sword and shield, plus a bow or crossbow would be good.

If guns are allowed, then some sort of automatic weapon for suppressive fire combined with a precision weapon for accurate fire would be ideal.

Of course, all of these weapons and tactics have been developed in a world of two-armed people, and so it is likely that other weapons would be created in a world where everyone had four arms. However, one thing that will be the same is that weapons and tactics will have evolved in a series of advancements and counter-advancements, each designed to exploit the limitations of the opposition, and the primary limitation will still be the effective range.

Medieval? Try a bowman - but instead of having two bows at the same time, you can preoccupy two hands with drawing and firing each arrow, one hand to constantly draw new arrows, and the other hand free. (Maybe it could hold something, like a torch to ignite arrows?) This would make it fire much faster than a normal bow would.

It appears no one noticed that there is "some magic"(Emphasis mine) in the OP's world. This means that magical weapons are possible, and therefore options that would not otherwise be possible.

For example, let's say telekinesis is possible. In that case, your four-armed warriors would want one of the following setups:

1. If Telekinesis is OPW (Only Possible Through Wands): Upper pair of arms holds a shield, large and rectangular. The ends would have interlocking edges, so they could latch together and become one large shield. That way, if someone fires something at them that they can't stop with telekinesis alone, they can slam their shields together in front of them and hopefully block the brunt of it. If an overhead attack is incoming, they can tilt their shields up and form a pointed "roof" to block that. Alternatively, they could bring that "roof" down, point their wands (see below) backward, and become a flying snowplow of death. The lower pair of arms would likely hold two wands, allowing one to move two objects at once. As stated above, this could also (maybe) allow one to fly by using the wands as propulsion.

2. If Telekinesis Only Requires Line of Sight and Free Hands In this case, telekinetic effects would be invoked through the motion of the hands or arms. The arrangement would be the same, but in a pinch, one could use those hands to punch, grab, or wield weapons.

3. If Telekinesis Only Requires Will and Line of Sight Same arrangement, but a pair of arms are totally free. Granted, it'll be difficult to use them when you're focused on something else.

The genius of this arrangement is that A) it can be used for any magical setup (staffs, wands, gestures, runes) and B) it allows the four-armed people to defend and attack, or do two different kinds of attacks at once.

For example, while one arm is using a wand to cast spells, another two arms are blocking and slashing opponents. It's pretty hard for a mage to survive persistent, agile attackers but this one would be able to handle it (I presume).

Or perhaps two arms are using shields to block attacks and spells while one wand carves a circle of protection into the ground and the other is firing spells at the enemy. After the circle is forged, the warrior can then put away the wands use one of the weapon arrangements already suggested by those before me, since they only need the wands to A) recreate the circle of protection or B) hit someone with a spell.

Personally, I'd go for a tower shield on the left, held high and low by the left two arms, a sword on the lower right, and a spear (throwable, if need be) on the upper right. Or the right side might have a chain/hook in the lower right and a sword in the upper right.

I agree with Pipperchip. A lot of benefit could come from using a spear/shield set up, especially while mounted. My vision of the four armed humanoid looks a lot like Goro from Mortal Kombat, in the sense that his upper arms are stronger and more dominant than his lower ones, with a wider range of motion. I believe the weapon loadout would be similar to a Hoplite, with a spear and shield being the main weapons, and a small sword as a backup.

While advancing, "Goro" would hold the spear with his upper right arm and his lower left one in an underarmed fashion, while his upper left arm handled the shield. The shield itself would have a notch for the spear to lock into, so Goro would be able to free up his lower left arm when stationary. Because Goro could dedicate two arms to the spear when needed, the spear could be longer and handled with more precision and power. His lower right arm would be used to quickly grab the backup sword to stab close combat fighters, or grapple as needed.

This would make Goro an incredibly flexible fighter, as he would have range, defence, and a close range option (not to mention the damage a 7 ft four armed humanoid could inflict with just its bare hands). This would translate perfectly to mounted combat as Pipperchip pointed out, as Goro would be able to maintain control of the horse and his weapons at the same time.

Alternative weapon options for less warlike scenarios could be a net or bola, or small throwing spears. The lower arms could grab the spears/ammo from his back and "load" his upper arms which do the throwing.

I would like to look more into the constitution of those beasts. I believe that evolution would have created 4 armed humanoids if only they have a use for it in their early development phase, which probably means they were once living in a 3D environment, using their additional arms to grab branches or rocks. So they will have a pretty good balance and know how tu use 4 arms pretty independently.

For dual combat, using at least one lower arm with a pole or a cane as a 3rd leg to withstand a blow should be natural and a good asset for reactivity and mobility. make it a javelin and you can easily add some deadly aspect to dual wielding fights :

As I see it, a big dual wielded sword would be managed with the upper arms, a light shield would help protect one lower side, and a javelin on the other side would help to maneuver, can be used aggresively when a blow from the sword is stopped, and if the enemy ever back, you just switch the javelin from the lower arm to the upper arm, and a powerful throw will end him.

In closed areas, a short sword and a dagger on the upper arms would be more flexible, and they would be able to block attacks bare handed with the lower arms, use a wall to move, grab the enemy, or even jumping in push up position to get a decisive blow, as they would still be mobile.

For group fights, I don't think 4 arms can be as useful in a spear fight, as they won't really be able to use it for balance as they would injure other soldiers standing behind, and attacks will essentially come from the front, so the brute power would be the essential gain. You can still hope to grab the enemy weapons with one of your arms, or throw stuff in the enemy face, or maybe protect yourself from arrows with a light shield, but it will distract you from the enemy spears.

For ranged weapons, on the pther side, I think crossbows are really the way to go :

equip your soldier with two crossbows, make him aim with two arms, while the others are readying the next one. Shot fired, take the preloaded crossbow, add additional force with a third arm, and prepare to aim. It will drastically increase rate of fire with enough training to make it muscle memory. And as I said in the beginning, having 4 arms mean that they are used to use them all at the same time.

Of course I just described a few configurations, but I think what you should be focusing on is the natural abilities of your creatures to use their environnement and balance, which on a flat ground, will result in using a cane to move and react. that can be done with a long pole 2-handed, and some other cose-mid range weapon, and maybe throwable knifes or shuriken, if you want 4-armed ninjas, or some specific pretty long tonfa, which would help you dodge front strike by using your elbow to take support, and then slashing on your sides.

Finally, I think that with those specific balance abilities, they won't be able to turn on themselves like whirligig, as they will be affected a lot quicker with diziness, as cats do.

One shields and two spears and a sword with the sword is held on same side as shield or even a shield with bow.