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The Medival European Knight vs a Japanese Samurai

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  • And another point is that the European knight does have excelent flexibility and maneouverbility. The plate wouldn't impact his ability to move as nearly as all the shows and myths tell. A well trained and expierianced knight in armour will be used to fighting under the weight of the armour and the armour will only effect him in getting overheated and dehydrated as is something that no matter what would happen.
    God didnít create evil. Evil is the result of when man does not have God's love in his heart.It's the cold when there is no heat.The darkness that comes when there is no light

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    • That is very much what I heard in that properly fitted plate armors were very maneuverable and that it was a misnomer that one couldn't move well in one. According to what I've read, the weight was well distributed.

      On the other hand, the samurai did have a variety of weapons available. While the tachi and later the katana were primary, a small variety of pole arms were used from a pike to the nagamaki. Some pronged anti-cavalry weapons were used too. One interesting weapon would have been a kusarigama, or sickle and chain used to disarm and bring down an opponent. However, it was more common in the Edo Era when armor was almost never worn in duels.
      TTFN

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      • The samurai also could've used the yari spear. The shaft differed in lengths but the spearpoint looks lethal enough.

        Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

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        • I posted this video of a very intense Naginata demonstration with Otake Sensei, a legendary kenjutsu practitioner.

          http://alice-the-raven.livejournal.com/78283.html
          TTFN

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          • I read an excerpt from Karl Friday's book, "The First Samurai," about Taira Masakado. His opinion of samurai armor was that it was very difficult to cut through with an edged weapon due to its layering of metal and leather plates. I did talk to a knowledgeable person who said the earlier armor used a kebiki odoshi form of lacing which was very dense, which on the surface would be good, but it required a lot of holes in the plates, which weakened the integrity. The later sugake odoshi lacing allowed a greater surface area of metal to be exposed to a cut.
            TTFN

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            • Originally posted by Kendoka Girl View Post
              I read an excerpt from Karl Friday's book, "The First Samurai," about Taira Masakado. His opinion of samurai armor was that it was very difficult to cut through with an edged weapon due to its layering of metal and leather plates. I did talk to a knowledgeable person who said the earlier armor used a kebiki odoshi form of lacing which was very dense, which on the surface would be good, but it required a lot of holes in the plates, which weakened the integrity. The later sugake odoshi lacing allowed a greater surface area of metal to be exposed to a cut.
              Thats one of the reasons I think that a knight with a blunt weapon like a warhammer, mace, etc. would be more effective against a samurai, because it would cause damage underneath the armor without needing to cut through it all.

              But I think that the best German/Italian plate from the 14th-15th century would be much better than contemporary Japanese armor from the same timeframe (you know, the 'before gunpowder' era we decided on to make it a little less of a 'bringing a knife to a gunfight' kinda question ).

              Or the knight could have used a polearm of somekind, I guess. A halberd, maybe?

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              • Very true of blunt weapons on both sides of the globe. Once plate armor developed to its zenith, a sword stroke was nearly useless and you could only hope to thrust through some gap.

                It's my humble opinion that about 1450 is when full plate armor gives the advantage to the European knight. Armor during the early 15th Century still had a fair amount of mail and significant gaps in the plate, which could be exploited. This would include a fair amount of open-faced helms. I think the sallet and armet helms of the mid and late 15th Century were reasonably impervious to a sword cut.

                The thing is though, both knight and samurai armor were vulnerable to degredation by having plates dented and straps cut, reducing mobility and protection. Thus, either could be worn down and dispatched by this method.
                TTFN

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                • Blah, I realize this is a few days late....

                  Ok, well, howdy all. Iíve enjoyed reading this, but have to point out a few things here that got my attention. Iím rather new here, but Iíd like to weigh in. One of the things mentioned here is that whole sense of Samurai honor. Surely, there were men, like Uesugi Kenshin, whom possessed great honor during those times, but for the most part it was absent.

                  It didnít come about until much later during the Edo period, when the Samurai no longer had battles to fight. Bushido was based off -in part-of the house rules of the Daimyo of the previous era, and other sensible things like that, so it was more like a set of rules and regulations then a code of honor. The whole meeting-your-enemy-on-the-field-of-battle-and-dueling-him, earlier on, was about personal honor and all that. Later it was so that you could take his head and prove that you had done your service to your lord. In that, there were little bits of honorable actions that were associated, such as burning inscents in your helmet before you went off to combat, so that if someone managed to take your head they would be treated to a pleasant aroma.

                  There were lots of betrayals and murders and other dishonorable actions. Saito Dosan (uncle-in-law to Oda Nobunaga) was a priest and oil merchant, but he murdered his ďlordĒ Nagai Nagahiro and took over his lands as lord. His own adopted son (Saito Yoshitatsu) would do the same to him.

                  Takeda Shingen deposed his own father to gain power after it was found out that he wasnít going to inherit the domain..

                  Later on, the Hojo would cut off the landlocked domains of the Takeda from their vital need of salt. (Yes, Kenshin did break the blockade in part by giving salt to Shingen, but the point is still there.)

                  Nobunaga himself fought in a small series of succession wars, and then later on would be killed in Kyoto by Akechi Mitsuhide. After that, Hideyoshi was ingenious in how he manipulated affairs to see to it how he would become the next lord.

                  And then Tokugawa did much of the same political backstabbing later which led to Sekigahara and the battles of Osaka Castle.

                  Betrayal was very prevalent during that age. So, it wasnít as honorable as one might suspect. That came later, probably to stop much of the same from happening.

                  Also, some lords could inspire their men to disregard the whole ďtaking the headĒ thing of honor which was an obsession by this point of the Samurai, much as Hojo Ujiyasu did at the battle of Kawagoe. It was interesting to note that Hojos men at the castle (about 3000) were besieged by around 100,000 (probably a lot less, as some people rated Imagawa Yoshimoto's strength to be 40 to 50,000 at Okehazema... but) men. (A coalition of armies led by Uesugi Tomosada) Ujiyasu sent a relieving force of about 8000 men and the battle was joined in the dead of night. He defeated the coalition and Tomosada was K.I.A. Obviously, this is why they couldnít take heads, and whatever sense of honor they had was to be sacrificed for military aim. So, in effect, Iíd say the Samurai armies are more disciplined then the Knights. This was fought in 1545 btw, before the wide spread use of guns.

                  So, from flood attacks to surprise night raids, the latter-day Samurai were mostly about battlefield results and not honor. (Though it certainly did exist, such as the first division to attack in battle and other such considerations)


                  Iíd also like to point out that yari were usually very long. Keep in mind that the typical Oda yari had a shaft alone of 5.6 meters. This was apparently typical of his forces from early on, because there are records of them in April 1553. While this depended on the general in command, most usually had a 4.8 meter long spear shaft with small variations in between.

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                  • Welcome, it's been an interesting discussion thus far.

                    If I recall correctly, Bushido comes from Edo era writings such as the Hagakure and other such philosophies so what you said certainly matches what I've read.

                    Kenshin was quite an interesting character. He was very devout, but quick to anger and was a heavy drinker. He was surely a person of great contradictions. I liked his portrayal in the movie, Heavan and Earth about the wars he had with the Takeda. I am watching Fuurin Kazan, about Yamamoto Kansuke and Takeda Shingen. The portrayal of Kenshin is very quirky, but interesting.

                    It's interesting to note that ambition trumps honor in many earlier periods. Taira Masakado's rebellion; Taira Kiyomori's seizing power, leading to the Gempei Wars; Minamoto Yoritomo's murder of his half brothers to consolidate power as Shogun; Ashikaga Takauji's betrayal of the new Imperial government to seize the Shogunate.

                    In terms of honor, I really love the Chushingura story of the 47 Ako Ronin.

                    In general terms, it seems like human nature and history repeat themselves in that honor is for the rank and file, politics are for the leaders.
                    TTFN

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                    • Yeah, Hagakure and the like. I have a book translated by Tom Cleary, I think his name is. It's not Hagakure, but it is along the same vein, and it goes into some very mundane topics like how to treat friends and family and such. One point it raises, and this is the one I remember best, is that of public officials.

                      It says that they are like white coats. When they first start out, they are untarnished and clean. As they go along, they pick up little pieces of dirt here and there, until their coat is filthy and such. Thus, the corruption.

                      As for the characters from that period (which was odd, given the sheer density of highly skilled and intelligent individuals in such a small area) I have to say that some of the more interesting are from the group I dubbed the big five. The three unifiers and Takeda Shingen/Uesugi Kenshin. They were all walking contradictions and yet they were fantastically brilliant.

                      I haven't seen many films on Samurai besides some Akira Kurosawa classics like Seven Samurai. I saw the very end of Earth and Heaven, but not all of it.

                      And yeah, the 47 Ronin, I do think, have come to epitomize in the Japanese and the rest of the world the ideal of Bushido.

                      As for the whole Knights vs Samurai thing... I think it more or less comes down to the commanders, if this is an army type engagement. Such as: Two armies smash/crash/fumble into each other, and while their soldiers are engaged on foot, two commanders and/or mounted warriors spot one another and move in to engage. That's sort of how I saw this whole thing coming to a head.

                      Also, the Samurai mainly, at this time, used the spear. The Sohei (basically the Knights Templar of the Japanese, just with longevity) used Naginata... then the gun came and that changed for the most part. But, the Samurai on the battlefield hardly relied on the sword, even in close battles. They used the Yari, the Yumi, as they primarily trained with and employed these weapons.

                      During the Edo period, the sword came into prominence. Imagine being in a society without war, but being a warrior. Would you want to carry a useless spear with you everywhere you went? The sword was light, it was quick, it was powerful and it was romanticized. But, the way of the sword was primarily an Edo period invention.

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                      • Originally posted by Heatsaber View Post
                        Yeah, Hagakure and the like. I have a book translated by Tom Cleary, I think his name is. It's not Hagakure, but it is along the same vein, and it goes into some very mundane topics like how to treat friends and family and such. One point it raises, and this is the one I remember best, is that of public officials.

                        It says that they are like white coats. When they first start out, they are untarnished and clean. As they go along, they pick up little pieces of dirt here and there, until their coat is filthy and such. Thus, the corruption.

                        As for the characters from that period (which was odd, given the sheer density of highly skilled and intelligent individuals in such a small area) I have to say that some of the more interesting are from the group I dubbed the big five. The three unifiers and Takeda Shingen/Uesugi Kenshin. They were all walking contradictions and yet they were fantastically brilliant.

                        I haven't seen many films on Samurai besides some Akira Kurosawa classics like Seven Samurai. I saw the very end of Earth and Heaven, but not all of it.

                        And yeah, the 47 Ronin, I do think, have come to epitomize in the Japanese and the rest of the world the ideal of Bushido.

                        As for the whole Knights vs Samurai thing... I think it more or less comes down to the commanders, if this is an army type engagement. Such as: Two armies smash/crash/fumble into each other, and while their soldiers are engaged on foot, two commanders and/or mounted warriors spot one another and move in to engage. That's sort of how I saw this whole thing coming to a head.

                        Also, the Samurai mainly, at this time, used the spear. The Sohei (basically the Knights Templar of the Japanese, just with longevity) used Naginata... then the gun came and that changed for the most part. But, the Samurai on the battlefield hardly relied on the sword, even in close battles. They used the Yari, the Yumi, as they primarily trained with and employed these weapons.

                        During the Edo period, the sword came into prominence. Imagine being in a society without war, but being a warrior. Would you want to carry a useless spear with you everywhere you went? The sword was light, it was quick, it was powerful and it was romanticized. But, the way of the sword was primarily an Edo period invention.
                        Excellent posts! Glad to have you on board!
                        A new life awaits you in the off world colonies; the chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!

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                        • I second Pirateship! I look forward to further contributions from you, Heatsaber.
                          Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

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                          • Well, thanks. I, uh, just don't really have much to add at the present.

                            I suppose the most interesting thing to me about the Samurai is that, on one island, on the other side of the world, they had so many influential people.

                            I mean, you had some huge families (and some not) with extremely ambitious and skilled individuals.

                            The Oda, being foremost in my mind. Then you've got the Tokugawa, the Takeda, the Uesugi, the Hojo, Shimazu and Mori, for a few more.

                            Each of these had some amazing warriors, themselves. Like for Oda, Shibata Katsuie, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Meada Toshii.

                            And famously for Tokugawa, Honda Tadakatsu.

                            And Takeda had 24 amazing generals.

                            It just amazes me that they have such a diversity and density of highly skilled tacticians/warriors in such a relatively (comparatively) small area.

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                            • There was one very interesting thing about culture that I read regarding this - the European ideal of the individual and the Asian ideal of the group. In seeming contradiction to this, numerous individual samurai are named and glorified during this era while it seems more difficult to find the same in Europe of the same time frame. I think the Vikings were an exception in that some of the literature that I've read had numerous individual feats of valor.

                              I saw the finale of Fuurin Kazan and it had several excellent scenes for the deaths of Takeda Nobushige, Morozumi Bungo, and Yamamoto Kansuke. I was a little let down by the encounter between Shingen and Kenshin. One of the things that I look for in a good fight scene is that it looks like the actors are really trying to kill each other as opposed to easy, stylish cuts.

                              I've read that the tachi/katana was used more as a secondary weapon during the warring states and earlier with the bow or pole weapons as primary. The Takeda cavalry charges were suppose to be particularly devastating...until Nagashino.
                              TTFN

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                              • True. And that is an interesting point. Nobunaga, for one, stands out head/shoulders above everyone else at the time.

                                My friend and I were looking for some books and the like on stage fighting. We were bored and were thinking of getting into it. One of the things they said in the book we got was to attack as if you meant to hit them, but pull off at the last second. And the person defending should always expect to be hit and such that way there are no accidents and you can make your act look convincing.

                                And the Takeda, I was wondering how they would fair against a Knight Cav charge. I know the horses are smaller, but.....

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