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The Medival European Knight vs a Japanese Samurai

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  • New here and would like to add to this discussion. I've read several comments about European plate armor- and those who believe it was overly cumbersome are wrong. The weight was distributed over the enitre body and one could move quickly and quite freely, most could even mount a horse on their own. These guys were not weak either, even the smaller guys were robust and physically powerful. Also, they wore layers as well. Chain mail and leather armor under the plate and then usually a leather jerkin under that and woolen tunic to pad and absorb perspiration.
    In my opinion, just the chain mail armor with the under layers of leather and wool would be superior to Japanese armor. As a matter of fact, I have seen demos of Norse (Viking) armor which could not be penetrated by any but the mightiest of close up spear thrusts. This was the same armor that was later brought to Europe by the Northmen or Normans and then into the British Isles by William the Conqueror. This armor could not be penetrated by a katana or any other saber-style weapon. It took heavier thrusting and smashing weapons to damage and get through it.
    On the other side of the coin, a Samurai's armor was called lamellar. Layers of boiled and lacquered leather sometimes reenforced with small areas of steel and chain mail. European weapons would devastate this type of armor. A Samurai's mobility and speed would be rendered ineffective by the combination of his vulnerability to European weaponry and his inability to put his opponent down quickly do to their superior armor.
    Last edited by combatter; 18 Apr 09, 18:58. Reason: misspelling

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    • Welcome aboard, Combatter. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

      Not sure everyone here will agree with you, but good points all the same.
      History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon. Napoleon Bonaparte
      _________
      BoRG
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      "I am Arthur, King of the Britons!"

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      • I agree with combatter, plate armour is very protective and is not clumsy or heavy. And the Knight would also know martial arts and of course what do you mean by 'knight'?
        The Napoleonic Era, and WWI and WWII are NOT! the be all, end all of Military History.

        Properly trained Cavalry can and will beat the vaunted infantry man

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        • Very good points. There are a lot of "it depends" issues in this comparison. I think you're very right in that the European plate armors of the 1400's to 1500's are nearly invulnerable to a sword cut. The samurai Tosei Gusoku or modern armors of the 1500's are also very durable and often have solid steel cuirasses. I would disagree that chainmail alone would be superior, but would agree that full plate is. One of the reasons for samurai armor being the way that it was, was because they often had to move on foot over rough terrain or in bad weather quickly. So, it was the right armor for the region. The older O-Yoroi armor was made to facilitate the archer to sit on a horse and shoot arrows.

          Like in Europe, better armor over time prompted the development of styles that targeted the vulnerable areas of the armor. The katana only became the primary weapon once the era of civil wars ended and armor fell into disuse. Even the magnificent edge of that weapon would be useless when cutting directly on plate armor. You would have to target the vulnerable areas (back of the legs, inside of the arms, gaps in the plates), damage the armor to immobilize the wearer, or get the opponent to the ground where he would be vulnerable. Up until the 1600's, a variety of polearms were the samurai's primary weapon. The yari and its variations have excellent thrust and slash capability. Other polearms were very similar to billhooks, which were proven to be effective against armored opponents (i.e. Flodden).

          Interestingly enough, I have a friend who fought Kendo against SCA and lost, but the SCA fighter was a better fighter.
          TTFN

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          • Holy thread necromancy, Batman!

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            • Originally posted by Kendoka Girl View Post
              Interestingly enough, I have a friend who fought Kendo against SCA and lost, but the SCA fighter was a better fighter.
              SCA = Society for Creative Anachonism ?
              How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
              Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

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              • Originally posted by combatter View Post
                New here and would like to add to this discussion. I've read several comments about European plate armor- and those who believe it was overly cumbersome are wrong. The weight was distributed over the enitre body and one could move quickly and quite freely, most could even mount a horse on their own. These guys were not weak either, even the smaller guys were robust and physically powerful. Also, they wore layers as well. Chain mail and leather armor under the plate and then usually a leather jerkin under that and woolen tunic to pad and absorb perspiration.
                In my opinion, just the chain mail armor with the under layers of leather and wool would be superior to Japanese armor. As a matter of fact, I have seen demos of Norse (Viking) armor which could not be penetrated by any but the mightiest of close up spear thrusts. This was the same armor that was later brought to Europe by the Northmen or Normans and then into the British Isles by William the Conqueror. This armor could not be penetrated by a katana or any other saber-style weapon. It took heavier thrusting and smashing weapons to damage and get through it.
                On the other side of the coin, a Samurai's armor was called lamellar. Layers of boiled and lacquered leather sometimes reenforced with small areas of steel and chain mail. European weapons would devastate this type of armor. A Samurai's mobility and speed would be rendered ineffective by the combination of his vulnerability to European weaponry and his inability to put his opponent down quickly do to their superior armor.
                Nice first post . Welcome to the forums .
                How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
                Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

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                • This is interesting thread, even I do not like this kind of talk - it all depends on skill of warrior...
                  Here is one interesting story for you. In 1904 when war started between Russia and Japan - Kingdom of Montenegro also declared war to Japan! Many of Montenegrians, that were in Russia, joined russian army (as officers)... One of them was man from my avatar - Alexandar Saicic! Before some battle, samurai came in middle of the field and he asked for duel. Russian Generals were surprised when Captain Saicic wanted to fight. One General even said to him that he has no chance... Fight was very fast - Samurai gave Saicic small cut on his head, but next moment Saicic cut his head off! He honored him saying Samurai was true Warrior! This is considered as last Epic Duel in montenegrian history... I can not find the name of this Samurai; there is a story that he was famous in Japan... Saber of Captain Saicic is now in military museum in Russia (Moscow or Vladivostok, I think)...
                  p.s. In 2006. japanese delegation came to Montenegro to sign peace from that war...
                  Donít forget 1389 Battle for Kosovo.
                  Donít forget 1912 Kumanovo battle, revenge for Kosovo.
                  Donít forget 1999 Battle for Kosovo II
                  Donít forget weíll revenge it again.

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                  • Then which was the better army: the Samurai army in the late 1500's to early 1600's or a European army of the same era (Tercio dominated)?

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                    • Originally posted by IDonT4 View Post
                      Then which was the better army: the Samurai army in the late 1500's to early 1600's or a European army of the same era (Tercio dominated)?
                      Imposible to answer!
                      In the late 19 and early 20th century there were competitions and sport duels (sabers). European champion was some Italian, for few years. Then Russians sent some Cosack - he swings once, Italian perfect block; second time, again perfect block; third time and again perfect block but Cosack strike with so power that he cut Italians saber and his hand!
                      I am sure that Cosack did not meant that, but he had no school of "perfect" fighting... Maybe he was not even "better"!
                      Donít forget 1389 Battle for Kosovo.
                      Donít forget 1912 Kumanovo battle, revenge for Kosovo.
                      Donít forget 1999 Battle for Kosovo II
                      Donít forget weíll revenge it again.

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                      • Originally posted by Djordjije View Post
                        Imposible to answer!
                        In the late 19 and early 20th century there were competitions and sport duels (sabers). European champion was some Italian, for few years. Then Russians sent some Cosack - he swings once, Italian perfect block; second time, again perfect block; third time and again perfect block but Cosack strike with so power that he cut Italians saber and his hand!
                        I am sure that Cosack did not meant that, but he had no school of "perfect" fighting... Maybe he was not even "better"!
                        That's the problem of all the martial arts. While I have no doubts that they had their basis on actual armed combat, the lack of "real life" testing and the human nature to like the flashy, changed them to a bastardized form we have today.

                        There is also a distinction between a martial art used mainly for dueling and those used in actual war. The skill used in jousting is different than the skill used in an all out cavalry charge.

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                        • This sounds like it would be an interesting topic for a show on Spike called Ancient Warriors in which the weapons and fighting styles and weapons used by two famed warriors are examined by "experts" and the results are fed into a computer programs. One of the topics already covered was Viking versus Samurai; the Samurai won. What I found interesting about the show, despite the overly caffeineted "experts", was the demonstrations of the weapons; the katana was demonstrated on four dead pigs simulating human bodies, and it cut through 2.5 porkers (most impressive), however when it was used against chain mail, it failed to cut through.
                          Give me a fast ship and the wind at my back for I intend to sail in harms way! (John Paul Jones)

                          Initiated Chief Petty Officer
                          Hard core! Old School! Deal with it!

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                          • Originally posted by bass_man86 View Post
                            This sounds like it would be an interesting topic for a show on Spike called Ancient Warriors in which the weapons and fighting styles and weapons used by two famed warriors are examined by "experts" and the results are fed into a computer programs. One of the topics already covered was Viking versus Samurai; the Samurai won. What I found interesting about the show, despite the overly caffeineted "experts", was the demonstrations of the weapons; the katana was demonstrated on four dead pigs simulating human bodies, and it cut through 2.5 porkers (most impressive), however when it was used against chain mail, it failed to cut through.
                            This show is mainly geared to get viewers than to get the truth. Of course the most "popular" warrior won. They neglected the fact that the Samurai:

                            1.) Fought on horse back as a horse archer or heavy cavalry;
                            2.) The Yari (spear) was the main kill weapon;
                            3.) Arquibuisers supported the the spearmen;

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                            • Originally posted by bass_man86 View Post
                              This sounds like it would be an interesting topic for a show on Spike called Ancient Warriors in which the weapons and fighting styles and weapons used by two famed warriors are examined by "experts" and the results are fed into a computer programs. One of the topics already covered was Viking versus Samurai; the Samurai won. What I found interesting about the show, despite the overly caffeineted "experts", was the demonstrations of the weapons; the katana was demonstrated on four dead pigs simulating human bodies, and it cut through 2.5 porkers (most impressive), however when it was used against chain mail, it failed to cut through.
                              Yeah I watched that episode as well ( Deadliest Warrior). The issue I had with the Katana demo on the Chainmail was that the 'expert' slashed at the Mail but never tried to stab, with that wonderful Chizel edged tip. I thing it might have made a difference.

                              Not a bad show but the 'testing' is biased.
                              When they did the Apache vs Roman Gladiators the fight was in the Apaches' arena, outdoors in the Bush favouring the Apache. They didn't show results of what would have happened if they had met in the Colosseum...
                              Skewed results.
                              BoRG
                              "... and that was the last time they called me Freakboy Moses"

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                              • Originally posted by Arthwys View Post
                                Yeah I watched that episode as well ( Deadliest Warrior). The issue I had with the Katana demo on the Chainmail was that the 'expert' slashed at the Mail but never tried to stab, with that wonderful Chizel edged tip. I thing it might have made a difference.
                                I agree that the show does not provide accurate results, just because there is so much more to take into account than they bring to the discussion.

                                That being said, these are experts championing their warrior in the fight and if they have something in their arsenal to win the fight they are encouraged to use it.

                                So with that in mind, why didn't the Samurai expert attempt to stab the chain mail? Maybe because the Katana is not built for stabbing attacks as a primary offence. The curve of the blade and the (relatively) blunt tip when compared with the straight and pointed European style sword greatly reduce the type's ability to punch through armour.

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