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The Medival European Knight vs a Japanese Samurai

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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)?
    That would be an interesting debate. I think it's a given that European armies would have a decided advantage in artillery, but I've read some material that puts samurai musketry at the advantage for that period. Apparently, Swiss and Spanish pike formations were tighter, but Japanese pike formations were more fluid. From what I've read, by the 1570's, the leadership in samurai armies was pretty good on average as the bads ones had been killed by then. Tough call.
    TTFN

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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"!
      I once met an old Russian expat, who was an officer in the Soviet Army. He lost an eye in a sabre duel in the 50's.
      TTFN

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      • Originally posted by IDonT4 View Post
        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;
        The horse archer was very prominent throughout the Heian era until about the Muromachi era of the 1300's. The nature of warfare changed, especially with the Mongol invasions and the horse archer fell into decline. By the Sengoku Jidai, horse archers are unusual to rare and, during the battle of Sekigahara, horse archers were quaint. Ashigaru foot archers were very common though from the time of the Onin Wars of the 1400's.

        Very true that the yari was the main weapons during the Sengoku era. Like with other pointed or missile weapons, chainmail would be vulnerable.
        TTFN

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        • Originally posted by Jefffar View Post
          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.
          There are some "it depends" issues. The Japanese sword changed dramatically from the Heian through to the Edo period. The katana had three different types of kissaki or tip for different purposes, from O-kissaki to Chu-kissaki. The blades of the Nambokucho Jidai were often heavy and almost cleaverlike with a good tip. True, it is primarily a cutting weapon, but the tsuki or thrust is part of every swordsman's training.

          However...for a good thrust, I don't think you can beat longswords or similar weapons of the late medieval period.
          TTFN

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          • Originally posted by Kendoka Girl View Post
            That would be an interesting debate. I think it's a given that European armies would have a decided advantage in artillery, but I've read some material that puts samurai musketry at the advantage for that period. Apparently, Swiss and Spanish pike formations were tighter, but Japanese pike formations were more fluid. From what I've read, by the 1570's, the leadership in samurai armies was pretty good on average as the bads ones had been killed by then. Tough call.

            The tercios squares were becoming obsolete at this time period, being supplanted by the more manueverable Dutch and Swedish volley fire and pike formation.

            Japan did lack good cannons, which was their downfall during the Imjin war.

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            • Really awesome picture

              http://www.flickr.com/photos/crimson...58315/sizes/o/

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              • Originally posted by IDonT4 View Post
                That is a good picture. Thanks.

                I love the swan on the Japanese hammer!
                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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                • 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.

                  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.
                  Well, now it may be that the point of a good katana can thrust through your average, modern, butted chainmaille. However, chainmaille from the post-Roman era up through the late medieval period was not butted, but instead made from small diameter steel rings which were flattened and then riveted- making for maille that was nearly impervious to any sword thrust. Not due to the strength of the sword tip, but limited by how hard any man's arm can drive the point of a sword. It could be thrust through by arrows (at less than 50 yards) or by powerful spear thrusts (and of course horse-driven lances).
                  Also, I have seen these programs by the American network "Spike" and you are quite correct, they are "biased". Mostly politically correct and amateurishly done. We here in the U. S. have had some kind of love affair with all things considered "exotic" whether that be Asian or Native American (which is usually treated with reverence due to a guilt complex for defeating and nearly annihalating them as a people). These types of warriors were no doubt brave and courageous- but lacked the arms and armour tech to go head-to-head, one-on-one with a Roman gladiator or a Norse viking.

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                  • Combatter-

                    The most popular concept of the Samurai is the unarmored duelist swordsmen. This image was the result of the Tokagawa peace, where there were no large scale battles to fight and the Samurai had a lot of time in their hands. So they typically had to assert their energies and the concept of Bushido and one on one duels were cultivated (along with flower arrangements, tea ceremony, etc).

                    The Samurai at war as a totally different animal. The slasing Katana was rarely used because it is ineffective against armor. During the 1500's to the 1600's the Samurai nobility were relegated to the armored lancer. Warfare development parralled that of Europe, where infantry became dominant. The Ashigaru (conscripted Japanese infantry) became the focused of war. Their guns were used to blast holes on the enemy line for the Samurai could their heroic cavalry charge. The samurai were relegated to supporting role. One notable Samurai lament about this "Ashigaru warfare" - a sentiment echoed by the knights of Europe.

                    Furthermore, these Samurai armies developed concepts of early modern warfare before the European armies of Dutch and Swedes did, like shallow line formations and counter march volley fire (Battle of Nagashino 1575 vs Battle of Battle of Nieuwpoort 1600). Before this, the Tercio was the dominant formation in European warfare.

                    The main difference was that, while the reforms of the Dutch and Swedes, were remembered and built upon, the Samurai were forgotten. Even by some historians today.

                    Another example was the Korean armored Turtle Ship (arguably the world's first Iron Clad warship). This revolution of armoring your ships and using cannons to pummel your enemy to pieces were forgotten as soon as the Imjin war was over. While the British used their victory over the Spanish Armada to create the awesome Royal Navy, the Koreans shut themselves out from the rest of the world. Again, their advances were forgotten.
                    Last edited by IDonT4; 26 Apr 09, 21:35.

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                    • IDonT4-
                      Point well taken.
                      I would also add that from the earliest periods the samurai were mostly cavalry bowmen, non-noble infantry did most of the hand to hand ground fighting.
                      As you said- the katana was not the so-called "soul of the samurai" until the Tokugawa Peace and the age of the unarmored duels began.
                      Aside from explaining the details of medieval chainmaille, my earlier point was simply that if an average samurai was compelled to duel your average viking or European knight on foot without bows (both warriors coming as is), the European would have the advantage of hardier armor and heavier weaponry. Also, the samurai did not use shields of any kind, which were standard equipment for nearly any European warriors. This alone would definitely put them at a disadvantage.
                      However, I respect the Japanese warrior culture and innovation and have no doubt that if exposed to European armies during the medieval period, they would have adapted (came up to speed so to speak) and been quite formidable indeed.

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                      • I can't believe this got fired up again. One of my all-time favorite threads! Thanks for all the new info guys.
                        Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

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                        • Originally posted by combatter View Post
                          IDonT4-
                          Point well taken.
                          I would also add that from the earliest periods the samurai were mostly cavalry bowmen, non-noble infantry did most of the hand to hand ground fighting.
                          As you said- the katana was not the so-called "soul of the samurai" until the Tokugawa Peace and the age of the unarmored duels began.
                          Aside from explaining the details of medieval chainmaille, my earlier point was simply that if an average samurai was compelled to duel your average viking or European knight on foot without bows (both warriors coming as is), the European would have the advantage of hardier armor and heavier weaponry. Also, the samurai did not use shields of any kind, which were standard equipment for nearly any European warriors. This alone would definitely put them at a disadvantage.
                          However, I respect the Japanese warrior culture and innovation and have no doubt that if exposed to European armies during the medieval period, they would have adapted (came up to speed so to speak) and been quite formidable indeed.
                          I'm going to have to look up the reference, but Japanese troops used shields up until the Heian Era. There are images and statues that depict soldiers wearing Tanko armor, carrying spear and shield much like their Chinese counterparts. At one point, it was felt that the shield could be as much of an impediment as a benefit and it was abandoned. Pavises were still used as a defense against missile weapons though and were used extensively through the Gempei Wars.
                          TTFN

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                            • Originally posted by Kendoka Girl View Post
                              I'm going to have to look up the reference, but Japanese troops used shields up until the Heian Era. There are images and statues that depict soldiers wearing Tanko armor, carrying spear and shield much like their Chinese counterparts. At one point, it was felt that the shield could be as much of an impediment as a benefit and it was abandoned. Pavises were still used as a defense against missile weapons though and were used extensively through the Gempei Wars.
                              Both Europeans and Japanese used shields less and less as armor got better. This frees up both hands for two weapons or a two handed weapon.

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                              • Originally posted by AThousandYoung View Post
                                Both Europeans and Japanese used shields less and less as armor got better. This frees up both hands for two weapons or a two handed weapon.
                                I thought for the Europeans shields were still pretty prevailent later on while the Samurai had mostly started to abandon them in favor of two-handed swords and spears?

                                I think the european knights were also much more likely to use two-handed weapons than a sword/shield combo, but again I think this all depends on who is fighting with what and when.

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