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The Medival European Knight vs a Japanese Samurai

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  • I'd go for the samurai on a practical level, though I don't like them one tiny bit!

    Samurai warrior strikes me as far more agile/nimble than their European counterpart. It requires more skill to master the use of the katana effectively. Knights seems to be all about the guy's ability to take on extra pound of heavy armour and swinging an equally heavy sword at his foe.
    馬兒不死,吾無葬地也 ~ 曹操

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    • Originally posted by Marcarl View Post
      I'd go for the samurai on a practical level, though I don't like them one tiny bit!

      Samurai warrior strikes me as far more agile/nimble than their European counterpart. It requires more skill to master the use of the katana effectively. Knights seems to be all about the guy's ability to take on extra pound of heavy armour and swinging an equally heavy sword at his foe.
      I think this is a view based on popular culture. In popular culture we are introduced to the samurai as a lighting fast killing machine whos blade moves faster then the eye and whos sword cuts through stone, concrete and steel. While the knight on the other hand is slow and lumbering, is helpless when knocked on to the back and who lacks technique and style, only fighting with brute strength.

      The truth is that a knights armor weighed about the same as a samurai but in the 1400s offered near impenetrable protection against cuts from swords. Both warriors were apart of a warrior cast system starting at an early age with wresting as the core foundation of their martial art.

      I have no quarrel with those who think a samurai might win against a knight, i do have a quarrel with the most common reasons why.

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      • Has anybody realized that this thread has been running since Dec. 20, 2006? Kind of cool.

        Alot of good information has been written over the years.

        Here's to another almost 4 years of the discussion.

        I can't believe I've been following this since Jan. 07!
        Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

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        • interesting series of videos, would probably be better if I could speak German.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Hy_A9vjp_s (rats, embed wasn't working for some reason)

          Anyways, skip to about 5:35 for the interesting part.

          As for the sword on the table I have a feeling that it was a little more brittle than it should have been or historically was but that's sort of beside the point.
          Judging from the way it reacts when hitting the sword no I do not think that was a proper katana. Instead it looks as though its creator took too literally the idea of a hard metal edge and a soft metal backing (why the back of the blade suddenly stretched and bent when striking the sword on the table).
          I assume that historical Japanese swordmakers would have figured this out and would have used harder steel for the entire blade not just the edge (there may have still been a slight difference in hardness but nothing extreme)

          So in conclusion, multisteel swords are not instantly better than monosteel swords.

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          • The knight and the samurai are two of the most overrated warriors in history.

            As for the idea of soft core and hard shell, that was mostly to better absorb impacts and reduce wear and tear...when done right. It doesn't make the sword any deadlier than a mono-steel sword.
            Surrender? NutZ!
            -Varro

            Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death. -Sun Tzu

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            • Originally posted by Intranetusa View Post
              The knight and the samurai are two of the most overrated warriors in history.

              As for the idea of soft core and hard shell, that was mostly to better absorb impacts and reduce wear and tear...when done right. It doesn't make the sword any deadlier than a mono-steel sword.
              The samurai maybe, although the knight is pretty underrated at the moment due to popular culture and Disney

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              • Originally posted by RepublicanGuard View Post
                The samurai maybe, although the knight is pretty underrated at the moment due to popular culture and Disney
                It depends on what movies you see.

                Although I think Disney has a tendency to overrate a knight - ie. defeating hordes of enemies and slaying dragons.
                Surrender? NutZ!
                -Varro

                Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death. -Sun Tzu

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                • Most shows, particularly Disney tend to portray heavily armored soldiers (particularly knights) as bumbling buffoons.

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                  • 1400's Armour isn't actually that heavy, you still maintain a substantial amount of agility while wearing it. its like a tramping pack but all over your body.

                    just my 2 cents worth
                    Task Force Regenbogen- Support and Paras

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                    • Originally posted by RepublicanGuard View Post
                      Most shows, particularly Disney tend to portray heavily armored soldiers (particularly knights) as bumbling buffoons.
                      I am completely addicted to Disney's "Enchanted" right now.
                      TTFN

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                      • Originally posted by RepublicanGuard View Post
                        interesting series of videos, would probably be better if I could speak German.

                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Hy_A9vjp_s (rats, embed wasn't working for some reason)

                        Anyways, skip to about 5:35 for the interesting part.

                        As for the sword on the table I have a feeling that it was a little more brittle than it should have been or historically was but that's sort of beside the point.
                        Judging from the way it reacts when hitting the sword no I do not think that was a proper katana. Instead it looks as though its creator took too literally the idea of a hard metal edge and a soft metal backing (why the back of the blade suddenly stretched and bent when striking the sword on the table).
                        I assume that historical Japanese swordmakers would have figured this out and would have used harder steel for the entire blade not just the edge (there may have still been a slight difference in hardness but nothing extreme)

                        So in conclusion, multisteel swords are not instantly better than monosteel swords.
                        Afaik the historic tests of samurai swords cutting through European blades were conducted with the cut swords lying on the side. If the samurai sword is used so that it strikes the edge and gets locked, I would assume it loses the advantage of its curved edge. By comparison that German longsword looks like shattering that other blade, and so seems more like a test of the hardness of the steel. On balance: It looks like a test designed to have the German sword coming out at its best.

                        That said, the afaik Japanese swords are amazing things manufactured using techniques making up for an otherwise natural disadvantage — Japan has pretty crappy iron ore to use as a starting point.

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by RepublicanGuard View Post
                          interesting series of videos, would probably be better if I could speak German.

                          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Hy_A9vjp_s (rats, embed wasn't working for some reason)

                          Anyways, skip to about 5:35 for the interesting part.

                          As for the sword on the table I have a feeling that it was a little more brittle than it should have been or historically was but that's sort of beside the point.
                          Judging from the way it reacts when hitting the sword no I do not think that was a proper katana. Instead it looks as though its creator took too literally the idea of a hard metal edge and a soft metal backing (why the back of the blade suddenly stretched and bent when striking the sword on the table).
                          I assume that historical Japanese swordmakers would have figured this out and would have used harder steel for the entire blade not just the edge (there may have still been a slight difference in hardness but nothing extreme)

                          So in conclusion, multisteel swords are not instantly better than monosteel swords.
                          I think that's true. From my layman's understanding, the folded steel and forging process of a katana can make for a sharper edge, hence more piggies sliced in one cut. However, it does not automatically mean a better weapon or a superior warrior.

                          When delivering a cut with either a longsword/broadsword or a katana against an unarmored opponent, it's probably all overkill anyway.

                          I think that the hype over knights or samurai came from the incredible training that went into some of them to make for a superior "weapon system" in which man and steel became one. And, I say some of them in that for every incredible knight or samurai, there were likely dozens if not more fodder with the title. In fact, in the twilight of these warriors' age, many carried only ceremonial titles. "Samurai" bakers or other such who needed to survive were increasingly common in the later Edo Period.

                          In my fencing career, several of my masters have talked at length about the history and development of European sword arts and I never cease to be amazed at how many similarities exist with Asian martial arts - distance, timing, tempo, footwork, maneuvers, techniques, feints, energy, focus, discipline.... The weapon, the armor, or the school can offer advantages or disadvantages, but it is the warrior and his/her training that offers the greatest advantage in such a duel.

                          I'm curious though from any who know more about longsword/broadsword techniques - just from my Iaido/Kumitachi training, it seems like a katana is more effective right from the draw or in tight spaces. I can deliver an effective cut or thrust to someone right in front of me or at nearly any quarter. I'm wondering if there is an equivalent for a longsword.

                          Anyway, just my two cents.
                          TTFN

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                          • Originally posted by Johan Banér View Post
                            Afaik the historic tests of samurai swords cutting through European blades were conducted with the cut swords lying on the side. If the samurai sword is used so that it strikes the edge and gets locked, I would assume it loses the advantage of its curved edge. By comparison that German longsword looks like shattering that other blade, and so seems more like a test of the hardness of the steel. On balance: It looks like a test designed to have the German sword coming out at its best.

                            That said, the afaik Japanese swords are amazing things manufactured using techniques making up for an otherwise natural disadvantage — Japan has pretty crappy iron ore to use as a starting point.
                            From what I've seen and heard (assuming that both blades are of at least decent quality and without significant damage), one sword cutting through another is a myth. A blade could be snapped if hit just right though. One thing I learned though was, when parrying (fencing or kendo), to avoid offering the flat of the blade, perpendicular to the strike, which would force the blade to absorb the most kinetic energy at the smallest surface area. With very few exceptions, I've learned to angle the blade so that attacks glance away.
                            TTFN

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                            • Originally posted by Kendoka Girl View Post
                              With very few exceptions, I've learned to angle the blade so that attacks glance away.
                              This is also important for warriors of the Middle Ages because swords are expensive and part of their livelihoods, and you don't want to get your sword unnecessarily chipped and damaged which could then weaken or dull the blade.

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                              • From my little experience with European swords and armor (i took part in a re-enactment thing, but got bored of the formality) i can hedge and say that the European longsword is just as good a weapon as the Katana.

                                in an amateur tournament, with almost every type of melee weapon conceivable, i managed to get into the semi-final, where i was bested by a mace wielding lunatic, but to get there i bested two people of equal skill who were using Katanae. even though their swords were slightly more agile, i was able to fend them off (while wearing dammed heavy armor) until they made mistakes. the first guy tried a thrust but i turned it around and gave him a mighty slash thus "Disabling" him. the second guy did a rather silly overhead slash that ended up burying itself in the turf, opening him wide open.

                                anyway, Macho talk aside, as Kendoka says, its the skill of the warrior that counts, not his weapon, though i would like to see one of those skinny samurai types use a zwie-hander while sparring with a burly Scotsman with a katana.

                                lastly, Glaives rock.
                                Task Force Regenbogen- Support and Paras

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