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The Medival European Knight vs a Japanese Samurai

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  • Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
    Loved the last strike to the ankle. Why do I get the feeling that warfare is not heroic but probably a tad unpleasant.
    Whenever I do tameshigiri or mat cutting with live blade I have to remind myself that the practice and the weapon was really meant to lop stuff off. Some of the cuts are theoretically pretty nasty, like one of the gyakugesa cuts from groin to shoulder, nukitsuke across the eyes, kiriageru for under the arm or chin, tsuki to the throat, or the one to the back of the knee/hamstring.
    TTFN

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    • Originally posted by R. Evans View Post
      Haven't seen this link posted before, so here it is:
      http://www.thearma.org/essays/knightvs.htm

      It's another take on our topic. The author wimps out in the end and doesn't choose a winner.
      That was a very thorough comparison and well thought out. The only historical fault that I could point out was that samurai culture was not uniformly "group minded" or "obedient" throughout the samurai period of c700 to c1870. It gradually became that way from a very independent mindset, but then swung back during the later Edo period where ronin became numerous.

      The other is with the No or O-dachi/long sword. It was used in an antipersonnel and anticavalry capacity during the Nambokucho wars. Schools, teaching this weapon grew alongside katana, yari, and shoto schools. Sasaki Kojiro was a master of that weapon...until he met Miyamoto Musashi. My sensei said that Sasaki developed his use of that weapon only because his sensei taught shoto (short sword) and wanted someone to attack him with longer and longer swords so he could counter them.

      Being a kodachi (short sword) user as well, I found that countering the longer weapon requires supreme aggressiveness and nerves of steel. You absolutely cannot wait or yield the initiative or the longer weapon will most likely win.
      TTFN

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      • Originally posted by Kendoka Girl View Post
        Being a kodachi (short sword) user as well, I found that countering the longer weapon requires supreme aggressiveness and nerves of steel. You absolutely cannot wait or yield the initiative or the longer weapon will most likely win.
        Longer weapons are scary. I have to agree. Along with the physiology of fighting longer weapons which i think you touched on nicely, a goo tactic is to somehow void the weapon or keep it occupied and off center and close the distance quickly. Charging before one is safe though is a quick to killed.

        Fighting with a longsword vs a spear is hard, but fighting against a larger person who has a weapon built for their stature is even harder i think.

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        • In Aikido we had techniques ranging from unarmed vs. long sword, dagger vs. long sword, long sword vs. jo staff. A staff is a very hard weapon to fight against as it's difficult to break, packs a wallop, and can strike or thrust with both ends. It also has a reach advantage vs. the sword.

          My sensei said that one of the toughest bouts he had ever fought was against a girl with a naginata.

          Thus far, in Kendo, I have not had difficulty with taller opponents. I've been able to maneuver to nullify their reach advantage and use countercuts against long, gangly arms or exposed flanks.

          In epee fencing though, height and reach had a significant advantage and all the world class epeeists were tall and thin as rails. I'm fairly tall for a chick and loved towering over opponents and poking at their hands or the crook of their elbows.
          TTFN

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          • Hmm that strange i wonder why we have have such different experiences fighting taller people? I have fought some people who are tall that don't take advantage of their height or strength where others really force me to fight high above the head. It might be possible in my case what counts as a hit is very different then kendo which only has a few legal targets. longswords having a second edge might also contribute. I'm not sure. The second edge lets one attack the head, turn the sword over, and let it drop down behind the defenders sword on the head again.

            Originally posted by Kendoka Girl View Post
            [youtube video of Ogawa Ryu Kenjutsu Toritake]
            The very first strike in this video is very familiar to me. But what seems really odd and out of place (to me at least) is why he would cross his left leg at the end. I don't see what mechanical advantage that gives, considering he is stepping into the direction of his opponents sword.

            With the TsuiEi there is a similar move in German longsword only it would be a pass step back and a cut to the head with fully extended hands just above eye level level to take advantage that lower cuts have shorter reach

            I think with the Heito the single edge of the katana is put to great use by using a hand to steady the back to gain Superior leverage and strength. Halfsword would be the closest thing to this in the German system.

            The ItsuTo seems pretty risky. What if the attacker has more of a downward component?

            Thanks for sharing the video.
            Last edited by Moon Lancer; 21 Oct 10, 04:56.

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            • Perhaps it is a function of experience, but the very tall opponents that I have faced so far do not seem to know how to take advantage of their height. I've been able to use interesting tactics to neutralize their reach thus far. I also tend to hold a higher guard to balance their height advantage and I can either defect an attack or drape my blade over my head and shoulder in an ukenagashi parry.

              As in the first kata, we have a similar one called Ukigumo in which you cross feet like that. It does seem unstable, but the rationale seems to be center of gravity and using the body momentum into the attack. Personally, I think it might be a good way to trip yourself if you don't do it correctly.

              We do have a number of "reinforced" cuts and thrusts, gripping the back of the blade with the left hand, known as Soetezuki for thrusts. It's great for gaining leverage or angling your opponent's blade away to create an opening.

              While this is partnered kata techniques where each person knows the movements of the other, the ideal is that you have no specific attack or counter in your mind as the action develops. Budo seeks to develop a "mushin" perspective where your mind is blank and you flow with the development of the fight, creating openings and seizing opportunities.

              During my duels with sensei, at no time do I think, "Oh, his head is open. I'll attack." The action merely flows from my training. Using a technique called Enzan no Metsuke or slightly unfocusing your vision on the opponent, you instead see changes in angles, distance, breathing, which will tell you if the cut is down, lateral, diagonal, etc.
              TTFN

              Comment


              • Originally posted by Moon Lancer View Post
                Hmm that strange i wonder why we have have such different experiences fighting taller people? I have fought some people who are tall that don't take advantage of their height or strength where others really force me to fight high above the head. It might be possible in my case what counts as a hit is very different then kendo which only has a few legal targets. longswords having a second edge might also contribute. I'm not sure. The second edge lets one attack the head, turn the sword over, and let it drop down behind the defenders sword on the head again.



                The very first strike in this video is very familiar to me. But what seems really odd and out of place (to me at least) is why he would cross his left leg at the end. I don't see what mechanical advantage that gives, considering he is stepping into the direction of his opponents sword.

                With the TsuiEi there is a similar move in German longsword only it would be a pass step back and a cut to the head with fully extended hands just above eye level level to take advantage that lower cuts have shorter reach

                I think with the Heito the single edge of the katana is put to great use by using a hand to steady the back to gain Superior leverage and strength. Halfsword would be the closest thing to this in the German system.

                The ItsuTo seems pretty risky. What if the attacker has more of a downward component?

                Thanks for sharing the video.
                What sort of a target criteria do you have?

                Kendo can be similar to fencing in that only certain criteria for valid hits apply. You can only score a valid target on the head (straight down and diagonally to both sides), the wrists (only the right wrist while the opponent is in guard position), either flank, or a thrust to the throat. Glancing blows don't count. Hits must be made with the upper third of the blade or they don't count. Until you are Sandan in rank, you have to call your target, but you can do this at the moment in which your connect. The philosophy is that if you can do this in a sparring match, your form will be great during a real duel. The hits that are not counted are usually the ones that would just scratch an opponent in real life. A good, scoring kote strike would take someone's hand off. My sensei jokes that the objective is to imagine cutting through the opponent and not tickling him or sawing him in half.
                TTFN

                Comment


                • When i spar with my group the entire body is a target and we have a trauma system so different parts of the body are worth different amount of points, with the head being an instant kill. Usually two strikes are good enough to end the fight.

                  I feel if specific parts of the body are not valid targets then when you practice in a free sparring situation you are forced to optimize and leave those parts of the body open because strikes to those locations will never be counted.

                  While kendo is good i think to train people to strike at the most devastating location, I think it not so good at training people to defend their entire body. This also seems to limit the versatility of strikes in kendo. In a real fight a sword fighter might have to fight someone who will take what they can get and not wait for the most vital locations to present themselves.

                  I basically take issue any type of sport fighting that's passed off as a martial combat and training for a real fight. I'm not saying you have claimed this though.
                  Last edited by Moon Lancer; 25 Oct 10, 15:32.

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                  • As it was in my fencing career, there is a huge schism in the kendo community over sport vs. art. Fencing had become very "sportified" with the indroduction of electronic scoring machines to where points were scored that would not have had any significant effect on an opponent, like whipping the tip of your foil into the target, which would set off the machine, but was impractical for a real duel. I was fortunate in that our maitre advocated against such tournament only tactics.

                    Kendo too has its advocates of just tapping the opponent by reaching out with the sword and then pushing with the right hand/pulling with the left, which is wholly impractical in the sense of how a katana was supposed to be swung. But, it's good for tournaments in a sport sense. Our argument is that this sacrifices the sense of martial art.

                    Our dojo is unusual in that we practice both kendo and iaido. Kendo gives the sense of what combat is while iaido shows the practical use of the sword, using an authentic, elliptical cut. The waza in iaido are based on real confrontations and the knowledge that there may not be the opportunity for the one perfect cut. Many of the nukitsuke or preliminary cuts are designed to wound or degrade the opponent to set up the big, finishing cut. So, I like the combination of arts, which I think gives a better "view" of total swordsmanship. Our iaido also includes grappling and countermeasures called Daishozume and paired bokken sparring called Tachiuchi.

                    One of the interesting things that I am now experiencing in Iaido/Kendo that I did not in fencing was the spiritual aspect of swordsmanship such as mushin or removing all thoughts as you fight or seme/spiritual energy/pressure on an opponent. Fencing has made me a much better kendoist in that it was heavily focused on tactics - timing, angles, blade pressure, etc.

                    I was watching a few vids of German longsword training and it was very impressive. I was able to identify Japanese equivalents of nearly all of the techniques, guards positions, and footwork. I suppose the human body only has so many mechanical advantages and so similar techniques developed all over the world.
                    TTFN

                    Comment


                    • Thanks for sharing about your dojo. I'm really glad to hear that you do not fall into false sense of whats possible and not possible within a real sword fight.

                      I take pretty big issue with sport fencing too. Probably more so then kendo, as kendo i think does a pretty good job preserving martial intent even if some parts of the body are not targets.

                      In your prev post you talked about the spiritual side of swordsmenship. It may not exactly be the same but when i sword fight i feel as if I am somehow connecting to my Gaelic and German ancestors. Learning about the sword has really changed my life.

                      youtube.com/watch?v=Kj4Ng6DBfrg&NR

                      youtube.com/watch?v=HC5FIyfI8TA

                      These first two videos show a variety of unarmored German swordsmanship and do a very good job with presentation.

                      youtube.com/watch?v=ln94E9AGYTc

                      This next video has quite a bit of strikes with the false/short edge of the sword. There are always going to be a few moves that can be done with a katana and not with a long sword and vice versa. The limitation is really the swords in this case being that a katana is curved and has a single edge and the longsword is straight and has two edges.

                      sorry for the text only links. i cant post links yet.
                      Last edited by Moon Lancer; 26 Oct 10, 02:37.

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                      • I want to back into this! I MISS IT! I just came back from 7 moths worth of training from the Marines! (I am Marine Reseves)







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                        • Originally posted by Moon Lancer View Post
                          Thanks for sharing about your dojo. I'm really glad to hear that you do not fall into false sense of whats possible and not possible within a real sword fight.

                          I take pretty big issue with sport fencing too. Probably more so then kendo, as kendo i think does a pretty good job preserving martial intent even if some parts of the body are not targets.

                          In your prev post you talked about the spiritual side of swordsmenship. It may not exactly be the same but when i sword fight i feel as if I am somehow connecting to my Gaelic and German ancestors. Learning about the sword has really changed my life.

                          youtube.com/watch?v=Kj4Ng6DBfrg&NR

                          youtube.com/watch?v=HC5FIyfI8TA

                          These first two videos show a variety of unarmored German swordsmanship and do a very good job with presentation.

                          youtube.com/watch?v=ln94E9AGYTc

                          This next video has quite a bit of strikes with the false/short edge of the sword. There are always going to be a few moves that can be done with a katana and not with a long sword and vice versa. The limitation is really the swords in this case being that a katana is curved and has a single edge and the longsword is straight and has two edges.

                          sorry for the text only links. i cant post links yet.
                          Here you go Moon Lancer, posted them for you! Good stuff.




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

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by Moon Lancer View Post
                            Thanks for sharing about your dojo. I'm really glad to hear that you do not fall into false sense of whats possible and not possible within a real sword fight.

                            I take pretty big issue with sport fencing too. Probably more so then kendo, as kendo i think does a pretty good job preserving martial intent even if some parts of the body are not targets.

                            In your prev post you talked about the spiritual side of swordsmenship. It may not exactly be the same but when i sword fight i feel as if I am somehow connecting to my Gaelic and German ancestors. Learning about the sword has really changed my life.

                            youtube.com/watch?v=Kj4Ng6DBfrg&NR

                            youtube.com/watch?v=HC5FIyfI8TA

                            These first two videos show a variety of unarmored German swordsmanship and do a very good job with presentation.

                            youtube.com/watch?v=ln94E9AGYTc

                            This next video has quite a bit of strikes with the false/short edge of the sword. There are always going to be a few moves that can be done with a katana and not with a long sword and vice versa. The limitation is really the swords in this case being that a katana is curved and has a single edge and the longsword is straight and has two edges.

                            sorry for the text only links. i cant post links yet.
                            I totally agree at how the study has brought such deeper understanding of myself and made for very positive change.

                            I've seen the first two clips and you might have even seen my comments on the You Tube channel there. I loved the third clip and how they delivered timed countercuts. Like I mentioned, I could see the "hasso no kamae" guard, suriage parries, ukenagashi parries, and nuki counterattacks. The similarities are astounding.
                            TTFN

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                            • I totally agree at how the study has brought such deeper understanding of myself and made for very positive change.


                              I've seen the first two clips and you might have even seen my comments on the You Tube channel there.
                              These videos are the videos that inspired me to take classes in the German longsword. I think they are pretty well known videos and probably have been posted in this thread already. I think they are great at showing the fluidity and diversity and efficiency of fencing with the German longsword.

                              I wouldn't say Kenjutsu has it easy, but for some reason the majority of people think the longsword is this really heavy slow weapon which requires little skill. I think Kenjutsu also has a few myths surrounding it but it tends to get good pr in the process
                              I loved the third clip and how they delivered timed countercuts. Like I mentioned, I could see the "hasso no kamae" guard, suriage parries, ukenagashi parries, and nuki counterattacks. The similarities are astounding.
                              Astounding they are. To bring this thread full circle, this is one of the reasons why i think that think if a samurai and a knight, both without armor where somehow put in a dual against each other, it would be a very even match.

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by Moon Lancer View Post
                                Astounding they are. To bring this thread full circle, this is one of the reasons why i think that think if a samurai and a knight, both without armor where somehow put in a dual against each other, it would be a very even match.
                                I think one of the reasons there is/was a popular sentiment that a Samurai was somehow a superior swordsman was the fact that Japanese martial arts remained well preserved when European martial arts faded away into relative obscurity.

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