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The Medival European Knight vs a Japanese Samurai

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  • #31
    Originally posted by biliev1 View Post
    Actually Pirateship I beg to differ in respect to Mongolian siege equipment - it was well developed in fact. The Mongols were not the Parthians - a.k.a. the best cavalry but lack of siege engineering. The Mongols had adapted from the Chinese and others the art of siege warfare. They were quite adept at it actually. Their assault infantry was perhaps not as well armored and "hard-hitting" as the Western European heavy swordsman or pikeman might have been but nonetheless Mongol infantry proved itself successfull countless times. Really, Mongol weakness came down to the lack of stable political and social infrastructure since their society depended so much on one or two "strong" characters with no dynastic, republican or feudal provisions or institutional structures in place, like the Romans or Egyptians or Persians had. The Mongol Empire was perhaps the most brilliant but definitely due to its lack of the said above one of the shortest-lived empires.

    I never would assume that the samurai as cunning and resourceful as they were would succumb to the knight simply because their swords will not penetrate the thickest European armor. Remember that there are many other ways to defeat armor, such as, exhausting its wearer or hitting him in a weak spot - but again it would come down to individual skill and at the leadership level - the general himself.
    I wasn't aware of Mongolian siege engines. I shall definitely read more about it. As for your second paragraph, I agree partially. Samurai were cunning and resourceful but so were medieval knights. This is why I said it would be a boxing match, where one would have to play his strengths and force his opponent to fight his fight.

    This would be my play-by-play. Samurai swordsmanship focuses on speed and agility while knight swordsmanship focuses on power and shock. The samurai will try to maneuver to hit a weak spot or to tire his adversary while the knight will be focused on landing power blows that will knock his aggressor off balance.

    Samurai Victory
    It is unlikely that the samurai will achieve victory early on. Knights carry shields and a skilled advesary could block shots to vulnerable areas (we are assuming that both fighters are experienced warriors at the top of their game). However if the samurai stays mobile and can dodge the knights blows the knight will tire and, as his shield arm and weapon arm begin to drop from exhaustion a kill could be achieved by a solid shot to either the armpit or visor. Also the samurai could bodycheck the exhausted knight to bring him down for other kill types. The samurai must exploit his advantage of mobility and visibility (I am assuming the knight is wearing a full helm)

    Knight Victory
    The knight must achieve victory fast or he will tire. The knight must force the samurai to fight his fight. His chief advantage lie in the samurai's inferior armor and lack of a shield. If the samurai prefers parrying to dodging the knight can land devastating blows from his heavier sword that could knock the samurai off balance and open up the possibility of a killing shot. If the samurai chooses to dodge blows then the knight must focus on the samurai's movement tells and fake him into dodging wrong. This is difficult, but the sword is heavy and damaging enough that he need only be right once. The samurai cannot afford to be hit. If the samurai is good enough to consistently dodge the attacks then the knight must focus on the defense and make the samurai come to him. Waiting for the samurai to get close and then bodychecking him with the shield would be an effective way to open him up for a killing shot.
    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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    • #32
      I think you guys have missed an important fact in this topic. The Mongols fought both and after 2 defeats never went back after Japan again, only the death of one of the Mongol rulers saved Europe from being overrun.

      That's not to say that the samuraii would beat the knights, but I thought that this little tidbit says alot about the samuraii fighting strentgh.
      Last edited by R. Evans; 20 Jan 07, 15:04. Reason: add to original post
      Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

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      • #33
        Originally posted by pirateship1982 View Post
        I beg to differ. knights and samurai both trained to fight on horseback and on foot. The sword was their secondary weapon on horseback but not on foot. On foot both favored the sword and both trained extensively with it. This is why I feel the samurai are at a disadvantage in mounted combat. Their spear tactics would not triumph against a lance cavalry charge and their archery effectiveness would be limited (I do not believe they had the heavy weight armor piercing arrowheads the British coupled with the longbow. They used broad arrowheads designed for tearing flesh, these would glance off armor.).

        But as for Mongol engagements, while the knight and samurai were as comfortable on the ground as they were in the saddle - though knights favored horseback - but the Mongols fought exclusively on horseback and their warrior training focused on bowmanship. Swordsmanship was taught, but not as the major discipline as in Europe and Japan.
        No the Samuia used the yari(spear) or naginata while dismounted and the Knight used the lance even when dismounted. Here this is where I first learned the truth http://www.netsword.com/cgi-bin/Ultimate.cgi so you can ask them, but a much more effective read is this http://www.thearma.org/Manuals/GSilver.htm written by someone closer to the action then we. I also just find this link though google http://www.samurai-archives.com/sts.html haven't even read the whole thing yet but it does the job. I would be interested to see your sources of information?

        Also another you are in support of the knight I disagree on some of your ideas supporting the knight. I believe the only advantage the knight has over the samurai is armour, weaponary(melee wise) between the two isn't different enough to warrant it as a primary factor and skill is down to the individual.

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        • #34
          Originally posted by revans View Post
          I think you guys have missed an important fact in this topic. The Mongols fought both and after 2 defeats never went back after Japan again, only the death of one of the Mongol rulers saved Europe from being overrun.

          That's not to say that the samuraii would beat the knights, but I thought that this little tidbit says alot about the samuraii fighting strentgh.
          Japan didn't become a Mongol subject state solely because it was an island, the Mongols had bad luck with wether and just gave up.

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          • #35
            There was also fierce resistance by the Japanese. They were attacking their ships at night and leaving the beheaded corpses of the ships' crewman behind. Pretty unnerving to wake up to.
            Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

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            • #36
              Originally posted by Galfirdus View Post
              No the Samuia used the yari(spear) or naginata while dismounted and the Knight used the lance even when dismounted. Here this is where I first learned the truth http://www.netsword.com/cgi-bin/Ultimate.cgi so you can ask them, but a much more effective read is this http://www.thearma.org/Manuals/GSilver.htm written by someone closer to the action then we. I also just find this link though google http://www.samurai-archives.com/sts.html haven't even read the whole thing yet but it does the job. I would be interested to see your sources of information?

              Also another you are in support of the knight I disagree on some of your ideas supporting the knight. I believe the only advantage the knight has over the samurai is armour, weaponary(melee wise) between the two isn't different enough to warrant it as a primary factor and skill is down to the individual.
              Now we are getting into the argument of alternate weapon configurations. The argument I made involved both combatants using their cultural swords and sword combat tactics. Different arguments can be made when you alternate the duelling weapons.

              I don't buy the "superwarrior" argument. Both sides had their own fighting styles with their own strengths and weaknesses. Neither configuration is superior, the fight is determined by the capability of the individual warriors to play their strengths against their opponent's weaknesses. The samurai was not a mystical superswordsman, he just focused on speed and agility. Medieval European swordsmanship may seem inferior to Japanese swordsmanship, but only because it is a different discipline, focusing on shock and strength rather than agility, thus lacking the flashy nature of Japanese swordsmanship. And both swordsmen knew their discipline and both could apply it with lethal effectiveness.

              I feel there may be a mistake with your referencing to knights using lances on foot. Are you referring to the medieval illustration of the pages having a running go at the quintain? That was simply a phase of training, not a martial skill. They weren't training to fight lance combat on foot, that was just the first phase of mounted lance combat training. After they trained running at the quintain they would graduate to attacking it on horseback.

              My sources are all books. I have read several and couldn't tell you all the titles but my most current reads are Secrets of the Samurai and Battle - 5,000 Years of Combat.
              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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              • #37
                Originally posted by revans View Post
                There was also fierce resistance by the Japanese. They were attacking their ships at night and leaving the beheaded corpses of the ships' crewman behind. Pretty unnerving to wake up to.
                Killing the crewmen of ships is a good tactic but it does not speak a word of Samurai combat power and is irreverent to the topic. Beating Mongolian cavalry on the battlefield would be a testament to samurai combat power not killing some sailors.

                The Mongols had problems else where in the world when they attempted the Japanese invasion, they used ships that were not up to the task, the Chinese and Korean troops(which made up the majority of the army) had loyalty problems and they suffered an attack from a massive typhoon.

                Warfare isn't just about combat power, there are many different factors that effect the outcome of a war/battle and you just can't pick a war/battle where the Mongols lost to the Japanese and use that as proof of combat superiority.

                Take the Vietnam war for example, the U.S and it's allies had the better military but lost the war because of politics.

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                • #38
                  Originally posted by Galfirdus View Post
                  Killing the crewmen of ships is a good tactic but it does not speak a word of Samurai combat power and is irreverent to the topic. Beating Mongolian cavalry on the battlefield would be a testament to samurai combat power not killing some sailors.
                  Every nationality can beat it's adversary when fighting in it's preferred environment. Would you agree that a true test of a warrior's skill is winning in an environment you aren't used to fighting on?

                  I think the Mongol attacks on Japan and the Japanese attacks on Korea do illustrate a good priciple: No matter how good your soldiers are, it's d---ned difficult to campaign overseas. All of your infantry are worthless if you don't have a good navy to back them up and even a good navy is no match for a bad storm. Just ask the Spanish!
                  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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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by pirateship1982 View Post
                    Now we are getting into the argument of alternate weapon configurations. The argument I made involved both combatants using their cultural swords and sword combat tactics. Different arguments can be made when you alternate the duelling weapons.

                    I don't buy the "superwarrior" argument. Both sides had their own fighting styles with their own strengths and weaknesses. Neither configuration is superior, the fight is determined by the capability of the individual warriors to play their strengths against their opponent's weaknesses. The samurai was not a mystical superswordsman, he just focused on speed and agility. Medieval European swordsmanship may seem inferior to Japanese swordsmanship, but only because it is a different discipline, focusing on shock and strength rather than agility, thus lacking the flashy nature of Japanese swordsmanship. And both swordsmen knew their discipline and both could apply it with lethal effectiveness.

                    I feel there may be a mistake with your referencing to knights using lances on foot. Are you referring to the medieval illustration of the pages having a running go at the quintain? That was simply a phase of training, not a martial skill. They weren't training to fight lance combat on foot, that was just the first phase of mounted lance combat training. After they trained running at the quintain they would graduate to attacking it on horseback.

                    My sources are all books. I have read several and couldn't tell you all the titles but my most current reads are Secrets of the Samurai and Battle - 5,000 Years of Combat.
                    The sword was not the primary weapon of warfare, in Japan after the Tokugawa shogunate came to power there was little need to use spears and bows so the samurai carried the sword around just like cops carry a pistol today. They trained in swordsmanship for self defense since no one wants to carry around a spear or bow around when going about daily life, but having a holstered sword around your belt isn't a problem. Swords also cost a lot more then other weapons so one looks more noble for having a sword. The same went on in Europe.

                    As for that picture I don't know what you are talking about, I base my view on hearing about knights in battle dismounting from their horse and using their lance as a spear in fighting the enemy. Did you post on Netsword or read any of the links I gave you? Now I went to amazon and for the first book I am not clear what book you mean as there are a lot of books that have such a stereotypical phase in the title? As for the second book it sounds like a very vague picture(mostly) book which is not a good source.

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                    • #40
                      Originally posted by pirateship1982 View Post
                      Every nationality can beat it's adversary when fighting in it's preferred environment. Would you agree that a true test of a warrior's skill is winning in an environment you aren't used to fighting on?

                      I think the Mongol attacks on Japan and the Japanese attacks on Korea do illustrate a good priciple: No matter how good your soldiers are, it's d---ned difficult to campaign overseas. All of your infantry are worthless if you don't have a good navy to back them up and even a good navy is no match for a bad storm. Just ask the Spanish!
                      True as it is it's still irreverent to the topic. If one so wishes to talk about it they can create a "which force has better strategy&tactics" topic but this topic as it stands is about straight forward land battle. The fact that revans thinks cutting down poor sailors is the same as fighting fully trained and armoured knights is crazy.

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                      • #41
                        Originally posted by Galfirdus View Post
                        True as it is it's still irreverent to the topic. If one so wishes to talk about it they can create a "which force has better strategy&tactics" topic but this topic as it stands is about straight forward land battle. The fact that revans thinks cutting down poor sailors is the same as fighting fully trained and armoured knights is crazy.
                        I did not say that it was the same. I was just replying to your statement that the weather defeated the Mongols. It was a part of the defeat but not the whole reason. Give the samuraii some credit for defending their country. And what were the Mongols doing on their ships at night? That to me sounds as if they could not gain a lodgement on shore for the night.

                        As for this whole arguement on knight vs. samuraii I would take the knight on horseback and the samuraii on foot, which I think somebody already made that point. Put an armored man on the ground and with room to manuever the faster, less encumbered man will win. Look what the unarmored archers did to the French knights at Agincourt. Knights got bogged down in mud and the archers simply pulled them off their horses and killed them.

                        This notion that the armored knight on his armored horse ran over people like a primitive tank is what is crazy. I don't care how they trained their horses, horses just will not charge into a mass of men willing to stand and fight. Cavalry is best suited to charging already broken formations and light troops not armed with spears or bayonets. And believe me, I've had some experience riding and training horses. If they don't want to do something, they won't.

                        If anyone is interested in the fighting capacities and how the samuraii lived, check out a series of books by Dr. Stephen Turnbull. I've got 4 of them and they are highly informative. The good doctor seems to have devoted his entire life to the study of samuraii.
                        Last edited by R. Evans; 22 Jan 07, 14:32. Reason: add to answer
                        Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

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                        • #42
                          I do not think this has been said yet. When the knight has a sword and shield he has two offensive weapons because a nice hit with a shield can easily knock someone over or daze them. So the samuraii would need to stay more than an arms distance away from the knight.

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                          • #43
                            "Typical" armies of both/fighting qualities

                            One thing about terrain in defense of the knight - I think in any fortified encampment the knight would be victorious if numbers are equal on both sides. Knights could easily hold a fortified position; in fact, they did it during the Crusades in Judea for a few hundred years successfully against Saladin and other Muslim warriors. My theory is that the knight could form an ‘impregnable’ unit in defensive posture in a fortified or otherwise defensible position. This is an often overlooked power of the knights. Too much Hollywood glamour and historians' biases have pictured the knight as some kind of a Medieval Panzer. This is not the case, I am arguing. The knight was great and powerful - but in defense! In an open terrain light cavalry horse archers could neutralize them easily just by maneuvering some smart hit and run tactics. Both Mongols and early samurai horse archers are capable of doing this.

                            I think the samurai would prevail if he were defending or attacking the knight anywhere but in a castle. In the corridors and staircases of a castle the knight's armor would negate the samurai's martial arts, which focus on speed and agility as people have mentioned. Even defending the wall would be easy for the knight against a samurai because the knight can use his “shock value”, his brute strength to knock off the incoming host. On the other hand, knights were often susceptible to ambushes in forests, marshes, and even tall grass plains due to the solid mass they simply presented to their foes, while a lightly armed foe could easily camouflage themselves. A knight on horseback is not something subtle, something that you could easily maneuver around without being sighted. In fact, knights did not put so much stock into “hiding” or maneuvering since they simply wanted to challenge the enemy’s possible heavy cavalry and defeat it with their long lances in a series of dualistic fights.

                            Japanese armor and tactics made use of the ambush quite often even though this is a subject matter that has long been neglected by Hollywood and some historians who believe that this does not otherwise flatter the “proud samurai”.

                            Another thing we have to remember is that, the knights usually made up a tiny portion of the typical Medieval field army. Again, the typical, let’s say ‘big’ European army of 20,000 (a funny number compared to what the Mongols could field, for example) men, only a fraction was the knight heavy cavalry – 500-1,500 depending on how many of these “expensive” knights a king could afford to put on the field. The rest of the army was macemen, pikemen, swordsman, archers and crossbowmen and so on. The interesting question then is who would win: a “knight” army or “samurai” army. The samurai also put on the field big numbers of conscripted yari ashigaru (peasant pikemen). Both heavy units therefore were only fractions in their respective armies.

                            Another thing too is that the famous, or infamous, charge of the knights is much too Hollywoodized. Knights would rarely charge, unless their king was an idiot. And I’m not saying that it didn’t happen – it happened because many generals and many kings were idiots. But knights were most effectively used crashing against an enemy’s heavy cavalry units. Also, in the aftermath of a battle AS RESERVES to mop up a routing enemy. This is something that rarely gets mentioned, again, because it supposedly doesn’t do justice to the romanticized Medieval Panzer picture. The majority of the actual battle on both sides of the world, knight and samurai, would have been played out by NEITHER; their regular conscripts did most of the fighting. You guys feel free to debate this, if you think that I am wrong.

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                            • #44
                              Originally posted by revans View Post
                              I did not say that it was the same. I was just replying to your statement that the weather defeated the Mongols. It was a part of the defeat but not the whole reason. Give the samuraii some credit for defending their country. And what were the Mongols doing on their ships at night? That to me sounds as if they could not gain a lodgement on shore for the night.
                              I was simply pointing that there is isn't enough deceive samurai combat against the Mongols in that war for it to be used in this topic. The Japanese Invasion failed due to many different factors how ever samurai battle superiority isn't one of them(at least not over the Mongol ethnic troops).

                              Originally posted by revans View Post
                              As for this whole arguement on knight vs. samuraii I would take the knight on horseback and the samuraii on foot, which I think somebody already made that point. Put an armored man on the ground and with room to manuever the faster, less encumbered man will win.
                              Ok can you please tell me what picture you have in your mind when saying this? All you are doing is saying the faster maneuver fighter wins but you are not saying why.

                              Originally posted by revans View Post
                              Look what the unarmored archers did to the French knights at Agincourt. Knights got bogged down in mud and the archers simply pulled them off their horses and killed them.
                              In your own words "Knights got bogged down in mud" thus the battle of Agincourt was not won though combat superiority, it was won the though better leadership and tactics of the English.

                              Originally posted by revans View Post
                              This notion that the armored knight on his armored horse ran over people like a primitive tank is what is crazy. I don't care how they trained their horses, horses just will not charge into a mass of men willing to stand and fight. Cavalry is best suited to charging already broken formations and light troops not armed with spears or bayonets. And believe me, I've had some experience riding and training horses. If they don't want to do something, they won't..
                              Is any of this relevant to anything I have said? Where did I pronounce mounted knight charges as been invincible unstoppable weapons that destroy everything in their paths? Knights are more then just horsemen and they are just as effective on foot. If a samurai army armed with yaris is in a strong formation the knights can dismount and fight on foot.

                              Originally posted by revans View Post
                              If anyone is interested in the fighting capacities and how the samuraii lived, check out a series of books by Dr. Stephen Turnbull. I've got 4 of them and they are highly informative. The good doctor seems to have devoted his entire life to the study of samurai.
                              I check it out.

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                              • #45
                                biliev all most everything in your post I agree with. It is by far better then your others. The main problem with the west at that time was bad strategy and tactics and I think it is unfair that people bash the knights because some morons used them in such a no brain fashion as a blind straight forward charge

                                All I stand by is that a knight charge would beat a samurai cavalry charge and that dismounted knights would beat dismounted samurai in melee. I accept that samurai cavalry archers can defeat knights and that a strong samurai spear formation can withstand a knight charge however the samurai part is quite irrelevant as Swiss pikemen can withstand a knight charge as can many other strong spear formations(when troops are brave enough) and Muslim cavalry archers can beat knights as can many other cavalry archers.

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