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Old 08-12-2003, 06:22 PM   #1
Meiyo
Join Date: Aug 2003
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Grr! Samurai vs European Knight

I was just wondering what you guys think. This doesn't have much to do with aikido but who do you guys like more, the samurai or the knight. I myself think the samurai were way cooler, but everyone has an opinion.
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Old 08-12-2003, 07:59 PM   #2
taras
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I don't know who is cooler but I always wondered about similarities between samurai and nights of Middle Ages Europe; leir life style, their code of honour etc. Japan had no links with Europe at the time however both appeared at the same period.
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Old 08-12-2003, 08:18 PM   #3
sanosuke
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I'd prefer to analyze by the way they using their sword.

European swords are usually big and heavy, making them have to hold using both hands to swing, although there's some sword that can be held using one hand (the one the crusaders use), based on its density quite large amount of energy needed to use the sword. The logical attacking moves using this kind of sword is tsuki (thrust), shomen (vertical cut), and horizontal cut.

Japanese katanas, although doesn't have the density and size as big as European swords, have advantages on their curvy form, this curvy form, if i'm not mistaken, helps a lot in reducing force needed when doing moves like shomen and yokomen (diagonal cut). Its so called 'slim' form also makes katanas lighter to hold using one hand compared to broad swords.

given that both warriors wears no armor, i think samurais have more advantages compared to European knights based on fact that samurais can move more 'fluidly'.

I based my judgment if the European knights you meant is British/German/Scandinavian knights, i don't know if samurais have better advantages if they faced Roman soldiers or French Musketeers.
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Old 08-12-2003, 09:07 PM   #4
jk
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For a comparison of European swords/knights vs. Japanese swords/samurai, just go to www.swordforum.com and do a search of their threads; you'll dig up more stuff than you ever wanted to read (rapier vs. katana, longsword vs. katana, Browning M2 machine gun vs. katana, aircraft carrier battle group vs. katana). European swords tend to be generalized as being rather heavy, when such may not be the case. As for density, steel is steel; unless you want to get really nit-picky and discuss specific gravities among different alloys...
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Old 08-13-2003, 03:23 AM   #5
happysod
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Different skills/armour for different types of combat ethos (and weather). My interpretation is that knights were essentially heavy armour (pun intended) for the battlefield, samurais were more warriors than soldiers - something the monguls showed I believe. So, one on one, I'd probably go for the samurai, in a battle, I'd probably plump for a force of knights (suitably supported of course with levees) over samurai.

Another contrast I found as interesting was some new archeological theories that saxon swords may have been even better than katanas - sorry, don't have a reference for this as it was a beer waza discussion, but I'd be intrigued if anyone has anything on this.
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Old 08-13-2003, 04:38 AM   #6
PeterR
 
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I don't think you can make the distinction between soldier and warrior. Both knights and samurai fought singly and in groups, on foot and on horeseback, in horrendous conditions and basically massacers in the park.

However, you give me an armoured knight with a bloody big sword and ready to use it - I would not put my money on a katana armed samurai. English longbowman might have an advantage also.

As per swords - Japanese iron was pretty poor. The folding and hammering got rid of a lot of impurities but what you start out with determines how you finish. Apparently Damascus steel was very durable and the swords could be as pretty as our subjective little hearts desire but they were brittle in the very cold. Viking swords less pretty but well made and did not break under icy conditions.

I was told that the impurities are actually responsible for the beauty of the Japanese swords - I guess that makes it a happy accident.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 08-13-2003, 06:04 AM   #7
happysod
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Peter, must disagree with you on the soldier/warrior distinction. Soldiers are trained to fight as a group, not individually. Warriors seek personal combat. The best example of this distinction I can think of is the celts and romans - individually, romans were worse armed and weaker fighters, but their strategy was based on formations which were stronger at the point of contact than that of the Celts.

Similarly, while I agree samurai did fight in groups, I don't think their training was heavily army orientated - happy to be proved wrong. Note, I'm restricting myself to the samurai, not peasant troops or militia. Knights at the end of their gold age did tend towards a similar concept "noble battle", but they were generally used as shock troops to open a path for the men-at-arms.
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Old 08-13-2003, 01:23 PM   #8
The Wrenster
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I personally wouldnt have thought that roman soldiers were 'worse' than the celts. The Romans had thorough training as well as weapons designed to be used in a strict and uniform manner rather than waving it around. Another huge advantage of the Roman legionairre was his armour, ie he had some. This is something the hordes of celts etc would probably not had had. In wargaming (yes im that sad)DBM style, which works on the function of the unit rather than their individual attributes it seems to go both ways. Either, 1. The celts run at the romans, get diced, run away. 2. The celts run at the romans, break one line, and massacre the romans. This I rekon is due to their ferocity and general melee speciality.

In samurai related matters, it would be tough. Knights would have armour which could stuff a katana good an' proper. Katanas will do mega damage, more likely to kil, i imagine. If you were hit with a huge heavy blade, but had leather armour or somesuch you would get pulped, but not neccisarely cut. Wheras with the good old slicer, you could lop off limbs and open stomachs with no problem. Its too hard for unbiased comparison.

BTW, try DBM wargames, and im sure you could create a Feudal Japaneese army, see how it compares with thousands of years worth of armies and fighting styles.

Looking back, this post is too long... my apologies for any irrelevance in it.

When you decide to cause harm, you are breaking the harmony of the Universe, and thus you are already defeated.
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Old 08-13-2003, 05:22 PM   #9
Lan Powers
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In regards to the specifics of the individual weapons.......it varied widely in dimensions (the european sword) from culture to culture, and timeframe.

the "average" weight of single-hand, quillioned broadswords varied between 2 to 23 lbs. *The book of the Sword

Viking blades were on average long and heavy, in the upper range of this weight 3-4 lbs

designed for chopping cuts. Not too much for the thrusting aspect ... also rather blunt.

hi quality steel as a rule.

Later period swords in europe were of quite good mettalurgy as well ie: solingen steel, damascus, or "watered" steel as it was called.

the best in Europe was made in Spain or iberia as it was then called...

BUT the inherant design is not as strong straight versus the strength of the curve. Not to mention the "shear" efect of the curve.

Middle eastern shamshir or tulwar was arguably the *best* in metal tho.

Just some info on the queen of weapons as it has been called.......wish I could remember by whom tho!



Lan

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Old 08-13-2003, 05:23 PM   #10
Lan Powers
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Dang!!! I didn't mean 23 lbs.........sheesh

2-3 lbs. duh!

Play nice, practice hard, but remember, this is a MARTIAL art!
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Old 08-14-2003, 10:25 AM   #11
happysod
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Adam, hate to say it but even using your wargaming rules, you're agreeing with me regards celts/romans - celts individually better (melee situation). Perhaps I've read what you wrote wrong?

Lan, nice summation. The way viking swords were made is particularly fascinating, their earlier iron versions were so flexible they could be bent almost in half then re-hammered with little loss of strength in the blade.

However, swords may have been the queen, but were not that useful on the battlefield as they were effectively the equivalent of the modern pistol for their time. Does anyone know how the more common battlefield weapons compare? (or a link)
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