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Author Topic: Katana vs. Longsword  (Read 9394 times)

Sir Hancz

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Katana vs. Longsword
« on: 2015-01-03, 01:01:13 »
So, I just got done watching this video on the katana vs the longsword, and I feel it was a completely biased video. Here's the link to the video:
You may wonder, why do I feel this way? Well, please watch the video first. The producers of this video have no idea how these weapons were actually used, better yet, they don't know how to use them correctly! The katana was a slicing or cutting sword, and the longsword was used to penetrate certain weak parts of a knight's armor. I just feel this was a very biased and unfair comparison, anyone agree? Leave a comment, i'd like to hear your thoughts!  :)
« Last Edit: 2015-01-03, 01:14:59 by Sir Hancz »
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Sir Douglas

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Re: Katana vs. Longsword
« Reply #1 on: 2015-01-03, 01:45:10 »
Yeah, there are videos like that out there from both sides of the argument ad nauseam, but for some reason the "mainstream" stuff always seems to be biased towards katanas. No idea why. Must have something to do with the East being "mystical" and "ZOMG! Ninjas!"

My take on it: Both weapons evolved in different environments to perform different functions and utilize different fighting styles against different targets. They both did what they were designed to do and they both did it well enough to stick around for x number of centuries. To say one is "better" than the other is like saying apples are better than oranges: they're both fruit, they both taste good, and they'll both keep you from starving, but some people prefer one to the other.

Personally, I'd take a longsword over a katana any day, but that's more of an aesthetic choice since I can't wield either one worth darn. ;)
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Sir Hancz

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Re: Katana vs. Longsword
« Reply #2 on: 2015-01-03, 02:15:15 »
Yeah, there are videos like that out there from both sides of the argument ad nauseam, but for some reason the "mainstream" stuff always seems to be biased towards katanas. No idea why. Must have something to do with the East being "mystical" and "ZOMG! Ninjas!"

My take on it: Both weapons evolved in different environments to perform different functions and utilize different fighting styles against different targets. They both did what they were designed to do and they both did it well enough to stick around for x number of centuries. To say one is "better" than the other is like saying apples are better than oranges: they're both fruit, they both taste good, and they'll both keep you from starving, but some people prefer one to the other.

Personally, I'd take a longsword over a katana any day, but that's more of an aesthetic choice since I can't wield either one worth darn. ;)

I totally agree with you about the fact that both weapons developed in different environments and were made for different purposes, but this whole "OMG NINJAS" stereotype needs to end already. In medieval times, Europe and Japan were completely different from each other, and I don't believe Europe went to war against Japan, so you can't really compare equipment with them. Thanks for your reply! I was just looking to see people's take on this.
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Re: Katana vs. Longsword
« Reply #3 on: 2015-01-03, 03:08:23 »
Hancz have you watched Matt Easton's vids on Schola Gladiatoria's Channel like this one?



BTW if you post a vid link it will do the in message play window so long as you remove the 's' at the end of http.
« Last Edit: 2015-01-03, 03:09:32 by Thorsteinn »
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Sir Hancz

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Re: Katana vs. Longsword
« Reply #4 on: 2015-01-03, 03:20:23 »
Hancz have you watched Matt Easton's vids on Schola Gladiatoria's Channel like this one?



BTW if you post a vid link it will do the in message play window so long as you remove the 's' at the end of http.
Ahh, thanks for the video and comment! Yes, I just don't like how people favor one type of weapon/armor set, and then not know anything about it or how it was used, and then praise it saying its better than other things. If you at least know what you are talking about, then I respect your opinion. Again, thanks for the video and reply!
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Sir James A

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Re: Katana vs. Longsword
« Reply #5 on: 2015-01-03, 18:39:44 »
Oh gosh, that's a classic. :)

I love R Lee Ermey, but either he or the producers really blew chunks on this one.

A katana does not have a 36" blade. It's usually 26-30", and a 36" blade would be an "O-Katana", which basically means "big katana".

A long sword does not have a 40-50" blade. Most longswords were under 50" for the entire sword! Even the "big boys" like the Albion Duke or Baron come in under 40" of blade length.

Chopping ICE with a sword is basically sword abuse and something that would NEVER be done with a proper sword. And you can see in the slow motion that the katana does not even cut the ice; the ice just happens to crack from the point of impact to the bottom. When the sword has made it less than 1/4 through the ice, the entire block splits and the sword just follows through.

You don't use shields with a long sword.

His cutting technique is garbage when he's cutting the cabbage, but it's cabbage, so it'll cut anyway, even with a junk stainless wall hanger blade if you really wanted to.

With the "leather foot soldier armor" (groan!), he baseball bats with the long sword. He does an actual drawing cut with the katana just by virtue of the angle he swings at, so of course it works better.

And the steel armor. Holy 18 gauge mild steel Indian made abominations, batman! He goes baseball bat with the long sword, again. He thrusts without half swording, which really makes no difference, because nobody with an ounce of sword training would thrust directly at plate; it would happen with a missed thrust that was aimed for an opening.

The katana doesn't bend as much in the thrust because it's a single edged weapon designed primarily for slashing. Only at the very end of the samurai line did they even face solid steel cuirasses, which were imports from Europe and aptly named as "pigeon breasts" (and resemble the peascod breastplates). The long sword will bend more in the thrust because it has completely different blade geometry, and it looks like they used a long sword designed primarily around slashing vs the diamond cross section of the later thrusting oriented blades.

I'm not sure what brand of swords were used for the test, but it doesn't seem like an Albion long sword, and I'm betting the katana isn't a $1,000 Paul Chen T10 Shinto either.

The video basically amounts to "let's see what kind of things we can do with a couple swords that don't reflect what they were ever used for in the first place, and decide which one is better".

I think the katana fans come primarily from either anime or the ninja/samurai movies. The katana is a highly revered object as the pinnacle of the samurai's achievements, so it has sort of a mystical "other worldly" impression on some people.

In reality, katanas were made by folding the steel repeatedly because Japan had garbage steel and it had to be folded repeatedly to remove most of the impurities. European steel was still, for the most part, a better grade of steel, and that was without folding. Japan was an isolated island for many, many centuries, and were limited to their natural resources. They did the best they could with the resources they had, and in the end, made a fantastic weapon that is *comparable* to the European long sword in it's versatility and prevalence. But just like Sir Douglas said, it's apples and oranges.

And don't get me wrong, I love katanas and have a few. I accept them for what they are, and I don't buy into the mystical nonsense that some people place around them.
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Re: Katana vs. Longsword
« Reply #6 on: 2015-01-04, 11:26:14 »
I have to offer my thoughts on this one ... I studied and practiced Aikido well over 25 years and my primary weapons of use were bo-staff and eventually 'katana'. Any practicioner knows full well that a katana blade is both swift and durable as a fighting instrument best used for cutting and slashing (in conjunction with their learned fighting methods). Since the beginning of their age in ancient times, VERY few armorers can even come close to the perfection and practice it takes to make a 'truely-spectacular' blade. I place a 'katana' in this category as the best cutting weapon to this day. Their skill existed long before anyone else had a good understanding of metallurgy. Their secrets were not only passed down between generations in practice but they were written down as well so practices were never forgotten and could be duplicated and refined with years of skillful learning. It is a very refined blade, lightweight, and can be advantageous in the hand of a master-user. However, I would be hard-pressed to have it be used for parrying and thrusting. Even their armor was designed to be light-weight and durable to acclamate to their martial art mastery. The katana was designed to accommodate the warrior's armor and martial skills not the other way around. As sensei says, "Better skill for quick kill". Their fighting methods existed long-before the weapon. Also, the blade itself has slightly less flexibility than a longsword making drawing quicker and easier. Blade length can vary in both weapons comparative to the wielder's reach.

In contrast, the western style longsword was refined to accommodate the heavier armor of the western warrior that relied 'much more' on it for protection as they lacked in measure the martial skill and discipline in general of the Far East. It was more important that their blades be mastered for thrusting and penetrating the heavier grade maille and plate armor typically worn. Westerners built blades for strength and heavy hands because they did not have the martial skills of a truly disciplined warrior like those of the Far East (Japan, China, etc.). The methods of using a longsword skillfully were based upon techniques developed after the weapon was designed. After time, they learned to master their weapon works and custom their weaponry to the user's skill. The advantage of a European style longsword is that it was developed and changed over years so it could be multi-purpose and every part of it used in actual combat to effectiveness in both offense and defense. In this, a warrior could develop new martial skills in combat with the addition of new features.

The Asian warrior culture mastered martial skill and discipline in every aspect of training and everyday life (giving them a distinct advantage) when coupled with weapon use. One came before the other then were taught together.  However, as I am partial to European style being it is my heritage, it is not as practical or advantageous in actual combat in my opinion. Martial skill is more important in focus to mastering a blade or weapon than the weapon itself when it comes to up-close melee style fighting.   

I do share in Sir James thoughts about the 'grade of steel' being better in Europe than Japan. The ore was much more abundant and the methods in weapon-making focused on the strength of the steel as more important than the weight the wielder could handle. In addition, I love 'The Sarge' as well but he should really keep his focus on firearms, shooting, and munitions. Swords in his hands are sloppy and he lacks the experience from his poor cutting demonstrations.
« Last Edit: 2015-01-04, 12:16:32 by Lord Dane »
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Ian

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Re: Katana vs. Longsword
« Reply #7 on: 2015-01-04, 15:19:35 »
I hate this discussion because it's comparing apples and oranges and in most of its facebook and youtube comment section manifestations it virtually always lacks any real information not based in fanboyism and emotion.  The old katana vs longsword argument is more of a 'my dad can beat up your dad' argument than it is anything else.  That being said, the longsword is infinitely more varied in geometry and use than the katana.  There are so many different styles of blade geometry and handling in the longsword world, that calling one style a 'longsword' is an effort in futility.  The 'longsword' is a family of varying style swords and blades that have different cutting properties, thrusting properties, best uses, purposes and drastically different amounts of flex and stiffness.  So when people refer to a longsword, they're really referring to a myriad of different swords that all happen to be of the hand-and-a-half length-ish and even that is an over-simplification.  That further confounds the already silly argument of which sword is better.

And to imply that western warriors lacked martial skill and discipline and a 'true warrior culture' is to perpetuate one of the longest standing myths of the nebulous Asian vs European martial ethos argument.
« Last Edit: 2015-01-04, 15:24:06 by Ian »
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Lord Dane

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Re: Katana vs. Longsword
« Reply #8 on: 2015-01-04, 15:41:34 »
And to imply that western warriors lacked martial skill and discipline and a 'true warrior culture' is to perpetuate one of the longest standing myths of the nebulous Asian vs European martial ethos argument.

Lacked the comparative measure in martial skill and discipline, Ian (but it is my opinion). If these cultures ever warred with each other in their time, it would certainly be interesting on the battlefield. I practiced and studied in the Asian martial culture for many years and I just think historically they have a 'step up' that the Western world strived to emmulate into their own. Asian cultures are more focused on traditional methods and Europeans focused more on modern innovations to advance efforts. We each have our own style and what works. It has bettered the European-Western style I think when they can in contact with each other. Not to say I necessarily prefer one to the other (as they both compliment the other). I love integration - best of both worlds (Take what works - simplify it to meet your own needs). 

Of course, the European methods in making modern warfare far surpassed the Asian culture going into the later eras because of their willingness to innovate and take in other factors from other cultures they dominated over. Romans did it best when conquering their empire. Integration to compliment and advance their own understandings of warfare and weaponry greatly improved their ability to wage wars in different regions.
« Last Edit: 2015-01-04, 15:57:02 by Lord Dane »
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Re: Katana vs. Longsword
« Reply #9 on: 2015-01-04, 18:20:37 »
there can be only one........

Thorsteinn

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Re: Katana vs. Longsword
« Reply #10 on: 2015-01-04, 21:16:06 »
*Gets Popcorn*
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Henrik Granlid

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Re: Katana vs. Longsword
« Reply #11 on: 2015-01-05, 01:15:00 »
I'm sorry Lord Dane, but I'd call you flat out wrong.

If nothing else for the fact that Japanese and western martial cultures did meet and the Western won. This is not purely because of the use of gunpowder. If the Japanese warrior culture really had a leg up and was superior, numerous encounters of sword on sword should all have been won by samurai. If you then say "but a warrior with more experience would win against a samurai", it invalidates the argument that the system is better, since the experience gap would need to be so large that an equally experienced samurai would be a god of war in comparison. The first person to do something the other guy cannot deal with wins, there is no superior system.

I've studied Aikido for ten years now, Iwama Ryu, primarily from long term students of Morihiro Saito. Aiki-ken and Aiki-jo, both in the tradition of O-sensei rather than the later addition of other Japanese schools of swordsmanship added because the students would not go back and ask Morihiro for aid in Ueshiba's sword. The Japanese sword can be thrust with in un-armoured duels and in an emergency against armour, and I agree with you in it's qualities, but it is not a better cutter than a western sabre, a falcatta, kopesh or other curved sword designed for cutting. I've also studied HEMA liechtenauer longsword for two years alongside sca heavy combat.

Now, back to the warrior culture. During the 15th through 17th century, we have several western masters who teach, have schools and even write books for remote schooling. We have pious, well read knights who strive for perfection (one wrote about himself vaulting onto his horse, climbing the underside of a ladder and other such things for example).

What has, however, happened, is that the Japanese warrior culture is more recent, way, way, way more recent, and due to the nature of a traditional society where schools have remained rather than been replaced, we are more apt to romanticism. Compare, however, to the 19th century romanticism about knights in shining armour, bodies in peak condition and an honour rivalling the most honourbound samurai warrior of myth.

The Emperor of the HRE required 500 zornhau from his soldiers every morning iirc, very similar to things such as 500 suburi (it's exactly the same).

The noble class of any culture values and strives for learning, especially knights and samurai alike.
The noble warrior caste of any culture aims for the best martial skill they can acquire, knights and samurai alike. Tournaments are not won from brutish hacking and whacking, and neither are battlefield encounters.

The Japanese warrior culture came to the west after the Western had "fallen" in that it's primarily a 20th century romanticism, it was easy to study, it's still exotic and it's a lot closer to us than 13th century chivalry and whatever martial systems used to exist.

Innovation did not make for a poorer martial culture, rather, it made for a martial culture that has been replaced over and over, but it isn't poorer for that.


EDIT: As for the original thread, I do believe the longsword hasn't even been sharpened, check that huge bar of light bouncing off the blunt edge,
« Last Edit: 2015-01-05, 01:19:14 by Henrik Granlid »
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Re: Katana vs. Longsword
« Reply #12 on: 2015-01-05, 02:36:54 »
A katana does not have a 36" blade. It's usually 26-30", and a 36" blade would be an "O-Katana", which basically means "big katana".

Huh, and I always thought that was the name of the Canadian National Anthem.

Oy, that was bad...but I couldn't resist. ;)
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Lord Dane

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Re: Katana vs. Longsword
« Reply #13 on: 2015-01-05, 05:10:53 »
Not referencing gun powder or other weapons outside of katana and longsword. Sabers are not being considered in my points or opinions. I also studied traditional Aikido in the Master Ueshiba methods also small circle style and Aiki-ju-jitsu and some Kendo. That compliments my Japanese study. We all have our opinions. :)
« Last Edit: 2015-01-05, 12:08:44 by Lord Dane »
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Re: Katana vs. Longsword
« Reply #14 on: 2015-01-05, 05:55:44 »
A katana does not have a 36" blade. It's usually 26-30", and a 36" blade would be an "O-Katana", which basically means "big katana".

Huh, and I always thought that was the name of the Canadian National Anthem.

Oy, that was bad...but I couldn't resist. ;)

O' Katana.
You're very nicely sharp.
When I shave with you.
My cheeks are lovely smooth.

And then I use you.
And kill my foe.
You're a multi-tool indeed.
And the girls.
They like my cheeks.
They want to take me home to dad.

O' Katana....
 ;D
« Last Edit: 2015-01-05, 05:56:30 by Thorsteinn »
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