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Author Topic: Katana vs. Longsword  (Read 9430 times)

Sir Douglas

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Re: Katana vs. Longsword
« Reply #15 on: 2015-01-07, 02:08:51 »
^Ha! Indeed. ;D
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Re: Katana vs. Longsword
« Reply #16 on: 2015-01-07, 16:55:57 »
I love R. Lee Ermey but that doesn't mean I think the man gets his words from on High if you know what I mean.  It was entertaining and completely biased- it isn't hard to tell that Ermey bought into that ZOMG NINJAZ RULE collective of idiots.  Had he done that test with a 14th C saber I believe the results would've been closer.

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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 have to disagree.  I get that your involvment in eastern martial arts may color your outlook but as a knight re-enactor, you should also apply such scholarship to the western martial arts- that is, if you are at all interested in a fair, learned comparison.  I think a lot of the mystique surrounding Japanese culture is drawn from the relative secrecy with which Japan held onto its customs, especially with regard to weapons and warfare.  Naturally it became a huge phenomenon because it was relatively unknown even going back 40-some odd years ago. 

I will agree with you that the katana is probably the best cutting implement if we take it on its own merits with no other qualifiers- it has been shown that as far as cutting prowess goes, in general curved swords fare better than their straight-bladed counterparts due to the shaping of the edge which affords a longer/better cutting surface if you will- however, I do not think it would have fared as well against a typical knight's 14C harness, which was quite different from the armor it was built to combat (14th C Japan, not the later Meiji restoration for instance). 
« Last Edit: 2015-01-07, 16:57:39 by Sir William »
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Re: Katana vs. Longsword
« Reply #17 on: 2015-01-11, 00:08:54 »
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. :)
We all certainly have our opinions, but I believe that your opinion of the west lacking "skill" or "discipline" simply doesn't stand up to honest, informed scholarship. Having studied both hemispheres of martial culture (HEMA, karate, Muy Thai and Jujitsu) and history I can tell you that both military cultures had extremely effective martial arts. I am also extremely interested in how you plan to illustrate to me the lack of discipline of Western warriors throughout the centuries. Specifically I would love to hear about the lack of discipline on the part of the Roman Legions, the late medieval/renaissance Swiss pikeman and the 18th/19th centuries militaries.
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Re: Katana vs. Longsword
« Reply #18 on: 2015-01-11, 16:45:13 »
Keep in mind Nathan, I was only targeting a specific time reference limited to the 'medieval era' alone at its peak utilizing only long sword and katana. Outside those eras, you would have dramatically different results I'm sure. It is (as always) just an opinion based on my experience. And I did not say they lacked 'any martial skill or discipline'. I just think it was not as focused or culturally practiced 'as intensely' as the Eastern cultures (specifically Japan) when the western world was in decline and finding itself again. They both suffered their own decadent periods.

I would never say the Romans lacked it. To the contrary as in their time, they excelled at it better than anyone. I honestly felt there was a serious lack of military discipline amongst Europeans that wasn't really consolidated into a concentrated effort until the Crusades began to rejuvenate the warrior culture that seemed always present in some other time periods of the same region. It was almost like it needed to be reinvented again into the mainstream of society. 

The martial culture became an ideal of the Western world again and seemed reborn and progressed itself through unified efforts to campaign into other regions (mostly for the religious zeal of the Catholic church) when it was appealing to the masses of warriors looking for redemption. Comparatively, I always felt it was a constant part throughout the traditional practices of the Far East (like Japan) as it appeared to always been culturally practiced in their warrior culture. I know this is more opinionated than objective in analysis but it is just how I see it.     
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Re: Katana vs. Longsword
« Reply #19 on: 2015-01-12, 07:57:43 »
Ok, so speaking in the context of the medieval period (which utilized far more weapons of war than the longsword and katana, even among the elite martial artists of the period). Also the notion that the medieval period was a "decline" and "decadent" is a fallacy stemming from renaissance ideas about society before Roman influence.
And your thesis that martial arts " was not as focused or culturally practiced 'as intensely' as the Eastern cultures (specifically Japan) when the western world was in decline" doesn't really hold up to the evidence. The spiritual/personal development aspect of Japanese martial arts occurred after Tokugawa enforced peace, when martial culture lacked a battlefield to fight on. This "focus" you refer to is actually a symptom of the pacification of those martial arts. Before that, they were utilitarian fighting arts like any other.
And what exactly do you mean in stating that martial arts weren't as culturally practiced? Both Japanese and European martial arts were mostly practiced by their socially equivalent military elite, the Knights and Samurai. In fact, I would argue that European martial arts were more culturally practiced, as wealthy non-nobles could afford a teacher, and because we have evidence of non-knights practicing martial arts, while in Japanese culture, martial arts were strictly retained only for the noble elite. In fact, most non-nobles could not own weapons, especially those weapons of the elite, while Europe saw very little restrictions on weapon ownership, and even the prestigious sword had a large non-noble market demand.   
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Sir James A

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Re: Katana vs. Longsword
« Reply #20 on: 2015-01-12, 18:45:17 »
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.

Agreed. This was also the result when Mike Edelson did a very comprehensive set of tests with cutting and thrusting, both against fabric and against maille. See: http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=11131 ... and yes, *at slashing*, a katana even outperformed the venerable Albion Brescia spadona, a $2K sword very similar to longsword design. A curved blade is designed for slashing, so this is consistent with "functions as designed". Europeans had their own curved slashers; scimitars, cavalry sabres, kilij and such. On that note, in the "super realistic" tests on Deadliest Warrior (heavy sarcasm!), the Kilij outperformed every other sword they have ever tested. But we're talking katana vs longsword on this.

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.

Disagreed. They had junk for iron/steel, and some of them figured out how to fold it repeatedly to improve the quality of the steel for better swords. However, this same junk iron/steel was what they also had to work with for armor, so they literally lacked the mechanical / technical ability to make solid plate armor like the Europeans could. I think they would have done a number of things differently with their armor if they had the capability to.

Much like the long sword, the katana was designed to (1) defeat the type of armor most common, and (2) kill unarmored people easily. Europeans had solid plate armor, and concussive weapons like the pole axe were popular for defeating it. Armor with large gaps and lots of lacing? A few well placed slashes can render bits of samurai armor useless. The sode (shoulder armor) - held on by a single lace and frog at the shoulder. And samurai armor being of laced plates had some flex in it, by design, which makes thrusting more difficult when the armor moves; and that brings us right back to a slashing weapon.

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.).

Definitely not. Very few techniques in the manuscripts rely on strength, and almost all on technique. You can't cut well with a long sword by muscling it, you have to use proper edge alignment, proper grip, proper follow-through, proper acceleration of the blade... it's all technique. Cutting pool noodles is a great example of this.

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.

If we take both groups at their apex, knights would slaughter the samurai, without a doubt. The samurai would be utterly confused with trying to find gaps in the european armor, and their katanas have no effect on the surfaces of plate armor. Now, throw in a samurai with a kanabo and yumi bow with bodkin tipped arrows, and it's a different scenario - but honoring the longsword vs katana, the samurai would be hopeless.

I just think it was not as focused or culturally practiced 'as intensely' as the Eastern cultures (specifically Japan) when the western world was in decline and finding itself again.

Ignoring the western world in decline part, I agree that the whole "warrior ethos" was more prevalent and focused in Japan. The samurai lived and breathed their art. They held their honor above all else, and Zen Buddhism comes around sometime in the 13th century. It was such a closely held concept that the katana was sometimes called "the soul of the samurai" and they had a specific way of displaying their armor on a yoroi bitsu (armor box). And defeat in battle was disgrace, and there was seppuku, ritual suicide, as a way of keeping their honor. To my knowledge, there is no European equivalent of those concepts.

I honestly felt there was a serious lack of military discipline amongst Europeans that wasn't really consolidated into a concentrated effort until the Crusades began to rejuvenate the warrior culture that seemed always present in some other time periods of the same region.

This is a great point, and I think the Templars would be the closest European equivalent to samurai in regards to military discipline and conceptualization. Still some differences of close, but the closest I can think of.

The spiritual/personal development aspect of Japanese martial arts occurred after Tokugawa enforced peace, when martial culture lacked a battlefield to fight on. This "focus" you refer to is actually a symptom of the pacification of those martial arts.

Yes and no, around the 13th century Zen Buddhism came in, and well before that, Bushido was long held as the Japanese variant of Chivalry, in essence. So there was still a lot of spiritual / personal development early on with the samurai; the Tokugawa era of peace spurred the "philosophical samurai" of writing books, poetry, artwork, and such.

In fact, I would argue that European martial arts were more culturally practiced, as wealthy non-nobles could afford a teacher, and because we have evidence of non-knights practicing martial arts, while in Japanese culture, martial arts were strictly retained only for the noble elite. In fact, most non-nobles could not own weapons, especially those weapons of the elite, while Europe saw very little restrictions on weapon ownership, and even the prestigious sword had a large non-noble market demand.   

Yes and no again. The entire art of ninjitsu (yeah, sorry, I don't mean to play the ninja card) derived primarily from peasants / non-nobles, and based around many farm tools that they were able to adapt into weapons. The kama is a short sickle, nunchakus from wheat threshers, and so on. Martial arts like jujitsu were developed for people with small weapons or no weapons to defeat armed and armored opponents, and was more of a "peasant" art. This is a bit of a mixed bag, because we're aggregating multiple distinct arts into a single concept of "martial arts" in a given culture, but it covers a wide range of people in a given culture practicing martial arts.

And to muddy the waters a bit, as far as I know, the samurai class in Japan was statistically larger than knights in Europe. There was as much as 10% of the population of Japan in the samurai class at some point, which makes for a lot of people practicing martial arts that are core to their culture. So accounting for that, and the non-knights of Europe who were learning martial arts as well, it's probably close enough to say that both Japan and Europe had similar percentages of people learning martial arts. In my opinion, I don't think one was "more martial" than the other.
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Naythan

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Re: Katana vs. Longsword
« Reply #21 on: 2015-01-12, 22:41:22 »
I will stand with the west in this discussion, and give hopefully a good point of view.
A 13th century knight fighting a 14th century samurai. The common samurai's armor would be leather(hardened?) no? and the knight we know would be covered head to toe in mail, and padding, with some plates, maybe even a coat of plates, then his helmet. The Katana is a slashing weapon, and mail is extremely good against slashing. At this point the Samurai would have to look to other ways of trying and killing his opponent(how? trying to use martial arts against him?) or using the Katana as a bludgeon weapon :) . A shield I think would be too much of an advantage, and I think their is some documentation of knights using a sword without a shield, which involved a lot of grappling with the open hand. (though I have no evidence to support)
So for me the farther back you go, the knight has mail armor still, and the further forward more plate.
It is extremely unlikely despite what there training may be (other than later knights being better trained to get around armor)
the knight wins.
(If I am lacking or fail to give proper info please correct me)
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Sir Hancz

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Re: Katana vs. Longsword
« Reply #22 on: 2015-01-13, 00:22:58 »
Well you also gotta think about how agile the samurai is :) I train with katana's at a local place, and my trainer is very good. I also have my own katana (spent to much money on it, haha) but there are multiple forms of martial arts, so the katana is a VERY flexible weapon, but no need to start an argument, just stating some things :)
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Re: Katana vs. Longsword
« Reply #23 on: 2015-01-13, 02:03:30 »
Might these help?







A Peasant art...


A martial arts demo...

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Lord Dane

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Re: Katana vs. Longsword
« Reply #24 on: 2015-01-14, 20:55:48 »
If anything, it is educational & a good review. Thanks Thorsteinn. :)
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Re: Katana vs. Longsword
« Reply #25 on: 2015-01-15, 03:22:44 »
All from a playlist on my Youtube channel BTW.

Here is what Matt Easton on Schola Gladiatoria has to say.






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Thorsteinn

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Re: Katana vs. Longsword
« Reply #26 on: 2015-01-15, 03:24:43 »
Continued....









He has several more in the playlist.
« Last Edit: 2015-01-15, 03:26:22 by Thorsteinn »
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Joshua Santana

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Re: Katana vs. Longsword
« Reply #27 on: 2016-05-06, 02:38:17 »
In summation: a well made waste of time.
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jason77

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Re: Katana vs. Longsword
« Reply #28 on: 2016-07-19, 23:38:09 »
Some of you may have already seen this video but hopefully you'll agree that it is enjoyable nonetheless. The Kendo guy in this video challenged Rory Van Noort and the following duel is quite entertaining. I understand some will say that Kendo is not adept to this type of fighting and this is true as Kendo is more sport like however the Japaneses and many Kendo practitioners will get quite pissed off when someone calls Kendo a sport. They consider it to be a Martial Art and are very serious about it. Anyways, Rory was a world class fencer and even won a Swordfish tournament (I think 2012). Unfortunately Rory passed away and is no longer with us.




« Last Edit: 2016-07-19, 23:45:01 by jason77 »
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jason77

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Re: Katana vs. Longsword
« Reply #29 on: 2016-07-19, 23:59:26 »
A point about Knights vs Samurai that I feel is important to note is that the Japanese were skilled against Japanese, whereas Europeans were skilled via their interaction and fighting with several nations (European and Muslim) and had been at war fairly consistently since ancient Roman times. This bears out with the account of historical encounters between the Samurai and the Portuguese, the latter is said to have slaughtered the Samurai in confrontation. The Portuguese were known to be fierce warriors, likely fought the Samurai with the rapier which was a new threat to the Japanese, and wore steel armor. As far as I know the Portuguese were the first to trade with the Japanese and are the only Europeans recorded to have fought with the Samurai.
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