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Main => The Courtyard => Topic started by: Sir Hancz on 2015-01-03, 01:01:13

Title: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: Sir Hancz 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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDkoj932YFo (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDkoj932YFo)
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!  :)
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: Sir Douglas 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. ;)
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: Sir Hancz 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.
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: Thorsteinn on 2015-01-03, 03:08:23
Hancz have you watched Matt Easton's vids on Schola Gladiatoria's Channel like this one?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnkVlK3BFLw#ws (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnkVlK3BFLw#ws)

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.
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: Sir Hancz on 2015-01-03, 03:20:23
Hancz have you watched Matt Easton's vids on Schola Gladiatoria's Channel like this one?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnkVlK3BFLw#ws (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnkVlK3BFLw#ws)

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!
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: Sir James A 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.
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: Lord Dane 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.
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: Ian 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.
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: Lord Dane 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.
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: Sir Wolf on 2015-01-04, 18:20:37
there can be only one........
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: Thorsteinn on 2015-01-04, 21:16:06
*Gets Popcorn*
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: Henrik Granlid 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,
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: Sir Douglas 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. ;)
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: Lord Dane 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. :)
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: Thorsteinn 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
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: Sir Douglas on 2015-01-07, 02:08:51
^Ha! Indeed. ;D
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: Sir William 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.

Quote
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). 
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: SirNathanQ 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.
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: Lord Dane 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.     
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: SirNathanQ 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.   
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: Sir James A 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 (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.
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: Naythan 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)
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: Sir Hancz 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 :)
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: Thorsteinn on 2015-01-13, 02:03:30
Might these help?

Žehart - long sword and other historical weapons (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPfLZFHcNv4#)

Fencing with five different medieval weapons (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TzdtyMC7ek#ws)

Fiore's techniques I - Regia Turris (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RXlZdV8u4Q#ws)

A Peasant art...
Langes Messer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38sVdx7nzhQ#)

A martial arts demo...

SWASH 2013 - Hardcore Demo by the AMEK Guys (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUFSctupyzU#ws)
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: Lord Dane on 2015-01-14, 20:55:48
If anything, it is educational & a good review. Thanks Thorsteinn. :)
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: Thorsteinn 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.

Japanese Katana vs European Longsword - Part 1, the material of their blades (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnkVlK3BFLw#ws)

Katana versus Longsword, Part 2! - Getting the point (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YZDb98Mqnk#ws)

Katana vs. other swords - Part 3, the Katana is just a sword! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4plBF80UBo#ws)
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: Thorsteinn on 2015-01-15, 03:24:43
Continued....

Katana vs. other swords, Part 4. The Katana is not light! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsYbRom3h7U#ws)

Katana vs. other swords, Part 5. The Katana is not quicker (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gN7gNVU48M#ws)

Katana debate pt. 6 - European fencing lineages, different styles and Japanese swordsmanship (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEm7A7Zhkvc#ws)

Katana debate part 7 - Are katanas the best cutting swords? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppG4y59l5QY#ws)

He has several more in the playlist.
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: Joshua Santana on 2016-05-06, 02:38:17
In summation: a well made waste of time.
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: jason77 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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dov2ePI1bHw


Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: jason77 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.
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: Thorsteinn on 2016-07-20, 02:06:34
However they lost as well. From the accounts I read it ended up being a bit of a draw in the long run. Though the vid does show a man really using better martial arts. A good Kendoka would know that back even 70 years ago they used trips, grabs, and so forth and thus would also at least have studied some kenjitsu to understand the why. I did notice that he was not thrusting which may mean he is not high enough rank to use thrusts in tournament.
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: Joshua Santana on 2016-07-22, 04:08:46
The summation of this debate, who ever skillfully wields the sword (either Katana or Longsword) shows the better example of the usage of that sword.  Honestly instead of all this verbal cabbage soup being brewed and mixed with the spices of opinion.  How about a full course Tournament or match and see for ourselves the best Katana swordsman versus the best HEMA Swordsman.  Give me that instead of Youtube lol.
Title: Re: Katana vs. Longsword
Post by: Sir James A on 2016-07-31, 03:40:05
Portugeuse also had a completely different outlook on military battles and was something the Samurai were not used to encountering, since they were a nearly isolated island for many centuries