katana vs longsword

Discussion in 'Sword Arts Talk' started by PhotonGuy, Jul 16, 2014.

  1. PhotonGuy

    PhotonGuy Senior Master

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    I saw a program that compared the katana with the european longsword. The program was hosted by R. Lee Ermey who is best known for his role as Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket. Various tests were done where the swords were used against ice blocks, straw torsos, and plate metal armor. In all the tests the katana performed better. So, the katana must be an all around more effective sword, at least that's what the tests showed.
     
  2. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    The "tests" show nothing of the sort. Here's one example: did the people using the swords actually know how to use them properly, and were they used in the manner they were designed to be used? Here's a hint: the European sword is designed for chopping. The Kata is dwsiugned for slashing. No, these are not the same thing.


    There's this thing called the "scientific method". There's this other thing called "entertainment". I'd suggest you learn the difference between the two.
     
  3. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

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    Each weapon was designed for use in a particular style of combat. European long swords tend to perform better in the style they were designed for (there are several) than a katana would, and a katana works better for the style that it was designed for than a European long sword would.

    European swords were built for use of a variety of techniques, with a lot of emphasis on thrusting attacks. Those pointy crossbars on a European sword came in handy for a technique that involves taking the sword by the blade and using the crosspiece like a pick axe.

    While the katana is an excellent sword, it is not well suited to the European style of fighting, anymore than a German long sword is suited to a Japanese style of fighting; it doesn't matter how good the tool is if you use it for the wrong job.

    Anyway, it isn't swords where the big east/west difference is, but armor. Later European plate armor was far and away superior to Japanese armor, particularly by the fifteenth century. And don't believe the image of plate armor being heavy and ponderous; only the specialized armor for tournament jousting might have fit that image. Articulated plate armor was lighter than mail and the wearer could move as well or better than the wearer of Japanese heavy armor.

    And against a fully armored knight in 15th century armor, a katana would be a poor choice of armament, while a European long sword of the same era would fare more favorably against Japanese armor. Watch the video below to see how well a sword works when trying to cut into a man wearing this armor.

    A Demonstration of Combat Inside a Full Suit of 15th Century Armor
     
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  4. Transk53

    Transk53 The Dark Often Prevails

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    Two different philosophies surely.
     
  5. Cirdan

    Cirdan Senior Master

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    But Snake Eyes armed with tonfas defeated Storm Shadow with katanas in that GI Joe movie so clearly Tonfas are even better!

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Transk53

    Transk53 The Dark Often Prevails

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    ??
     
  7. Cirdan

    Cirdan Senior Master

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    I consider said test and movie to be of about equal value when it comes to evaluating longswords, katanas and tonfas with or without ninjas and drill sergeants involved. Does that answer your non-question?
     
  8. Transk53

    Transk53 The Dark Often Prevails

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    Yes. Hey, no testing here, just curious!
     
  9. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Master Black Belt

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    That is probably the worst video of its kind. Swords are swords, and all cut and/or thrust to varying degrees depending on intended usage. No sword can cut plate armour, period. Where the longsword shines is versatility. It cuts well, it thrusts well and can deal with a wide variety of situations. You can carry it on your hip (though often they were carried in their scabbard like a walking stick). A specialist weapon might be better in a narrowly defined context: for example, a rapier thrusts better, but is useless against armour. A katana may cut slightly better, but suffers in reach, and cannot be used reversed like a warhammer the way a longsword can. A pollaxe is better against armour, but you can't carry one around while strolling around a medieval town. Having two edges is very handy if one is heavily damaged too. Those are things the tests (as flawed and deliberately biased as they were) didn't even consider.

    -Mark
     
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