Season 1 Episode 2: Viking vs Samurai

Bob Hubbard

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Episode 2: Viking vs Samurai

Viking Team: Casey Hendershot (Viking Weapons Instructor), Matt Nelson (Viking Combat Expert, Descendant of Danish Vikings)
Samurai Team: Tetsuro Shigematsu (Samurai Descendant), Brett Chan (Samurai Weapons Expert)
Viking weapons: Great Axe, Long Sword, Spear, Shield
Samurai weapons: Katana, Naginata, Yumi, Kanabo

Viking Samurai Advantage
Close Range: Great Axe Katana Great Axe
Mid Range: Long Sword Naginata Long Sword
Long Range: Spear Yumi Yumi
Special Weapons: Shield Kanabo Kanabo
  • The Katana was tested first against three bamboo mats and managed to cut them all in one clean swipe in under half a second. Then, it was tested on pigs and managed to cut through two pigs clean. After this it was against chainmail, which it impacted but failed to defeat. The Great Axe nearly cleaved its gel dummy in half but bounced off of a solid Samurai helmet in an overhead chop, but it still transferred energy. The narrow and close advantage was given to the axe due to its greater killing power.

  • The Naginata proved itself as a quick ranged weapon by slicing a dummy with several quick cuts, taking off part of the head in one, slashed the face in the second and poked the heart on the last. The Long Sword was very effective, as it made a very deep slash across the back of the head and into the brain cavity in the first, impaled it through the neck on the second and made a final slash across the neck. After Max messed with the head, it fell off the torso, further showing its deadliness. The edge was given to the sword due to its killing power.

  • The spear was thrown at targets 25 feet away and penetrated wood targets that were several inches thick. Then, two spears were thrown at once and still showed the same amount of penetration. The Yumi bow was shot by Shigematsu at two dummies at 45 feet while calling out his shots, saying where he would hit it and hit his targets. He also wanted to show the Yumi's accuracy by shooting out dummy eyes at 25 feet, which he did successfully. The Yumi got the edge due to its accuracy and range.

  • A round shield proved itself effective as a defensive shield and a bludgeoning weapon. A very large, 35-pound version of the Japanese mythological warclub, the Kanabo, was used by Chan. He was able to shatter a cow's femur and break off a part of the shield, although half of the studs in the club were knocked out in the process. In a comparison of killing ability, the kanabo was given the edge.
Simulation 2

The setting is very similar to the Apache vs Gladiator with a more woody area. Both meet at opposite ends and taunt each other. The Samurai is the first to strike as he shoots two arrows from his Yumi; one hits the Viking in his pectoral region, but is pulled out, and the other hits his helmet, dazing him for a second. The Viking charges at the Samurai in a berserker rage with his two throwing-spears. He throws both with one knocking down the Samurai. The Viking then approaches the Samurai with his great axe, only to be disarmed by the Samurai's superior technique with his naginata. The Samurai does a forward-thrust only to have it blocked by the Viking's chainmail. The Viking retrieves his axe, kicks the Samurai after parrying an attack, and then strikes him on the back. Unaffected, the Samurai picks up his kanabo and knocks the axe out of the Viking's hand, which causes the Viking to pull out his shield, only to have it (and possibly his shield arm) broken after swings from the kanabo. The angry Viking then charges the smaller warrior deeper into the woods, over a small bridge and knocks him off the bridge. The Viking unsheathes his longsword, and the Samurai his katana. Both clash, with the Samurai slowly backing up. The Samurai is able to strike the Viking twice, but the Viking is unaffected because of his chainmail. The Viking manages to get a strike in, that the Samurai almost dodged, but then the two clinch. The much stronger Viking then does what he did to the Samurai again in the bridge scene, but this time the Samurai is able to reverse and heave the Viking into a tree, which is followed up by a slash to his legs. The near-defeated Viking falls to his knees, and is stabbed in the neck. The Samurai turns him over to make sure he is dead, cleans and sheaths his sword, and walks away.

Overall winner: Samurai

Although the Viking's fierce courage, brute power, and defensive versatility are impressive, the Samurai's technical skills, quickness, and arsenal of specialized weaponry gave him a narrow victory in the third-closest episode to date. This is the closest one-on-one fight yet, and the closest fight not involving modern weapons. This also one of the most disputed fights because of the conventionalism of some of the weapons. Namely the Naginata and Kanabo, both of which have little to historical evidence supporting their actual use by Samurai, the Naginata being largely used by women (namly Samurais wives) as a self defense weapon and the Kanabo being almost exclusively used by mythological Oni, and has no record evidence of it's use in actual battle.

Viking Samurai
Overall Kills: 478 522
Close Range: Great Axe: 134 Katana: 137
Mid Range: Long Sword: 175 Naginata: 171
Long Range: Spear: 92 Yumi: 114
Special Weapons: Shield: 77 Kanabo: 100

Source
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deadliest_Warrior
 
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Ken Morgan

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Well as someone who practices JSA but who's family is probably heavy with Viking genes, I gotta go with the Vikings, but you're comparing apples to oranges. Viking swords were made very closely to how Japanese swords were made, a damn good blade. While the programs says the poorer Vikings used axes, the same held true in Japan, the poorer Japanese used **** blades.
 

Archangel M

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Are the people wielding these weapons in these "tests" really the best examples to use? Because the Katana didn't cut through the chainmail...was it the sword or the wielder? Would a better swordsman have had a different result? Saying that one weapon was more effective than another based on the "tests" on this show is junk science IMO. Thats my issue with this series.
 

Blindside

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Having not seen the episode, why is it assumed that the Samurai has greater technical expertise than the Viking?
 

Haakon

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I saw this episode when it first aired. I thought based on their tests that the Vikings should have won...but like Ken I may be biased. They seemed to completely disregard that the katana failed to cut the Viking armor, and gave far to little weight to how effective the Viking shield was on offense and defense.

But, it's all entertainment, not science and not fact. Different people conducting the tests would probably result in very different results. I want a rematch! :)
 

Ken Morgan

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And don't forget, Vikings fought in shield walls, not individually.
 

Ken Morgan

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Ahhhhh.

I just watched this program.42 minutes of my life Ill never get back
http://www.zshare.net/video/70389598bdf6efd0/

OK, if I hadnt trained in JSA for 11 years and if my minor at university wasnt history, and if I was 15 again, I would have loved this episode!!

I seen so much historical inaccuracy/ignorance, and crappy use of weapons, all within just the first 10 minutes, I have no other comments to make.
 
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Bob Hubbard

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And those reasons are why I brought it all up folks. Lets bust the tv fantasy.

Personally, I find mythbusters more accurate and methodical in their approaches.


Back on topic....

I gave the edge to the Samurai as my belief is that they trained more for individual rather than unit combat. That, combined with superior weaponry would indicate a greater chance to win.
 
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Bob Hubbard

Bob Hubbard

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ok...

Samurai weapons: Katana, Naginata, Yumi, Kanabo

I'm familiar with the katana and know of the Samurai's use of the bow (yumi). But as was mentioned in the description disagree with the inclusion of the Naginata and Kanabo.

Namely the Naginata and Kanabo, both of which have little to historical evidence supporting their actual use by Samurai, the Naginata being largely used by women (namly Samurais wives) as a self defense weapon and the Kanabo being almost exclusively used by mythological Oni, and has no record evidence of it's use in actual battle.
The Oni being Japanese demons, I'm of course familiar with them from Urusei Yatsura, but never would have connected their weapon with Samurai. Seemed, unsophisticated.

So, the show gets 50% of the chosen weapons right. Dropping the "it looks cool on tv" choices, what else would a Samurai have actually carried into battle with him?
 

Ken Morgan

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The one guy knows Kyudo I'll give him that!! The other guy has zero idea on how to use a shinken. Zero. He uses it like its an axe.

Sorry but you should never let a karate guy be your expert on swords, save that for an iaido, kenjitsu or kendo guy.

I actually wrote a list of the crap, but after ten minutes and 10 things on my list..i quit
 

Haakon

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Vikings did engage in single combat though. Holmgang or einvigi (single combat) were not only duels but how legal disputes could be settled, they had a lot riding on being skilled with their weapons in single combat. Vikings trained with their weapons a lot, maybe not with as codified a system as the Samuari, but they did train heavily.

Interestingly, Viking swordsmiths used similar techniques as the Japanese did for making the katana. Both folded and welded different grades of steel, having a harder edge than the core of the blade.
 

Ken Morgan

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The samurai were archers first and foremost. Then firearms and slings. I read a paper by Karl Friday (?) years ago, on EJMAS (?). At the percentage of deaths on a Japanese battlefield, swords were in the range of 5%. Arrows, rocks and musket balls were 80% +. The sword is a close range, last resort weapon. Samurai werent stupid, you kill people from a distanceits much safer that way.
 
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Bob Hubbard

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So, would a samurai use a katana, or a shorter blade? I mean I've seen tachi 繚 nodachi 繚 katana 繚 wakazashi 繚 gunto 繚 kodachi.


I wasn't aware the vikings were that skilled in metallurgy. I'd always thought of them as bronze age not iron age warriors.
 

Chris Parker

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To be very brief....

The original weapons of the Samurai were the Yumi (bow) and Ya (arrow). The original term for the way of the warrior was Kyuba no michi (way of the mounted archer), and the term for a warrior family was kyusen no ie (bow and arrow family). As time went on, archery remained important, but foot soldiers came to replace a lot of the cavalry. Their most common weapons were polearms, such as Yari (spears), Naginata (sorry, Bob, but if we're talking battlefield samurai, this is far more likely than a sword), even in very rare cases huge staves such as the Kanabo, or Tetsubo. Others included Kade, a form of long handled rake, very long handled Kama (sickles), and the incredibly rare very large sword (Odachi, sometimes termed Nodachi, although the specific term used was relevant to different weapons in different periods of history).

The sword was never a major battlefield weapon, especially not the katana. It's origins come from a utilitary smaller blade worn with your long sword (tachi) called an uchigatana (striking sword). When Japan entered into the peacetime of the Edo period, that was when the katana really started to take off, as it became part of the everyday wear of the samurai.

When it comes to the "samurai martial arts", even such systems as Katori Shinto Ryu, which centres it's teachings on the sword, it is highly doubtful that the sword was indeed the primary weapon used by the founders/practitioners in battle. Instead, it was used as a method of teaching strategies and tactics to high level samurai, who most likely would occupy a "general" type position, and not actually be involved in the actual battle. Most martial arts are like this, which is the equivalent of a boot camp (teaching only basic aspects) being for the common soldiers (regular soldiers, not actually learning a martial art), and Officer training being for the planned commanders and so on (that would be the equivalent of the martial art training in modern military).

So the sword was not really ideal, depending on when the samurai was supposed to be from. Remember, we're dealing with about 1000years of samurai history that we could have taken this guy from, which kind of invalidates their entire approach if that is not taken into account...
 

Cirdan

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The Viking Age is typically concidered to be year 800 - 1050.

By the way, vikings used bows a lot too, certainly in large battles both on land and at sea. Some famous vikings were known for their archery skills and how their arrows would pierce shields and mail.
 

Cirdan

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Tambar.jpg


Einar Tambarskelver, one of the sharpest of bowshooters, stood by the mast, and shot with his bow. Einar shot an arrow at Earl Eirik [...] Then said the earl to a man called Fin, [...] "Shoot that tall man by the mast." Fin shot; and the arrow hit the middle of Einar's bow just at the moment that Einar was drawing it, and the bow was split in two parts. "What is that," cried King Olaf, "that broke with such a noise?" "Norway, king, from thy hands," cried Einar. "No! not quite so much as that," says the king; "take my bow, and shoot," flinging the bow to him. Einar took the bow, and drew it over the head of the arrow. "Too weak, too weak," said he, "for the bow of a mighty king!" and, throwing the bow aside, he took sword and shield, and fought Valiantly.
 

Joab

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I don't think a lot of this show either. It looks like a bunch of pseudo science put into a computer and wala, they have the predictive outcome. I thought the Samurai vs. the Viking outcome was a bunch of crap, and I believed the Viking would have won through superior size and strength, as happened when U.S. Marines fought the Japanese in hand to hand combat in World War II. I think the show is entertaining, but essentially a bunch of crap.
 
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