Sword vs Katana?

Blindside

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Ming, dude, chill.

Breath.... in through the nose, out through the mouth....

Feel better? :D
 

MingTheMerciless

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And one thing to remind most of guys , the day of the knight were soon over due to the rise of gunpowder ( a single bullet can definitely kill the most elite and well armored warrior , gun were getting more accurate and make armor more obselute as the knight often deem using range weapon as lowly ,cheap , unchivalrous , unhonorable , unnoble and cowardly , meaning they often rely on head on attack to tear their foe apart and also peasent levy were getting more well equiped and professional due to the simplicity of weapon training , that goes the same for any japanese peasent ) and the samurai ( almost the same but that doesn't stop them to perform hit and run tactic using horseback archery and beside any archery technique of that time would take quite sometime to learn compare to modern day archery due to the lack of technology and to retain enough heavy poundage to kill a target and this often have to come in with practice and coordination , so that goes to any archers , and yumi , longbow and reflex bow take equal among of time to master and performing horseback archery need expierience , coordination and fair amount of prediction ) only have to worry about that later when european naval technology improve . And good quality and the best armor are often reserve to the bravest and most elite individual so that the best soldiers would not get killed that easily and can use their expierience and fighting skill to help fight another day . Peasent levy in medieval europe and japan were often given just spear , ****** sword and often given little to no protection at all due to the lack of finances and so back there , they are often being push over by the noble ( samurai and knight ) and so seeing the big boss coming down riding toward them would be demoralising and would cause most of them to flee or wet their pants before the real fight even begin . And again sword were design to stab vital weakness ( unprotected joint , vital organ and other unarmored body part ) in the early human history ( the hacking job can be given to the axe and they still do it better ) and later to sever limbs as well due to better forging technique and technolgy in later human history but mace and other weapon that can knock out a noble man not kill and fatally wound would have been a favourite weapon among knigts as other knight and other men of noble birth will be way too valuable to be killed, capturing a noble man would be like searching for a sunken treasure so they will be very careful not to kill each other ( other than those poor peasent )

But then again ,I would rather put my money on the European Knights due to better weapon and armor . As for fighting , it just have to depend on one indiviudal fighting skill and knight dun fight like mindless brute , their skill take their whole entire life to hone and perfect it just like the samurai .
 

Langenschwert

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(Langenschwert ... help!)

*POOF*

WHO DARES SUMMON ME? cue: thunder ;)

Actually Sukerkin, I don't really have that much to add to your post.

I think you nailed the major misconceptions with the accuracy of a well-placed half-sword thrust. ;)

With regards to sword sharpness, there's no one true answer. One would sharpen his sword the way he wanted to. ;) I think it was Vadi who recommended that you should only sharpen the last foot of your sword or so, but that's just one guy.

The one thing is, you don't sharpen a sword to razor sharpness. You'll just get the edge nicked all to hell, and swords are expensive.

A reasonably sharp sword can be gripped safely. My instructor had me drag him around with him holding the blade of one of my longswords, which is actually a little too sharp. As long as you don't let the edge contact your palms, you'll be fine. That being said, I'd prefer my blade duller for mortschlag stuff.

Swords are not, and have never been the best weapon to defeat armour. Plate armour is virtually impervious to edged attacks. You must use the sword as a short spear in the half-sworded grip. You thrust to the eyes, palms of the hands, behind or down the gauntlets, the insides of the elbows, etc. Even the soles of the feet should you up-end your opponent.

When your point makes good contact against a vulnerable yet armoured area, you wind your hilt to your breast like a lance and give a good thrust with your whole body.

Alternatively, you reverse your grip and use the sword like a mace or warhammer rather than half-sword.

Even with all that, armoured combat is likely to end with wrestling on the ground with daggers. You then immobilize the opponent and drive the dagger home, generally to the face.

Any sword is a match for any other. It's the fighter that matters most. There's no effective difference in the skill level of a good knight or samurai in a duel on foot, armoured or not. Skill being equal, it comes down to technology. In an armoured duel, the plate armour knight has an advantage. Though I don't imagine a hypothetical samurai facing a plate armoured knight for the first time is going to look at that armour and think "I bet I can cut that". Common sense here, people. He'd try to use the weapon to close to grapple and even the playing field, since both knights and samurai were excellent wrestlers.

Unarmoured longsword and katana techniques are pretty similar. Similar weapons, after all. In an unarmoured duel, whoever gets the first hit is likely to win, so how sharp the sword is doesn't really matter. All that matters is the fighter at that point, since there is no room for error. Even a glancing blow will hurt you enough for your opponent to take advantage and finish you off.

A yard of sharp steel is a yard of sharp steel. Getting on the receiving end of one is not recommended for anyone, ever, at any time, no matter where it was made. :) Even if it's a wallhanger.

Best regards,

-Mark
 

Langenschwert

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I was pressed would say that the Bastard Sword is the pinnacle of sword development in terms of flexability of use and combative durability.

I would agree with that. That's the strength of the longsword over the mace or staff or any other hand weapon. It's the most utilitarian sword ever developed. It can be used against the stoutest armour that was ever used, the unarmoured duel, and for general self-defence. It had utility on and off the battlefield, and could be carried on the hip, and required no companion weapon like a buckler. It was also exceptionally durable, but it's not indestructable. Swords that saw long use were literally "used up" like an old kitchen knife, sharpened until they were no longer serviceable. But the longsword isn't a "supersword" any more than the katana is. :)

-Mark
 

Flying Crane

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2) I really hope we have some qualified European swordsman on the board who can give some first hand accounts of the weaponry and it's application (Langenschwert ... help!). If not, Google places like Netsword and Sword Forum International and dig through their archives.

While I am not an expert on either Western or Japanese swordsmanship, I do have a few modern pieces made by Angus Trim, who makes a very nice, economical and serviceable weapon out of 5160 spring steel. While one or two of my pieces are a bit lighter than I personally might wish to have on a battlefield, those that have what I would consider a comfortable and trustworthy "heft" don't tend to weigh in outside the range of about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 pounds. This includes the single-hand and hand and a half type longswords. Hitting about 4 pounds seems to me to be the outer limit, and really pushes the envelope if the weapon is used single-handed.

Compared to the vision Hollywood gives us of the lumbering knight swinging 14 pound slabs of steel, these pieces are surprisingly light, quick, and mobile, and with a good quality steel like 5160 (leaf springs) they are quite tough.
 

Sukerkin

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Many thanks for the additional data, FC :tup:. The only way that the myths are going to be ovethrown is by informed people re-iterating the reality of weapons and armour design and construction.

The only 'European' blade that I own is a hand-and-a-half from Hanwei (of all poeple :D). I was very surprised by just how responsive it is when I first used it - much more 'agile' than my high-end katana. That comes from the differences in design paradigm I reckon, the katana being most optimised for the draw-cut and thus being more likely to have the balance weighted towards the tip.

I wonder, does anyone have any practical, hands-on experience with a two-hander? The snippets of historical record (primarily German 'zweihander' tales) I've read on these weapons fascinates me. They almost read like the foot equivalent of heavy cavalry :D. I've seen some video of WSA chaps sparring with them and, again, the impression garnered is that the weapons were nothing like as cumbersome as you'd expect, with multiple modes of use (such as langen spoke of above for the longsword).
 

Flying Crane

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Many thanks for the additional data, FC :tup:. The only way that the myths are going to be ovethrown is by informed people re-iterating the reality of weapons and armour design and construction.

The only 'European' blade that I own is a hand-and-a-half from Hanwei (of all poeple :D). I was very surprised by just how responsive it is when I first used it - much more 'agile' than my high-end katana. That comes from the differences in design paradigm I reckon, the katana being most optimised for the draw-cut and thus being more likely to have the balance weighted towards the tip.

I wonder, does anyone have any practical, hands-on experience with a two-hander? The snippets of historical record (primarily German 'zweihander' tales) I've read on these weapons fascinates me. They almost read like the foot equivalent of heavy cavalry :D. I've seen some video of WSA chaps sparring with them and, again, the impression garnered is that the weapons were nothing like as cumbersome as you'd expect, with multiple modes of use (such as langen spoke of above for the longsword).

My memory could be faulty, or the source could be wrong, but I seem to recall reading somewhere that a true two-handed great sword with a 5 or 6 foot blade might weigh in between 5 and 7 pounds or so. They would be weilded by big, strong guys, but this is still much lighter than Hollywood would have us believe.
 

Mr. E

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I am looking at the original post.

In your opinion, what is better in a technical way. Western or Japanese warfare? Knight or Samurai, if both had the same degree of ability?... hand and a half swords, halberds, two handed swords... daisho, nodachi, naginata... Many support Japanese steel was stronger due to the way it was forged, but Toledo and Damascus steel blades were considered by many as the finest blades in the world...


I am mostly referring to weapon types, steel quality and equipment. Give me your thoughts, but tell me -why- you think either would be better in a battlefield or a one-on-one duel.

You know, maybe we need to narrow down the subject a bit. What era are we talking about for both? Are we talking Norman knights as they ride off the Battle of Hastings, or the Knights at the Battle of Crecy, or maybe even the mercenary armies of Rennaisance Italy? Are we talking about the Samurai that fought the Mongols, or the ones that fought at Sekigahara? Are the Norman knights allowed to use their lances? Are the samurai allowed to use their yabusame skills? Are we even going to determine if the knights use a shield or a two handed sword?

You see the problem with discussing a subject this large? How about the original poster gives us a time frame for both?
 

MingTheMerciless

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Well , let get a Knight with a Bastard Sword against a Knight with a 2h Katana .

And then Knight with shield and sword/axe/mace against Samurai with long katana and shorter version .

And then you get knight with polehammer or poleaxe or 2h battle axe vs Samurai with naginata or yari
 

Langenschwert

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My memory could be faulty, or the source could be wrong, but I seem to recall reading somewhere that a true two-handed great sword with a 5 or 6 foot blade might weigh in between 5 and 7 pounds or so. They would be weilded by big, strong guys, but this is still much lighter than Hollywood would have us believe.

Just to nitpick, the term greatsword tends to refer to the "sword of war" that predated the longsword by a few years. The zweihander is a different beast. AFAIK, there are no manuals on the use of zweihander, but its use can be inferred by its design. If you can use a greatsword, longsword and a spear, you have a pretty good ability to use a zweihander. Also, the exaggerated quillons are often faceted like the shaft of a crowbar, and like any crossguard, are useful as a big set of brass knuckles. Some zweihanders can be pretty light, some as light as 4 lbs, IIRC

Best regards,

-Mark
 

thardey

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Katana vs. Longsword debate aside for a moment -

What about the social acceptance of "cheating" during a fight? Typically, when the weapons, training, and size are similar, my money is usually on the one who knows more "dirty tricks"

For instance, one of the deadliest weapons in history is the bow - knights shunned it, because it wasn't "honorable" - the samurai embraced it, (didn't they use it from horseback, like the mongols?)

Another one is the knife, or dagger. Maybe not on the battlefield, but it's probably killed the most people in general throughout history (according to The Soul of the Sword, anyway.) But "shanking" someone is usually considered "dishonorable".

European Knights were careful to fight "honorably", in order gain respect, but what did that really mean when the blood started spilling?

I'm not talking "chivalry" or "Bushido" - not the "honorable way of life" kind of things, but more of the "playground rules" for fighting. European knights tended to encourage "fighting fair", did the samurai?
 

MingTheMerciless

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Medieval Knights felt that killing an enemy from a far is cowardly ( bow , crossbow , gun and javelin .... maybe because that doesn't stop the norman knight for doing it ) and Samurai felt that killing an enemy using a weapon that only required 3 days of mastery is cowardly ( crossbow and gun , bow are different , it required daily practice to shoot it accurately from a safe distance ) .

Both are full time battle ready warrior and they are very good at waht they are doing and yes , knight and samurai often carry dagger in grappling range or submission or when they were accidentally thrown to the ground when fighting another oppenent and dagger often solve that kind of problem decisively .
 

Langenschwert

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What about the social acceptance of "cheating" during a fight? Typically, when the weapons, training, and size are similar, my money is usually on the one who knows more "dirty tricks"

In lethal combat, it was "all-in". In judicial duels, it was "all-in". There were no disallowed techniques. If you lost, you were executed anyway. In the Codex Wallerstein's wrestling section, after describing a certain technique, it adds "and you can use a sneaky trick if necessary". :) The knights were practical fighting men. Niceties are for being at court, not on the battlefield. Tourneys were a different matter, and were designed to be less lethal.

For instance, one of the deadliest weapons in history is the bow - knights shunned it, because it wasn't "honorable" - the samurai embraced it, (didn't they use it from horseback, like the mongols?)

The knights shunned using it in combat, but utilised archers... Henry V anyone? It was also common at one time for English nobility to practice archery as a sport and for hunting, so some nobles were accomplished archers.

Another one is the knife, or dagger. Maybe not on the battlefield, but it's probably killed the most people in general throughout history (according to The Soul of the Sword, anyway.) But "shanking" someone is usually considered "dishonorable".

In armoured combat, it usually came down to wrestling on the ground with dagger work.

European Knights were careful to fight "honorably", in order gain respect, but what did that really mean when the blood started spilling?

It didn't mean a hill of beans. True, subduing someone for ransom was done, but as the medieval period progressed, battles became bloodier and bloodier. At first, Christian knights were less willing to kill each other, but as the years went on, all bets were off.

I'm not talking "chivalry" or "Bushido" - not the "honorable way of life" kind of things, but more of the "playground rules" for fighting. European knights tended to encourage "fighting fair", did the samurai?

I think that's an oversimplification. Knights fought fair when it suited them, or when they had the luxury of doing so. Any study of period fighting treatises shows that the overriding concept (dare I say virtue?) in an actual fight was ruthlessness. You must destroy your enemy by any means. There is very little in the way of "subduing"... it's about killing. If you can capture a fellow knight on the field, fine. If you can't, shove a dagger in his face. Many medieval battles were absolute massacres, which shows how brutal they could be. Others were surprisingly bloodless. I don't think we can reduce it to "knights did x or y". It's far more complex than that.

Best regards,

-Mark
 

thardey

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My apologies, I should clarify.

I was referring to a proposed duel between one Samurai and one Knight, using either a Katana, or a longsword or sword and shield, in appropriate armor for each. Not a judicial duel, like you see described in Talhoffer, (a judicial duel would not allow differences in armor or weapons, unless it's a man vs. a woman.) but a duel for honor, with Europeans bringing seconds (I don't know if the Samurai would bring attendants, or seconds, or whatever -- I would assume they would at least bring witnesses.) I'm also not referring to battlefield conditions, either. That's a whole other ball of wax.

In the west, the seconds were there to ensure that the fight went "fair", at times, even killing their own friends if they "cheated". The seconds' other job was to provide testimony in court that the if someone was killed, that it was done honorably, and not considered murder. But what constituted "fair"?

What was "fair" for the Samurai? I've heard it somewhere that it was dishonorable for a Samurai to lose his sword. But if a Knight was disarmed he could go straight for a tackle without any loss of honor.

See what I mean? Each side will have their own "dirty tricks" that are acceptable, and some which are unacceptable, and those probably aren't the same.

What about a duel from horseback? The Knight with a lance or spear, but the Samurai with a bow? All the Samurai has to do is stay out of range, and shoot until an arrow finds a soft spot. But would that be honorable in a duel? What about killing the horse?

So, does anybody know of some "relatively" generic dueling codes for, say a 15th century Knight with this mentality, or a late 16th-century Samurai, maybe Miyamoto Musashi himself?
 

Langenschwert

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In the west, the seconds were there to ensure that the fight went "fair", at times, even killing their own friends if they "cheated". The seconds' other job was to provide testimony in court that the if someone was killed, that it was done honorably, and not considered murder. But what constituted "fair"?

The use of seconds to determine being "fair" is a later addition to the duelling code. There were rules for the Holmgang in Norse culture, but that's a bit earlier.

What was "fair" for the Samurai? I've heard it somewhere that it was dishonorable for a Samurai to lose his sword. But if a Knight was disarmed he could go straight for a tackle without any loss of honor.

Yeah, he's bee all over that like white on rice.

What about a duel from horseback? The Knight with a lance or spear, but the Samurai with a bow? All the Samurai has to do is stay out of range, and shoot until an arrow finds a soft spot. But would that be honorable in a duel? What about killing the horse?

Killing the horse was perfectly acceptable in battle, and I don't know of any formalized duelling from horseback.

So, does anybody know of some "relatively" generic dueling codes for, say a 15th century Knight with this mentality, or a late 16th-century Samurai, maybe Miyamoto Musashi himself?

Nope. :)

Best regards,

-Mark
 

thardey

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The use of seconds to determine being "fair" is a later addition to the duelling code. There were rules for the Holmgang in Norse culture, but that's a bit earlier.

Okay, pages or squires then.

Yeah, he's bee all over that like white on rice.
:rofl:


Killing the horse was perfectly acceptable in battle, and I don't know of any formalized duelling from horseback.
Umm, The Joust? (Not the "Tilting" of tournament, but the old "hang the shields of beaten knights on my tree" kind of challenge.)


:)

Best regards,
Thanks!
 

Langenschwert

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Umm, The Joust? (Not the "Tilting" of tournament, but the old "hang the shields of beaten knights on my tree" kind of challenge.)

Ah. Well a joust really isn't a duel, as you know. Well, it's a sporting duel, like modern classical fencing. Then you don'yt kill the horse, since you're going for points, which is usually breaking three lances on your opponent, or unhorsing him.

As for using a Joust as an affair of honour to settle serious grudges with lethal intent, I'm not familiar with that being done. It doensn't mean it never happened, though. Some of the manuals show mounted wrestling (Talhoffer, Kal), but I think that's more battlefield oriented.

As far as I know, duels were fought on foot, usually to the death in medieval times. In such a case, there were no forbidden techniques in the styles I'm aware of. The unarmoured longsword duelling I study is particulary brutal. There's nothing nice or gentlemanly about it. That should give somewhat of an idea.

One could also look to the duel of Jarnac. Rather than prohibit grappling (which was done in the 18th and 19th C, I think), the one who chose the weapons chose for both parties to have two daggers, and thereby discouraged his opponent, a famous knight and wrestler from closing past sword range. So to a degree, the character of the duel could be influenced by the person choosing the weapons.

Does that help?

Best regards,

-Mark

N.B. I am not an authority on duelling codes, and I am a mere dilletante with regards to European military history. I try to improve my knowledge daily, but don't take my opinions as authoritative. I'm just a dude with a sword. ;)
 

thardey

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Ah. Well a joust really isn't a duel, as you know. Well, it's a sporting duel, like modern classical fencing. Then you don'yt kill the horse, since you're going for points, which is usually breaking three lances on your opponent, or unhorsing him.

As for using a Joust as an affair of honour to settle serious grudges with lethal intent, I'm not familiar with that being done. It doensn't mean it never happened, though. Some of the manuals show mounted wrestling (Talhoffer, Kal), but I think that's more battlefield oriented.

I've only found references to it in fiction, mostly Arthur legend, from books written a during the Middle Ages, but there seemed to be challenges issued for "honor" at some slight, sometimes in the form of "after this errand, I shall return in a year, and have my honor." These were to the death, or until the knight couldn't go on. But, like I said, this was fiction. I haven't found anything documented yet.

I read them years ago, from the library, and now I can't remember the names.

At least the Talhoffer stuff appears to be a Battlefield application, I agree. Sort of a "Thow the guy on the ground, then trample him" kind of idea.
I haven't studied Kal.

As far as I know, duels were fought on foot, usually to the death in medieval times. In such a case, there were no forbidden techniques in the styles I'm aware of. The unarmoured longsword duelling I study is particulary brutal. There's nothing nice or gentlemanly about it. That should give somewhat of an idea.

One could also look to the duel of Jarnac. Rather than prohibit grappling (which was done in the 18th and 19th C, I think), the one who chose the weapons chose for both parties to have two daggers, and thereby discouraged his opponent, a famous knight and wrestler from closing past sword range. So to a degree, the character of the duel could be influenced by the person choosing the weapons.

The bold part really seems to boil the question down to basics. Plus, it seems to depend of what rules were agreed to before each specific duel.


N.B. I am not an authority on duelling codes, and I am a mere dilletante with regards to European military history. I try to improve my knowledge daily, but don't take my opinions as authoritative. I'm just a dude with a sword. ;)
Aren't we all? :)


So, to sum up as far as I know about Western Duels, the understanding was:

Challenge issued (for "Love of a Lady", or bruised ego)
Challenge accepted, and the defender got to decide the rules and weapons (same weapons for both sides).
Attendants made sure rules were followed, and honor satisfied.
It appears that unless some tactic was specifically prohibited, it was legal.
It also appears that if a specific weapon was not agreed to, it was illegal. (No hidden weapons, in other words.)

All I can find about Eastern Dueling is from Musashi's stories, or the Book of Five Rings, and it appears:

Challenge posted in town square (for whatever reason, apparently)
Challenge accepted
Weapon choice was up to each individual. (Long sword, two swords, bokken). I couldn't find any references to dueling with bows, but I don't see why spears couldn't have been used. I found reference to Mushasi using his bokken against bo staff, anyway.

Duels seemed to be to the death, or until they couldn't continue. Other than that, I can't find any specific rules. Was a disarm considered defeat? Were hidden weapons forbidden (Like shiruken)?

So, who's familiar with how Samurai duels were carried out? We need more information?????

Bob, if this is going too far from your original question, let us know!
 

thardey

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I wasn't going to do this, but I can't help it.

*****This is just my imagination running wild -- nothing serious! *********

(insert monty python sound effects where appropriate)

Some Knight gets offended by a samurai (Never mind the time difference, just bear with me!)

Knight: You have offended me! Apologize!

Samurai: Why?

K: That's it! I challenge you to a duel!

S. Okay

K. What weapons will we use?

S. Whatever you want.

K. You pass on your right to choose weapons?

S. Umm, whatever.

K. I choose longsword on foot!

S. Good for you.

K. En Guard! Wait! Why do you have two swords?

S. This is how I fight.

K. But I chose Longsword!

S. Good for you.

K. But you can't have two swords!

S. Why not?

K. Because I chose longsword!

S. We've established that. Are we gonna fight, or what?

K. Fine, but I protest.

*Starts to fight*

K. Ow! What was that?

S. What was what?

K. You just threw something at me!

S. Oh, the shuriken.

K. Whatever. You can't do that!

S. You're loony.

K. You cheat!

S. Fine!

*mortally wounds knight* (don't ask me how).

K. I win!

S. But you're almost dead.

K. It doesn't matter. I win.

S. How?

K. You cheated! So that means I won!

S. Umm, right.

K. A stalemate then?
*dies*

S. Right, Stalemate.

*********************************************

So there you have it, the answer to the age-old question. In a fight between a Knight and a Samurai, it would end in a stalemate!
 
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