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Michael Curl




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PostPosted: Fri 28 Mar, 2008 10:54 am    Post subject: Katana's piercing ability         Reply with quote

I was looking at the massive amount of samurai vs knights topics. Yes yes, I know they are stupidly unrealistic, but I'm just going to ask a simple question that would set my mind to rest.

What is the ability of a katana to thrust? I would assume that it would be minimal, but some have argued otherwise. Could you for example, thrust with the katana with blade down, as I have heard that the only thrust possible requires facing the blade up, so that the motion of the hand + weight of the blade would drive the point into the target.

Also, can a katana thrust through mail? This has always been my take on the S vs. K topic, that japanese weaponry simply is not meant/able to penetrate/sheer/hammer plate or mail.

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Anders Backlund




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PostPosted: Fri 28 Mar, 2008 11:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm no expert on Japanese swords, so don't quote me on this, but from what I've heard the katana is a decent thruster, though the tip is designed for cutting rather then thrusting.

I'm pretty sure there were kenjutsu schools with advanced thrusting techniques, anyway. So I wouldn't call it a bad thrusting sword, just not designed for it.

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Gary A. Chelette




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PostPosted: Fri 28 Mar, 2008 11:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree, it's not the best, but it's a strong tip. With enough force, it can go through chain and do damage.
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Mike Lee




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PostPosted: Fri 28 Mar, 2008 11:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Although a Katana had a good edge, the tip is still fairly wide - surely you'd need something a little more 'pointy' for an effective thrust through plate or mail?

If you attempted to thrust a Katana through mail wouldn't the wide point 'choke' once it had penetrated a short distance as the force would be dissapated by the wide contact area?

Also, as the blade is curved, would there be sideways shift to the thrust negating some of the force?

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PostPosted: Fri 28 Mar, 2008 12:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are some observations on a katana in Michael Edelson's Riveted Maille and Padded Jack Tests. I don't think he tried to thrust through mail with it, but it still shows how devastating the thrust can be with a katana against a jack...

The other thing I gather from this thread is that the very accute tips can go through mail without bursting a ring, something the katana cannot really do. But you'd still get a pretty good blunt punch, so it does not mean such attacks could be ignored completely...

Against plate, I don't think that any sword, japanese or not, can go through the plate itself in a fighting situation. The thrust would glance on the surface. The tactic is to thrust through the gaps, which brings us back to piercing mail, or possibly even something lighter.

Obviously the katana has never been designed to deal with European armours, so it's quite likely that it's not the ideal design against these... But the thrust is known in kenjutsu (even in kendo), of course, and the curvature is not such a hindrance. It's just that the techniques are adapted to it. I don't quite understand the question of blade up and blade down, but I know of thrusting techniques with the edge up, down, right, left, pretty much anything required Happy

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Sammy Jackson





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PostPosted: Fri 28 Mar, 2008 2:20 pm    Post subject: a katana can cut mail         Reply with quote

hey everyones. a katana can cut and pierce chain mail. ive done it. allthough give me a strong matal pen and i could probably do it with that.

it was a fun test. messed up the egde of the sword though. ive even pierced 16 gauge plate, with an atrim. it took all my force and the target was stationary, but dang it. went through nearly an inch.

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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Fri 28 Mar, 2008 2:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I ran across of photo of a current day Japanese maker piercing the bottom of your typical folding steel chair with one of his katanas. It is possible to pierce (endless arguements about how far, etc., but in this case there was a foot of blade sticking through the other side of the chair seat) thin gage metals as long as there is a sharp point to do the shearing and good metallurgy/ heat treating.
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Ken Speed





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PostPosted: Fri 28 Mar, 2008 4:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

All,


Of course a katana can pierce! Actually I think in Japanese it would be called "tsuki" and pronounced "ski" and translates loosely as stab or thrust. Don't forget the katana was primarily a two handed weapon; this gave cuts and thrusts more strength but it also limited the reach of the thrust. There were even schools of swordsmanship where one of their specialty techniques was a quick little slice that would cut off the opponents thumbs/fingers and make it impossible to hold their sword.



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Michael Curl




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PostPosted: Fri 28 Mar, 2008 6:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Obviously any sword can pierce, but my point is that, like has been said above, I'd think the point would chock off, so you'd just have to break the ring, and if it was riveted i'd think that would be considerably more difficult.
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Bennison N




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PostPosted: Sat 29 Mar, 2008 3:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A Katana can thrust very well. It can both pierce through chainmail and plate, provided the gauge is not too thick. My own Katana has gone nicely, and structurally undamaged, through the passenger door of a 2004 Subaru Legacy station wagon, and the pushed-back bonnet and windshield of a 2000 Mini Cooper. It also has gone halfway into a solid 5cm (2") thick Radiata Pine door when thrust straight-ishly from roughly four feet away. It came back out all these times with ease.

So i say that Katana can both be used to thrust powerfully, and can penetrate thinner plate armour. I would say you would need to practice thrusting with a Katana for some time before you could fully utilize the potential, though.

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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Sat 29 Mar, 2008 7:13 am    Post subject: Re: a katana can cut mail         Reply with quote

Sammy Jackson wrote:
hey everyones. a katana can cut and pierce chain mail. ive done it. allthough give me a strong matal pen and i could probably do it with that.

it was a fun test. messed up the egde of the sword though. ive even pierced 16 gauge plate, with an atrim. it took all my force and the target was stationary, but dang it. went through nearly an inch.


Here are some observations from my tests...

A katana can cut butted mail (so can my kitchen meat chopper) and sometimes pierce rivetted mail(but only with an extremely powerful thrust). Butted mail is essentially junk and completely unhistorical.

No sword can cut real mail, even bad real mail (by real mail I mean riveted) unless you set up a test under completely unrealist circumstances, such as taking cheap mail and putting it on a hard wooden surface so that the sword can bite in. Even then, halfway decent riveted mail would not be cut.

For all intents and purposes, swords cannot cut mail. Period.

A sword may be able to pierce plate, if its very thin, but again only if he test was done under very unrealistic circumstances. A car door is ridiculously thin and doesn't count. I can pierce a car door with a kitchen knife (at least new cars...old cars are something else).

To answer the topic question, the katana is an excellent thruster because of its stiffness. To put matters into perspective, however, a good Gladius will pierce a 30 layer linen jack with minimal effort all day long, a katana really needs a lot of power behind it to do so. Short, stiff swords thrust better than long flexible swords, swords with acute points thrust better (all things being equal) than swords with wider points.

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Ken Speed





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PostPosted: Sat 29 Mar, 2008 9:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Bennison,



You said, " My own Katana has gone nicely, and structurally undamaged, through the passenger door of a 2004 Subaru Legacy station wagon, and the pushed-back bonnet and windshield of a 2000 Mini Cooper. "

Yeah, I hate it when automobiles run amok.

Part of the equation is being ignored here, the guy doing the thrusting. Look sometime at the Japanese sword art practitioners, mostly the ones who started their art before WWII and you will see that they tend to run to a physical type. They will generally be small, quiet, friendly guys who smoke like chimneys and drink like there is no tomorrow and they will have forearms like Popeye. They developed that hand and arm strength and coordination through hours of practice with swords and wooden swords and they could probably thrust a katana into or through almost anything the steel could handle. I truly cannot imagine mail stopping them at all.


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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Sat 29 Mar, 2008 9:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There's a lot of generalizations going on here. First of all, the katana, just like the longsword, come in quite a bit of variation. Some thrust better, some cut better. I'm not an expert of Japanese Nihonto, so I'm not the best to describe this, but we should all consider that you can't lump all Japanese swords, from all time periods, into the same category and make sweeping statements.

Secondly, Michael's statements about European mail are definately true, and he's done some very good tests to back them up. Mail is incredibly resilient, and if a katana could easily shear through it, then the Romans would have figured out how to invent them long ago.

Bennison N wrote:
My own Katana has gone nicely, and structurally undamaged, through the passenger door of a 2004 Subaru Legacy station wagon, and the pushed-back bonnet and windshield of a 2000 Mini Cooper. It also has gone halfway into a solid 5cm (2") thick Radiata Pine door when thrust straight-ishly from roughly four feet away. It came back out all these times with ease.


I'm afraid all this proves is that your katana can go through fiberglass and plastic that is held rigidly still and in place. This is nothing like mail, especially mail that is on a person who moves and wants to hit back.

Ken Speed wrote:
Part of the equation is being ignored here, the guy doing the thrusting.


While you are right that the user is part of the equation (and in fact, is a very large part of the equation), that still doesn't change the fact that mail is a very difficult thing to damage. Unless (as Michael points out) the mail was set up in a very unrealistic scenario, piercing it is not an easy thing to do regardless the sword design. This is why we see so many specialized weapons designed specifically for fighting armour, because you need to use the right tool for the job.

Now, the one area where I'll contradict Michael is that not all mail was rivetted: Japanese mail was butted, and in that respect, yes, a katana could pierce this... so could anything pointy. But this butted mail was generally used to hold larger plates together, and was not worn on its own. (And I'm sure Michael knows this, but was focusing primarily on European mail)

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Anders Backlund




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PostPosted: Sat 29 Mar, 2008 4:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I just recalled, a few katana were double-edged, with more spear-like tips. Cold Steel makes two of them, I think:



Would these be better suited for thrusting, perhaps?

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Ben C.





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PostPosted: Sat 29 Mar, 2008 7:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ken Speed wrote:
Of course a katana can pierce! Actually I think in Japanese it would be called "tsuki" and pronounced "ski" and translates loosely as stab or thrust.
Ken Speed


突き (tsuki - noun form) and 突く (tsuku - verb form) are both pronounced with つ (tsu) at the beginning, exactly as they are spelt. ski/suki has a different sound and meaning and a native speaker would hear them as completely different words. Native English speakers often have a lot of trouble distinguishing between "tsu" and "su" though.

Quote:
Part of the equation is being ignored here, the guy doing the thrusting. Look sometime at the Japanese sword art practitioners, mostly the ones who started their art before WWII and you will see that they tend to run to a physical type. They will generally be small, quiet, friendly guys who smoke like chimneys and drink like there is no tomorrow and they will have forearms like Popeye. They developed that hand and arm strength and coordination through hours of practice with swords and wooden swords and they could probably thrust a katana into or through almost anything the steel could handle. I truly cannot imagine mail stopping them at all.


of course the guy holding the sword in question makes a huge difference but the same is true of any weapon. Assuming the skill and technique is equal, a bigger, stronger and better conditioned athlete will produce considerably more power than an average one. However I don't think there is anything special strength or power-wise about Japanese sword art practitioners. I met a lot of them during my time living and training in Japan and I haven't noticed anything out of the ordinary with them. I think you also might be somewhat underestimating just how strong riveted mail backed by sufficient padding really is. I would never rule out the possibility that some exceptionally strong and skilled guys can manage the feat but it's fairly safe to say that the most guys would struggle or be unable to do it, especially against a real opponent as opposed to a static target.
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William Knight




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PostPosted: Sat 29 Mar, 2008 8:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Car doors =/= plate armour. To be more specific, the lack of work hardening and the rather flat surface make it much easier to pierce.
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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Sat 29 Mar, 2008 9:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill Grandy wrote:

Now, the one area where I'll contradict Michael is that not all mail was rivetted: Japanese mail was butted, and in that respect, yes, a katana could pierce this... so could anything pointy. But this butted mail was generally used to hold larger plates together, and was not worn on its own. (And I'm sure Michael knows this, but was focusing primarily on European mail)


Hi Bill,

To add Japanese mail to the disucssion is tricky, because while the Japanese did not to my knowledge rivet any of their mail, they came up with some equally effective means of preventing penetration. One example is to overlap the steel ring, much like a modern keyring, and then harden the whole thing to prevent it from opening by deformation. No one that I am aware of ever published the results of cut/thrust testing with this sort of mail, or the several other types the Japanese employed, so any speculation about what it can withstand on my part would be just that, speculation.

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Michael Curl




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PostPosted: Sat 29 Mar, 2008 11:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you all, really good information on the subject. I had no idea how hard it was to pierce mail. (as I've never done it), I thought an average thrust with a good stabbing sword would get ya through it.
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PostPosted: Sun 30 Mar, 2008 7:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

These things happen. It's likely because a lot of games depict maille as some sort of "crap" armor, that you quickly discard for pretty much anything else.

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