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Sammy Jackson





Joined: 28 Mar 2008

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PostPosted: Sun 27 Apr, 2008 10:57 am    Post subject: How tall was the average Samuri?         Reply with quote

Hi guys! i got into a debate last night that esculated to an arguement of the average hieght of a Samuri, any know how tall they were? on average?

allso just a side question, they seemed to be kinda "chunky" even though they were in good shape, did they just not embrace the greek thinking about athletics?

thanks guys

p.s a sorce would be good if you can find one that helps answer these thoughts!



Sam

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Grayson C.




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PostPosted: Sun 27 Apr, 2008 11:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Probably a few inches shorter than your average Nite.
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Werner Stiegler





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PostPosted: Sun 27 Apr, 2008 11:52 am    Post subject: Re: How tall was the average Samurai?         Reply with quote

Sammy Jackson wrote:

allso just a side question, they seemed to be kinda "chunky" even though they were in good shape, did they just not embrace the greek thinking about athletics?
I believe that the recent growth spurt Japan experienced was not due to an adaption of greek athletics, but to a change in dietary and sitting habits.

So yes, the knight would win because he has been sitting on benches and chairs for all of his life.
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Shayan G





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PostPosted: Sun 27 Apr, 2008 12:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The average height of people in the Edo Period (16031867) was 156 centimeters for men, and 145 centimeters for women, about 5 feet 1 1/2 inches for men, 4 feet 9 inches for women.

http://www.sumitomo.gr.jp/english/discoveries/special/84_02.html

Hope that helps!

You have to be a man, first, before you can be a gentleman!
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Ross Tippin




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PostPosted: Sun 27 Apr, 2008 6:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Average height for male Japanese from the medieval through Edo periods appears to have been about 158 cm (5'2").

http://www.yale.edu/leitner/Bones.pdf

(see table 6)

By comparison, the average height for men in Medieval (1200-1500 AD) England was 5'7.5" (171.5 cm). (can't find source, but remember reading it).

Here's a source for Europe in general between the 1st and 18th centuries:

http://www.uni-tuebingen.de/uni/wwl/koepke%20...lennia.pdf

Average male height seems to have varied between 169cm and 172 cm (5'6.5" an 5'7.75") during this period. (The paper breaks the averages down further by region.)

Another paper by Richard Steckel ( http://ssh.dukejournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/28/2/211 ) shows that between the 9th and 11th centuries the average male in Northern Europe was 173.4cm (5'8.27"), but declined to about 167 cm (5'5.5") by the 17th and 18th centuries.

As for weights, these are much harder to find. Japanes soldiers in WWII averaged 158cm and weighted 117 lbs. Since medieval Japanese were about the same height, their weights were likely similar.

As for medieval Europeans, US soldiers in the civil war averaged 5'8.25" and weighed 146 lbs for northerners and 143 lbs for southerners on induction into the army. Since people back then were about the same height as medieval europeans and lived a mostly agricultural lifestyle, medieval weights were probably similar.

Note that the upper classes in medieval Europe and Japan were probably better nourished and somewhat taller than the average. (Nobles in Medieval and Early Modern Europe appear to have been about 5'9" on the average.)
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Bennison N




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PostPosted: Mon 28 Apr, 2008 12:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well... This looks like it's becoming another "Samurai vs. Knight" thread.

Something that may explain why Samurai don't appear overly athletic... Excessive muscle development causes "muscle memory"... A big no-no for Eastern Martial Arts. Slower movement and rapid fatigue also results from too much muscle. People with larger musculature are unable to utilise the tendons in movement, and this results in a plateau in ability. Eastern Martial Artists do not want to be overly large, relying instead on technique. An example you may want to research is the Pak Mei (Bai Mei) style of Southern Chinese Martial Arts. I know it isn't Japanese, but the techniques for this school include compressed breathing and use of tendons for power.

The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

"Never give a sword to a man who can't dance" - Confucius

अजयखड्गधारी
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Sammy Jackson





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PostPosted: Mon 28 Apr, 2008 12:57 am    Post subject: .......................................         Reply with quote

Thank you guys very helpful.


i didnt think theyd be tall.. but not do short. thanks

sammy the man
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Christopher H





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PostPosted: Mon 28 Apr, 2008 3:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not sure where to begin, so I'll keep this brief...

First of all weight training is utilised by nearly all high level athletes these days and due to their increases in strength, speed and power (due to their resistance training) world and olympic records are continually broken...

Competing motor engrams (reasonably well accepted model for 'muscle memory' in the scientific community) could be an issue in rehabilitating people with brain injury or disease but in the movement of people with healthy brains - especially athletes - they are really a non issue... strength training improves athletic performance... it's as simple as that - even in people with brain conditions the body of literature suggests that performance in activities is either not affected (strength was not an issue for the task) or is improved.

I really don't know what you mean about not being able to use the tendons in movement... are you referring to the elastic storage of energy within the tendon as part of a stretch shortening cycle? Strength training has been shown to improve this too.

Myths like these circulating in an age when peer reviewed scientific research is just a click away... Sad
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Shayan G





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PostPosted: Mon 28 Apr, 2008 8:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think he was saying that if you overdevelop your muscles using just weightlifting or similar repetitive motions, the muscles aren't properly trained to execute the techniques without fighting themselves instead of working together.

In my martial arts lifetime, though admittedly a short 8 years, I've seen MANY huge muscular fellows be outclassed in terms of punching strength precisely because they were fighting their own inflexible muscle.

Lifting 200kg and surviving a fight are two very different skill sets, in short, and as far as surviving violent encounters goes, muscle is relevant but not as much as a proper balance of speed, timing, technique, mindset, and FINALLY strength.

One last tidbit: at one memorable 1st Dan blackbelt test, I saw a 9 year old girl break two boards a 16 year-old boy twice her size couldn't manage. Size matters, but not nearly as much as skill.

You have to be a man, first, before you can be a gentleman!
~the immortal John Wayne
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Mon 28 Apr, 2008 11:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You do not have to be thin to be strong. Unelss you are a body-builder, (like the greeks, who worked out beacuse beeing fit was high status) you are not likely to be thin or or have defined muscles even if you are quite strong.
Eating well means that you have a layer of body fat. Body builders try to avoid this so that the muscles will show, but working men, or weight lifters, typically would not. The same would go for fighting men. They eat well, beeing from privileged backgrounds, and work out a lot.

As for height, it certianly has a impact. Taller people have longer reach and more body mass. While short people might slip under the guard, a taller person could simply move into them, and push them over.

The tallest guy in our club is 207 cm... (6ft 9in) and the shortest girl 153cm (5ft 1in)... That is more than half a meter difference...

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Mon 28 Apr, 2008 11:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Elling, j

That's an awsome picture! Laughing Out Loud

Jeremy
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Bennison N




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PostPosted: Mon 28 Apr, 2008 7:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling seems like a guy who has thought about this. I like how he put it.

Elling Polden wrote:
You do not have to be thin to be strong. Unelss you are a body-builder, (like the greeks, who worked out beacuse beeing fit was high status) you are not likely to be thin or or have defined muscles even if you are quite strong.
Eating well means that you have a layer of body fat. Body builders try to avoid this so that the muscles will show, but working men, or weight lifters, typically would not. The same would go for fighting men. They eat well, beeing from privileged backgrounds, and work out a lot.


Look at Olympic Power-lifters. You would never catch them starving themselves before a competition so that their lats stick out more now, would you?

Look at Asian Martial History, particularly that of China. The solid, almost fat, guys perform legendary feats, with eye-witnesses and all. And some very small guys do as well. Some of the undefeated leitai duellists look like skeletons with skin! Repetitive drilling, obsessive conditioning and specialised exercises makes it so that they don't have to be big and muscular to do incredible things.

An off-topic example... My Bak Mei teacher came pig-hunting with my Fijian cousin and I one time in the Mighty Tararua Ranges here in New Zealand (beautiful country we have here...). I use a White Lance to hunt pigs, which is essentially a spearhead on a solid steel pole, about 6ft long. I face them head-on, and put the butt of the shaft into the dirt. This way the animal passes by the animal's own momentum. I've never been gored this way, although I've lost 4 dogs over the years. I've never used a rifle to hunt an animal... because I've never needed to. I hunt for food only anyway.

So, this one time that we all went, the kill was messy and the pig didn't pass quickly. It actually took some time to go. We all felt terrible, but I couldn't get the spear out. So my 162cm (5'3"), maybe 65kg (143lb) teacher stepped up to the pig and punched it in the belly, in an attempt to finish the big guy off. It is important to note that we have Captain Cook pigs here in New Zealand, which are very head heavy, muscular and covered all over in bristles. They do not have pot bellies. They do have very big nasty tusks, though. Haha!

His single punch broke every rib on the left side through to the sternum at the front and the spine in two spots. Those of you who know pigs know that that was an amazing blow. On top of that, Sifu helped me carry the big spiky brute back to the car. More than his fair share. My Fijian cousin, a big, strong-looking, 25 year old guy (maybe 6'2", 250ish pounds), with no neck, 21in (around) arms and a chiselled six pack (three or four gym hours a day and every supplement known to mankind) turned out to be the weakest when it came to the carrying.

I used this example to show that it is not only fighting where size and pretty muscles don't mean strength.

"Never give a sword to a man who can't dance" - Confucius

अजयखड्गधारी


Last edited by Bennison N on Mon 28 Apr, 2008 7:28 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Ken Speed





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PostPosted: Mon 28 Apr, 2008 7:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

All,

It seems to me that when early Japan is discussed there is a tendency to look at given elements in isolation. So people talk about swords or martial arts or pottery in a way that divorces that subject from the context of the rest of early Japan.

What is amazing about the early Japanese is not so much what they achieved but how they achieved so much with so very little. If you look at the traditional crafts of Japan it will become evident that many very different crafts use many of the same few materials in their creation. Charcoal, clay, straw, sand, paper, bamboo appear again and again and the reason for that is that the Japanese had very little with which to work.

Much the same can be said of the diet of the early Japanese. Farmland was limited, farming techniques were hideously labor intensive and so food was scarce. Not to mention food preservation techniques were very limited. Given such circumstances it isn't surprising that the Japanese were physically small. The Chinese referred to Japan as The Land of the Dwarves.

Small stature however doesn't necessarily mean weak and just because the early Samurai didn't look like bodybuilders doesn't mean they weren't strong. I would imagine that weight training would have seemed very strange to them inasmuch as their way of doing things was to generate strength from their entire body and bring it to bear on a single point as opposed to to the idea of isolating a muscle or muscle group.

The martial traditions stressed practice to improve technique and strength but their idea of practice far surpasses ours today. They would think nothing of practicing the same technique daily for the length of their martial career. Certainly age would erode physical abilities eventually but even as strength failed technique would continue to improve.

Finally it should be remembered that even if one were a Samurai it didn't necessarily mean that one was an accomplished swordsman or martial artist.

Regards,


Ken
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Ben C.





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PostPosted: Mon 28 Apr, 2008 8:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think a lot of people of falling for the myths of strength and bodybuilding training that are often propagated among the traditional/less athletic martial art communities. First of all competitive bodybuilders do not train to become strong or athletic and should never be used as a comparison. Of course many are incredibly strong but the focus of their training is to look as big/cut as possible for the purpose of their posing contests.

Quote:
You do not have to be thin to be strong. Unelss you are a body-builder, (like the greeks, who worked out beacuse beeing fit was high status) you are not likely to be thin or or have defined muscles even if you are quite strong.
Eating well means that you have a layer of body fat. Body builders try to avoid this so that the muscles will show, but working men, or weight lifters, typically would not. The same would go for fighting men. They eat well, beeing from privileged backgrounds, and work out a lot.


this is not quite true. While superheavyweight athletes do have a tendency to carry around excess amounts of fat the vast majority of olympic lifters, power lifters, combative athletes (boxers, kickboxers, MMA fighters) and other contact athletes (rugby and american football players) usually have fairly low bodyfat levels. Those under 90kg/200lbs mostly have 6-packs and even many of the heavier guys have fairly lean physiques compared to the average man.

Excess fat is disadvantage for people involved in fighting. While it does give some benefit in terms of power due to having more weight to throw around you pay a heavy price in terms of speed and endurance (your body has to work harder to move around). The are some notable exceptions of top level fighters who perform well with some baby fat (16-18%, still only average compared to most guys) such as Fedor Emelianenko and BJ Penn but in almost all cases the fatter a fighter becomes the more his performances decline.

Quote:
Something that may explain why Samurai don't appear overly athletic... Excessive muscle development causes "muscle memory"... A big no-no for Eastern Martial Arts. Slower movement and rapid fatigue also results from too much muscle. People with larger musculature are unable to utilise the tendons in movement, and this results in a plateau in ability. Eastern Martial Artists do not want to be overly large, relying instead on technique. An example you may want to research is the Pak Mei (Bai Mei) style of Southern Chinese Martial Arts. I know it isn't Japanese, but the techniques for this school include compressed breathing and use of tendons for power.


lots of muscle is not a disadvantage. Look at the physiques of Mike Tyson and Jereme Lebanner in their primes; two of the most powerful strikers ever and both have very large developed bodies. Overtraining for the purpose of gaining muscle at the expense of technique, endurance and speed work is the problem. The best Japanese fighters also have very well developed physiques relative to their height/weight and I suspect Samurai in the past were no different.

Quote:
One last tidbit: at one memorable 1st Dan blackbelt test, I saw a 9 year old girl break two boards a 16 year-old boy twice her size couldn't manage. Size matters, but not nearly as much as skill.


unfortunately board breaking is a trick and has little to do with punching power. As far as I know there has never been a successful fighter since the common use of video cameras who came from a background that involved the breaking of objects such as boards or ice. The closest would be kyokushin karate and it's derivatives but even those styles are more and more moving over to a more standard kickboxing style of training.
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Shayan G





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PostPosted: Tue 29 Apr, 2008 6:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not quite sure what you're contending.

Quote:
Overtraining for the purpose of gaining muscle at the expense of technique, endurance and speed work is the problem.


That's precisely what I've been saying.

All top-level martial artists have amazingly toned muscles. However, it results from years of training IN CONJUNCTION with proper technique and flexibility so that the muscle works for them instead of the other way around. They don't look bigger, but the muscles are clearly toned and resilient.

Here's another example if the preceding 5 or 6 were dissatisfactory. We do 120 pushups (12 different kinds, ten reps, no stopping and reeeeeal slow) innumerable crunches, dozens of squats, and some exercises I don't even know the word for. It lasts an hour and a half. THEN class begins. I have noticed again and again, bulky ridiculous creatine monsters almost never make it through any of those exercises, while wiry and physically balanced individuals do.

We're not saying muscle is inefficient. I'm saying TOO MUCH muscle is. Muscle should grow only as fast as flexibility and technique, otherwise it is a hindrance. Legitimate "Western" exercise experts say the same thing.

What exactly are we contending then? We're probably more in agreement than not.

Best regards,
Shayan

You have to be a man, first, before you can be a gentleman!
~the immortal John Wayne
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James Barker




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PostPosted: Tue 29 Apr, 2008 7:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Man this is a really odd debate I think is easy to solve; look to the UFC today and in the past; it is as close to open fighting as you will get today. The UFC went to weight classes for a reason; tall in shape men dominated the sport. Size is an advantage.

Why even talk about body builders; they are not fighters they just lift weights and take steroids. If you are turning this into a European vs Asian thread what do body builders have to do with Knights? There was no power lifting in the middle ages.

James Barker
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Shayan G





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PostPosted: Tue 29 Apr, 2008 7:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I certainly have no intentions of making it European vs Asian. Western trainers say the say thing,as i iterated earlier: train technique and flexibility just as much as muscle, and you'll be golden. Train only muscle, and you'll be inflexible and half useless. Muscle isn't bad, imbalance is.
You have to be a man, first, before you can be a gentleman!
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Tue 29 Apr, 2008 8:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The point about bodybuilderes was not one of japan vs europe. It was simply an observation that having body fat does not mean that you are not fit, and applies equally to both cultures.

Neither does it mean that ALL samura or knights where chubby. However, ulike modern athletes, who have fairly regulated diets, and know what puts on fat, the good ol' boys just ate "power food". Staying slim would simply not be a priority. Unless you plan on spending lage amounts of time struting your stuff at the Agora, covered in olive oil...

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Christian Henry Tobler
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PostPosted: Tue 29 Apr, 2008 9:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi James,

James Barker wrote:
Man this is a really odd debate I think is easy to solve; look to the UFC today and in the past; it is as close to open fighting as you will get today. The UFC went to weight classes for a reason; tall in shape men dominated the sport. Size is an advantage.


Except that UFC doesn't involve weapons, so it doesn't come close to an 'anything goes' fight in the medieval period. A short lightweight man can stab just as easily as a tall stoutly built one. Since we're talking about knightly classes, we're talking about armed combat, for the most part.

Quote:
Why even talk about body builders; they are not fighters they just lift weights and take steroids. If you are turning this into a European vs Asian thread what do body builders have to do with Knights? There was no power lifting in the middle ages.


There's no evidence of bodybuilding in the modern sense, but there is evidence of weight training - several illustrations showing wrestling and fencing also show the lifting of heavy stones. The Wolfegg Hausbuch references this in the planetary astrology verses.

All the best,

Christian

Christian Henry Tobler
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James Barker




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PostPosted: Tue 29 Apr, 2008 10:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Shayan my comments were not directed at you specifically I meant "you" and in all posting on the thread.


Christian you make a relevant point about weapons I was strictly talking grappling/martial arts since that is where the topic seemed to be heading.

On the weight training issue I know you see plenty of men doing physical exercises in the past but without steroids and other many modern items no one is going to look like one of those weight lifting freaks who does posing competitions; ever read in a health magazine what they subject themselves too for that look WTF?!

I just find the backlash of "size does not matter" goes a bit too far; being a big man was a big deal in the middle ages. While skill is always most important size on top of skill and physical fitness is a major advantage especially in the realm of grappling.

James Barker
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