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Lou Weaver




Location: amelia island, florida
Joined: 04 Sep 2008

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PostPosted: Tue 27 Oct, 2009 11:16 am    Post subject: lock n' load episode         Reply with quote

kaor everyone! A few days ago I observed the Gunny ( R. Lee Ermey ) demonstrating the differences between katana and european longsword and the segment left me rather puzzled.He chops a block of ice in half with the katana ( or, does it crack in two? ) and then again with the longsword wich to my surprise only dents it! Later they chop a torso taget with leather chest armor and the katana cuts into it . Ok, the longsword only dents it in with no slicing! By my first ancestors what gives ? And since when did ice become an acepted test medium? Worried
'...you know best the promptings of yor own heart. that i shall need your sword i have little doubt, but accept from john carter upon his sacred honor the assurance that he will never call upon you to draw this sword other than in the cause of truth, justice and righteousness.'
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Mike Arledge




Location: Indianapolis, IN
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PostPosted: Tue 27 Oct, 2009 11:37 am    Post subject: Re: lock n' load episode         Reply with quote

Lou Weaver wrote:
kaor everyone! A few days ago I observed the Gunny ( R. Lee Ermey ) demonstrating the differences between katana and european longsword and the segment left me rather puzzled.He chops a block of ice in half with the katana ( or, does it crack in two? ) and then again with the longsword wich to my surprise only dents it! Later they chop a torso taget with leather chest armor and the katana cuts into it . Ok, the longsword only dents it in with no slicing! By my first ancestors what gives ? And since when did ice become an acepted test medium? Worried


Haha, I saw that too, I can only guess that ice proved the edge strength. As for the leather armour tests... just grin and enjoy the gunny having fun Happy

Mike J Arledge

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Gabriel Lebec
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PostPosted: Tue 27 Oct, 2009 3:51 pm    Post subject: Re: lock n' load episode         Reply with quote

Lou Weaver wrote:
...By my first ancestors what gives ? And since when did ice become an acepted test medium? Worried

Haven't seen the segment, but who knows what items they used for this test, or who knows what kind of cutting technique the tester used in each trial. Also, ice isn't really "cut" in the traditional sense—it is split or chipped. Chainsaws essentially knock out sequential chunks, and ice sculptors use saws, grinders, drills, etc to flake off bits.

I suspect that whether an ice block splits has more to do with momentum and edge shape than with performance in historical roles against historical targets. Just as an axe is better for cutting down trees than a sword, and an unrealistically thin blade is better for soft targets than an historical sword would be (which has to stand up to combat).

Of course, there's an even more ironclad argument—it's a TV show, since when is that indicative of anything in reality?

[EDIT] Ok, I went out and found the episode. They actually used genuine nihonto in some shots, so at least that's a step in the right direction; it's not entirely clear from the footage what katana was used for the cuts, but I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt because it looks right. I don't know what they used for the longsword. It looks passable to my less-than-expert eye.

In the ice sequence, there is a slow-motion segment where the ice clearly splits all the way before the katana actually cuts through. The longsword used definitely looks to have a thin cross-section, which makes for a more flexible blade with less "wedging" power—exactly the wrong kind of blade for chopping. And I appreciated the line, "but nobody goes to war against ice cubes!" So that all makes sense to me.

For the leather armor cuts, he tries a horizontal flat cut with the "longsword" (a cut I always found difficult regardless of blade) vs a kesa-giri falling diagonal slash with the katana—surprise surprise, better results with the katana.

In the end, the test is not very meaningful since two random swords of unknown origin hardly qualify as representative of the wider variety of blade forms grouped under "longsword" or "katana." But we all knew that already; it was still fun to watch the presenter hack away at various objects. Wink

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science." - Albert Einstein
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R.M. Henson




Location: Honolulu Hawaii
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PostPosted: Tue 27 Oct, 2009 10:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm glad someone else saw that episode. Although I was quite dismayed at the contents.

I think we are all forgetting that the ever colorful Gunney is less than proficient in ancient codified bladework. His technique throughout the show was less than tolerable in my opinion. I also didn't like the fact that he picked a "favorite" between the Katana and Longsword based on tests that have little to do with the swords actual performance and quality.

The longsword and katana weren't designed to cleave or pierce through armor last I remembered, and the fact that they were using that as the definitive sword superiority test made me laugh.
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Tue 27 Oct, 2009 11:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

R. Lee Ermey is meant more for entertainment value than any educational value he may provide, like most History Channel programs.
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Gabriele A. Pini




Location: Olgiate Comasco, Como
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PostPosted: Wed 28 Oct, 2009 12:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Why they have to be son inaccurate? At the start of the episode they test a bodkin arrow from a longbow against a butted, yes its only butted, mail coif without any underpadding. Even I wouldn't go in a mock battle so clad against rubber arrow, the rings would drive right trough my brain, figure against a true bodkin...

I concur that the show is good for gunny, but even so it would require little effort to give a more historical accuracy.
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James R.Fox




Location: Youngstowm,Ohio
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PostPosted: Wed 04 Nov, 2009 11:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sirs-If I remember right, only 1 type of katanna was made for cutting armour, It has what was called a clamshell blade, since it had a blade section like a closed clam shell.IIn Japan as in Europe, heavy armour went out wirh the introduction of gunpowder, and swords like the two-handed O-Tanto werent made anymore, althouch the most valuabe ones,made by Muramasa or Sadamune, masters like those, were cut down to onehand size and the signature inlet into the new blade,I have a picture of a blade by Sadamune, an O-Tanto, to which this was done by a smith fron the late 1500s.
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Wed 04 Nov, 2009 2:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

No sword can cut through metal armour. Doesn't matter what it looks like.

In Europe gunpowder and heavy armour co-existed for several centuries.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 04 Nov, 2009 8:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
No sword can cut through metal armour. Doesn't matter what it looks like.


Might have a more robust edge to not get damaged when hitting armour but would still not cut plate armour 99.99 % of the time. ( .01% for flukes ).

Would still be used on gaps in the armour or at best with a blunt trauma effect depending on the armour type being effective or not so much ! ( Just opinion thought ).

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Lou Weaver




Location: amelia island, florida
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PostPosted: Thu 05 Nov, 2009 12:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kaor everyone! Thanks for the response to my topic , but there seems to be a misunderstanding. The torso armor in the show was leather, not metal and the longsword appears to be very dull of edge unlike the katana wich was very sharp!
'...you know best the promptings of yor own heart. that i shall need your sword i have little doubt, but accept from john carter upon his sacred honor the assurance that he will never call upon you to draw this sword other than in the cause of truth, justice and righteousness.'
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Thu 05 Nov, 2009 1:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lou Weaver wrote:
Kaor everyone! Thanks for the response to my topic , but there seems to be a misunderstanding. The torso armor in the show was leather, not metal and the longsword appears to be very dull of edge unlike the katana wich was very sharp!


And the cuts were totally different. The longsword was just slammed straight into the belly of the torso (blade parallel to ground), while the katana was used at a downward angle into the shoulder with a little slicing motion to boot.

It's not science, though, it's Hollywood entertainment.

Happy

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Darryl Aoki





Joined: 12 Oct 2006

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PostPosted: Thu 05 Nov, 2009 4:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James R.Fox wrote:
Sirs-If I remember right, only 1 type of katanna was made for cutting armour, It has what was called a clamshell blade, since it had a blade section like a closed clam shell.IIn Japan as in Europe, heavy armour went out wirh the introduction of gunpowder, and swords like the two-handed O-Tanto werent made anymore, althouch the most valuabe ones,made by Muramasa or Sadamune, masters like those, were cut down to onehand size and the signature inlet into the new blade,I have a picture of a blade by Sadamune, an O-Tanto, to which this was done by a smith fron the late 1500s.


I don't know about the statement that, in Japan, heavy armor went out of circulation with the introduction of the matchlock gun. Certainly, large numbers of soldiers during the various conflicts of the Sengoku-jidai wore full body armor. The style of armor evolved away from the elaborately-laced suits of scale toward simpler designs, but I don't think the protective qualities of the armor went down as this happened. Any declines in Japanese arms and armor probably came about as the Shogun's Peace took hold after the battle of Sekigahara, and, rather later, the siege of Osaka.

There's a very nice article on the myArmoury website about Japanese armor. (Curse my ineptness with hyperlinks!)
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R.M. Henson




Location: Honolulu Hawaii
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PostPosted: Thu 05 Nov, 2009 8:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lou Weaver wrote:
Kaor everyone! Thanks for the response to my topic , but there seems to be a misunderstanding. The torso armor in the show was leather, not metal and the longsword appears to be very dull of edge unlike the katana wich was very sharp!


There's no misunderstanding. They did in fact test horizontal cuts and thrusts with both swords against a generic medieval steel plate cuirass.

Things to keep in mind:

1)different test cut mediums work better with varying blade geometry and sharpness. Ice and chest plates built to resist cuts aren't testable mediums for sharpness.

2)From my understanding, German Longswords meant for war are not as "sharp" as the civilian counter part, and if the War sword is what was tested, it would obviously pale in comparison to the always razor sharp katanas in a real test cut exercise.

3) As mentioned by other posters, the techniques used for cutting the leather armor were different, so there was no control constraint in the test, the diagonal slash having superior leverage over a horizontal slash.

4) People general think that sharper=better, but in fact both swords if used as intended were equally deadly despite perceived sharpness. There's more to a sword than it's ultimate ability to cleave through things, such as blade sturdiness (by way of blade geometry), intended use of cutting style (meant for chopping, slicing, slashing, stabbing), and forging techniques used to make it (double bladed versus single bladed).

A Kriegsmesser vs Katana might be a closer match.

I realize it's show geared for entertainment and I've come to terms with that and I can enjoy the show for what it's worth But it annoys me to no end when my friends watch the show and genuinely believe the misinformation they were presented with and creates a new crop of Katana Plunkers. It leads to arguments with me claiming that a TV show with "credibility" is incorrect. History Channel should have historically accurate tests. If they don't want to, sell the show to MTV or Spike.
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Sam Gordon Campbell




Location: Australia.
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PostPosted: Thu 05 Nov, 2009 9:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Can someone give moi a link if possible; as I'm now rather interested in seeing this monstrosity of a show/clip Laughing Out Loud
Member of Australia's Stoccata School of Defence since 2008.
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E Stafford




PostPosted: Tue 10 Nov, 2009 12:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh, come on. Everyone knows the katana is the most amazing sword in the world, can cut through rocks, mountains, and the occasional oni, and all this because the Japanese had more advanced martial arts and spiritual beliefs. Conversely, European swords are fat, heavy, sharpened clubs. Cool Wink

/dropping sarcasm. Please no killing.

I disagreed with it as well. When he tried to stab the plate armor, he didn't half sword it, and he stabbed it dead center, as opposed to going for a weak spot. I guess that's what happens when you have a Marine gunnery sergeant running a infotainment show: lots of enthusiasm, but when it comes to subtlety..well, I've met sledge hammers that were more subtle. And DON'T get me started on his portrayal of the AK-47.

In his defense, however, the Japanese sword (katana) was made for one thing and one thing only: cutting. It did it quite well. A European longsword is a more versatile affair. Which one is better? Well, that depends.
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Ryan W. Fabre




Location: Walker, Louisiana
Joined: 19 Jul 2009

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PostPosted: Thu 12 Nov, 2009 10:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I saw this as well. Perhaps Gunny would have had better results with the longsword if he hadn't ~hit~ his targets with the first 12 inches of the blade from the hilt. Interesting, he managed to do it right with the katana. Regardless, are we actually suppose to believe that you can penetrate armor that bobkin arrows have issues with, with a katana? Of course we are! This is the History Channel! It's science people! Get with the program. It's a longsword! I'm surprised Gunny could swing around that 50lb steel club, besides everyone knows the only thing katanas can't cut through are light sabers. I mean do we have to discuss the Ashikaga-Galactic Republic war again? Seriously though, maybe we should start trying to get the "His" removed from the History Channel. WTF?!
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