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John A. Brown





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PostPosted: Fri 20 Feb, 2015 9:37 am    Post subject: Would European swords easily shatter Samurai armor?         Reply with quote

Related to my question about Katanas vs Plate armor from last night.

http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=31590

Except now playing devil's advocate and rooting for the other side and reversal of equipment being used.

The pro knight side often assumes that European longswords were not only superior to Katanas that if the two sword impacted, katanas would shatter upon impact......

They even go as far as saying European swords were far superior to Samurai armor that one whack from a Scottish claymore or bastard sword would immediately shatter the Samurai armor, if not outright cut through it immediately upon impact and slice apart the Samurai's limbs or chest in half.

In many of these knights vs samurai debates, at best the Samurai armor will be able to protect the user but get heavily dented from typical European longswords. Even in a few debates I witnessed where boths ides of the debate agree that Samurai armor will be able to withstand whacks several times before finally showing visible signs of wear (such as scratches and slight but harmless disfiguration), the pro-knight side still argues even if the armor protects the Samurai and nullify 90% of the blow's impact, one whack a lone despite only harming with 10% of the blow's original power will hurt the Samurai due to kinetic energy and give him brutal bruises or even broken bones despite wearing full Samurai armory.

Basically a double standards in which the pro knight assumes their swords were so much stronger and heavier that there is no need to thrust the armor or hit the weak points.

The assumption is that Samurai armor were made with such inferior metals that even a European daggers used by knights would easily penetrate Samurai armor and kill the wearer in one hit.

I am curious was European blacksmitting and metallurgy that superior that you can simply attack a Samurai armor with modern knives and it will easily pierce the chestplate and hit the adbdomen area of the wearer of Samurai arms?

I'm not lying in at least several of these knights vs samurai debates, some debaters rooting for the knights sides literally brought up that modern Western blacksmitting techniques and metals were so damn superior to what the Japanese had that you merely need an American Civil War era sabre and even a modern military knife to pierce the armor without any trouble and hit the flesh!
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Fri 20 Feb, 2015 11:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I posted this in your other thread and I will post it again.

Quote:
So they have two broadly specialized (mostly) mounted noble soldiers fight it out on foot with sidearms? I know that's the popular way to compare these two soldiers but wouldn't it be like having two tank commanders fight with bowie knifes to determine whether an Abraham tank or T-90 is better. It's a weird way to compare them.


Quote:
In terms of weight their swords are rather similar if we are talking about the swords from the plate armor period. But keep in mind that both samurai and 'knights' were around for the better part of a millennium so comparing them in general seems like a pointless exercise. In a similar time frame you could have the duke of Wellington with a few redcoats fight against Godfrey de Bouillon.

Comparing two different social classes which happen to be warriors in general is rather pointless. If you want anything resembling something reasonable you would have to pick a time period of around 50-100 years and have them fight with swords in civilian clothing or as soldiers in a bigger army.


It's a rather pointless thing to simulate a a single duel between two guys in armor both fighting with swords, especially considering that a Norman Knight is different from a Gen D'arme that went along with Charles the 8th in his war in Italy. Just as an Edo period Samurai is different from a Kamakura period one.

In the end (if we are talking about 15th century knights/samurai) the whole thing boils down to two guys wearing armor and fighting with swords. Since they are both human they will both have armor with the same weaknesses at the joints. If they both chose a sword than they have comparable weapons, a long sharp bar of metal that is. Really the Knight might have the advantage of slightly more protective armor but it would really boil down too who's the better fighter.
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Hector A.





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PostPosted: Fri 20 Feb, 2015 12:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A euro sword wont cut threw a katana in one strike simply because the iron backside would stop it in its tracks, it will however shatter the hard steel edge portion that it touches, making that area un-usable.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Feb, 2015 1:01 pm    Post subject: Re: Would European swords easily shatter Samurai armor?         Reply with quote

John A. Brown wrote:
I am curious was European blacksmitting and metallurgy that superior that you can simply attack a Samurai armor with modern knives and it will easily pierce the chestplate and hit the adbdomen area of the wearer of Samurai arms?


Japanese armour was made to keep out arrows and spears (and in later periods, musket balls). If it can keep out arrows - and it could - it won't have much trouble against swords and knives.

Japanese military archery focussed very much on trying to penetrate armour. Sometimes they succeeded, but usually the armour won. The armour would have usually won against 150lb European longbows. It will stop a sword.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Ben Coomer




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Feb, 2015 1:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

First off, no the samurai armor is not going to be shattered. If it were that fragile, I doubt they would have bothered in the first place. Samurai were not stupid

Second, the knight isn't going to try anyway more than likely. Confronted with this new armor, I'd bet that he'd treat it as equivalent to plate or the like and go with tried and true methods to defeat it, not hope that he's magically superior. Knights were not stupid.

It was irritating when you couldn't convince people that samurai would cleave through longswords and armor like butter, and it remains irritating when now you have people that turn samurai into eggshells.
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Theo Squires





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PostPosted: Fri 20 Feb, 2015 4:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think I have conclusive evidence on this topic.

Playing Age of Empires II several years ago, I created a one on one duel between an Elite Teutonic Knight and an Elite Samurai and found that one Teutonic Knight could easily defeat the samurai.

Hopefully that helps.




PS. When you talk about the 'pro-knight' and 'pro-day' camps, I think you'll find that few on myArmoury share those views.
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Michael Couture




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Feb, 2015 6:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Theo Squires wrote:
I think I have conclusive evidence on this topic.

Playing Age of Empires II several years ago, I created a one on one duel between an Elite Teutonic Knight and an Elite Samurai and found that one Teutonic Knight could easily defeat the samurai.

Hopefully that helps.




PS. When you talk about the 'pro-knight' and 'pro-day' camps, I think you'll find that few on myArmoury share those views.


I think this settles it once and for all. We can all go home.
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Tom King




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Feb, 2015 6:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ironically enough I've had the privilege to examine several suits of Japanese armor (laminated iron/leather dating around the 17th century for all 3 suits), but haven't seen a full European harness in person.

I find it safe to say that european weapons would do a number on a samurai. The harnesses i examined the closest consisted of a anime breastplate of lacquered iron strips over a 1/4" thick silk shelled gambeson/arming coat. The arm defenses were butted maille in the japanese style of VERY thin gauge (I'd say 18-20ga) over/as part of the silk gambeson with reinforcing strips of lacquered iron at key areas of equally thin metal. Same general construction goes for the leg armor. The face mask and helmet were equally thin lacquered iron. For the whole suit, being pretty close to immaculate regarding completeness/preservation it seemed downright dainty compared to my full 15th century harness. Ironic that the japanese harness on average would weigh more; cordage and lacquer isn't light.

compared to european harnesses, it was much more open regarding limb/shoulder protection and while the breastplate and tassets were lacquered iron, I doubt it would hold up to a blow from a polehammer or Longsword. Halfswording techniques (especially those aiming for the head, neck, shoulders, legs, etc.) would turn a man wearing such a harness into a corpse very quickly.

I'd put a full suit of japanese armor a few rungs lower in protective ability than the jack, jack chains, riveted maille shirt, archers knees, and sallet armor load out of the average English billman/low ranking man at arms. Compared to a full white harness? No contest.

Pole weapons meant for fighting armored opponents would make short work of such a kit, where in contrast the yari, yumi, and katana of a samurai would have no effective way to fight said weapon or injure the armored opponent bearing it.
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Nat Lamb




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Feb, 2015 6:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

from my understanding, the "gaps" in yoroi are likely to be quilted/layered fabric, exactly the sort of thing the tip of a katana is perfect for thrusting through. The european harness will have gaps covered by maille voiders, exactly the sort of thing that his side arm, the longsword with a narrow tip, is great at dealing with. It is almost as if they were armed with sidearms designed to deal with the defenses they were likely to encounter.

Perhaps a more interesting question would be "what would happen if a knight and a samurai bumped into each other, dropped their swords, accidentally picked up each others' sword and decided to have a fight while using the sidearm used by the other guy."
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Feb, 2015 8:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tom King wrote:
Ironically enough I've had the privilege to examine several suits of Japanese armor (laminated iron/leather dating around the 17th century for all 3 suits), but haven't seen a full European harness in person.

I find it safe to say that european weapons would do a number on a samurai. The harnesses i examined the closest consisted of a anime breastplate of lacquered iron strips over a 1/4" thick silk shelled gambeson/arming coat. The arm defenses were butted maille in the japanese style of VERY thin gauge (I'd say 18-20ga) over/as part of the silk gambeson with reinforcing strips of lacquered iron at key areas of equally thin metal. Same general construction goes for the leg armor. The face mask and helmet were equally thin lacquered iron. For the whole suit, being pretty close to immaculate regarding completeness/preservation it seemed downright dainty compared to my full 15th century harness. Ironic that the japanese harness on average would weigh more; cordage and lacquer isn't light.


For a nice example of Japanese armour, with weights for the individual parts, see:
http://www.royalarmouries.org/line-of-kings/l...object/367
440g of face mask isn't that thin. While there's needless bling on the helmet, a total weight of over 3kg means a substantial amount of steel in it.

Might the armour you saw be parade armour (late 17th century would likely be such)? Armour for the battlefield was made to keep out the things it would encounter on the battlefield. Else it's just dead weight. A Japanese arrow with 100J of energy does about the same to armour as an English arrow with 100J of energy. Arrows, pikes, lances (and later, muskets): those are the common threats.

Yes, lots of Japanese armour has relatively lightly protected arms and legs, but the same can be said for much European plate armour as well (see typical pikeman's armour). Even a full European plate armour has relatively light arms and legs - had a close look at a couple of Spanish armours and the large plates on the arms and legs were much thinner than what would be usual for re-enactment/SCA armour. Halberd vs those legs - I'd bet on the halberd. Breastplate was substantially thicker.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Tom King




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PostPosted: Sat 21 Feb, 2015 12:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:


For a nice example of Japanese armour, with weights for the individual parts, see:
http://www.royalarmouries.org/line-of-kings/l...object/367
440g of face mask isn't that thin. While there's needless bling on the helmet, a total weight of over 3kg means a substantial amount of steel in it.

Might the armour you saw be parade armour (late 17th century would likely be such)? Armour for the battlefield was made to keep out the things it would encounter on the battlefield. Else it's just dead weight. A Japanese arrow with 100J of energy does about the same to armour as an English arrow with 100J of energy. Arrows, pikes, lances (and later, muskets): those are the common threats.

Yes, lots of Japanese armour has relatively lightly protected arms and legs, but the same can be said for much European plate armour as well (see typical pikeman's armour). Even a full European plate armour has relatively light arms and legs - had a close look at a couple of Spanish armours and the large plates on the arms and legs were much thinner than what would be usual for re-enactment/SCA armour. Halberd vs those legs - I'd bet on the halberd. Breastplate was substantially thicker.


Definitely not parade armor, but not something I'd want to fight against european weapons in. People often forget that feudal japan ended AFTER the US civil war and wasn't concurrent with medieval europe. If you've watched much american pickers you've probably seen the suit I'm talking about (though not the one they ended up purchasing). An almain rivet on a typical european pikeman offers much more protection for quite a bit less weight. Would you trust your limbs to butted japanese maille made of paper clip thick wire? For me at least not against a continental chinese or european weapon.

We don't have to pull punches regarding historical arms and armor once it's been thrown onto the world stage. Japan is a unique microcosm of military development protected via geographic isolation; it took paths and pitfalls quite different than other cultures in asia and the world at large. There is no shame in dispelling the samurai myth. Trying to twist history to make every culture "equal" in hindsight is academically dishonest. They should be appreciated for what they are and not forced to fit an arbitrary archetype.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Sat 21 Feb, 2015 1:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tom King wrote:
Definitely not parade armor, but not something I'd want to fight against european weapons in. [...] Would you trust your limbs to butted japanese maille made of paper clip thick wire? For me at least not against a continental chinese or european weapon.


From your description, I wouldn't trust it against Japanese weapons. I don't think that being Japanese makes a pike, spear, or lance thrust less dangerous, or 125g arrows from 100+ lb bows less dangerous.

Limbs? People will go into battle with unarmoured limbs. Limb armour is not always intended to stop the hardest-to-stop weapons. Too much weight on the limbs can be bad.

Tom King wrote:
People often forget that feudal japan ended AFTER the US civil war and wasn't concurrent with medieval europe.


That's the point. They kept making armour (and wearing it) for 250 years after they stopped fighting. A lot of that stuff was not battleworthy. One did need to have one's retainers appropriately dressed, so there was demand for armour that looked like armour. (Thus the question about parade armour.)

It's better to judge the effectiveness of Japanese armour by looking at armour that was made for the battlefield. Helmets with thicknesses of 4-5mm say something about the threats they faced on the battlefield. The good Japanese armour would (more or less) cope with those threats.

If it's Edo Period "samurai armour" and (a) really thin (but note that Japanese lamellar typically results in 4 thicknesses between threat and body), (b) thin butted mail (as opposed to multiple-windings or really thick butted rings, which are found on older armours), or (c) built in old-fashioned styles (i.e., older styles than what was used in the 16th century), it's probably parade armour and not battle armour.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 21 Feb, 2015 6:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

However, Japanese armour has, for the sake of easier movement, unavoidable and exposed weak points, and it is this design defect that is targeted by the omote set of techniques in Katori Shinto-ryu.
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Philip Dyer





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PostPosted: Sat 21 Feb, 2015 7:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think on some level, comparing Samurai armor and weapons and Knightly armor and weapons are disingenuous. Armour of both classes changed allot throughout there history but you can two totally different philosophical constants. Samurai were bowmen first and melee fighters second, knights were melee shock units. Those huge gaps in Samurai armor was a design necessity needed to order to operate a bow. It just so happens that you can still be effective in hand to hand combat with slightly more restrictive armor protectiveness it more pertinent in hand to hand combat. On the other, I bet in would be alot to operate bow (or impossible) wearing full plate.
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Philip Dyer





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PostPosted: Sat 21 Feb, 2015 8:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Philip Dyer wrote:
I think on some level, comparing Samurai armor and weapons and Knightly armor and weapons are disingenuous. Armour of both classes changed allot throughout there history but you can two totally different philosophical constants. Samurai were bowmen first and melee fighters second, knights were melee shock units. Those huge gaps in Samurai armor was a design necessity needed to order to operate a bow. It just so happens that you can still be effective in hand to hand combat with slightly more restrictive armor protectiveness is more pertinent in hand to hand combat. On the other, I bet in would be allot harder to operate a bow (or impossible) wearing full plate.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 21 Feb, 2015 1:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can't see how plate harness would hinder shooting a bow. You'd have to wear different gauntlets but the rest of the armour shouldn't pose a problem. I had a quick look on youtube but couldn't find anyone trying to shoot a bow in plate harness.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Sat 21 Feb, 2015 1:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Japanese summers (e.g., 35C and humid) might also have something to do with Japanese armour being more gappy. Also the size of Japanese horses might make fully armoured horses impractical. Given an unarmoured horse, is it worth filling in those gaps? So cavalry armours aren't the same in function (at least, Japanese cavalry vs European heavy armoured cavalry - a better comparison would be with lesser-armed European cavalry).
"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 21 Feb, 2015 2:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Climate is not a consideration. It never has been. We know that the heaviest armours ever used in battle were worn on summer campaigns in the arid regions of the Middle East for thousands of years. I've worn these armours all day in the middle of an Australian summer - both in the humid tropics and in the dry outback - with no more difficulty than heavy clothing. The limitations with Japanese armour are solely because of the limitations with lamellar constructions.
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Philip Dyer





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PostPosted: Sat 21 Feb, 2015 3:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Climate is not a consideration. It never has been. We know that the heaviest armours ever used in battle were worn on summer campaigns in the arid regions of the Middle East for thousands of years. I've worn these armours all day in the middle of an Australian summer - both in the humid tropics and in the dry outback - with no more difficulty than heavy clothing. The limitations with Japanese armour are solely because of the limitations with lamellar constructions.

Honestly Dan, I don't how much your personal experience prove anything, wearing armor around and fighting it in are two entirely different things , one is cramp more exhausting endevour that the other. Have you ever tried to do historical reenactment/ sparring in those armors in those weather conditions?
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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Sat 21 Feb, 2015 4:23 pm    Post subject: Re: Would European swords easily shatter Samurai armor?         Reply with quote

John A. Brown wrote:

The pro knight side often assumes that European longswords were not only superior to Katanas that if the two sword impacted, katanas would shatter upon impact......


I've never heard this claimed by anybody with any credibility inside this hobby or in WMA. I sure do miss quite a bit and I forget even more but this really seems to be a throw out straw man. Something mainly just intended to evoke an impassioned response, not state a position.

John A. Brown wrote:
...in at least several of these knights vs samurai debates


Glad to hear is happened at least several times. Bottom line is that cultures used tools because they worked for the culture. Is one tool better than the other? Clearly gun trumps knife. Maybe not so clear in the case of Western Knight versus Eastern Knight...because you're talking about cultural elite, professional warrior in both instances. Knights. Samurai. Same thing different time. Different place. To me getting stuck on this tools discussion might as well be a Snap-On vs. Craftsman vs. Matco argument.

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