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Jack Yang




Location: maryland
Joined: 24 Mar 2007

Posts: 38

PostPosted: Sat 05 May, 2007 12:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

heh, i forgot, i come from northwestern china, and people there weregenerally taller than other asians... I think it's due to a mix of blood with the mongols... or something like that... idk.

The primary weapon of the samurai was the bow, and next comes the spear, and the swords were actually the 'last defence'. This held true until kamakura period, when the mounted soldiers used the sword as their primary weapon, for running down enemies. The japanese also like bigger weapons like the naginata, which they used to cut down horseman. in all these cases, the addition of a shield to the samurai gear would be either impossible or inconvienent.

then, around edo period, the samurai went out on foot with no armor at all (I've no idea why, maybe it's just a matter of style or show of manliness?)
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Reading list: 7 books

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PostPosted: Sun 06 May, 2007 4:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jack Yang wrote:
This held true until kamakura period, when the mounted soldiers used the sword as their primary weapon, for running down enemies.


That does not qualify the sword as a primary weapon. Remember, pursuing a defeated enemy is an entirely different matter from defeating unbroken enemies, and a pursuit places less demands on the pursuing warrior to choose the "right" weapon because they would have had the time to pick and choose and even aim at the exposed backs of their enemies. Hence we see swords figuring prominently in all sorts of pursuits, including those conducted by 15th-century European men-at-arms--whose primary weapons were most empathically not swords!

Kamakura, Nanboku, Ashikaga, and early Sengoku samurai were still principally heavy horse archers except when they fought on foot. Only in the later parts of the Sengoku Jidai did they begin to split into several more specialized types, such as the lance-armed horsemen so useful in the pursuit of retreating enemies--including the (still popular) horse archers.


Quote:
then, around edo period, the samurai went out on foot with no armor at all (I've no idea why, maybe it's just a matter of style or show of manliness?)


It's because the Edo period saw very little in the way of open warfare. Most of the samurai depicted in the art of this period were ceremonial guards who attended the processions of the great provincial lords to Edo and back or the Shogun's guards who kept order inside the city. When the samurai were employed in a combat capacity, they usually did so as police agents dispersing a riot, a criminal racket, or a rebel gathering. This demanded a mode of armor more suited for urban warfare, of course, and going unarmored gave them the freedom of movement needed to fight in the cramped spaces of indoor settings or narrow back-alleys. Occasionally they'd put on a light haramaki cuirass and a headband with strips of iron sewn into it to protect the head from sword and knife cuts--like what the Shinsengumi did when they broke an anti-Shogun conspiray in the 19th century--but that's all. Any heavier armor would have hampered their urban fighting capabilities too much.

The cult of the sword is also a product of the Edo period. Before that the samurai regarded the sword as just another weapon--somewhat more prestigious than others due to their expense, perhaps, but still not with the mythical reverence accorded to it in the Edo and later periods.
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

Posts: 1,480

PostPosted: Sat 12 May, 2012 12:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

im unconvinced by the '2 handed weapons dont work with shields comment,
we have numerous references throughout history of soldiers having shields AND long weapons at the same time
the macedonian phalangite, and the byzantine kontarion pikemen.
both had shield while holding pikes, much in the same way renaissance and japanese pike formations did.

its definately possible through the use of the guige strap and designing the shield the right way..

the byzantines used kite shields smaller than the norman variety we believe but they had guige straps and enarms that allowed one to hold the pike with your left hand, while having the shield rest on your left arm and being supported also by the guige strap,
the macedonians used a very similar system exccept with roundshields.
that said, these blocks of men with large yari, were in an age where the bow didnt quite decline, but was being substituted by musketry and we know that a wood and leather shield is mostly unable to stop bullets.

as for mounted archery, its been also well established that shields were used alongside mounted archery by a variety of peoples , the mongols the turks, the rus, the sassanids and persians before them.

its not that it doesnt work,
i think its probably the reason that they didnt need it
as was noted the japanese had the large square O sode, which were freely swinging lamellar panels attatched to each shoulder that would, hopefully stop arrows coming at you.

also consider japanese society back then, they were at times FIERCELY traditional (case in point the entire edo period)
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Henrik Granlid




Location: Sweden
Joined: 17 Apr 2012

Posts: 103

PostPosted: Sat 12 May, 2012 2:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Far as I've understood it, the Edo period actually established traditions not in effect up until then.

Also, when it comes to horse archery, a shield is very plausible with a bow that isn't as tall as you are (far as I've understood it at least).
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Sebastian Pachmayr




Location: Alberta, Canada
Joined: 04 Apr 2012

Posts: 19

PostPosted: Sat 12 May, 2012 5:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'll admit, Japanese warfare and weaponry is definitely not at all my area of expertise, so if I make some errors please correct me Happy

As far as I know the Japanese bows were huge (from what i've seen larger than a longbow), so I think a shield may definitely interfere.

I agree with Jean and Carl's theory that japanese armour was sufficient against slashing and piercing damage, and due to the lack of heavy blunt trauma weapons (I have seen pictures of a heavy club like weapon, but they seem rather rare, and other japanese weaponry as the katana seems to be built lightly more for sharp cutting damage rather than blunt trauma... This view could be completely incorrect and shaped by popular media however :P ) the rigid defence of a shield may have just not been needed.

Just my uneducated 2 cents, I hope there are no glaring flaws.
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Eric S




Location: new orleans
Joined: 22 Nov 2009
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PostPosted: Mon 14 May, 2012 4:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is a quote from a book by Jonathan Clements, A Brief History of the Samurai Page 24 http://books.google.com/books?id=gyqN0PRuoeUC...amp;f=true

Quote:
The design of warrior's armour began to reflect the increased role of mounted archery. The top of the helmet remained the toughest point of the armour suit, and its neck guard flared out even further. This afforded the maximum protection and deflection from arrows fired directly above the wearer's head. While this might seem strange at first, it suggests that when charging at their enemies, Japanese soldiers would do so with their heads low and eyes down, presenting the arrow-deflecting curves of their helmet head-on the the foe. With the need to keep both hands free for using a bow, no shield was possible. Instead Japanese warriors began to favour large, shield-like attachments that formed square pads attached to their shoulders.



During the periods when bows were one of the main weapons, large "sode" (sholder armor) were attached to the armor very loosely by cords tied on top of the armor, this allowed the sode to be moved or removed easily, in later periods when the bow was no longer a primary weapon, the now much smaller sode were firmly attached to the armor with toggles, the sode could not be as easily moved or removed on later armors.

Samurai armor showing the large old style sode (shoulder armor).


The samurai started to use shields mounted on the shoulders of their armor called "sode", the use of sode allowed the samurai to use both hands while riding a horse, this was a significant innovation. If you look at an image of an early samurai in O-Yoroi armor riding a horse you will see how well the armor covered the vital areas. By not having to hold a shield in their hands the samurai would have had a significant advantage over a house mounted enemy who was holding a shield. Instead of wondering why the samurai did not use hand held shields you might as well wonder why other cultures did not use sode instead of hand held shields while fighting on horse back.

Japanese foot soldiers did at one time use hand shields, Dorothy Perkins notes the use of "wood and leather shields" by foot soldiers as early as the mid 6th century. The Japanese government eventually started to rely quite heavily on horse mounted warriors sometime between the 700s and 800s to provide protection as the conscripted foot soldiers proved to be less than adequate against enemies who increasingly used horses. The battles with the Emishi, who were skilled at riding horses necessitated a similar horse mounted warrior to fight them.

At some point in time the hand held shield seems to have been completely abandoned in Japan, its not as if the Japanese never used hand held shields.

If you look at this image of an early samurai riding a horse you will see how well the O-Yoroi armor protected the vital areas. Note the tachi and yumi.


Samurai fighting from behind shields.


Ashigaru using shields
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Mon 14 May, 2012 6:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Instead of wondering why the samurai did not use hand held shields you might as well wonder why other cultures did not use sode instead of hand held shields while fighting on horse back.


Actually no, not really, because it only makes sense to use sode in certain contexts. If the main form of attack that you need to protect yourself from while mounted on a horse is arrow fire, then having sode on your armour makes eminent sense, especially if you need your arms relatively unrestricted to fire a bow. But, if the main form of attack you have to deal with is from a lance, then hand held shields make far more sense because it helps to cover the frontal portion of your body.
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

Posts: 1,480

PostPosted: Tue 15 May, 2012 2:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

what about ailettes used by 13th C knights?

that said, eric makes a good point,

espcially for cultures like the mongols and turks which were heavily based on horse archery in the upper echelons.

that said these guys had lots of lancers as well.

i already mentioned the turkish shields aka kalkan. which can be held so that they rest on the upper arm and shoulder,

but O sode covered both shoulders.
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