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Torsten F.H. Wilke




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PostPosted: Mon 23 Oct, 2006 12:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Giving either side any advantage in skill is misguided.

Is it really? Why then, if you would be so kind as to explain...
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Allen G.





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PostPosted: Mon 23 Oct, 2006 1:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's fun to think a fight between a knight/samurai/roman etc would have been a clash of dramatically different styles like an orc vs wizard, but it would have likely been like when a modern top level thai boxer fights a top level american boxer, theyve both trained so much that they ultimately arrive at the same conclusion for what works vs what doesnt, even starting from different systems.

I have to strongly disagree about samurai martial arts training being more precise and complete etc than knight martial training. Aside from mapped out "martial arts" systems as we know them originating in the ancient west before heading east;.. from all non-hollywood sources I've seen, the overall picture seems to be a knight/samurai's training as well as gear would depend on the specific sponser hes serving rather than the fact that theyre in the warrior class alone.

No offense but the "razor-sharp skills vs. power& protection." thing arose out of the incorrect post-feudal extremist literature cliches about a term now hardly used academically: the "dark age" when Europe somehow managed to ascend to dominance using illiteracy and 50 lbs blunt swords.. while evidence shows swords were 2-3 lbs and literacy increased.. I can't help but assume it also comes from fantasy fiction, where europeans often wield blunt mallets and samurai have cat-like reflexes. Both knights and samurai trained their skills daily from a very young (pre-teen) age. Both like any trained fighter relied on speed and precision.

Since we cannot compare individual talent and have to go by averages, the average technological edge of european arms&armour would be my pick if i had to bet money.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 23 Oct, 2006 5:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree. If Japanese arms/armour were so wonderful they wouldn't have so readily adopted European arms. You see almost no influence of Japanese warfare on the European battlefield but European influences were everywhere in Japan.
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Alexander Hinman




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PostPosted: Wed 25 Oct, 2006 4:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
I agree. If Japanese arms/armour were so wonderful they wouldn't have so readily adopted European arms. You see almost no influence of Japanese warfare on the European battlefield but European influences were everywhere in Japan.


What do you mean by 'everywhere', Dan? I know there was some influence in the use of the breastplate, along with the adoption of guns and a flirtation with Catholicism, but did it extend much beyond that? I'm not trying to sound confrontational, just curious.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Wed 25 Oct, 2006 5:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I meant "everywhere on the battlefield".
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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Wed 25 Oct, 2006 9:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all!

To seriously ask this question (if it can truly be asked seriously), don't we need to ask what period, especially when the European knight is concerned? Is it a knight of the First Crusade, clad in a hauberk and possibly a gambeson (although the existence of padded garments this early is debatable), nasal helmet, kite shield, but without mail chausses? Or, is it a knight of the 13th century, clad head-to-foot in mail, with a gambeson or aketon beneath, with a great helm upon his head, and a "heater" shield on his arm? Or, is it a knight of the 14th century, when knights really began fighting regularly on foot (just a gross generalization, I know), and began to add all sorts of reinforcements to the mail hauberk or haubergeon, including a coat-of-plates, greaves,and vambraces? Or, is it a knight of the 15th century clad cap a pie in an "all white" harness?

I'm not so sure about the changes in a samurai's armour, but does it change somewhat also? Is this the period when European influences began to show, or is it the period when Japan was more isolated?

Japanese armour and weapons evolved under the specific conditions encountered in Japan, with a definite traditional influence. European armour evolved under different conditions and different traditions. The two classes might be a bit disparate in equipment. However, I think both warrior classes would have adequate training. Remember, a knight trained constantly in tournaments and on the hunt as well as during his upbringing.

Again, it's a bit outside my area of interest, but I was under the impression that the katana was a wonderful cutting tool, but perhaps not an "armour cracker". Would a katana make much of an impression on a knight in full plate harness? I am aware that thrusts can be delivered, but how prevalent was the "thrust" ideology in feudal Japan?

I think if a samurai clad in the typical lamellar, brigandine, and partial plate of traditional Japanese armour encountered a 15th century knight clad in full plate, it might be a bit like the Polish cavalry charging the German panzers in World War II. The Japanese katana might find it hard to defeat the plate armour. I think the knight's poleaxe or bastard sword would not find it too difficult to exploit gaps or weak points in the Japanese armour. After all, that's what they were designed to do! Of course, if the samurai also carried a pole arm, things might become a bit more even.

Another difference, more important to the earlier European period, would be the use of a shield. The katana is basically a two-handed weapon, isn't it? A knight clad in mail with a shield might be able to catch the katana on the edge of his shield and render the samurai momentarily weaponless. His slashing sword may not be able to penetrate the samurai's armour, but he could still batter him senseless! And, the thrust was still a viable option even with the earlier slashing swords.

As hard and skilled a fighter as the Japanese samurai was, I think he would find a medieval knight, especially one in full plate, to be a hard nut to crack! I think Dan Howard's point about the adoption of European-style armour by the Japanese is a good one! The Japanese themselves seemed to understand the effectiveness of European-styled armour.

I hope I wasn't being too general with regard to my comments about Japanese arms and armour. I know a bit, but it's not my main period and place of interest!

Stay safe!

"I'm going to do what the warriors of old did! I'm going to recite poetry!"
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George Hill




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PostPosted: Wed 25 Oct, 2006 11:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard Fay wrote:

Again, it's a bit outside my area of interest, but I was under the impression that the katana was a wonderful cutting tool, but perhaps not an "armour cracker". Would a katana make much of an impression on a knight in full plate harness? I am aware that thrusts can be delivered, but how prevalent was the "thrust" ideology in feudal Japan?

I think if a samurai clad in the typical lamellar, brigandine, and partial plate of traditional Japanese armour encountered a 15th century knight clad in full plate, it might be a bit like the Polish cavalry charging the German panzers in World War II. The Japanese katana might find it hard to defeat the plate armour!


A samurai armed ONLY with a Katana would find a European Knight in full plate armor, with the gaps covered in mail, nigh invunerable. (Well, except for wrestling tactics. But let's ignore those whilst I make my sword related point.)

Recent tests on rivited mail, (modern, true) seem to show that a point must enter the link and pop it from the INSIDE, like pulling a rubber band to either side until it pops. This is why late period longsword points look like needles. The Albion Talhoffer is an excellent example of a sword which can thrust through rivieted mail.

When you look at the point on a kat, IT's a cutting point, not a thrusting point. When you consider it for a side impact, it's quite good, and is very similar to a viking's point. Rounded relative to the side impact it's expected to have. It's sharp, and can thrust, but it's not designed to do that the way it is to cut.

Japanese armor on the other hand, is usually considered to come in two basic models. The early 'very boxy looking' model, and the late 'streamlined' model. I don't know enough to speak well on either, but nither offered the protection of European armor at it's high point. Gaps were not covered as well, and limb defences were much lighter. It was designed around archers rather then swordsman.

As as far as the wrestling tactics are concerned, remember the knight was just as mobile in his fantastic metal skin, and (if well trained) an excellent wrestler himself. He had to be to deal with all those other guys in the metal skins.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Wed 25 Oct, 2006 12:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all!

Thanks for the details, George. It matches what I was thinking.

Now, if we armed the samurai with a bow, things might be a bit different. Weren't samurai expected to be proficient with the "uneven" Japanese bow? Would a Japanese bow be able to penetrate plate, or at least the mailed gaps in a plate harness? Of course, a lucky shot to the face might end it real quick!

If it came down to wrestling, the European may have a size advantage. I once knew a guy who was all arms and legs, and knew how to use them when in a "friendly tussle"! Being short and broad, I would try to knock him down before he could use his superior leverage. Yeah, I played rough when I was a "kid"!

Stay safe!

"I'm going to do what the warriors of old did! I'm going to recite poetry!"
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George Hill




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PostPosted: Wed 25 Oct, 2006 2:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard Fay wrote:

Now, if we armed the samurai with a bow, things might be a bit different. Weren't samurai expected to be proficient with the "uneven" Japanese bow? Would a Japanese bow be able to penetrate plate, or at least the mailed gaps in a plate harness? Of course, a lucky shot to the face might end it real quick!


The bow was the top Samurai weapon. They were chiefly mounted archers and quite skilled at it. The Knight on the other hand was 'chiefly' a mounted lancer. When Mounted archers and lancers face off, it comes down to two things. Armor, (on the man AND horse) and horsemanship.

Longbows, Japanese or English, do not penetrate plate. Mail, maybe. This is debatable, but if he was using a skinny point arrowhead, then it's likely the mail part would be penetrated, if he could hit it. Hitting someone under the arm, or in the elbow, from a distance would be a hard thing to do even if he didn't 'turtle up.' If he faces the archer, and turtles up, the mail really isn't exposed at all.

That said, I am brought to understand most Japanese arrowheads were of TANGED construction. (IF anyone has contrary evidence, please post it.) A tang-headed arrow is much much weaker then a Socket headed arrow, because the socket has all the force directed into it, whereas the tang-head acts as a wedge under impact compression and splits the arrow behind it, thus preventing full transference of force, except into soft targets.

That would mean that it's ability to penetrate mail is even more debateable. (Crusader Mail stood up extremely well to the arrows sent against it.)

Of course if they are both mounted, and the Knight does not have his horse in armor, he will be dismounted very quickly whilst the Samurai rides around him in circles, bouncing arrows off his harness until the Knight gets dizzy. (This is why so many dismounted battles were fought in the middle of the hundred years war, before arrow proof horse armor was invented and fielded.

If the Knight HAS plate horse armor, then the Samurai with the bow better run for it. If he's lucky, the Knight's horse won't be able to catch him. If he's not.........

But that is a debate for those who know a great deal about horses, and who's horse is faster under X amount of weight.

In truth, the Knight had the equipment advantage on almost every level. His sword has a better guard (And in the case of a longsword) and is generally longer and more versatile, his armor offers better coverage and although it has weak points, it has far fewer VERY weak points. Add to this the fact he is in theory at least as well trained as his counterpart.

It's popular to say that who is better usually wins, and this is often true if one is much better, but if you take two people who are 'pretty good' then the equipment advantage is very real, and should not be overlooked.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Sam Barris




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PostPosted: Wed 25 Oct, 2006 3:06 pm    Post subject: Re: The European Knight vs. The Japanese Samurai         Reply with quote

Just a thought...

Justin Pasternak wrote:
Who would win the fight in hand-to-hand combat?

I think we might be so accustomed to these topics that we instantly fall back on our knowledge of weapons and armor. However, I read this to mean that they are without their weapons, possibly without their armor, too, and relying on unarmed techniques alone. Perhaps the author of the thread might confirm or deny this?

Also, we should remember that most of the "encompassing life philosophy" aspect of Japanese martial arts came after the power and purpose of the Samurai were in decline. More traditional Japanese arts tended to take a jutsu approach more suited to the practical needs of a person who kills for a living, while more modern ones emphasize the self-development and enlightenment aspects inherent in the do approach. I think it's a fallacy to imagine that the average Samurai was somehow spiritually stronger or in possession of a greater degree of philosophical insight than the average Knight. I believe the religious and philosophical aspects of their arts would end up about even, assuming these sorts of things can be measured.

Pax,
Sam Barris

"Any nation that draws too great a distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools." —Thucydides
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Tanner Yerkey




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PostPosted: Thu 26 Oct, 2006 4:02 am    Post subject: Re: The European Knight vs. The Japanese Samurai         Reply with quote

Justin Pasternak wrote:
In a one-on-one fight Who would win the European Knight vs. the Japanese Samurai, both warriors would be from the 14th Century. Who would win the fight in hand-to-hand combat?

OK, everyone shut up about thumb wrestling. To see who would truly win you would have to look at the amount of empty hand traing each warrior would have. The samuria was trained in several diiferent martial skills. He was perfectly ready to lose a weapon yet continue to fight. The european knight usually did not have to warrior about such things because of the amount of armour he wore. From all of my reading and research I believe the samuria would have the upper hand in a no weapons duel. Now if we would give them their arms and armor back the knight would come out on top given he had a lance(large spear not jousting)or sword and shield. Both these combinations of weapon(s) are far superior to a katana wielding samuria. But with that said the samuria would aften be wielding a spear because of its superior distance. Kantana was usually just a back up weapon.
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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Thu 26 Oct, 2006 10:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all!

Tanner,
The European knight also had training in wrestling, it's just not discussed often. He was expected to be a very fit man as well; some could climb up a scaling ladder while in armour using just their hands! The knight might not fight bare-handed in a more structured "Oriental" style martial art, but he would know how to use his body as a weapon!

Also, remember the knight on horseback fought with his lance first, then went to his mace, axe, or sword, then possibly a dagger if need be. The European knight did have a diverse martial training, just like the samurai. He could even use his gauntlets as weapons, especially if they bore spiked gadlings.

Stay safe!

"I'm going to do what the warriors of old did! I'm going to recite poetry!"
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Allen G.





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PostPosted: Thu 26 Oct, 2006 1:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

hi,

I was involved with western hand-to-hand martial arts before i became interested in fencing and melee weaponry, so I'm forced to be a hypocrite and disagree again.. hand to hand training, especially grappling similar to modern 'ufc' type fighting, is well documented in multiple medieval/ren sources. A leading theory being that Alexander spread the concept of modern martial arts east with Pankration which influenced kung fu/karate/judo etc's creation/evolution. It was adopted directly from Hellenic culture into Roman culture and spread to its neighbors, and into their migration period military training. Ive also seen recods of gallic/celtic martial arts and germanic martial arts, but i dont know enough aboutt hem to say whether pankration replaced them or assimilated with them.

http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art26080.asp a brief link about pankration, maybe i can find a better one later on.

Even aside from his direct ancestors being on the cutting edge of martial arts, assuming a knight had no hand to hand training is especially awkward if you take into account a large part of, possibly even the majority, of armoured fighting manuals we have now involved the martial arts "clinch" position and often in armour on foot modern wrestling take downs. I can't imagine a reason one would learn these techniques with a sword or pole arm in 1 hand but not know how to use them with fists..

Now as for who would win, Fedor Emelianenko??? I still can't pick 1 without sounding stupid, it could come down to who got the better nights sleep. I'm just asking that the movie cliches about Samurai being fast graceful artistic duellists while knights were slow and untrained muscle men be abandoned.

About Dan's comment, I also agree, the influence was one way. and before somebody gets offended I can't see why its OK to talk about something like German influence creating reform of obsolete hellenic tactics & technology on the mediterranian but so taboo to point out Japan eventually adopted entirely western style military tactics & technology as theres were also obsolete.
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George Hill




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PostPosted: Thu 26 Oct, 2006 1:28 pm    Post subject: Re: The European Knight vs. The Japanese Samurai         Reply with quote

Tanner Yerkey wrote:
Justin Pasternak wrote:
In a one-on-one fight Who would win the European Knight vs. the Japanese Samurai, both warriors would be from the 14th Century. Who would win the fight in hand-to-hand combat?



The european knight usually did not have to warrior about such things because of the amount of armour he wore. From all of my reading and research I believe the samuria would have the upper hand in a no weapons duel. .


On the contrary, the Knight, (Again, we are assuming a well trained Knight, as both sides had warrior caste members who were not really warriors,) has EXCELLENT empty hand training.

These system are usually translated as 'wrestling' but this word does not conjure up the correct images. You see college wrestlers trying to pin each other. In historical Knightly wrestling, it's how to break arms and throw people into things, along with a number of strikes to venerable areas of the body.

Wrestling techniques were especially important because they still worked (with adjustments) on men in armor.

Fiore, an Italian master of combat, said "Also I say that wrestling requires seven things; which are strength, speed, knowledge, that is, knowledge of binds of advantage, knowing how to fracture, that is how to break arms and legs, knowing binds, that is how to bind arms so that the man has no defence anymore, and can not leave freely, and knowing how to injure the most dangerous points. Also, knowing how to put someone on the ground, without danger to himself. Also, knowing how to dislocate arms and legs in different ways. Which things I will write and draw in this book, step by step, as the art requires. We have said what unarmed combat requires, now we will talk about the guards of unarmed combat... and from there he goes on.

This is from the getty version, found here: http://www.fioredeiliberi.org/getty/

German Ringen is also quite impressive, and includes a set of five strikes to aid you in stunning the other fellow long enough to break his limbs or throw him. Also, you have ground fighting, which includes getting on top of the other fellow, pulling the other fellow's dagger, and sticking him with it through the eyeslits of his helmet.

A Knight who is skilled at this profession would have every advantage a man could before entering the unarmed fight, and he would have his sheer size on his side, (and for all that is said, in grappling mass does count.)

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Tanner Yerkey




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PostPosted: Thu 26 Oct, 2006 1:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the info everyone. I believe I recall hearing about knights wrestling but that most devenantly slipped my mind. Anyway I wasn't saying a knight couldn't fight I was making the comment that I've found that the samuria was trained in several martial skills. Most ancient warriors knew how to punch, kick, and grapple(the knight) but the samuria had an array of techniques and skills all encorporated with fighting in weaponless senarios. I still hold firm with the believe that the samuria would win in a hand to hand fight when both warriors had no armor or weapons.
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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Thu 26 Oct, 2006 2:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all!

Thanks for the specifics about a knight's wrestling training. I knew they had such training, just not the specifics! Big Grin Big Grin

Tanner,
I think it's a strange cultural bias to believe that the samurai would be better skilled at killing (and that's what we're basically talking about here) than a medieval knight. Both warrior classes trained intensely to learn how to kill effectively. A knight started his martial training, armed and unarmed, from the age of seven. His real intense training began when he became a squire at about age fourteen. These men spent their lives learning how to inflict harm on others with a variety of tools, including their bare hands. I think the Oriental martial arts have just gotten better press, and Western martial arts with bladed weapons or unarmed may have suffered from obsolescence since the introduction of firearms.

Remember, too, that the knight regularly participated in all sorts of "blood sports". Tournaments often turned into real battles, and knights were sometimes killed in the supposedly friendly fray. The hunt also helped hone a knights skills, and not just riding skills either! The wild boar was a particularly dangerous opponent, and at least one noblemen (a Burgundian Duke, I believe) made a name for himself when he preferred to face the boar with a sword rather than the more traditional boar spear!

These men were killers, pure and simple. That was their job, and they often did it quite effectively.

Another thing that could effect the outcome; what were the codes of honour of the two cultures? Would the samurai confront the knight as an equal, or vice-versa? Or, would each look down on the other as uncivilized "foreigners"? I don't think the knight would necessarily follow the code of chivalry when confronted with a Japanese opponent, his cultural bias would lead him to believe that the samurai was too much of a "foreigner" to come under the chivalric code. The fight would likely be a dirty one, with no holds barred, and no quarter given. It's a despicable truth, but a truth just the same, that European warriors often treated "outsiders" brutally. Would the samurai do the same?

Just another aspect of the discussion. I'm not saying it's right, just what the medieval mindset was like!

Stay safe!

"I'm going to do what the warriors of old did! I'm going to recite poetry!"
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George Hill




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PostPosted: Thu 26 Oct, 2006 2:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tanner Yerkey wrote:
Thanks for the info everyone. I believe I recall hearing about knights wrestling but that most devenantly slipped my mind. Anyway I wasn't saying a knight couldn't fight I was making the comment that I've found that the samuria was trained in several martial skills. Most ancient warriors knew how to punch, kick, and grapple(the knight) but the samuria had an array of techniques and skills all encorporated with fighting in weaponless senarios. I still hold firm with the believe that the samuria would win in a hand to hand fight when both warriors had no armor or weapons.


On what basis? Samurai unarmed skills such as what? Karate? Jujitsu? That's punching,kicking and grappling, Which is what the Knight had as well. Both side have systems, so what else is there? At the end of the day, if you aren't punching, kicking, or grappling, how do you hurt someone without weapons? Bite them?

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Tanner Yerkey




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PostPosted: Thu 26 Oct, 2006 2:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

exactly...just jokin. Ok I'll take more time on this. I appaulagize but all my writings have been written to fast and I need to dwelve more. The point I wanted to make was though both cultures had a variady of fighting techniques in my view the japanese had a larger scale of styles. Because of the armor and weapons of the knights empty hand may not of been as big of a deal. their armor was very sturdy and covered almost all of the body. With that said most punches, kicks and joint munipulations would be of no use. The samuria's armor how every was cord and laquered. It had silk cord at the joints to allow more movement. Both jujitsu and sumo came about because of amuria needing to fight on the battle field with out a weapon. Many japanese styles seen today are only a small part of what once was a complete and lethal style. The fact that knights would be trained for battle which would be in their armor which was hard to move fast in or to be in some postions in which covered their whole bodies so most empty had would be useless leads me to the fact that the samuria would have the upper hand. I'm not dissing the knight. Armed he would most likely win but not in a empty hand fight.probaly.
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George Hill




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PostPosted: Thu 26 Oct, 2006 3:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tanner, Japanese empty hand forms have nothing you will not find in historic western arts. Jujitsu and Ringen are actually very similar styles. And yes, western arts had kicks, punchs, leg sweeps, joint locks, dislocations...etc. We have a written account of an Englishman using a leg sweep on a spainish soldier. We have a fellow who would stick his index finger into hard apples.

Indeed, if you can come up with any one thing that the Japanese had, which you cannot find a variation of in the west, I will be most suprised. Fiore even references a "Kusari-Gama." Of course, the base weapon is a poleaxe and not a sickle. And he references the use of 'ninja blinding powder' installed in the head of a custom poleaxe.

As to empty hand forms being less useful in armor, that's true... but we do have a good bit of empty hand forms practised in armor. (OF course, the idea was to get the other guy in a hold, then get a dagger out to finish him...)

But most of the empty hand forms involve 'blossfecten' or fighting out of armor. Harnessfecten was fighting in armor. So yes, a Knight was very well prepared for fighting without his Armor.

If you wish to continue, feel free, but do be so good as to be very specific in your evidence.

P.S. Is English you first langauge? You use some... Obscure... grammar.






EDIT Oh, Richard, there is a good bit of evidence to suggest the Samurai would have been just as brutal as the Knight. The Chinese and Koreans are quite specific in their condemnations of the Japanese conduct during the Imjin war. I've heard it said they would cut off the heads of women and children, then beat on them until you couldn't tell the gender or age, and deliver them as if they were the heads of enemy troops killed in battle.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Tanner Yerkey




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PostPosted: Thu 26 Oct, 2006 3:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I find this conversation very interesting and I appreciate the info you have given me. I will consult my teacher/master tonight and see if I can find any straight up evidence that he may have that would show if the samuria does have a advantage or not. You seem to be well educated in western fighting. I hope we have many more dicussions in the future.

P.S. sorry about the grammar. i don't know if you ment in as an insult or not but my primary language is english. Check tomorrow night for my reply
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