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Matt VDW
June 12, 2000, 09:01 AM
I'm curious about the divergent evolution of the sword in Europe and Japan. In the West, the sword evolved into a one-handed, straight-bladed, double edged weapon with a fairly elaborate handguard. In the East, the sword evolved into a two-handed, curved-bladed, single edged weapon with a very simple handguard.

Why did the sword take one form in Europe and another in Japan?

And if you had to carry a sword as your primary weapon for everyday personal defense, which style would you choose? Assume that the threat is generic thugs and bandits, not marauding samurai or barbarian hordes. Also assume that lightsaber technology is not available. ;)

Hard Ball
June 12, 2000, 10:36 AM
A samurai sword because, as the old Japanese proverb goes "He who is struck once with a good sword seldom needs striking again."

Cowboy Preacher
June 12, 2000, 01:14 PM
I would go with the sword my ancestors uses a good ole' fashioned Scottish Claymore. It would cleave a horse's head off in one good blow.

Matt VDW
June 12, 2000, 03:20 PM
At over four feet long, the claymore would be a bit impractical for everyday carry. It might also be hard to swing inside a building.

yorec
June 12, 2000, 05:10 PM
For everyday carry you would have to go with the Japanese swords. The Katana for main use and the Wakizashi for indoor use. The Wakizashi was made for use indoors where the Katana would be hampered by narrower corridors.

Just for style points I'd rather carry a Rapier (Three Musketeers era). They were some of the most elegant, beautiful swords ever made. The stabbing style would work well indoors and the advantage of free movement and speed would help a lot against someone with a big heavy sword. However against numerous opponents having to pull it free of a successful thrust could prove fatal.

Ivanhoe
June 12, 2000, 06:58 PM
There were two-handed and hand-and-a-half swords used in Europe. And while the swords of the Dark and Middle Ages tended to be double-edged and straight, during the time of gunpowder, the main blade evolved from the straight rapier to curved sabers and cutlasses.

If the expected opponents are not armored, then something along the lines of a saber might work OK. I think I'd avoid a two-handed blade because if I were outdoors I'd want either a bow or crossbow in hand.

Zensho
June 12, 2000, 08:34 PM
I would go with a Wakazashi if CQB scenarios were the order of the day. For open woods and field use, make it a Katana.

The Italian in me is saying "you traitor, go get your Schiavona!"

[This message has been edited by Zensho (edited June 12, 2000).]

rms/pa
June 12, 2000, 08:52 PM
this is an extremly popular topic in the ren fair/sca boards. historicly: the portugese brought the rapier with them to japan.
IF(and only IF)the rapier user could get his weapon out before combat the rapier won in 38 out of 42 recorded duels. in iajitsu deuls starting from scabbard the rapier man died.

each style and type of sword has an intimate relationship with the period/culture it was popular.
cultural bias, expected opponnent armour , group/skirmish combat, one on one deuling, mounted or on foot. all of these things effect(affect?) the weapon used.

rms/pa

chokeu2
June 12, 2000, 09:00 PM
You guys are forgetting the the blade masters of Indonesia, and the Filipines. I would venture to say, that they are the best blade fighters in the world, to this day. Consider the swords of the region too.

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Open Mind, Closed Fist

Jim March
June 12, 2000, 09:05 PM
I just finished reading a good "popularization" of the Spartan's stand at Thermopolae called "The Fire Gate" that, I *think*, holds a clue.

The Greek heavy infantry (Hoplites) fought as well-disciplined teams, using heavy shields and inter-locked armor in fixed formations. (Or rather, their main front-line formations worked this way - to the rear were various archers, sling-throwers, guys with javelins, what have you.) The front-line guys used heavyish one-handed spears as their prime weapon, wielded overhand in a "repeated downward stabbing" motion. At a walk, they'd advance and just chew through damn near anything, shrugging off missile attacks with the armor and shields. Their backup weapon was a short "heavy chopping" type sword closely related to a modern Nepalese Khukuri...Bill Martino of Himalayan Imports can sell you a 21" (overall) Sirupati that'll handle very similarly to a Greek Kopis. Like the spear, it was a "heavy smash" weapon that didn't need a lot of finess, or FOOTWORK.

Key point: if a guy got so tired he shrugged off his armor or helmet, that was considered unwise but not dishonorable or what we'd call a "court-martial offense". But to drop your SHIELD meant losing your citizenship! Why? Because your shield wasn't there to protect you, it was there to protect the guy to your left. What does this imply?

NO FOOTWORK!

The Romans adopted the Greek tactics, with a few twists. Shields got bigger yet, and the "interlocked shields" concept even more clearly defined, to where they could stand against cavalry. Primary weapon switched to a short "heavy stabbing" sword - straight thrusts could be performed through the shield wall without breaking it.

These concepts of closely-spaced individual soldiers forming a "solid wall" and attacking as a unit continued in European thinking, with some exceptions of course (Scots!). But in general, the Japanese sword systems absolutely, positively *required* "side-stepping" and other fancy footwork that went against the grain of European tactics.

The Japanese tended to fight as mobs of highly skilled individuals. Assuming they could avoid being outflanked, I'd be willing to bet a Roman Legion or a Hoplite Phalanx could have walked right up to double their number of Bushido and handed 'em their tail ends on a platter.

But one on one, in a duel? Whole 'nuther story :) - Mr. Gladiator or whatever just found hisself in biiiig trouble.

Now, later European "dueling schools" in the Italian and Spanish traditions are a whole different critter again than a Legionaire. I'll leave the "rapier versus katana" debate to others.

What I'm saying is that the Japanese "cut and dodge" system of *battlefield* skills developed as an entirely different path than the European systems at their Greek and Roman roots. The Rapier-type and similar European systems were NOT battlefield-bred, they were "personal defense for noblemen in peacetime". The Japanese also went down that path, esp. by the Edo period, but the "battlefield roots" of the dueling schools were much closer to the surface.

Jim

rms/pa
June 13, 2000, 06:09 AM
good post jim,

several history boards have concluded, DRILL IE: mass formation functioning is THE western martial art. something along the lines of " no diciplined formation is out numbered by an undisciplined formation."

rms/pa

Matt VDW
June 13, 2000, 07:54 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>this is an extremly popular topic in the ren fair/sca boards. historicly: the portugese brought the rapier with them to japan.
IF(and only IF)the rapier user could get his weapon out before combat the rapier won in 38 out of 42 recorded duels. in iajitsu deuls starting from scabbard the rapier man died.[/quote]

Interesting! I'm not surprised that the Japanese swordsmen won all the quick draw contests, but the rapier's domination in drawn sword fights is a shock. Hmmm...

Do you have any information on how well the Japanese swordsmen did against Okinawan karatekas armed with "martial arts weapons" (nunchaku, tonfu, sai, kama, et cetera)?

Skorzeny
June 13, 2000, 10:34 AM
Jim March:

The Roman battle formations of the earlier period was NOT a mere refinement of the Greek system.

The Greek phalanx was indeed a tight formation of armored and shielded heavy infantrymen who mainly utilized their stabbing spears. This required a flat terrain and, thus, the battlefield was often pre-selected in almost a ritualistic fashion. The number of combatants were often quite small, because of the size of the Greek city states and because command and control was extremely difficult with this kind of a primitive formation.

Romans did not fight in a tight mass. Their spear was largely a THROWING weapon. Romans often fought on rough, mountainous terrain in a non-ritualistic fashion and tended to fight in looser manipular formations for greater tactical flexibility. Romans threw their spears and then, taking advantage of the confusion created, charged and fought using their short swords (later adopting the Gladius of Spanish origin).

During the Punic Wars, Scipio Africanus adopted many of Hannibal's techniques and developed an elaborate combined arms army, with a substantial cavalry force, largely made up of North Africans (Numidians).

The Japanese military forces of the Warring States (pre-Toyotomi/Tokugawa era) were even more complex. Because of the tremendous amount experience they had in fighting on various terrain (urban, flat, mountainous, etc.) and conditions, they developed a very well-combined force of light and heavy cavalry, archers, mounted archers, spearmen, heavy infantry and light infantry and later even musketeers. The Japanese formation also became quite large and rather well-developed organizationally.

If a Greek force of the earlier age were to clash with a medieval Japanese force, the outcome would be very sad butchery of the Greeks by the Japanese. The primitive armor and shield worn by the Greeks may have protected them against more primitive missile weapons of their time, but not the armor piercing weapons of the Japanese (like their arrows). Operationally, the contest would end with the Japanese cavalry flanking and surrounding the Phalanx, the archers withering it with massive volleys of arrows and then the spearmen moving in and finally, the swordsmen cutting the survivors down.

The Romans of later period would fare better than the Greeks, of course.

Skorzeny

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For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence. Sun Tzu

Danger Dave
June 13, 2000, 02:47 PM
To answer the last question first, I would probably choose a short rapier concealed in a sword or umbrella (sword cane). You'll have it in hand, and can be used sheathed as well as unsheathed. Once unsheathed, the scabbard can be used to deflect blows or to move an opponents sword out of the way. To project the "don't mess with me" image, it would be accompanied by a main gauche, or similar dagger.

Matt, to answer your question, curved swords are designed mainly for slashing blows, straight, thin ones for piercing, and straight heavy ones for cleaving (like an axe). The European heavy straight swords (like the Claymore, bastard sword, etc.) were designed for cleaving through metallic armour, or defending against mounted cavalry (mostly 2-handed swords - usually used against the horse first). Europeans began using curved Cavalry swords after the gun made metal armor obsolete because it's easier to slash from horseback, and it's harder to get your sword stuck slashing. Around the same time, the infantry moved to the straight broadsword, basically a heavier form of the rapier, because thrusting is easier & faster than slashing while on foot (although, at this time, the sword was on it's way to obselescence).
The Samurai were originally mounted archers, so a curved sword was preferred, and it was worn blade down, hung from the belt on hangers (tachi). Armor in Japan was mostly hardened leather and bamboo - fairly easy to slash through, compared to European chain mail. When they made the transition to being foot soldiers, the sword was moved off of the hangers directly to the belt and the blade was turned upwards to facilitate a faster draw. The Bushido code did not require an opponent to warn before he attacked, so a Samurai had to be quick to access his weapon (Westerners would think of this as unfair, but a Samurai would say "well, he should have been ready - he was a warrior, after all"). Drawing & slashing in one motion is faster than drawing, pointing, & sticking, and can be done in closer quarters.

As far as martial arts weapons vs. swords, I can only think of one that proved effective against a sword with any reasonable frequency - the staff. According to one Japanese expert, 'a man skilled with a staff could easily defeat a swordsman', although it should be noted that techniques were developed specifically for that purpose. On the other side of the world, there is a documented case of an Englishman challenging and defeating three French (I believe) swordsmen with a quarterstaff - simultaneously.
Honestly, the staff would be my first choice in a fight, it's just darn awkward to carry around the city.


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Beginner barbarians probably had the idea that every house they broke into would be full of untouched loot and frightened, unarmed victims. It just doesn't work that way, my friend.

I hope these evil men come to understand our peaceful ways soon - My trigger finger is blistering!

Jim March
June 13, 2000, 05:03 PM
The discussion was about sword styles, not archery. So I wasn't clear enough: in a head-on confrontation between Hoplite heavy infantry and Bushido *swordsmen* on foot, I'd bet on the Greeks.

As to the Roman infantry, those shields were rectangular for a reason. I'm sure they were quite capable of fighting in loose formation but their preference was to tighten up, against incoming missiles or cavalry in particular.

And yes, they all had other types of soldiers running around, the Japanese and the later Romans especially. I should have explained that I was following the concept of "foot soldiers".

Jim

Claemore70
June 13, 2000, 06:19 PM
I think my preference would lie with the "newer" claymore: the basket-hilted broadsword. The Scots (my heritage as well)
used the word "claymore" to encompass both weapons. To back it up, I think I would use a buckler.

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"Vote with a Bullet."

William R. Wilburn
June 14, 2000, 01:44 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Danger Dave:
As far as martial arts weapons vs. swords, I can only think of one that proved effective against a sword with any reasonable frequency - the staff. According to one Japanese expert, 'a man skilled with a staff could easily defeat a swordsman',[/quote]

Musashi, the great 16th Century Japanese swordman fought over sixty duels and was defeated only once: by the innovator of the short staff.

William

Danger Dave
June 14, 2000, 07:21 AM
William, I thought that duel was just a legend. Is it documented? There are similar legends about a match between Ueshiba (founder of Aikido) and Mas Oyama (founder of Kyokushin-kai Karate). I don't know if they're true, either.

I would also like to clarify something - staves proved effective against unarmored swordsmen. Good armor, whether Occidental or Oriental, is hard to bash through with a stick.

rms/pa
June 14, 2000, 08:14 AM
Do you have any information on how well the Japanese swordsmen did against Okinawan karatekas armed with "martial arts weapons" (nunchaku, tonfu, sai, kama, et cetera)?[/B][/QUOTE]

with the meji restoration, the police were tasked with disarming the samurai, the most sucsessful weapon was the manriki-gusari(sp?)
an @3' chain with iron handles.

rms/pa

Skorzeny
June 14, 2000, 09:25 AM
Jim March:

If you are discussing sword techniques only, why was it that you compared fully armed Hoplites (armor, spear and shield) with a "mob of highly skilled individual" Samurais? No, you were comparing a hypothetical group action.

In that scenario, it would be only fair to match the Hoplites with fully armed Samurais (horse, lance, bow and sword). Otherwise, it would be akin to matching a group of modern soldiers with only handguns against a group of fully armed 13th Century Mongol archers (who could easily kill from well outside the range of the handguns).

I can tell you that if you were to match a hypothetical INDIVIDUAL Hoplite armed with his primitive SWORD with a Japanese Samurai armed with his own SWORD, the contest, well, it wouldn't even be a contest...

Lastly, regarding Roman battle tactics, you seem to be confusing how the Roman shield was used during the "bombardment" phase and during actual physical clashes. Indeed, the "turtle" was used to protect the legions from missle volleys, but during close quarters combat, the Romans used a manipular, rather than a Phalanx system. The difference really became noticeable during the Macedonian-Roman clashes.

I suggest that you get a hold of Hans Delbrueck and read about the evolution of Western military techniques from Greece to Rome (and then through the medieval times to the era of the Thirty Years War) if you are interested in the topic.

Skorzeny

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For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence. Sun Tzu

William R. Wilburn
June 14, 2000, 09:49 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Danger Dave:
William, I thought that duel was just a legend. Is it documented? There are similar legends about a match between Ueshiba (founder of Aikido) and Mas Oyama (founder of Kyokushin-kai Karate). I don't know if they're true, either.[/quote]

The only documentation I have seen is in the biography by Eiji Yoshikawa, "Musashi." I do not remember the name of the staff weilder, but he struck Mushashi in the chest area and while the blow did not incapacitate Musashi he elected not to kill the staff man and commented that the blow nearly killed him.

Unfortunately, in a fit of generousity, I gave a friend my rare, hard-cover collection of the Musashi biography. It was published in serial form back in the 1930s, if I remember correctly.

I do not recall the incident being mentioned in Musashi's, "The Book of Five Rings."

I have not heard of the duel between O Sensei Ueshiba and Mas Oyama. Since Aikido's roots are so deep in sword work and because of his up close and personal experiences with personal combat I would think O Sensei would have no small advantage.

William

Danger Dave
June 14, 2000, 11:15 AM
William, I, too have found that the best way to part with a good book is to loan it to a friend.

The Oyama/Ueshiba match allegedly (I doubt it took place, to be honest) amounted to Ueshiba "turning" Oyama until he got frustrated. That's about it - no blows landed, no one hurt. I have serious doubts about this ever happening.
BTW, Oyama was no stranger to fighting either - he was a bit of a thug in his younger days. He was known to enter bars filled with American servicemen in order to start fights, and Funikoshi quit teaching him when he killed a Yakuza (?) who pulled a knife on him. Then there's the bullfights...

Spectre
June 14, 2000, 11:36 AM
Danger Dave's post is close to my understanding- though I believe the overall length of the Japanese sword was reduced from nodachi to the current katana's size at the same time the mounting of the sword changed.

As is often the case, I do not agree with Skorzeny, though I do not know that I can say he is wrong.

If I carried a manual weapon, I would be happy with a bastard sword for daily "reactive" carry. On the battlefield, my first preference for hand-to-hand would be a spear. If forced to use a sword, on foot, I would be happy with an old-style Claymore, or any good Japanese sword.

In the art I study, everytime we review staff, we are reminded that the staff is a weak weapon (at least, compared to the sword). As such, the staff user must always be ready to open the distance, as the user of a sharp has but to touch him to wound. None of the personal students of Unsui Sensei (http://www.jinenkan.org/) has yet been able to defeat him using staff versus sword.

Danger Dave
June 14, 2000, 12:26 PM
In the art I study, everytime we review staff, we are reminded that the staff is a weak weapon (at least, compared to the sword). As such, the staff user must always be ready to open the distance, as the user of a sharp has but to touch him to wound.

Good point. The advantage the staff has over the sword is the multiple striking surfaces that allow for quicker follow-ups and better defensive capabilities, but it still takes power to do damage. I guess whoever maximizes their advantages and minimizes their liabilities is most likely to win the fight.

My terminology on Japanese swords is a bit weak these days, but IIRC, the Katana and the Tachi were the same weapon, only the furniture (scabbard, mainly) was different. The handguards, scabbards, and hilts were changed to suit the needs of the day, whether a day of war on horseback, ceremonial gathering, or a duel. The nodachi was a rather specialized sword. It looked a lot like a katana/tachi, but about twice as large. It was used much like the 2-handed European swords were used - mainly to defeat opposing cavalrymen. BTW, originally Japanese swords, or ken, were straight bladed like Chinese swords.

As for Skorzeny, he does have a way of stating his position that just makes you want to disagree with him, even if you don't know why.

William R. Wilburn
June 14, 2000, 12:38 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Danger Dave:
Oyama was no stranger to fighting either - he was a bit of a thug in his younger days. He was known to enter bars filled with American servicemen in order to start fights, ...[/quote]

I know we are starting to suffer from the dreaded topic creep, as defined by Sensop, but this reminded me of my friend Randy Jackson. He and my brother entered the Marines together. While in Japan in the early 70s Randy decided to study karate. At the end of the training session one of the instuctors (this was a large school) would call upon one of the students to attack. No holds barred. No rules. Many American servicemen were attending classes and none had ever touched an instructor in randori.

One day Randy was called up. As they assumed the traditional en gard positions Randy spit in the instructor's eyes. Now, Randy is a good ole boy and when we were growing up we thought the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms was a chest of drawers where the party supplies were kept. Randy had his lip packed with Copenhagen snuff. The juice this produces burns like fire in the eyes (been there, done that). The instructor's hands went up to his face and at that moment Randy smacked him with a right hook that put the instructor on the mat. Behind Randy the servicemen began cheering. At this point Randy made a tactical error: he turned and raised his hands and did a "Rocky" dance for the crowd. Big mistake. He allowed the instructor to get up. Instructor loses it. Randy gets thumped. After showers the instructor apologized to Randy and thanked him for the lesson. Very nice gesture.

During his stint in the Marines Randy cold-cocked a Major and walked away from the courts martial with a clean record. One day in the line at the mess hall he stuck a fork in a gentleman's eye who thought he could cut into line and make Randy like it. It don't pay to mess with hill people.

William

Skorzeny
June 15, 2000, 08:31 AM
Many of Mas Oyama's exploits were largely mythical. Oyama was something of a self-promoter and, at least, one biographer has confessed that he was "told" by Oyama to include events that never occurred.

No doubt Oyama was a tough fighter and Karateka, but he was also something of a bull horn.

As for my writing style that seems to so infuriate some folks, all I can say is that I do inject some ribbing in my posts to make them interesting and to get some reactions. However, content-wise, I do not BS. I could be wrong or subscribe to mistaken beliefs, but I do not make things up.

As is said "you've already made up your mind. Don't let me try to confuse you with facts."

Cheers! This is a fun topic!

Skorzeny

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For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence. Sun Tzu

hawkgt
June 15, 2000, 10:16 AM
The divergence is because of the different philosophies in how to use a sword. Japanese swordsman preferred cutting, while European swordsman preferred stabbing and/or crushing blows ( Two handed swords,etc )

Japan didn;t use metal armor to the extent that Europeans did, so cutting/slashing worked well. Slashing/cutting on armored knights did not work so well, so two-handed swords were developed to bash through the armor, etc. Also its easier to stab through the armor chinks,etc.

As with all things some people just prefer a certain way to fight. Quick in and out ( rapier ), hold ground and deliver crushing blows ( claymores ).

C.R.Sam
June 15, 2000, 11:09 AM
My copy of "The Book Of Five Rings" is a Cleary translation. In my edition Musashi chose to retire from dueling undefeated. He did use an assortment of weapons, including the short and long swords. He also seems to have forsaken the swords at some time in his active career yet continued to inflict mortal blows.

While being paid to attend a school of serious non conventional combat, I had the pleasure of learning to defend against well wielded crutch and cast. Moral, if you break instructors leg he may try to break your head later.

If you are old, a staff is not all that out of place in public. A well fashioned cane is quite proper anywhere and with a bit of practice becomes an effective and deadly arm.

Sam

Danger Dave
June 15, 2000, 11:22 AM
Skorzeny, I agree, it is a fun topic!

I would add that self-promotion is probably as old as martial arts schools themselves. If you've heard of someone in martial arts, odds are it's because they stood up on a podium and said "Look at me! See what I've done?". Take what you hear with a grain of salt. Even Sun Tzu's famous treatise was a resume/job application.
As for Oyama, his accomplishments speak for themselves.

As far as the question of the Greeks/Romans vs. Japanese, I think you're comparing apples and oranges. The Samurai armies you seem to be describing represent the ultimate refinement of Japanese feudal warfare, at a time when the Greek/Roman armies were already ancient history. I think a better comparison would be the medieval European knight vs. the Samurai. :)

Or, even more interesting "What if the Mongol fleet hadn't been wiped out by the Kamikazi?"

Hard Ball
July 24, 2000, 04:27 PM
The name of the samurai who defeated Miamoto Mushshi using a jo (A 40 t0 45 inch hardwood staff) in a registered duel was Muso Gozen. Considering that Miamoto Mushshi fought 67 registered duels and won 66 of them, Moso Gozen and hi jo were a formidable combination.

Spectre
July 24, 2000, 05:15 PM
RMS,

In regards to: with the meji restoration, the police were tasked with disarming the samurai, the most sucsessful weapon was the
manriki-gusari(sp?) an @3' chain with iron handles...

I actually just finished a seminar where yari and jutte were taught. We were advised that the jutte (or jitte) was the most traditional police weapon. I have done a fair amount of training with the kusarifundo/manriki chain, but none of the training was vs sword- it was most often a "low observability" attack from someone who might have appeared unarmed.

rms/pa
July 24, 2000, 07:36 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Spectre:
RMS,

In regards to: with the meji restoration, the police were tasked with disarming the samurai, the most sucsessful weapon was the
manriki-gusari(sp?) an @3' chain with iron handles...

I actually just finished a seminar where yari and jutte were taught. We were advised that the jutte (or jitte) was the most traditional police weapon. I have done a fair amount of training with the kusarifundo/manriki chain, but none of the training was vs sword- it was most often a "low observability" attack from someone who might have appeared unarmed.[/quote]

i can only conjecture, perhaps after the samurai were disarmed the techniques fell into disuse?

rms/pa

George Hill
July 24, 2000, 07:43 PM
This is an interesting thread I wish I observed earlier.

Not to change the subject from this interesting lesson we are getting on japanese dueling... I have put some thought to this subject "which sword" and have come to a suprising conclusion on my own choice.
My first choice was a Katana as mentioned prior... but that would be advertising skill with the sword I do not have... that and Samuri pants look lame on me - rather like an middle-aged white MC Hammer. I still like the longer single edged sword... Much like a Cavalry Saber. Its long curved blade is very deadly and has a good line to it. But hefting the Saber is a different matter.
I have a Saber - a WWII German Officer's sword actually. Its quite eligant and would look dashing worn with a black suit to work... But it's short handle is one hand only... and its guard prevents the use of two if you tried.
Should I get caught in a mele I would use only one hand anyway - maybe two swords or a sword and a hatchet or dirk... either way. I feel the Saber doesnt have a very good balance for that type of fighting so my choice is again altered...
To the lowly Cutlas. Has a better balance for one hand use - but has some good blade mass for deeper penetrating slashes... since its also shorter and the point remains close to the centerline it is also great for jabbing and stabbing like a Gladius. The Cutlas has a little longer of a grip than the Saber I have, and a roomier guard so that two hands usage is an option.

Besides - the Cutlas was the sword of choice for the maritime fighters... Pirates.
To me - Nothing is cooler than the lor eof the pirates... evading tyranical justice - smuggling goods, boarding ships laden with treasure and taking them to secret hideaways... Big time adventure. A Samuri may have been a fantastic warrior - But a Pirate had much more fun... Looting and pilaging... The Samuri had his little cup of saki and his Gashia - but the Pirate had is bottles of ale and rum and a plethora of wenches for his taking... and he had a 26 gun frigate to back him up!

:D

shiroikuma, Anchorage AK
July 24, 2000, 09:30 PM
Just my 2 cents about the manriki-gusari and the Jo or Jutte. I've read that the jutte was a tradional police weapon, but not for disarming samurai. When doing that, because they were on a druken spree usually, the fuedal police would surround a sword carrying samurai and use special pole arms designed to entangle his cloths and limbs. The pictures I saw had lots of jagged spikes on them. Remember police were commoners and not allowed to carry swords in the late feudal period and could get in serious trouble for killing a samurai caste member, so they were under severe disadvatages due to the powere structure of the time. As for the manriki, I suspect it would not be a good choice against the sword, having less killing and maiming power, little blocking ability and no reach advantage.

that may have been 4 cents not 2 :)

shiro

Skorzeny
July 25, 2000, 08:24 AM
I'll tell you the best way of "disarming a [drunken] Samurai."

Try the SAS method - shoot him and move on...

That's practically what the peasant conscript "Imperial" army of the Meiji Restoration did to the Samurai army of the Tokugawa Shogunate.

Skorzeny

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For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence. Sun Tzu

Danger Dave
July 25, 2000, 11:50 AM
Well, I won't say it's impossible to disarm someone armed with a sword, but I wouldn't be real anxious to try. I think a net or weighted ropes/chains, big sticks, and plenty of help would be the order of the day.

George, the problem I see with all of those swords is finding the opportunity to bring it to bear defensively. Your opponent (e.g. mugger) is going to have the first move at hand-to-hand range, you have to react. I'd rather have something, even just a good walking cane, in my hand to help deflect the initial blow. Just my thoughts...

And I think, like any other fighter of great reputation, we have to take the Musashi stories with a grain of salt. Legends grow in their retelling, and often become larger than life.

And to add something about the Okinawan weapons - remember, the bo staff, nunchaku, kama sickles, and sai were primarily farm implements, not weapons. They were only adapted as weapons when the Japanese occupiers outlawed swords. So, on average, I think that they would not fare too well against a swordsman, barring mitigating circumstances (e.g. numbers, surprise, etc.).

[This message has been edited by Danger Dave (edited July 25, 2000).]

Spectre
July 25, 2000, 05:52 PM
Larger weapons were preferred, and there was mention that poles between officers was a favored technique. The thing was, police couldn't well walk around all the time with 11' poles! They could, on the other hand, carry something in-between the 16 and 21" ASP length. The jutte had a guard designed to catch a sword blade, and was also used as badge of office.

fubsy
July 26, 2000, 04:27 AM
Ya'll are forgetting Kama's....as a personal weapon.....one I would choose.....unfortunately Id probably hurt myself anymore...lol...fubsy.

45King
July 26, 2000, 05:13 AM
Some months ago, TLC ran an hour show of the Arms and Armor series on swords, both European and Japanese. The most interesting part to me was where they had some Royal Marines dress in period clothing and engage in a carefully choreographed mock battle using two-handed broadswords. It seems they had discovered an old training manuscript dating back to the 1400's or 1500's, one of the few known to exist. They used this as their guide for the mock battle. It was truly amazing how versatile that big sword was. That shagreen blade cover in front of the guard serves a definite purpose, too. It could be used as a second hand grip in which the user brings the grip of the sword overhand in a skull-crushing maneuver using the guard. Lightning fast; you'd think the guys were using rapiers instead of broadswords.

Should one stab or cut? That's the basic difference. It seems that no one has been able to design a sword that can be as lightly handled and stabs like a rapier while at the same time being able to slash easily.

Personally, even though I'm not trained for it, I'd prefer a wakizashi backed with a Cold Steel Magnum Tanto. I've got the Tanto, just need the wakizashi. :)

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Shoot straight & make big holes, regards, Richard at The Shottist's Center (http://forums.delphi.com/m/main.asp?sigdir=45acp45lc)

KOG
July 26, 2000, 11:15 AM
As was mentioned previously, different cultures used different weapons due to availability and fighting technique. Filipino and Indonesian martial arts use swords that I would call "short swords" or "large knives". The kampilan was probably the only long sword that was carried and even that isn't that long. These arts rely heavily on close-quarters fighting, a long sword wouldn't be too effective in such a tight situation.

As far as which style of sword is better or which would be better it's like saying which style is better. I think it's the individual that is wielding the weapon be it a sword or staff or baston. Each weapon has to be used in the proper range to be effective so whoever can control that range for their particular weapon will have an advantage.

As for daily carry, I'd take a barong or a kris as they're small enough to use in a hallway or other tight spaces and for utility purposes. Lack in long range, but they aren't used for long range. If it were between a Euro sword and Japanese sword, I'd lean towards a wakizaki or a lighter Euro sword.

MAD DOG
July 26, 2000, 02:48 PM
I can not resist this opportunity to get in a shameless plug for my personal favorite.

My Panther fighter fulfills many of the relevant requirements. It is fast, concealable, and can stab or cut with amazing efficacy.
Witness the goat mauling we did at EWC 2000.
Two deceased goats were hung in the dojo, and myself and the attendees were allowed to make cuts or stabs on the carcasses.
The 10" Panther was easily capable of severing both arm and leg bones while they still had the flesh on. It was disconcerting to some to witness 7-10 pound chunks of meat hitting the floor after the cuts were made.
One cut even severed the spine in the lower pelvic region, dropping the entire lower end. Another cut went through six ribs on one side, and four on the other, after passing through the sternum at a depth of seven inches.

Photo of the Panther at link below:
http://www.mdenterprise.com/panther.htm

George Hill
July 26, 2000, 03:27 PM
http://www.rochedaless.qld.edu.au/kpirat1.jpg

George Hill
August 1, 2000, 12:38 PM
I recieved an email from an unregistered member. There is a great deal of information here and while I am a greedy SOB - I feel other TFL members could glean some good info here as well:
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>
Dear Mr. Hill; I discovered The Firing Line a few days ago. I've been reading the posts on it and since I am traveling now I did not wish to register just yet. However I wanted to add bring a few things to the attention of the people commenting on the European vs Japanese sword forum. Since you are an administrator I wished to bring it to your attention; whether you choose to act on it or not in any form is of course your choice entirely. (1) I find it strange that the discussion drifted off to "formation warfare" and insistence on a European pedigree for it. Japanese armies had over 40 formations to choose from (I have with me military manuals of the Warring States period) and use them they did ... considering the backbone of the feudal armies was non-samurai ashigaru (lit. "light-foots") the argument for Japanese formations as mobs of skilled warriors is unsupported. The Takeda clan used a 4-line manipular formation consisting of infantry and cavalry that was tightly packed, for which they suffered at the hands of Oda clan musketeers at the Battle of Nagashino in 1575. Most troops by far were not "expert warriors" with the katana ... they were spearmen and musketeers. (2) In response to your "pirates had more fun" post ... after the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 large numbers of samurai within the defeated Army of the West fled Japan and became pirates. These battle-hardened ronin (lit. "wolf-warriors") even took over ports in Southeast Asia and fought pitched battles with Thai and Chinese pirates ... it's a rather exciting part of history that doesn't get much play in the Western world, probably due to the lack of translated accounts. (3) The Japanese ronin pirates called wako ("wa bandits" in which wa is the Chinese term for Japan) established a reputation for ferocity in combat, and their katana, renowned in Chinese accounts for their ability to cut through armor and torsos, were by imperial order captured, replicated, and a gung-fu weapon style for the watoh (lit. "Japan-blade") was developed. It is still taught today, albeit rare in comparison to the traditional forms. (4) The polearm used by the police to restrain katana-armed samurai is called a sode-garami (lit. "sleeve-entangler") ... as the name implies it was meant to catch the sword-arm of samurai and drag them to the ground. jutte (lit. "ten-hands") are brutally effective tools for bringing a katana down ... they are not taught in Japanese police academies because either kendo or judo are required. Police by the way were not at all commoners; in the Tokugawa era, samurai were assigned from their han (province) to local security; in the Meiji era the National Police was founded on a cadre of demobilized samurai. Hence, they did carry swords ... right up to the end of WW2. (5) By the way the full traditional form of jutte is taught, to the best of my knowledge, by one elderly gentleman in the Edogawa ward of Tokyo ... he only takes students who have multiple dan in their chosen martial art. At the moment by last count he has less than a dozen students. (6) Finally ... as for the katana ... they were built to stronge tolerances, tested on convicts for good measure, and prized for lightness, resilience, and above all, sharpness ... but the problem with katana is that used in a slashing role they tended to fracture without constant, extended care. The problem is called ha-koboreh (lit. "teeth falling out") and that term might give you an insight on the extent of it ... hence, kendo's emphasis on thrusts. hence, the wakizashi (lit. "side-insert") to back up the katana. The nodachi, also known as zanbatoh (lit. "horse-chopper") required less constant maintenance due to its larger dimensions; but compared to say a Roman gladius, edge-retention is a much more serious issue with katana. My recommendation for anyone interested in a katana is to understand that the weapon itself requires quite a bit of maintenance. Several styles exist throughout Northeast Asia for combat with the weapon, and they are not easy to master. If you insist on a cheap factory-made weapon you might as well not carry one; it takes an expert swordsmith to bring out the proper balance characteristics and tensile strength. I've seen too many crappy weapons out there that ring like tuning forks and handle like logs. For staff aficionados, shortened variants of the naginata halbred exist, such as the kwan. They offer 2-handed control, a substantial blade as well as the handling characteristics of a short polearm. Having 2-piece screw-on versions or foldout variants a la ASP baton solve much of the mobility problem. My choice for everyday personal defense would be a straight-edge katana hidden in a walking stick. (I grew up on the story of Zatoichi, the blind swordsman :) it's easier to carry it around in public, sheathed it serves as a short staff, and the blade offers all the armor-punching advantages of the "toothed" point most commonly called a "tanto edge" (tanto means "short-blade" so it's kind of a misnomer") ... kris blades can also be set in hollowed staffs. If I had to walk in nature at all or I didn't have to worry about concealment I'd ask for a dao or barong. Great turning speed, stable in the hand, and works for anyone who's done escrima training. In a pinch a machete will do. I don't think rapiers are good for engaging multiple targets; I'd want something with a short turning radius ... of course I'll have to discuss this with a fencer but from my observation and from talking to friends, this is what I've found. As for a katana? There's too much mystique associated with the weapon. It's effective. It's beautiful. It's also hell to maintain and really expensive. I was born in Japan, and if I had to live outside of the country I'd never try to maintain one for everyday use. It's just not realistic.
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You might laugh in the face of FEAR... but unless your armed, its a nervous, unconvincing, little laugh.

Skorzeny
August 1, 2000, 04:20 PM
Fantastic post!

Thanks for sharing it with us. It is definitely consistent with what I know and then some!

The Battle of Nagashino was, by the way, portrayed in one of Akira Kurosawa's movies ( I think it was Kagemusha - the Shadow Warrior).

Some historians say that the Japanese were the first in the world to utilize firearms in volley fire by line. They speculate that such tactics might have been transmitted to the Dutch, who came up with a similar system a few decades later (to be used against the Spanish-Austrians).

Skorzeny

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For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence. Sun Tzu