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Old 08-19-2008, 09:26 PM
Tomoshibi Tomoshibi is offline
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Default Re: Samurai- Greatest Swordsmen in history?

I don't want to get into a pissing match or anything, but I'd just like to clear up a few things.

First off, Gheari is right, a tower shield isn't a scutum, though they are pretty close. The biggest difference I can recall off the top of my head is that a scutum is slightly larger. I think it might also be slightly more curved, but don't quote me on that.

I'd hesitate to call samurai adaptable. If anything, their culture was almost the opposite. I'd like to cite the wars where the Japanese samurai fought foreigners - the Mongol invasions in the late 1200s, and the invasion of Korea in the late 1500s.

During the Mongol invasions, I'd hardly call the Japanese adaptable. If it wasn't for the lucky weather famously known as the kamekazi (spelling?) and the heavy outnumbering, I think Japan history would be very different than it is today. If you look to the point before the two disastrous weather events, the Mongols were kicking ass and conquering at a alarming rate (Mongols tend to do that).

As for the Korean invasion, it was pretty much the same results switched around; except it wasn't luck that destroyed the Japanese fleet - the Koreans were simply better at naval warfare.

Like all cultures, Japanese warfare did evolve, but I'd say their isolation stunted them greatly, and their lack of related resources didn't help. With few exeptions until the modern era (like Oda Nobunaga), I'd hardly call samurais adaptable.
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Old 08-19-2008, 10:53 PM
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Gheari Gheari is offline
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Default Re: Samurai- Greatest Swordsmen in history?

First things first is I find ARMA biased. The Association for Renaissance Martial Arts. They have to be biased, even just a little. Okay now that my opinion is out of the way (except for the bias thing, everyone has bias.) I'll get to my point.

Japan adopted the Mongolian style of all out war after the first invasion. I'd call that adaptable. Besides my concept of adaptability and yours may be completely different. My concept of adaptability has to do with observation, mental analysis and changing to any weakness you observe. However if we do want to get into a conversation about Mongolians... The Romans could do no better to stop them and the only reason they were not sacked by them was a crisis in the center of the Mongolian Empire. A major reason for the loss of the Japan-Korea wars was because Korea had cannons and could bombard Japanese ships.

Also swordsmanship is about your actual ability with the sword, not relying on heavy armor to be able to charge like a madman to be able to get close enough to stab your opponent (that's an exaggeration). I might like to hear a conversation about gladiators. I find that they have a fascinating way of fighting.

Proper spelling is Kamikazi. Plural of samurai is samurai. That would eat at me if I didn't correct it.
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Old 02-23-2009, 01:02 PM
Manabe Manabe is offline
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Default Re: Samurai- Greatest Swordsmen in history?

Originally Posted by Gheari View Post
Proper spelling is Kamikazi. Plural of samurai is samurai. That would eat at me if I didn't correct it.
Actually, proper spelling is "kamikaze".

But the whole discussion is rather pointless. It's like comparing knights and samurai. It's just not possible.

Samurai, when, what equipment, which samurai? A Musashi as swordsman compared to a Kira? A good sword compared to some random cheap thing that an ashigaru carried?

You can't generalize there. The majority of the sword skills in the Unification Wars, well... the sword wasn't even the preferred weapon of a samurai then. They stuck to the spear. It took until the Edo Jidai for the sword to become more important. In peace it's easier to carry around a sword than a spear.

And even in the Edo Jidai I doubt that the majority of the samurai were higher skilled than any random European nobleman. There were some, but most usually sat on their butts and were stuck with official work since the samurai turned into bureaucrats.

Not to forget that the weapon deemed to be important for actual war was not the sword. Not even in the Edo Jidai. Every leader knew that. Why do you think the Tokugawa made sure that all the daimyo had massive expenses? To prevent them from forming up armies and equipping them. The main body of the army back then was the ashigaru. And he carried a sword and a spear (primary weapon, since it has a very nice long range), except for the teppo-tai, who carried, of course, matchlock muskets. The musket was the decisive weapon as pretty much every battle after Nagashino proves. Nobunaga was the first one to realize the advantage a musket gave you. It's easier to train troops on a rifle than on a bow and it's a lot faster (the majority of archers and eventually riflemen were ashigaru.) Soon everybody else realized it too. Look at Sekigahara. Thousands of muskets created only for that one decicive battle. They knew how effective that weapon was when utilised properly.

And please, throw out all those ideas about bushido that seem to circle around. Bushido is a lot more than "honor". The militarists before the Pacific War reduced bushido to "loyalty" and a very twisted version of "honor". Let's not repeat that error. Not to mention that, when looking at the Sengoku Jidai "honor" didn't really play an important part. Just take Sekigahara and how Ieyasu simply bribed several daimyo of the Western Army. Bushido was a tool to keep the samurai in line during the Edo Jidai (and many of the writings about bushido prove that clearly.) The Tokugawa knew how dangerous upstarts could be and thus they did everything to keep them down.

The reasons for the Japanese defeat in Korea were not as simple as just "cannons". For once, the Koreans engaged in heavy guerilla warfare on land and actually kicked the can out of the Japanese quite a few times. Secondly, the war lacked support back in Japan. The Tokugawa didn't send anyone to Korea. Remember, by that time the Tokugawa were already in charge of the Kanto, the rice basket of Japan. Ieyasu was the richest man after Hideyoshi. Yet, Ieyasu never set foot on Korean soil. That must have hurt the invason effort as thousands of soldiers simply remained in Japan and did nothing. And not to forget the superiority in naval warfare, not only in cannons. The Koreans had a brilliant admiral.
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