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darkblade
2009-04-16, 10:03 PM
Recently while looking for something mindless to watch I came across this novel little show on Spike. Deadliest Warrior (http://www.spike.com/show/31082) a show that basically consists of so called scientific analysis of the weapons and techniques of two seemingly random (mostly) historical warriors. Interestingly it seems Spike was internet savy enough to include both ninja and pirates on the line up but not have them actually have them show up in the same episode.

So far two episodes have aired:

Apache vs Gladiator - With the Apache taking the win.

and

Viking vs. Samurai - With the Samurai taking the win.

With the future line up in no particular order since Spike doesn't want to give me one.

Ninja vs. Spartan (next week according to previews)
Pirate vs. Knight
Taliban vs. IRA
Yakuza vs. Mafia
Viking vs. Samurai
Green Beret vs. Spetznaz
Maori vs. Shaolin Monks
William Wallace vs. Shaka Zulu

What does the playground think about this surprisingly enjoyable new mockery to both history and science?

Walrus
2009-04-16, 10:31 PM
I've watched the first two episodes and I love this show. The "experts" seem to be playing for the camera a little more than actually trying to explain the history accurately, but watching the weapons in action is fun and the simulation of the battle at the end is pretty cool.

Ascension
2009-04-17, 02:21 AM
Yeah, I find their tests dubious and their history even more so, but if I just turn the brain down to low and indulge in the sheer machismo of it, it's a heck of a lot of fun... which is what Spike was theoretically about from the get-go. It's nice to know that after... *checks Wiki* six years of operation they've finally found their niche.

magellan
2009-04-17, 04:58 AM
Taliban vs IRA?

Spiryt
2009-04-17, 05:20 AM
Well, I have yet to see this, but I just can't force myself to do it.

Even though tests on meat, ballistic gel and all look like worth it alone, the very title "Deadliest Warrior : Apache vs Gladiator" make me freaking cringe.

And opinions (http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=16159) on after all historical forum supports the worst fears.

But I think I'll do it today. Wish me luck. :smallwink:

Killer Angel
2009-04-17, 08:32 AM
eheheh...
I suppose the show is meant to entertain... it has almost no accuracy, 'cause you simply cannot confront fighters from different historical settings.
There's no proof that a result is trustworthy, the winner is probably who is the coolest (in the eyes of the peoples making the program).
This kind of thing can be entertaining (in the beginning), but sooner it became ridiculous (Maori vs. Shaolin Monks?!? c'mon... :smallconfused:)

Sometimes it can be funny... after all, it's the same concept at the base of a lot of alternate history films or books.

Sholos
2009-04-17, 10:10 AM
Ninja vs. Spartan (next week according to previews)
Well, if they're really being historical, this will probably go to the ninja, since the ninja will just kill the Spartan while he's sleeping. If they (for some idiotic reason) go with a straight up fight, I totally give it to the Spartan.


Pirate vs. Knight
Well, if the pirate gets a gun, then I'll give the fight to him. Because guns are one of the big reasons full plate fell out of favor. If it's a melee only fight, then the knight gets it by virtue of being nigh-on invulnerable to the pirate.


Taliban vs. IRA
Why does this matchup even exist?


Yakuza vs. Mafia
Same question as above.

I'm not commenting on the rest.


What does the playground think about this surprisingly enjoyable new mockery to both history and science?

It's an idiotic program that won't even go halfway into actual history. But what do you expect from Spike?

Wolfbane
2009-04-17, 10:19 AM
The Viking vs. Samurai one was disappointing in my opinion. The Viking would have won normally. And they should have done /groups/ of fighters to keep it more realistic.

Of course, I am probably biased since my blood is thick with Norse/Viking heritage.

VALHALLA!

JDMSJR
2009-04-17, 11:22 AM
I don't think any Samurai could have taken out either one of these guys. Maybe not even an army of Samurai :smallsmile:

http://www.badassoftheweek.com/skallagrimsson.html

http://www.badassoftheweek.com/stamfordbridge.html

Rogue 7
2009-04-17, 11:48 AM
I see your Berserkers and counter with Miyamoto Musashi.

darkblade
2009-04-17, 02:43 PM
Well, if they're really being historical, this will probably go to the ninja, since the ninja will just kill the Spartan while he's sleeping. If they (for some idiotic reason) go with a straight up fight, I totally give it to the Spartan.

Based on the last two episodes the senario is always the two fighters seeing each other in plain sight in what appears to be a Southern Britsh Columbia or Northern California forest clearing and just decide to fight to the death. So yeah Spartan all the way. I don't know about the pirate having a gun and the modern-ish fighters baffle me too.

Rogue 7 and JDMSJR you both have a problem with arguing specific vikings and samurai as opposed to the bad generalizations that the show uses.

Spiryt
2009-04-17, 03:04 PM
Ok, so I watched Apache vs Gladiator, as Samurai vs Viking doesn't want to load properly.

I would say that it's generally worth to watch. They test on dummies, artificial and real bodies are kinda nice, although I would expect way better things from their cash.

Whole pigs, with guts and all, to properly stimulate things. Or some kind of suspension to simulate person standing on his feet.

Every guy with sword in Poland, USA or whatever can try it on a hanging spine with a bit of flesh - I would expect something better from such budget.

Still, those simulations are quite nice.

About other things - well it could be worse, but it's of course full of stereotypes, generalizations, and overall analize on the level of 8 years old Spiderman vs Godzilla.

Of course this doesn't have too much too do with history as far as I can see.

What kind of gladiators specialists speaks this crap about gladiators always fighting to death and bla bla blah?

What kind of "viking specialist" talks about viking longswords?



Rogue 7 and JDMSJR you both have a problem with arguing specific vikings and samurai as opposed to the bad generalizations that the show uses.

I don't know what is JDMSJR arguing about but certainly not about vikings. I haven't read whole links he provided, the pictures and this fragment were sufficent.
A giant Norse berserker silently surveyed the Saxon army, firmly clutching a massive double-bladed Greataxe in his weathered, calloused hands. A lone Viking hero granted permission by his King to die honorably in combat, tasked with defending the narrow bridge and buying time for his brethren to reorganize. His face was concealed by an imposing horned helm - metal plates reinforcing a mask constructed from the bleached bone remains of a fearsome animal skull, his wild eyes peering through the darkness like searing orbs of white-hot flame.

That's some fantasy story.

Verruckt
2009-04-17, 05:16 PM
three simple words that encompass all you need to know about it:

300 NARRATOR DUDE!

but yeah, great fun, silly, but great fun. My only real beef is that their categorization of the weapons into short/mid/long ranges is stilted and weird. Katana is short while the longsword is mid? greataxe (with a long haft) is short while Naginata is mid? what?

Spiryt
2009-04-17, 05:51 PM
So, commenting Viking vs Samurai as it's go.

I won't even comment "experts" childlish " My toy is bigger/faster"...

- samurai from what period? Early horse archer or later guy? I'm not good with this topic, but they should be...
- weight of the weapons. 3 pounds for 30 inches katana? A bit too much for me. Same for daneaxe. Sure, maybe some of those weapons weighted that much, but if they're taking absolute stereotypes both should be lighter, especially the axe.
- comparing the daneaxe to katana ( vs...). Great, fantastic. Let's compare 30 inches slicing sword to two times longer axe. Mark them both as "short range" weapoons * facepalm *
- those double axes and two handed sword in fights with vikings *shudder*
- that "samurai precision" vs "viking brute force" is really getting boring.
- samurai lived by honor, blah blah... More Hollywood stereotypes soon.
- Tests on those targets - nice. One reason to watch this. I want naginata or other glaive badly.
- "heavy weapon and armor of the viking" - what those guys are talking about now?
- I was thinking that they'll compare naginata to spear... But they killed me with sword. Obviously 3 feet sword has the same range as 7 feet naginata and more range than 5 feet longaxe. Sure - write it in stats "mid range". (weight is still a bit high BTW. Again perfectly acceptable but...)
- IT'S CALLED FREAKING LONGSWORD ONLY IN D&D!!!
- Test cuts - again taaasty. Although his technique and the sword don't look too good... As comparison, actual sword splited skull of some poor bloke (http://www.hurstwic.org/history/articles/manufacturing/text/viking_shields.htm) (scroll down and you will see&read)
-Of course spear's two pounds heavier... Cause vikings have large und clunky weapons, every Uwe Boll knows that. For comparison 7 feet halberd (http://www.myarmoury.com/review_em_halb.html) isn't even 5 pounds. Of course, someone could make and use 6 pounds spear. Would it be typical though?
- Two spears at once? Well, it looks nice at least, leaving history and practical sense lying and bleeding.
- So why they haven't tested spear against some armor if they were talking about it so much? It could be interesting.
- Viking shield straped to the forearm? I'm not sure, someone better than me must speak here if it's historical or not.
- Oh, some actual shield bashing and charging with shield. Big plus here.
- "Shield is the manifestation of weakness" best quote ever. :smallbiggrin:

About final fight... it looked really stupid. People who actually do (http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=16159&start=22) some reenact fighting so far agree that it's garbage.

And in the end, I want to know how ( and based on WHAT, more importantly) computer is calculating those fights. Particullary where they have taken skill from... Which of course samurai has greater, beacuse....
Wait, beacuse what?

I could write longer post, about sense of comparison bows to spears as long range weapons, about both guys carrying whole arsenal with them, mail without padding, but hopefully someone will make it better than me. That's just few short points.

All in all, it's really bad, but few test are kinda worth the pain IMO.

Xuincherguixe
2009-04-17, 05:59 PM
Well, I'm going to watch this anyways... but it seems like this is about as historically accurate as the flintstones. May as well throw all pretense to the wind and go full on with the myths.

"Well the Ninja certainly could cast a fireball, the Berserker is fireproof. It would make more sense for the Ninja to breathe poison gas."

Haven
2009-04-17, 06:27 PM
No ninja vs. pirate? So zetta missing the point >_> Or an opportunity, at least.

chiasaur11
2009-04-17, 06:30 PM
Well, I'm going to watch this anyways... but it seems like this is about as historically accurate as the flintstones. May as well throw all pretense to the wind and go full on with the myths.

"Well the Ninja certainly could cast a fireball, the Berserker is fireproof. It would make more sense for the Ninja to breathe poison gas."

I would watch.

I also would watch if it was reasonably accurate.

In a bizarre half way point...

Nah.

darkblade
2009-04-17, 06:46 PM
No ninja vs. pirate? So zetta missing the point >_> Or an opportunity, at least.

No not actually pairing off those two makes it so they don't get flamed to death by those who side with the loser. They'll get less flack if they both lose to other random stuff but if a ninja beats a pirate (or vice-versa) then the interwebs will be up in arms.

Xuincherguixe
2009-04-17, 06:54 PM
Well, I just watched the Viking vs Samurai thing and... not as bad as I thought it would be. There was a lot of trash talk, but that's kind of to be expected. Not sure how to take those results mind you.

SurlySeraph
2009-04-17, 06:58 PM
Ninja vs. Spartan (next week according to previews)

Unless they're alone in a darkened area, Cowardy McDarkness is going to end up with a big piece of bronze in his lungs.


Pirate vs. Knight

Pistol > armor.


Taliban vs. IRA

Um... OK, this is kind of creepy. I'm not touching this one with a ten-foot pole.
Seriously, who thought this was a good idea?


Yakuza vs. Mafia

Submachine gun > katana. :smallwink:
No, actually modern firearms > 1920s firearms. Assuming they're doing the current Yakuza vs. the mafia everyone knows about.


Viking vs. Samurai

Hm, this is actually pretty hard. The Viking's got better armor and a worse weapon. Depends if he's a berserk or not, I guess.


Green Beret vs. Spetznaz
http://burrowowl.net/shimmie/get.php/16684%20-%20axe%20backflip%20boots%20hatchet%20photo%20spet snaz.jpg

As patriotic as I am, the Green Beret would have to be pretty damn intense to beat someone whose training goes into enough detail to cover combat hatchet throwing during backflips.


Maori vs. Shaolin Monks

This is far too awesome a fight to actually happen. I'm inclined towards the monks, but then I'm big on orderly methods of combat.


William Wallace vs. Shaka Zulu

Wallace had armor. Armor matters. Shaka Zulu was a hell of a fighter, but a wooden spear isn't going to get through most chainmail, and a leather shield isn't going to save you from a claymore.


What does the playground think about this surprisingly enjoyable new mockery to both history and science?

That it's very silly, has little or no validity or even plausibility, and is awesome.

Spiryt
2009-04-17, 07:08 PM
Pistol > armor.

Not necesarilly. Up to XVII centurybreasplates were made bulletproof against pistols. Of course it depends on angle, range, quality of both firearm and plate. But generally against short firearm plate would have some chance.



Hm, this is actually pretty hard. The Viking's got better armor and a worse weapon. Depends if he's a berserk or not, I guess.

Ugh. Samurai from what period, and with what armor exactly? I'm not good around samurais, but generally even in earlier periods richer ones had armors from plates. Vs "standard" viking mail I would say it's a bit better armor in protective terms. Although there is some evidence that vikings used lamellars too so it's pretty even. Evolution of Japanese armour (http://www.myarmoury.com/feature_jpn_armour.html) for reference.

And what exactly do you mean by "samurai has better weapons"? Please no "katana - the ultimate sword" arguments.



Wallace had armor. Armor matters. Shaka Zulu was a hell of a fighter, but a wooden spear isn't going to get through most chainmail, and a leather shield isn't going to save you from a claymore.

For the record, historical Wallace never had any claymore. They're XVI - XVII century swords.

Xuincherguixe
2009-04-17, 07:31 PM
My own calls though...

Ninja vs. Spartan (next week according to previews)
I'm going to have to give it to the Ninja. Spartans were mostly effective in groups, and were to a large extent just focused on being really big and pushing people around. That Ninja isn't going to be terribly interested in getting up close to the Spartan. I figure it'll be kill the guy with poison.
If however the Spartan isn't terribly inconvenienced, and it gets close to the Ninja, not going to go well for it. They specialized in murder, more than fighting. While they have a large arsenal of weapons, out in an open field with a big strong enemy was not a situation they did well in.

Pirate vs. Knight
... Knight, definitely. Unfortunately for the Pirate, they were not well known for throwing around sharpened poison bits of metal. And even if they were, it would just hit more metal. A flint lock pistol isn't terrible great against plate mail either. Not even sure it could penetrate. Were it a modern handgun, might have a better chance.

But really, the typical pirate target was the same sort of typical target of Samurai. Which is to say, poor unarmored peasants. Hence slashing weapons, and flint lock pistols

Taliban vs. IRA
I'm not even sure it's appropriate for SPIKE to talk about this one. But I don't really know enough about the typical member of each organization anyways.

Yakuza vs. Mafia
Um... depends what era? They're pretty equivalent I'd say. Straight up fist fight and I might give it to the Yakuza, but if we're going by fist fight, it would be more appropriate to send a really BIG Mafia type.

Viking vs. Samurai
It may have been historically inaccurate, but there was enough there to leave me thinking that it's a hard one to call. Chainmail goes a long way, and shear power is not to be underestimated, but those Samurai were pretty good at killing people.

Green Beret vs. Spetznaz
I don't know enough to state an opinion on this

Maori vs. Shaolin Monks
This one is pretty hard to call. Maori are pretty tough. So are Shaolin Monks, but Maori are bigger. Skill can go pretty far, but there's a point where it doesn't matter how skilled you are. I think I'll give it the Monks, because of superior weapons.

William Wallace vs. Shaka Zulu
I don't know much about Shaka Zulu other than that he was a fierce commander. But as other's pointed out, wooden spears don't work very well against metal armor. If it was a fist fight, might give it Shaka, but that's because of this image I have of him as being fairly agile. If he could grab something metal, or at least big and heavy enough to deflect the claymore or cause high impact through the armor maybe. But he really doesn't have good enough equipment.
edit:
Looks like I'm not too well versed in history either. Still though, chain mail isn't going to do well against wood spears.

Spiryt
2009-04-17, 07:40 PM
and shear power is not to be underestimated,


Yes, beacuse all Vikings were 6'6'' 350 pounds powerlifters. :smallsigh:

Please guys, I know that such comparisons are mostly for silly fun, but...

Xuincherguixe
2009-04-17, 07:48 PM
Yes, beacuse all Vikings were 6'6'' 350 pounds powerlifters. :smallsigh:

Please guys, I know that such comparisons are mostly for silly fun, but...

Maybe not that big, but to be fair they were generally larger, and stronger. But I was also kind of thinking the nature of the weapons themselves. Europe tended more towards metal armor more than Japan. As such there was a greater emphasis on bashing, and general weight than in Japan which was largely about getting in some good slashes.

nothingclever
2009-04-17, 07:55 PM
This show is complete trash. It's just Manswers all over again.

The people just tease everything out and show random pointless clips.
They waste a ridiculous amount of time just talking about their bias towards one side or the other and saying "Wow, that simulation cut is soooo cool!"
The people on the show sound like they have no lives and are little children because apparently hitting an artificial human body with an archaic weapon is the most amazing thing they've ever seen. In addition barely anything the test people say is actually thoughtful. "Vikings are big and strong. All asians/samurai are small frail people. Vikings win. All vikings are 7 feet tall. Durrrr."
This is pathetic. If you want a show that is actually intelligent and realistic in its analysis you can watch Fight Science.

Spiryt
2009-04-17, 08:00 PM
Maybe not that big, but to be fair they were generally larger, and stronger. But I was also kind of thinking the nature of the weapons themselves. Europe tended more towards metal armor more than Japan. As such there was a greater emphasis on bashing, and general weight than in Japan which was largely about getting in some good slashes.

This is a stereotype. Japanese weapons were just as metal as european ones.

Bashing is some weird stereotype about knights in clunky armour hacking with flatenned axles, and fast kungfu Asians.

Most viking fights could be very well about few good slashes, as mail was kinda rare, and from most time is was a just shirt with short sleeves. Helmets were mostly open without neck or face protection. Cuts to the hands, legs, faces would be the best things to do with sword.

If anything, early Japan armors looks more solid.

Size could be the point though, I've seen data somewhere that Viking were around 5'8'' - 5'9'' on average.
Japanese people are shorter than that even today, at least according to wikipedia.

Mr. Scaly
2009-04-17, 08:11 PM
I think the show is ludicrous. But great fun in a dorky kind of way if you're not looking for anything accurate. :smallbiggrin:

Ninja vs. Spartan...I'd actually have to say Ninja. As I kept raging about over 300 Spartans fought in tight packed phalanxes with heavy armour so they worked best in groups. And there were instances where they got torn to bits by lightly armed skirmishers.

Also, is there a link for the Apache vs Gladiator one?

Spiryt
2009-04-17, 08:21 PM
Before I go to sleep let me just say that the main problem with this program is the very principle.

ALL "Ninja vs something" discussions are from their very essence born to be rather pointless.

Even if we know a lot about actual weapons and tactics (not hollywood stereotypes), all that matters is the MAN along with 1000 different circumstances. Even if we know that shield can bash shieldless fighter pretty bad, sword cannot cut trough a but can troguh b, there can be never sure data how man x would react to any action of man y, especially if they have nothing common with one another and are separated by 400 years and two continents.

At least if fight isn't "man with M-16 against man with stick".

Xuincherguixe
2009-04-17, 08:28 PM
This is a stereotype. Japanese weapons were just as metal as european ones.

Bashing is some weird stereotype about knights in clunky armour hacking with flatenned axles, and fast kungfu Asians.

No. Really, the fact they are metal isn't the important part here. You notice how Samurai tended to have a lot of curved weapons? That's because they're meant as slashing weapons. This is fine if your target doesn't have any armor.

When your target is wearing plate, you're generally trying to put dents in it. So a broad sword will serve you a lot better than a Katana.

Big heavy sword will have a strong impact. Because what matters against armor is the force. This is what I mean by bashing. It can cut, but it also works against armor. Making it a more general thing. Not everyone wore armor, but it was common enough that curved swords didn't really catch on in Europe.

I also don't even know why you would think of bashing as a stereotype frankly. If anything, the stereotype is with knights with swords than knights with maces.



Most viking fights could be very well about few good slashes, as mail was kinda rare, and from most time is was a just shirt with short sleeves. Helmets were mostly open without neck or face protection. Cuts to the hands, legs, faces would be the best things to do with sword.

If anything, early Japan armors looks more solid.

I was under the impression that there wasn't a whole lot of iron in Japan, enough certainly to make tools, and weapons, but something of the nature of full platemail wasn't very practical.



Size could be the point though, I've seen data somewhere that Viking were around 5'8'' - 5'9'' on average.
Japanese people are shorter than that even today, at least according to wikipedia.

I'll give you the rest of this though.

SurlySeraph
2009-04-17, 08:43 PM
Ugh. Samurai from what period, and with what armor exactly? I'm not good around samurais, but generally even in earlier periods richer ones had armors from plates. Vs "standard" viking mail I would say it's a bit better armor in protective terms. Although there is some evidence that vikings used lamellars too so it's pretty even. Evolution of Japanese armour (http://www.myarmoury.com/feature_jpn_armour.html) for reference.

And what exactly do you mean by "samurai has better weapons"? Please no "katana - the ultimate sword" arguments.

*insert feeble attempt to hide that I had no idea what I was talking about here*


For the record, historical Wallace never had any claymore. They're XVI - XVII century swords.

I refer to any large two-handed sword as a claymore. Technical term not intended.

Spiryt
2009-04-17, 08:44 PM
No. Really, the fact they are metal isn't the important part here. You notice how Samurai tended to have a lot of curved weapons? That's because they're meant as slashing weapons. This is fine if your target doesn't have any armor.

When your target is wearing plate, you're generally trying to put dents in it. So a broad sword will serve you a lot better than a Katana.

Big heavy sword will have a strong impact. Because what matters against armor is the force. This is what I mean by bashing. It can cut, but it also works against armor. Making it a more general thing. Not everyone wore armor, but it was common enough that curved swords didn't really catch on in Europe.

I also don't even know why you would think of bashing as a stereotype frankly. If anything, the stereotype is with knights with swords then knights with maces.


Generally I agree with you BUT:

While stereotypical katana wouldn't be very good a pure impact weapon, there is no data that suggest that curve of sword makes it any worse at delivering impact.

About broad swords - well, ironically from viking era swords generally get narrower.

Similary, medieval swords are heavier than Japanese mainly beacuse they're longer, although indeed there are of course many examples of blades that are big and beefy by very design.

And curved swords were fairly common in Europe, although they were generally much less curved.

Bashing was certainly naturall part of combat, and I will say that it was natural in Japan as well.


I refer to any large two-handed sword as a claymore. Technical term not intended.

Well, that's quite confusing, as claymore is not only quite specific sword, but it's also no agreement on what should be axaclty called claymore.

One theory is that term claymore ("claidheamh mor") should be used to describe another scottish sword - baskethilt (http://www.gothicfantasy.com/Swords/MRBSKCLY.jpg)
Two handed swords with down-sloping guard ending in quatrefoils should be called claidheamh da laimh.

A bit of info here (http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?t=21487&highlight=claymore).

So there's a school that says that claymores is actually one handed sword.

Although most people agree that the term applies to both swords. Wiki. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claymore)

warty goblin
2009-04-17, 09:47 PM
Generally I agree with you BUT:

While stereotypical katana wouldn't be very good a pure impact weapon, there is no data that suggest that curve of sword makes it any worse at delivering impact.

About broad swords - well, ironically from viking era swords generally get narrower.

Similary, medieval swords are heavier than Japanese mainly beacuse they're longer, although indeed there are of course many examples of blades that are big and beefy by very design.

And curved swords were fairly common in Europe, although they were generally much less curved.

Bashing was certainly naturall part of combat, and I will say that it was natural in Japan as well.


This strikes me as incorrect. Everything I've read, and every piece of other evidence I've seen indicates that it requires a lot more force than you can muster with a sword to put a hole in plate armor, and a specifically designed blade to pierce chainmail. Swords became blocker in profile with the advent of plate precisely because of this, the thicker blade profile made the weapon much less likely to flex when stabbing, and hence offered increased penetrating power so one could stab through chain armor at joints. Cutting simply does not work with a sword against metal armor, and bashing is a good way to damage the hell out of your sword against either plate or chain.

This is particularly true with a katana, which IIRC tended to have much harder (aka more brittle, but also sharper) edges than European swords, and hence are much more likely to sustain damage in a simple bashing style attack. Actually penetrating chainmail with a katana is very unlikely in my opinion, the blade geometry is just very, very wrong for that job. Of course my limited understanding of Samurai combat practice is also that they primarily fought each other with spears or bows, and saved the swords for peasant slicing.

Verruckt
2009-04-17, 10:04 PM
This is particularly true with a katana, which IIRC tended to have much harder (aka more brittle, but also sharper) edges than European swords, and hence are much more likely to sustain damage in a simple bashing style attack. Actually penetrating chainmail with a katana is very unlikely in my opinion, the blade geometry is just very, very wrong for that job. Of course my limited understanding of Samurai combat practice is also that they primarily fought each other with spears or bows, and saved the swords for peasant slicing.

From what I understand about the Katana, the real beauty of the thing is not so much in the folding, but the differential tempering. That distinctive wave shape on the blade comes from a clay coating applied to the edge during the creation of the blade. Long story short the cutting edge is sharp, hard and brittle, but the back and core of the blade are soft, making the sword very resilient. Anyway, the sword is unlikely too sustain heavy damage from bashing, but depending on the era and how stylized sword fighting was in japan at the time a bashing attack may not have been within the repertoire of "acceptable" maneuvers.

(not that that would have stopped Musashi mind you, what with beating an armed man to death with a carved boat oar and all...)



Um... OK, this is kind of creepy. I'm not touching this one with a ten-foot pole.
Seriously, who thought this was a good idea?


I could not agree with you more, to go any further into this match up would quickly go straight out of bounds for what this forum covers, but my question is, who are they bringing in as experts? I really think that this episode could well kill the series.



Submachine gun > katana. :smallwink:
No, actually modern firearms > 1920s firearms. Assuming they're doing the current Yakuza vs. the mafia everyone knows about.


This one really puzzles me. Since when were either organization known for their great fighting skill? Sure they killed people, but they're criminals not warriors. What gets dropped into the special weapons category? Who has the more vicious business model?



http://burrowowl.net/shimmie/get.php/16684%20-%20axe%20backflip%20boots%20hatchet%20photo%20spet snaz.jpg

As patriotic as I am, the Green Beret would have to be pretty damn intense to beat someone whose training goes into enough detail to cover combat hatchet throwing during backflips.

The Spetsnaz, men so manly that they can come up with a scenario that would actually warrant the invention of this little beauty:http://i172.photobucket.com/albums/w22/Jerisalem/1217363847892.jpg for when you need to blow someone up... quietly?



That it's very silly, has little or no validity or even plausibility, and is awesome.

Hence my mention of them having 300 guy (who's name is David Wenham now that I bother to look it up) as the narrator. It describes the tone perfectly, dumb, macho, wildly inaccurate historically and technically, but dear Lord it is fun to watch.

Xuincherguixe
2009-04-17, 10:16 PM
... This thread just took a turn for the awesome.

Killer Angel
2009-04-18, 04:56 AM
I don't know what is JDMSJR arguing about but certainly not about vikings. I haven't read whole links he provided, the pictures and this fragment were sufficent.

That's some fantasy story.

Well' it's depicted in an absolutely silly and unrealistic way, but it's true that a single viking stops the saxons on the bridge, for a little time, while king Harad tried to rally (unsuccesfully) his troops on the other side of the river.
Probably it was only a good warrior agains the first disorganized wave of the Saxons' vanguard, but for all we konw, it's based on a true fact.

Spiryt
2009-04-18, 07:47 AM
This strikes me as incorrect. Everything I've read, and every piece of other evidence I've seen indicates that it requires a lot more force than you can muster with a sword to put a hole in plate armor, and a specifically designed blade to pierce chainmail. Swords became blocker in profile with the advent of plate precisely because of this, the thicker blade profile made the weapon much less likely to flex when stabbing, and hence offered increased penetrating power so one could stab through chain armor at joints. Cutting simply does not work with a sword against metal armor, and bashing is a good way to damage the hell out of your sword against either plate or chain.

This is particularly true with a katana, which IIRC tended to have much harder (aka more brittle, but also sharper) edges than European swords, and hence are much more likely to sustain damage in a simple bashing style attack. Actually penetrating chainmail with a katana is very unlikely in my opinion, the blade geometry is just very, very wrong for that job. Of course my limited understanding of Samurai combat practice is also that they primarily fought each other with spears or bows, and saved the swords for peasant slicing.

No one is talking about cutting trough armor. Delivering impact with sharp edge, is on the other hand quite different thing.

I won't say anything about that mythical "sharp and brittle katanas " blades, beacue I don't really know, there are dozens of different opinions about that.

Anyway - many medieval swords were very sharp as well, casue greater sharpness helps bashing as well.
And....

and bashing is a good way to damage the hell out of your sword against either plate or chain./QUOTE]

So what? Sword is a valuable thing but we're talking about fight to death. One does what one can to survive, he'll worry about damaged sword later.

[QUOTE]Actually penetrating chainmail with a katana is very unlikely in my opinion, the blade geometry is just very, very wrong for that job
Some katanas were surprisingly stabby, enough to punch trough a mail.

Cutting trough one is of course not the case.
But I'm not talking about cutting trough armour:

Example 1 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-h0e0NSwYNg)
Example here too (http://www.thearma.org/Videos/NTCvids/testingbladesandmaterials.htm)

Of course there are no evidence of experiments with japanese swords that I know of, but I can't see why they couldn't be used in the same way if it was the need.

Especially that many their swords weren't really small and light (O-katanas, Ōdachi)

This would of course hardly be "intented" or "prefered" use of sword, but certainly one of it's functions.



Probably it was only a good warrior agains the first disorganized wave of the Saxons' vanguard, but for all we konw, it's based on a true fact.

I know it. Still, that story was very fantasy based on the true history, or something like that.

Swordguy
2009-04-18, 08:51 AM
Regarding interplay between Japanese Weapons and Armor...I've crossposted this from my original post on the AEG forums.

Warning: LONG!

Please note: I may not use the Japanese terms for everything in this document, or spell them the way you think they may be spelled. Deal. Different sources happen. Sources will appear at the end of this document. Oh, and I hereby give permission for AEG and any forum moderators acting as representatives thereof to post this (unmodified and in its entirety, except as directed by me) as a reference document anywhere they need to do so, if they feel so inclined.




Armor exists in a constant state of flux, always attempting to protect the wearer against an ever-more lethal variety of battlefield threats. There are many reasons NOT to wear armor. It’s expensive. It’s high-maintenance. It is hot and smelly (sometimes to the point of causing heatstroke). It restricts your mobility. It dulls your senses and slows your reflexes. It’s never perfect, 100% protection.

Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that if armor did not perform some valid battlefield function, people would not have worn it. People aren’t stupid. We may be more educated today, but people have a long history of seeing a problem, and then devoting all of their time and technological progress to that point in history finding a way to SOLVE that problem. Again, it stands to reason that, especially in a culture like that of Japan, where weaponry and armor simply did not evolve after reaching a certain level of technological development, there must be a rough balance between weaponry and protection. If armor was useless against battlefield weaponry, it would not have been worn. If armor was perfect protection against battlefield weaponry, weaponry would have evolved to defeat it.

When dealing with European weaponry, figuring out what weapons were used against what armors is a real problem. While there are some “through-lines” of armor and weaponry (like chainmaille and the humble spear –both of which were used nonstop and simultaneously for a good 1,500 years), armor and weaponry tended to evolve very quickly. Therefore, one could see all sorts of battlefield matchups. One could use a spear to skewer someone in leathers and a padded jack, and then immediately have to pull out a state-of-the-art flanged mace to deal with someone charging at them in cap a pie plate.

The Japanese aren’t like this. They hit a technological plateau roughly in the middle of the second millenium and, in general, stayed there. What this means for the historian is that his job just got a LOT easier. Again, in general, you can look at a 400-year period in history and understand that the basics or Japanese armor and weaponry just didn’t change to an appreciable degree. The cosmetics and details changed (look at the sode, or shoulder guards, of Japanese armor during the 1500’s and during the 1700’s and you’ll see what I mean), but the basic form of the armor stayed the same.

What does this mean for us?

It means that we can more readily look at simple examples. Performance of European armor can be significantly different when attacked by an Oakeshott Type XII sword or an Oakeshott Type XV sword that existed a mere 50-odd years later. We have the ability to look at a generic, representative suit of Japanese armor, and a generic, representative katana and say that they will have generally similar performance characteristics across a broad time span, specifically, that time span that impacts game design in L5R.

So, let’s choose a generic katana and set of armor then.

There are several types of armor we can look at. The O-yoroi, the do-maru, the haramaki, and a few others. Looking at these armors, however, reveals a general though-line. They are generally different layouts of the same basic protective materials. The materials in question are small steel lames (plates), 6 to 8 square inches in size, that are alternatively laced or riveted together or attached to various types of backings. Alternatively, there are armors that consist of a dozen or so large steel lames curved horizontally around the curve of the body, but the thickness of these plates is by and large the same as the smaller lames. While the layout changes, the basic protective materials remain the same. *

There are rumors of wooden, leather, or even reed/bamboo armors. Only leather (usually heavily lacquered) existed, and these are almost universally low quality “emergency” armors used for low-quality troops. It’s often better to have anything than nothing, and the psychological comfort these armors would have provided would help the soldier deal with the realities of warfare – though the protective qualities are certainly suspect. In any case, these armors are NOT the norm. They may be more common than indicated, due to their easier degradation over the passage of years – but they do not seem to appear in quantity anywhere in period documents or artwork. In short, with no primary sources for their widespread use, we must discount them from our study.

For our generic armor, we will choose an armor that closely matches armor seen commonly in card and rulebook artwork. This armor is the mogami-do. It consists of five horizontal plates laced vertically together, along with a kusazuri (half a dozen 3-5 lame plates laced around the bottom of the do to form a protective skirt across the lower hips and upper thighs). Kode (forearm guards – usually ¾” wide strips of steel laced to a backing of silk and 6-in-1 maille), sode (those cool squareish shoulder guards everyone loves so much), haidate (many-lame thigh guards) and suneate (lower leg and knee guards – usually cast in 3 vertically-aligned lames) can be added.

http://i115.photobucket.com/albums/n294/wolffe42/mogamido.jpg
Mogami-do

Now because “Rokugan isn’t Japan” (glares at people who parrot this without thinking about where the source material came from), we’re going to use an L5R source for determining what constitutes light armor and what constitutes heavy armor. Reference pages 126-129 of the L5R: Roleplaying in the Emerald Empire rulebook (kudos, by the way, to the art and writing teams, for getting the terminology and pictures basically correct in this section).

Light armor consists of torso protection (the mogami-do) and upper thigh plates (the kusazuri). There are also watagami (shoulder straps) that are “grown” into shoulder plates, protecting only the top of the shoulders, similar to the upper left image above.

Heavy armor consists of torso protection (the mogami-do) and upper thigh plates (the kusazuri), in addition to upper and lower arm guards, upper and lower leg guards, and a helm of some sort (interestingly, the sode here includes, as it historically should, armor for the backs of the hands, called tekko, which appear only VERY rarely in the artwork, but were historically quite common; hand hits are a perfectly valid way to end a fight).

In short, light armor only covers the torso and hips, while heavy armor covers the whole body.

Three things determine protective quality in armor: deflection, hardness, and thickness. It takes more energy to penetrate thick protection; it’s harder to get a weapon to “bite” in something very hard (requiring yet more energy to penetrate the armor), and deflection essentially reduces the amount of energy from an attack that can focus on penetrating the armor.

Steel Japanese armor tended to three thicknesses. Small lames were roughly analogous to 18-gauge steel, and larger lames were about 16 gauge. Thicker 14 gauge was used for single-piece globular breastplates, but these lay outside the realm of this discussion.

Japanese armor tended to have very poor deflective qualities. The armor is somewhat contoured to the body, meaning fewer acute angles to deflect blows. Additionally, the armor tends to be covered with lacing and/or divided into small plates. Both of these produce a tendency of an incoming blow to “stick” to the armor – it gets caught in the surface elevation gradations and will transfer more energy to the target, rather than sliding off to the side and wasting energy on the air. The most blatant examples of this are large, ornate kabutos with big shiny symbols on the front. A direct downward blow into these should result in the blow sliding off the side of the helm, but instead the symbol traps the sword against the helm and redirects the energy back into the blow. (Yes, I’m aware these were often made of soft metal or were on “break-away” mounts. Neither always works…).

Japanese armor tended to have reasonable hardness. While some variation is expected, steel is a hard substance, and thus resists impulse against it. This high surface tension resists slicing actions along its surface, failing only when directly impacted by more energy than the surface tension can withstand – crumpling and (if crumpled too far) tearing under the impact. Remember this. This’ll be important later. This thing to remember is you cannot SLICE through steel under normal conditions (like with what someone may be carrying on a medieval battlefield). You can crumple steel, and you can cause it to tear with a very strong cut (which is mechanically different than a slice), but you cannot simply slice through it like you would a block of cheese.

Armor has two additional properties of note: weight and restrictiveness.

Japanese armor is fairly light for it’s surface area. It’s made of thinnish steel, and with significantly less coverage than European cap a pie plate. A comparison: jousting plate is head to toe, 16 Ga. on the arms, 14 Ga. on the legs, back and helm, and 12 Ga. on the torso and left side of the helm (differential helm thicknesses are common historical occurrences, as most lance impacts came from the left side). The only gaps are directly in the armpits, backs of the knees, backs of the hips, and in the palms of the hands (I don’t count oculars in this, since every armor has them). Plate like what you see below weights 52 pounds, distributed over the entire surface area of the body. Heavy, right?

Wrong.
http://i115.photobucket.com/albums/n294/wolffe42/joustingplate.jpg
European Cap a Pie plate from Historic Enterprises, ltd.


The common US infantryman carries a 60-pound rucksack, 3 lbs. of rifle ammunition, 5lbs or more of water, a 9-lb weapon, 3-4-lbs of grenades, a combat knife, stuff in his pockets, and more. It’s not uncommon for the soldier to go into a firefight carrying 90 or more pounds of stuff, and still have to fight and be agile enough to avoid fire. Heck, 60 pounds of it (more than that entire suit) is just on his back. The soldier learns to fight, over 12 weeks of BCT and another 3-6 months of AIT, to fight with this load on him, and nobody has doubts about his ability to do so. Now imagine someone trained to fight in that load for two years, five years, or even more, except the load is evenly distributed, and custom-made to fit him. The weight of European plate isn’t a problem. The weight of Japanese armor is even less so. It’s made of thinner materials, lighter materials, and doesn’t protect as much of the body (the arms, especially, don’t get a whole lot of protection). Weights of Japanese armors vary, by it's usually in the region of 40 lbs. for what L5R would consider "heavy Armor" The mogami-do depicted above weigh 17 lbs. and 19 lbs., respectively, and by themselves constitute Light Armor.

Restrictivness is the last armor quality, and here the Japanese have a great advantage. Don’t get me wrong, European armor isn’t as bad as Hollywood makes it out to be. While in plate, I can reach over my head and touch the opposite ear, for example, or touch my opposite shoulder, or even do the splits (well, before having my groin ripped in a tragic ice hockey incident too horrible to describe), but there IS a loss of mobility. Wearing yoroi, though…man it’s nice. Because so much of it is laced, certain points may be left loose or stretch so that there’s practically no mobility loss at all. The kusazuri allows for full hip movement, the solid knee cop on the suneate never jams or blows a rivet (resulting in a stiff-legged gait), and the arms…wow. The upper arms are protected by silk and chainmaille, two highly supple fabrics. The Sode are often strapped down to the triceps, but are thin enough that they don’t impede arm rotation in pretty much any direction, and the wrist mobility is incredible – again, because the wrists are lightly protected.

Looking at Rokugani armor, light armor shouldn’t impede mobility in the slightest, except possibly bending at the waist (the Japanese never did to well with articulated sliding rivets), but depending on the armor style even this isn’t a problem. There simply isn’t enough there to get in the way. Heavy armor has an issue with the shikoro (the skirt around the bowl of the helmet) – it impedes your ability to strike from above. Kenjutsu got around this with the hasso no kame stance. At a risk of making the wrong impression, look at Qui-Gonn Jinn in Star Wars. He habitually adopts a hasso no kame stance with his lightsabre (though he holds his elbow WAY too high!). For a further Star Wars reference, watch how Darth Vader makes overhead strikes with his weapon. The blow is never vertical from above the head. It’s always diagonal from around the area of the upper shoulder. And look! He has a helmet shaped very much like a Japanese helm…


In short, Japanese armor was mediocre (but not BAD!) on thickness and protective value, but long on flexibility and ease of repair.

So, that’s finished our discussion of the properties of armor. Next, let’s talk about swords and how to use them. After that, we’ll get into how the twain would interact on the battlefield.








* There are armors that consist of single pieces – globular or peascod breastplates. However, these universally postdate the appearance of European traders into Japan. As Rokugan has categorically rejected ANY gaijin influence (as opposed to Japan, where gaijin innovations were accepted “on the sly”, as it were) I chose to ignore these armors in the study. They would not fit in Rokugan for this reason, and indeed do not seem to appear in the artwork (or, if they do and I’ve missed it, they appear in such a small percentage of armors as to be statistically insignificant).
[/quote]

Swordguy
2009-04-18, 08:52 AM
Before I get into this section, I have a note. I’ve been asked to confine this discussion solely the katana and immediately related weapons. I agree with this. While I was originally planning to do yari and bowfire studies as well, I think that’s too large a topic for the scope of this document. As such, I’ll focus exclusively on the katana, with the simple understanding that a larger weapon (no-dachi) will provide additional power behind a cut, and a smaller one will provide less. The katana is the nice middle ground.




The katana is the outgrowth of the tachi, a slightly longer sword on different mountings. The katana is notable for being described in several sources as the medieval world’s most perfect slicing weapon. That is an important and insightful distinction, and one we will cover in greater depth. But first, a bit of history.


Early in the Muromachi period (circa 1336-1573) there was a large change in tactics from relatively large numbers of horse to large numbers of foot troops. As such, the katana evolved from the tachi. The early katana were shortened tachi and have the heavily curved shape of earlier Kamakura blades. As the years went by, the weapon mutated into the classic Muromachi katana, a blade between 27-30 inches in length with moderate sakisori (blade curvature), little funbari (lengthwise blade taper) and chu-kissaki (a short tip). This set the pattern of the katana for basically the next 500 years.


http://i115.photobucket.com/albums/n294/wolffe42/muromach.gif
Muromachi katana

Additionally, these were the blades that would have seen the most use in the Warring States Period of Japan, the Sengoku-Jidai. They are important in that they have the most curvature, as a “class” of swords, seen in Japan from this period to the end of the widespread use of swords as a combat weapon. In Rokugan, these swords don’t seem to appear very often, as their curvature makes them very distinctive when viewed from most angles.

The most common swords we see in our game (and the most common katana in collections today) are of the Shinto style found during the 250-year peace of the Edo period. While there were some variations in shape within the Shinto period, the classic style is that of the Kanbun era (mid 1600's). Blades are made in katana length, circa 26-29 inches, but stouter and with very little curvature (approximately 1cm) and chu-kissaki. Kanbun style blades are nearly straight and quite robust. Looking at the portraits on and above my computer by April Lee and Steve Argyle, the idea that the most common blade in Rokugan is of this style is borne out.

http://i115.photobucket.com/albums/n294/wolffe42/edo.gif
Katana of the early Edo Period - note the lack of blade curvature compared to the Muromachi


As many good things do, the era of combat blademaking started drawing to a close late in the Edo period. One starts seeing “show” swords, with wildly exaggerated hamon (temper lines) and large amounts of guilding and jeweling. This is analogous to the large, 20-lb. parade swords seen during the late European Renaissance – the sword was falling out of service there as well, but people still wanted to carry them to look good (it is from these examples, never exposed to combat and thus in good condition and therefore in museum display cases, that the idea of 20 and 30 pound swords was introduced). There was an attempt at a swordmaking revival around 1780, and this revival marks the Shinshinto sword period. Suishinshi Masahide is generally credited with leading a rival of sword making, promoting a return to the styles and methods of the Kamakura period (around 1100), which meant a bunch of katanas that were essentially shortened tachis became popular.

http://i115.photobucket.com/albums/n294/wolffe42/edo2.gif
Katana of the Late Edo Period - much more curvature

Because the number of Shinto style katanas found in Rokugani artwork, we will concentrate solely of them for our studies about how the weapon interacts with armor. This is not a bad thing, as it was the last style of katana to see constant, consistent use against armored battlefield foes. Earlier styles don’t appear often enough, and later versions performed more often against unarmored “civilian” opponents (in duels and the like). As it’s also the most common style of katana extant and reproduced today, there will be more data available.

So how is a katana used?

Well, there’s a glib answer: you cut stuff with it. However, a more specific answer is probably necessary, so we’re going to have to take a short side trip into combat theory.

The goal of any fighter is to render his opponent incapable of fighting. Most often, this means killing him as quickly and efficiently as possible, but it can also include rendering him incapable of mounting offense or defense against you (often followed by killing him). There are only a limited number of targets on the body that allow one to do this. A blow to the head is obvious. It will result in death with only a little penetration (about an inch on the top of the skull), and even if it doesn’t kill, it’ll rattle your opponent around badly enough that it will be difficult for him to mount a defense against the follow-up attack you make. Hitting an opponent here is preferred, because there usually isn’t a period in which he’s mortally wounded but still dangerous. He just drops.

Killing your enemy is also done quickly and efficiently with a thrust to the vertical centerline of the upper chest, throat, and face area (above the nipple line so you’ve got the best chance of avoiding the rib cage). You’ll sever windpipes, aortas, jugulars, carteroids…all sorts of important people bits. Death or incapacitation from a wound in this area takes a few seconds, but it usually pretty quick as long as you’re on the centerline. Thrusting to the sides of the centerline will also usually result in death, but it can take a LOT longer – you’ll usually get a lung, which can take a while to drown the victim, or to lose enough blood to pass out.

Finally, the third best area in which to incapacitate an opponent is anywhere in the body cavity where you can do massive damage – the more the better as it increases the chances of the enemy going into shock and dropping right away. Naturally, if you can avoid bone, you’ll get more tissue damage, so horizontal strikes to the abdomen are the blow of choice here. Even a shallow cut (about 2 inches deep) can disembowel an opponent, and this is the place where you have the best chance of bisecting him completely, as (if you’re on target) the only bone to sever is the spine itself.

There are also some target zones to incapacitate the opponent so you can make the killing strike in safety. The most obvious and most overlooked ones are the hands and wrists. If you can’t hold a weapon, you can’t fight, and those hands are pretty fragile assemblies. What’s more, they need to be mobile to fight, and that means you can’t armor them heavily. Why you want to target them over the arms as a whole is that, by definition, the hands and wrists are exposed when your opponent makes a strike. They will always be the closest part of your opponent to you, which means you have to extend yourself the least to strike them. Unfortunately, many systems of fighting today forbid the intentional targeting of the hands and/or wrists, which is why this target gets overlooked a lot.

The other good targets are the collarbones. Anyone who’s ever broken one (*raises hand*) knows that you can’t lift your arm more than a few degrees with a broken collarbone. They’re fairly thin bones, as long bones go, and they're nice and level, which means that a downward blow to the shoulder will hit them perpendicular to their direction of strength, with a high probability of a break. The topper is that you can’t armor your collarbones heavily at all, because the whole area compresses when you lift that arm, and there’s no way to easily generate a deflecting surface in that area without restricting mobility more than the armor user will want. Very large sode can help, but more often than not it’s just an area you can’t protect well.

Now you’ll note that the legs aren’t on here at all. You don’t want to attack the legs. By definition a strike against the legs moves your weapon out of the “blocking box” around your torso and head that keeps you alive, and even worse, a strike against the legs is no guarantee of a kill – the really important arteries in the legs are tough to hit with a cutting weapon, and the knees and ankles are simply too low to be good targets. It’s one thing if you’ve got a shield (or you have to cut around one), but with kenjutsu, your katana is both your sword AND your shield. You need to keep it between you and the other guy.

Now that we know where to hit, we come up on how to hit…

The primary destructive action of a katana is a slicing one. This is an important bit of semantics, as there is a distinct difference between the mechanics of a sword cut, and a sword slice. To confuse things more, I will be using the term “cut” as a verb to denote ANY attack with the blade of the sword, and will then clarify whether the specific destructive motion is a cut or a slice.

There are two mechanics to every sword cut. There is impact. Impact is the amount of force or impetus transferred by a collision of two objects. It can be measured in several ways, in foot-pounds, or joules of energy released, and so on, and is a function of both the speed of the weapon strike and the mass behind the weapon. Increasing either speed or mass will increase impact – unfortunately the speed of weapon strikes is relatively immutable. A person can only swing a weapon so fast, though increasing length (and thus tip speed) can help. The easiest way to increase impact is to increase mass at the tip (hammers, axes, et al.). Weapons such as a hammer depend almost entirely on impact. When a weapon strikes a body, the impact transfers the unused kinetic energy of the attack to the target’s body, where is it then dissipated throughout the surface area of the strike zone. A small strike zone surface area (the area actually struck by the weapon) makes it more difficult to dissipate the impact, and can therefore do more damage to a target (i.e. why I‘d rather get hit with a 10-lb body pillow than a 10-lb sledghammer).

The second mechanic in a sword cut is cleaving action. This is a simple mechanic in theory. It interposes a sharp edge of a weapon between molecules of a target and forces them apart. The stronger the bonds between molecules, and the denser the molecules are packed, the harder it will be to get the weapon edge between them and to separate them. The thicker the substance, the harder it will be to force the edge between ALL of the molecules comprising the thickness of the substance. So the two things that resist cleaving action will be object hardness and object thickness.

Different swords work in different ways, but all swords include both mechanics. Any time a weapon is swung into a target there will be a transfer of energy, necessitating impact. Swords, by definition, are edged weapons. Therefore, they will force apart molecules and perform a cleaving action. The Holy Grail of swordsmiths is to have a weapon that maximizes both mechanics and is still light enough to use. Some swords work more on the impact side of things (falchions), and some work more on the cleaving side of things (tulwar, katana), and try to strike a balance (many arming swords).

A sword “cut” (as opposed to a slice) goes for impact over cleaving action. The amount of cleaving action is not inconsiderable; molecules are separated by a sharp edge impacting them at high velocity.

A sword slice goes for cleaving action over impact. While cleaving action can be achieved through impact, the lion’s share of the damage in a slice is done from a sharp edge being pulled under pressure through and between the molecules of a substance.

For the katana, we look at the slice. When swinging a katana at a target, the goal is to have the blade of the sword impact the target around 6 to 8 inches from the end of the blade (the sword also being a lever this increases impact; a sword’s cutting arc being a circle the end of the sword will be moving very fast compared to the center of the arc [the hands]) and opens an initial wound. Immediately upon impact, the bottom hand on the hilt pulls toward the body slightly. This pulls the end of the sword back towards the wielder, dragging the last 6-8 inches of the blade (and its attendant sharp edge) through the opening made by the impact, slicing open even more soft, yielding flesh. Blade alignment and sharpness are critical to this (oppositional twisting of the hands on the hilt during the strike preserves blade alignment) cleaving action. If the sword edge isn’t vertically aligned to the depth of the cut, energy and cutting power are wasted. If the edge isn’t sharp, it takes more power to drag the sword through and separate those pesky molecules, thus wasting energy that could be used to do yet more damage to the target.

Fortunately, the Japanese made very sharp swords. The hardness of the edge allows them to hold that edge for longer, thus lessening the chance of energy being wasted in a cut from a dulled edge.

Let us be clear: while the impact of a katana upon a target can do significant damage, it is the slicing motion of the blade that inflicts the most grievous harm. The katana is made as a slicing weapon: to use it as such is to use the weapon to maximize its destructive capabilities.

Swordguy
2009-04-18, 08:58 AM
This section was originally going to feature a whole bunch of maths relating to how much energy it takes to defeat armor. That is no longer the case. I’m trying to make this document simple. So you just get the results.



Now that we’ve established type type of armor we’re discussing, and the attendant representative sword with which we will compare against it, let me make a controversial statement.

A sword, under battlefield conditions, cannot reliably defeat armor of the typical thickness worn by samurai.

There. My “bias” (as some will call it) is out in the open. Let me support it.

We have established that the typical thickness of steel worn by the samurai is measured as being between 16 and 18 gauge. This means that the armor cannot be appreciably thinner than 1.1938mm thick, and cannot be appreciably more than 1.524mm thick.

It requires, (not “is recommended”, but requires) approximately 55 Joules of energy to achieve 45mm of penetration of 1mm of steel from an arrow striking perpendicular to the steel. Why an arrow? The numbers are more easily available. That, and if we figure the numbers for the arrow, it actually weights the test towards the sword. And arrow has a far lower impact area than a sword blade, so if armor can protect against an arrow, it can definitely protect against a sword.

In any case, it takes 55J of energy to penetrate 1mm of steel. It takes 110J to penetrate 1.5mm, and 175J to penetrate 2mm. Looking at the armor thicknesses for a mogami-do, it should take something between 60J and 115J to achieve 45mm of penetration. 45mm is about 2 inches, which is generally considered to be the minimum penetration needed to kill an opponent, or to cause a debilitating and fatal wound.

Judging from tameshigiri practitioners (the guys who cut the tatami mats), katana are swung in the vicinity of 45-50 mph at the center of percussion (the spot on the sword where you want to hit). Simple physics dictates that a swordlike object moving at some 48mph is going to generate something like 50-55J of energy. In short, you’ll probably get through very thin metal, you may break open slightly thicker metal, but you’re not going to get good penetration against any thickness of armor commonly seen on the Japanese battlefield.

In addition, the energy required to defeat a mogami-do isn’t just based on beating the plates. Mogami-do are laced together. When a single plate is struck (or a few plates in a small area are struck), the rest of the plates surrounding the impact area will give slightly, further absorbing energy. The lacing will stretch and give slightly, further absorbing energy. Each plate is curved away from the body – a surface curved vertically is more difficult to penetrate horizontally (an I-beam works on the same principle, as does a fuller on an arming sword – it stiffens the structure). Which means yet more energy is required to defeat the metal. Finally, the deeper the cut, the more metal has to be moved aside. Essentially, resistance increases as you penetrate deeper.

Further, if all the math doesn’t get you, let’s look at some real world examples.

In Japan, there is an activity called kabutowari, or “helmet-splitting”. It’s where they take a katana, and take a real live period kabuto, and try to cut through it. This has been going on for centuries, as it’s a better test for how a katana performs than the more famous “cut 5 criminals in half” test. (Unless, I suppose, you dressed the criminals in the armor, but I’ve yet to find any source that says the Japanese ever figured that out.) The test is performed by setting up a kabuto, taking a sword of your choice, and hitting the kabuto as hard as you possibly can, and then measuring the length of the cut.

From my research, I’ve been able to find several examples where the katana “performed adequately” or “as expected”, but never any detail on exactly what happened. The sole places I’ve found specific measurements are all post-Meiji Restoration kabutowari. However, I would point out that as they are all using actual historical examples for both weapons and armor, they serve as valid tests for our purposes.

The world-record cut (the longest ever achieved while the lengths were being recorded) happened in 1994, against a Hineno style kabuto dating from between 1573-1602. The world-record kabuto cut with a katana is 13.08cm (approximately 5”) in length. Other, earlier cuts are 10.58 cm (1886) and 12cm exactly (1986). It is worth noting that during the 1886 cut, it took three swordsmen to get to that length. The first man’s sword rebounded from the helm, and the second man’s did as well, actually causing him to fall.

So, we know that a sword cut to the helm during a kabutowari measures about 4-5 inches in length, but how deep was it? The length of a cut doesn’t matter so much, as it is cut depth that determines damage to a person. Again, math.

The bowl (the section covering the top of the head – and the target for most attacks) on any given helm can basically be described as a hollow semi-sphere X” in diameter. The smaller the diameter, the greater depth a given cut length will have against it. Most helms have a bowl of 10-12” in diameter, allowing room for suspension and padding. Assume a bowl of 10”, to give maximum possible penetrative power to the sword (and weighting the test against the armor). A straight 5” line drawn across a circle of this diameter produces a depth of about ½”. The curvature of a katana may add a little more than a single centimeter (for a VERY curvy Shinto katana) in depth, for a total penetration depth of perhaps an inch.

http://i115.photobucket.com/albums/n294/wolffe42/Kabutopenetration.jpg
Diagram showing a 5-inch long straight-line penetration of a 10-inch diameter circle. IMAGE NOT TO SCALE



Is an inch of penetration enough to kill a man? From a blow to the head, possibly. However, it’s also worth taking a look at the conditions of this test. The target is a stationary one, just above waist level, giving the wielder the assistance of time and gravity to bring his arms all the way through the cutting motion, and to build up maximum velocity. The target isn’t fighting back. The wielder also has time to get himself set for the attack. He can perform breath control, stabilize his body, brace himself for the impact, and set up the most perfect torque in his strike. It’s literally cutting in perfect conditions.

With all that, the world-record cut is getting about an inch of penetration.

Some applicable images from the 1994 World-record Kabutowari:
http://i115.photobucket.com/albums/n294/wolffe42/helmvid.jpg
The wind-up. Nobody would ever do this on a battlefield. It’s suicide.

http://i115.photobucket.com/albums/n294/wolffe42/helmvid2.jpg
The strike. Note the spray of metal shards from the helm. Also note how far the sword has rebounded from the helm itself

http://i115.photobucket.com/albums/n294/wolffe42/helmdamageclose.jpg
The aftermath.

http://i115.photobucket.com/albums/n294/wolffe42/helmdmageside.jpg
The aftermath showing the depth of the cut. Note that it’s about an inch deep, as previously noted. The sword would be embedded in the skull of the target, but probably not into the brain. This is a disabling wound, probably fatal, but look how vulnerable the swordsman had to make himself to get it.

There is an interesting conclusion to be drawn from this. You’ll note that the practitioner depicted here is NOT cutting correctly, as we’ve defined a correct “slice” with a katana. He’s winding up and slamming the weapon as hard as he can into the helm. This is odd, and tells us that a slice is not the correct way to attack armor. After all, if it was, wouldn’t the guy who set a world-record be doing it? Unfortunately, we’ve seen that a slice is the correct way to employ the katana that takes advantage of the weapon’s strengths (sharp edge, curved, etc.).


So what killed all those samurai? If a sword blow isn’t going to kill someone in armor flat out, what good does it do to hit someone?

Here’s the thing. Just cause a blow didn’t penetrate or severely wound someone doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. As is obvious, a blow to the head will result in the target being dazed, leaving him open for followups to unarmored areas, and we won’t be able to defend against them because he’s dazed. Secondly, a blow to armor may not penetrate, but it can damage the armor. I can speak to this. I’ve had rivets blown from weapon impacts, which cause leather strapping to break or give way, and all of a sudden I’ve got an 8-lb. hunk of metal hanging off my body in a funky way, throwing me off balance and getting in my way. In a way, Japanese armor is better, because it’s really hard to flat-out break silk. In a way it’s worse, because a cutting, slicing weapon (like, say, a katana) can slice said lacing, leading to the same problem.

Finally, I would hypothesize from my own experience that the larger number of battlefield deaths from katana were due to thrusting attacks, not to cuts. First, thrusts are dangerous. About 2 inches of penetration are needed to reach vital organs, while a cut can slice through many inches of muscle or even bones without killing.

Secondly, it is easier to target a thrust that will bypass armor than a thrust. Once a target is stunned or injured, the tip of the weapon can almost be placed on its target, and simply shoved home.

Third, the mempo (face guard) on a kabuto is massively uncomfortable to wear, and protects against any form of impact very poorly, as it lies flush against the skin. It wouldn’t be worn if it wasn’t useful, therefore thrusts to the face must have been common. I also point out that that several historical documents point to samurai removing their mempo for better visibility and ventilation (European knights were prone to doing this with visored helms as well). That creates an obvious vulnerable point in the samurai’s armor. Here my sources fail me – I can’t find Japanese sources saying that facial injuries were common. However, I believe they must have been. When knights did the same thing, it is often mentioned that someone was killed via a thrust or arrow to the face, though they were otherwise uninjured. In some sources, it seems to be the only source of injury. If it happened so often to armor-clad knights, it probably happened with similar frequency to similarly un-face-protected samurai.

Finally, all battlefield swordplay includes a large number of throws. Interestingly, most of these throws end with the tori bending at the waist over the thrown uki. Also interestingly, I can’t help but note that when I perform the throws, more often than not my sword shoulder is lined up perfectly with my opponent’s face. From that, it’s a short step to simply straighten my arm from the shoulder and drive the sword in that hand directly into my opponent’s face, or at least his upper chest.

We can get another clue about how to defeat armor from a refinement to that swordplay. Modern Kendo includes only 8 targets. There are the three men (head) blows, straight down, and diagonally to the right and left. There are the two do (body) blows, horizontally to the right and left. There are two kote (wrist) strikes, one two each wrist. Finally there is the tsuke (throat) thrust, aiming roughly at the notch where the collarbones come together at the front of the throat. All of these are immediately-disabling strikes against a person out of armor, and almost all are disabling against someone IN armor.

The vertical men strike is the one depicted against the kabuto above. It’s utility is obvious.

The two diagonal men strikes are lethal against an unarmored opponent, and can easily be retargeted against the light-armored collarbones against an opponent wearing armor.

The two do strikes are about the only way to get a perpendicular strike (thus maximizing power and minimizing deflection) against someone’s torso in armor. Of course, they’ll readily disembowel someone not in armor.

The wrist strikes incapacitate an opponent, either to end the fight or as a setup to a lethal followup. As noted, the wrists cannot be heavily armored, due to mobility constraints, and thus remain a valid target whether the opponent is armored or not. And, again, whenever an opponent strikes at YOU, his wrists are exposed by default.

Finally, the tsuki thrust can hit the throat, upper chest, or even the face – whatever is convenient or looks unarmored. Any of these means death.

Each of these targets is small and easily defended, thus the goal of the armor is to deflect blows to the wearer, absorb what cannot be deflected, and to convince the opponent to try to hit a small, mobile target that will leave the enemy exposed when he tries to strike.



To reiterate: armor is effective. First, there are social reasons. If it wasn’t effective at what is did, it would not have been worn; the benefits had to outweighed the considerable drawbacks. Since armor WAS worn, it had to have protected well. Secondly, the math proves you can’t simply cut through armor. A world-record-setting human can…barely…generate enough strength to provide half as much penetration as is needed to kill the target, while using a striking technique that intentionally does not employ the weapon to the fullest. Third, the effectiveness of armor is proved by a martial system that has created techniques devised to bypass armor and attack lightly-protected or unprotected spots, as well as the appropriate counters. In short, you cannot reliably directly defeat armor with a sword - you must work around it to the best of your ability. Against an opponent wearing any of a variety of "full" armors (European full plate, O-yoroi, etc), this is an extremely difficult task, and it is no coincidence that those who could afford the extensive protection of heavy armor were known as "Kings of the Battlefield".




Sources:
http://www.sengokudaimyo.com/katchu/katchu.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheet_metal_gauges
http://swordforum.com/
http://www.shinkendo.com/index.html
http://www.thearma.org/essays/parry.htm
http://www.thearma.org/essays/knightvs.htm
http://www.thearma.org/photos/Gathering03/testcutting.htm

________. Nihon katchû ronshû (Collected discourses on Japanese armour). Tsukubane Co., Tôkyô. 1991.

Arai Hakuseki. The Armour Book in Honchô Gunkikô. Trans. by Y. Ôtsuka. Ed. by H. Russell Robinson. The Holland Press. 1964.

Bottomley, Ian. Japanese Armor: The Galeno Collection. Berkeley, CA. Stone Bridge Press, 1998.

Mathews, David (AKA Sven Vandeleven, KSCA, OL). "Japanese Retainer Armour 1550," The Hammer. Reprinted in The Best of The Hammer, vol. 2.
Ed. Brian Flax. Raymond's Quiet Press, Albuquerque, NM. 1985.

Sakakibara Kôzan. The Manufacture of Armour and Helmets in Sixteenth Century Japan. Trans. by T. Wakameda. Revised by A.J. Koop and Hogitarô Inada (1912). Revised and edited by H. Russell Robinson (1962). The Holland Press, Ltd. London. © 1962. Second edition, 1979.

Shimabakuro, Masayuki. Flashing Steel: Mastering Eishin-Ryû Swordsmanship. Frog, Ltd. Berkley, CA. 1995.

Suno, Nicklaus. Practice Drills for Japanese Swordsmanship. Weatherhill Books. New York, NY. 1996

Tobler, Christian. Fighting with the German Longsword. Chivalry Bookshelf, Highland Village, TX. 2004.

Tolhoffer, Hans. Medieval Combat: a 15th Century Illustrated Manual of Swordfighting and Close-Quarter Combat. Trans. By Mark Rector. Greenhill Books, London. 2000.

Yamagishi Motoo. Nihon katchû no jisshôteki kenkyû (An empirical study of Japanese armour). Tsukubane Co., Tôkyô. 1997.

My applicable credentials:
Studied with the American Association of Stage and Screen Combat Choreographers (4 years - 1998-2001)
Advanced Actor/Combatant with the Society of American Fight Directors (8 years - 2000-present) - specialty is armored combat in the Lichtenauer Tradition and MS I.33
Studied with American Association of Renaissance Martial Artists (2 years 2000-2002)
Jousted with the Knights of the Golden Dawn, out of Mason, Ohio, USA (full-contact, non-breakaway late-period jousting, 1999-2001)
Ichidan in Eschin-ryu Iaijutsu with Sensei David Park (studied from 1997-1999)
Ichidan in Kendo with Sensei David Park (studied 1997-1999) (some of this was done in Kendo Bogu, some in period armor, mainly haramaki and domaru)
Studied Kenjutsu (not ranked) with Sensei David Park (1997-1999)
US Army, 2/485 Inf Rgt., (2005-2006)
And, dammit...years of just freakin sparring. If you go out and try stuff, you learn quickly what works and what doesn't (note: usually the stuff furthest away from what you see in Hollywood). Personal practice should never be discounted.

13_CBS
2009-04-18, 09:51 AM
@ Swordguy: Awesome document! However, I do have one lots of questions:

If I'm understanding your argument correctly, you're saying that most katana kills were by thrusts rather than cuts. (Or did you mean most katana kills were by thrusts than cuts in the context of killing armored people?)

However, the blade geometry of a katana is optimized for cutting: curved blade, the "rounded" (in a way) tip, etc.

Why is this? If the thrusting attack of the katana was better for killing than the cutting attack, especially against armored fighters, why did the katana keep its particular blade geometry instead of evolving into something more like Western Type XVIII-XX swords? Was the slashing function of the katana used more frequently than the anti-armor thrusting function? Or was it something else?

Disclaimer: I have no appreciable martial art credentials to speak of.

Swordguy
2009-04-18, 10:41 AM
@ Swordguy: Awesome document! However, I do have one lots of questions:

If I'm understanding your argument correctly, you're saying that most katana kills were by thrusts rather than cuts. (Or did you mean most katana kills were by thrusts than cuts in the context of killing armored people?)

However, the blade geometry of a katana is optimized for cutting: curved blade, the "rounded" (in a way) tip, etc.

Why is this? If the thrusting attack of the katana was better for killing than the cutting attack, especially against armored fighters, why did the katana keep its particular blade geometry instead of evolving into something more like Western Type XVIII-XX swords? Was the slashing function of the katana used more frequently than the anti-armor thrusting function? Or was it something else?

Disclaimer: I have no appreciable martial art credentials to speak of.

EXCELLENT questions!

First, yes, I meant that most katana kills would be necessity be thrusts when fighting armored opponents.

Now, the meaty part - why have a sword optimized for cutting when killing armored opponents is best done with a thrusting weapon? it's a fairly simple answer - you don't use a katana against an armored opponent...and like in Europe, there's a WHOLE LOT of unarmored or lightly-armored opponents running around any given battlefield; you can certainly use a cutting implement against them.

The heyday of Japanese armor in warfare was the time of the Warring States (Sengoku Jidai) which ended in 1600 with the Battle of Sekigahara. After this period, there was no really large-scale warfare until the "last gasp of the samurai" during the Meiji Restoration (which, for the record, was NOTHING like what you saw in "The Last Samurai"). During this period, the primary weapons of the samurai were the spear and the bow, both of which can do a number on an armored fighter. During this time, the katana kept its heavily-curved form that characterized it as a cavalry weapon (which helps keep it from sticking in the target and provides a smaller impact area) - while a katana may have difficulty cutting through armor when powered by a man, add the force of a horse moving at 30mph and it's a different story. Assuming your sword doesn't break.

The katana didn't really hit its period of dominance until after this. The early Edo period was where the katana straightened out somewhat and became the truly balanced weapon we all (nominally) know and love. It's still optimized for cutting, but because there wasn't large-scale mounted warfare in this period, the extreme curve characteristic of a cavalry weapon isn't necessary. Additionally, most fighting in this period was conducted outside of armor - civilian duels were the common theme here, not open warfare. A katana is far easier to carry around and employ during day-to-day life, and so it became optimized for killing unarmored people.

To summarize:

Early katanas were intended for the following:
-Making ride-by attacks from horseback
-cutting through throngs of unarmored or lightly armored foes

Later Katanas were intended for the following:
-Cutting through unarmored foes

Thusly, a generally curved blade geometry fills all the listed intentions. Which is why the katana's overall shape didn't greatly change - the shape was what best fit all of the intentions.

Make sense?

Zaphrasz
2009-04-18, 12:01 PM
I've seen enough hypothetical historical battles to know that, in the end, it is all speculation. Some arguments are much more well thought out like Swordguy's (better than the "katana is better than anything" argument I see so much for sure) but there are too many uncertain factors, very little hard data, and a surprising amount of fanboyism on each side for certain fights. For each scenario in which ones side wins, you can come up with another where the other guy wins.

Spoony (http://www.spoonyexperiment.com/2009/04/09/deadliest-warrior/) had a somewhat interesting analysis of the first episode. These scenarios are without logic, so it stands to reason that the resulting "data" will be ultimately nonsensical.

Swordguy
2009-04-18, 12:20 PM
Spoony (http://www.spoonyexperiment.com/2009/04/09/deadliest-warrior/) had a somewhat interesting analysis of the first episode. These scenarios are without logic, so it stands to reason that the resulting "data" will be ultimately nonsensical.

Oh, absolutely. Until you actually travel through time to grab 100 randomly selected warriors of each type, and actually pit them in a real life battle to the death with their equipment, there's no way to know "for sure". There's no "this guy will always beat the other guy" or "this guy is better than that guy" - these sorts of debates should be framed in relative terms - "out of a hundred battles, the samurai will win about X, while the knight will win about Y", with all other things being equal. Unfortunately, people rarely phrase it this way, and other, overly-anal people, are always quick to seize upon a slight variable that was overlooked and extrapolate it so that it ALWAYS applies.

Doesn't mean it's not fun to think about though. Or that thinking about it is ultimately pointless.

Eldan
2009-04-18, 12:41 PM
Now this is something I'd like to see...

"And today in Time Travel Warrior 3000, we have, on the blue side of the battlefield, Thorgrim Bluntsword and his raiding party from the year 783, against, on the red side of the battlefield, Chief Eaglewing and his raiding party from the year 1249. Vikings against apache warriors!
today, the battlefield is an autenthic piece of jurassic tropical forest, stripped of all animal life, from the year 157'495'492 BC!
Who will win? We'll see!"

chiasaur11
2009-04-18, 02:42 PM
Now this is something I'd like to see...

"And today in Time Travel Warrior 3000, we have, on the blue side of the battlefield, Thorgrim Bluntsword and his raiding party from the year 783, against, on the red side of the battlefield, Chief Eaglewing and his raiding party from the year 1249. Vikings against apache warriors!
today, the battlefield is an autenthic piece of jurassic tropical forest, stripped of all animal life, from the year 157'495'492 BC!
Who will win? We'll see!"

Okay, that's going on my list of things to do when I get a time machine.

Current list:
1)Get rich
2)Get awesome power armor and a jetpack
3) test out paradoxes
4) Kill Hitler
5) Kill Hitler again
6) Repeat 4 and 5 until bored
7) Ultimate Doctor Who reunion special
8) Gladiatorial combat tests, kill Hitler again
9) Start dinosaur farm, then use raptors to freak out a young Randall Munroe

Xuincherguixe
2009-04-18, 05:59 PM
Huh, I guess that with time travel we could see who was tougher. Vikings or Space Vikings. Or Space Vikings vs Ninja Mutants (distinct from Mutant Ninjas, of whom may or may not be amphibious)

13_CBS
2009-04-18, 06:21 PM
@ Swordguy: Thanks for the reply!




To summarize:

Early katanas were intended for the following:
-Making ride-by attacks from horseback
-cutting through throngs of unarmored or lightly armored foes

Later Katanas were intended for the following:
-Cutting through unarmored foes

Thusly, a generally curved blade geometry fills all the listed intentions. Which is why the katana's overall shape didn't greatly change - the shape was what best fit all of the intentions.

Make sense?

Understood.

An interesting thing to compare between Western European and Eastern warfare ca. 16th-17th century...

In the West, swords seemed to evolve to defeat armor, again demonstrated by the progression of swords from Type X to XX. In Japan, the sword remained mostly a cutting weapon, and thus not entirely suited for defeating armored foes.

Why was this? It seemed as though one side thought, "Huh, these swords aren't that great for cutting open armor, so what if I changed it so it poke through the weak spots for massive damage instead?" while the other thought, "Well, these swords aren't that great for cutting open armor, and these spears work just fine, so I guess I'll leave the sword as it is."

(And speaking of Japanese yari, were they actually that good against armor? Western anti-armor techniques tell me that the best way to kill a man suited up in steel is to wrestle him to the ground and stab him with a dagger, not to use a spear on him.)

Edit: also:




Now you’ll note that the legs aren’t on here at all. You don’t want to attack the legs. By definition a strike against the legs moves your weapon out of the “blocking box” around your torso and head that keeps you alive, and even worse, a strike against the legs is no guarantee of a kill – the really important arteries in the legs are tough to hit with a cutting weapon, and the knees and ankles are simply too low to be good targets.


That's interesting...I thought I heard from somewhere that the most common wounds found by autopsy on corpses found on medieval battlefields were leg wounds? Or the most common mortal wounds found on medieval battlefields were leg wounds? Of course, these are medieval European battlefields we're talking about, but unless there was something unique about the way those corpses were wounded, I would assume that battle wounds in Japanese battles ca. 17th century were similar? That is, legs were very commonly injured in battle?

Eldan
2009-04-18, 06:27 PM
We could also finally settle the "Space Marines vs. Archers" debate.

Haven
2009-04-18, 06:42 PM
No not actually pairing off those two makes it so they don't get flamed to death by those who side with the loser. They'll get less flack if they both lose to other random stuff but if a ninja beats a pirate (or vice-versa) then the interwebs will be up in arms.

If they were that worried about flames, they wouldn't be doing Taliban vs. IRA. No way that's not gonna offend someone you're better off not offending...


... This thread just took a turn for the awesome.

So very concurred.

Verruckt
2009-04-18, 07:21 PM
We could also finally settle the "Space Marines vs. Archers" debate.

I for one am waiting for "Khornate Berseker vs. Basket of Mewling Kittens" episode.

warty goblin
2009-04-18, 07:22 PM
I for one am waiting for "Khornate Berseker vs. Basket of Mewling Kittens" episode.

I can haz ironic victory?

Cristo Meyers
2009-04-21, 09:04 PM
That's interesting...I thought I heard from somewhere that the most common wounds found by autopsy on corpses found on medieval battlefields were leg wounds? Or the most common mortal wounds found on medieval battlefields were leg wounds? Of course, these are medieval European battlefields we're talking about, but unless there was something unique about the way those corpses were wounded, I would assume that battle wounds in Japanese battles ca. 17th century were similar? That is, legs were very commonly injured in battle?

I only have a bit of sparring experience and am more than willing to defer to Swordguy or other, more knowledgeable, sources, but:

I think it's the difference between theory and reality. In theory, you don't generally go for the legs since, as stated, it exposes pretty much every vital area on you in exchange for possibly wounding an area that is one of the least likely to produce a fatal wound. In practice, however, if someone exposes their leg (and it isn't just a feint or a trap), you take it off.

Also, consider the prevalence of shields on a European battlefield (I limit it to a European battlefield only because of an almost complete lack of knowledge concerning Japanese shield-making, if any). Compared to full armor (even something as simple as leather), shields are cheap and easy to make and would protect your chest and maybe even as far as your waist while you struck with a sword or, more likely, spear. This limits the available targets to what little area of the chest is available, the head, arms, and legs.

Also consider that usually trained swordsmen usually weren't going up against other trained swordsmen in these battles (on either side of the globe), but conscripted peasants or militia.

Seraph
2009-04-21, 09:50 PM
I think it's the difference between theory and reality. In theory, you don't generally go for the legs since, as stated, it exposes pretty much every vital area on you in exchange for possibly wounding an area that is one of the least likely to produce a fatal wound. In practice, however, if someone exposes their leg (and it isn't just a feint or a trap), you take it off.

you're a bit off on that. combat revolves around footwork, and there are several major veins/arteries in the leg. a succesful leg strike in real combat means that they'll die of blood loss in a matter of minutes and they'll be drastically less able to defend themselves until then.

Cristo Meyers
2009-04-21, 10:29 PM
you're a bit off on that. combat revolves around footwork, and there are several major veins/arteries in the leg. a succesful leg strike in real combat means that they'll die of blood loss in a matter of minutes and they'll be drastically less able to defend themselves until then.

Well, yeah, "least likely" is kinda relative when we're talking about taking a spear or a sword to the thigh...fair point.

A better way to have put it might be that there are more preferable targets than the legs. Ones that are more likely to kill outright without you having to open up a whole in your defense.

Dervag
2009-04-21, 10:49 PM
That's some fantasy story.I recognize the quote. It comes from badassoftheweek.com's very over-the-top account of the Stamford Bridge Viking- a guy who did in fact hold off Harold the Saxon's army singlehandedly for quite some time at the battle of Stamford Bridge.

But yeah, creative license out the ears there.


When your target is wearing plate, you're generally trying to put dents in it. So a broad sword will serve you a lot better than a Katana.

Big heavy sword will have a strong impact. Because what matters against armor is the force. This is what I mean by bashing.Banging a sword against armor is a waste of sword; swords were expensive.


This is particularly true with a katana, which IIRC tended to have much harder (aka more brittle, but also sharper) edges than European swords, and hence are much more likely to sustain damage in a simple bashing style attack. Actually penetrating chainmail with a katana is very unlikely in my opinion, the blade geometry is just very, very wrong for that job. Of course my limited understanding of Samurai combat practice is also that they primarily fought each other with spears or bows, and saved the swords for peasant slicing.Or duelling, as I understand it. Which is distinct from warfare, and (in the Japanese case) shared one major feature: the enemy was unlikely to wear heavy armor.


From what I understand about the Katana, the real beauty of the thing is not so much in the folding, but the differential tempering. That distinctive wave shape on the blade comes from a clay coating applied to the edge during the creation of the blade. Long story short the cutting edge is sharp, hard and brittle, but the back and core of the blade are soft, making the sword very resilient.I wouldn't think so, based on my limited knowledge.

Because the cutting edge is hard and brittle, it's likely to crack if you hit something with it hard. It's not difficult to ruin a katana blade in this way. The reason to have a soft, resilient core to the blade is to make it remotely useful- a solid martensite blade would turn into iron filings the first time you tried to use it, but a martensite edge has some advantages.

Thus, the sword as a whole is not especially resilient, and must be used carefully.


Anyway - many medieval swords were very sharp as well, casue greater sharpness helps bashing as well.Ah...

how?


So what? Sword is a valuable thing but we're talking about fight to death. One does what one can to survive, he'll worry about damaged sword later.Yes, but why in Heaven's name would you carry a sword into battle in the first place if you knew you could confidently expect to have to bash with it? Why not carry a weapon better suited to bashing, such as a mace?

After all, this is a fight to the death we're talking about; you'd think they'd bother to consider the best tool for the job in front of them before wading into the thick of it.

Swordguy
2009-04-21, 10:56 PM
Hehe...on striking the legs in foot melee combat:

The rules of thumb are:
1) If he's got a shield, go for the shield leg - it's very difficult to directly defend (the best defense it to take a half-pace back so the strike misses, and then put the leg back where it was). A shield is so unbelieveably effective at protecting the upper body that you really are forced to go for the leg.
2) If he's got a single weapon (usually a longsword) or a long weapon/small weapon combination (including sword and buckler) do not go for the leg.

Why do these rules exist? They're shown in western Fechtbuchs (fight books) all the way back to MS. I.33 (12th century). That document focuses on arming sword (a D&D longsword, not a real longsword) and buckler. The reason to avoid striking the legs is a matter of geometry. The sword travels along a shorter distance when swinging down to strike the head than when it strikes the legs. What that means is that a swordsman who extends forward and down to strike the legs (as is necessary because of where your shoulder is) is by definition vulnerable to the shorter (and thus faster) stroke that will strike his head. Further, if he chooses to defend the head (say, by using the buckler) than he leaves his sword wrist open to easy attack. Finally, the defence against a blow to the legs is as easy as taking a step backwards and bringing your sword straight down.

Now, against somebody with a large shield that covers the upper body, you've got a real issue. Aside from particular Viking Shields were specifically made to split and trap weapons, shields DO NOT break under anything short of extreme abuse. A zweihander hitting the edge would probably mess one up, but the shield wouldn't be likely to show much damage at all if it were to hit the flat. So, you aren't going to break a shield, and the things are just really effective - there's just not a lot of target to hit. About all you've got are the shield leg, the sword arm (extended by definition whenever a strike is made) and the crown of the head. Of these, the shield leg is the easiest to strike, so it makes sense that one would attempt to go for it. Additionally, the opponent finds it very difficult to strike across his own shield to strike your sword arm (unlike when he's got a single sword), and if you've got a shield of your own, you can defend against the downwards counterstroke your opponent will attempt. Thus, a leg strike become considerably easier and safer for the striker.

What all of this explanation comes down to is that in an environment where shields are common, the rate of leg wounds at "primary disablers" will increase, due to the shield's protective qualities. In an environment where shields are uncommon, sword-arm/upper torso/head stab and cutting wounds become more common.

Seeing this, and to answer 13_CBS's question, the primary disabler in Japan for pretty much the entirety of the "samurai" period (1200-1848) the sword-arm/head/upper torso strike is king. Leg wounds are commonly an issue only for cavalry.

Verruckt
2009-04-22, 01:29 AM
I was quite pleased with tonight's episode. I'm sure the recounting of Thermopylae at the beginning will draw ire from the history buffs, as it well should, and as one of the ninja expert pointed out in his parting words "A ninja wouldn't fight a Spartan, he'd run away and come back to kill him in his sleep."

If however for some reason a dumb/cocky ninja got it into his head to challenge the spartan to open combat however, the ninja is going to get a shield upside the head and a spear or xyphos through the torso for his troubles.

I'm predicting similar results for next week's match up, replacing "xyphos through the torso" with "flanged mace through the skull". As Swordguy has done an amazing job of showing above, armor matters quite a lot, and in this fight a pirate is going to be boiled down to a ninja with less training and fewer weapons.

sealemon
2009-04-22, 11:57 PM
It;s a silly, silly show. I loves it.

I was laughing at the "viking expert" who claimed that Vikings would use two spears in battle on a regualr basis. Maybe if they were drunk they'd try it. :)

they really need to try something different than Guy X And Guy Y meet each other in the woods and fight. Environment plays a huge part in how a fight will turn out. Wait, I'm being rational. Nevermind.

zeratul
2009-04-23, 12:09 AM
The Knight has a distinct disadvantage with the pirate though. The samurais Armour will mean nothing as the pirate has a pistol and likely multiple ones. If the pirate is smart he wont even use the cutlass and will just fire at the knight till he falls.



I wouldn't think so, based on my limited knowledge.

Because the cutting edge is hard and brittle, it's likely to crack if you hit something with it hard. It's not difficult to ruin a katana blade in this way. The reason to have a soft, resilient core to the blade is to make it remotely useful- a solid martensite blade would turn into iron filings the first time you tried to use it, but a martensite edge has some advantages.

Dude I've seen people fire 9 MM handguns at katanas with little to no effect in tests. They fired directly at the hard edge of the blade and the bullet got cut in half. In the series of tests I was watching it took a 50 cal to break it.

The katana was made to be able to bend due to it's soft core but retain razor sharpness due to the harder outer core. It is one very well developed very resilient sword.

Verruckt
2009-04-23, 12:56 AM
The Knight has a distinct disadvantage with the pirate though. The samurais Armour will mean nothing as the pirate has a pistol and likely multiple ones. If the pirate is smart he wont even use the cutlass and will just fire at the knight till he falls.

You may be correct on the samurai, due to the gaps in his armor (setting aside the superior mobility compared to plate) the pirate might be able to drop him with those pistols and blunderbusses, I still don't favor his chances should the range get any closer than 3-6 feet. The Knight on the other hand has total coverage. Armorers would actually test breastplates by shooting them with pistols, those that did not fail were passed on to the knights, I'm sure Swordguy can give you much better technical information on just that. The Knight's also got a big slab of metal strapped to one arm and he knows how to use it. His close combat weapons and training make the pirate look like a rank amateur.



Dude I've seen people fire 9 MM handguns at katanas with little to no effect in tests. They fired directly at the hard edge of the blade and the bullet got cut in half. In the series of tests I was watching it took a 50 cal to break it.

The katana was made to be able to bend due to it's soft core but retain razor sharpness due to the harder outer core. It is one very well developed very resilient sword.

If you watch said video closely the 9mm rounds quite clearly chip the edge, and firing bullets is not remotely equivalent to trying to cleave a helmet or continuously pounding on chainmail or a big bronze shield. That's to be expected though, and isn't the blade's intended purpose.

Oh how I lol'ed at the mall ninja "ninjitsu master" guy they brought in. "Will that Ninjato cut the armor?" "I'll cleave his helmet?"
I was half expecting him to pull on an orange windbreaker and a steel headband that conveniently identifies him as an assassin.

Sholos
2009-04-23, 01:03 AM
You may be correct on the samurai, due to the gaps in his armor (setting aside the superior mobility compared to plate) the pirate might be able to drop him with those pistols and blunderbusses, I still don't favor his chances should the range get any closer than 3-6 feet. The Knight on the other hand has total coverage. Armorers would actually test breastplates by shooting them with pistols, those that did not fail were passed on to the knights, I'm sure Swordguy can give you much better technical information on just that. The Knight's also got a big slab of metal strapped to one arm and he knows how to use it. His close combat weapons and training make the pirate look like a rank amateur.

It depends on several things, like what environment they're in and what time period the pirate is from. If the pirate comes from a relatively modern time period, then we're talking about a time where plate had fallen out of favor specifically because it was bad against guns. Meaning that the knight would get slaughtered. If we're talking about an older time period, then the pirate gets slaughtered for not being able to do jack against the knight.

Regardless of the outcome, this is a stupid fight for the simple reason that there is no way a pirate would ever get into a fight with a knight. No pirate is going to attack a knight on land (because he knows that he'll probably lose), and no knight is going to be in full armor at sea. So either way you've got a fight that wouldn't happen (or a fight that's pointless to discuss because the outcome is already known).

Avilan the Grey
2009-04-23, 02:38 AM
eheheh...
I suppose the show is meant to entertain... it has almost no accuracy, 'cause you simply cannot confront fighters from different historical settings.
There's no proof that a result is trustworthy, the winner is probably who is the coolest (in the eyes of the peoples making the program).
This kind of thing can be entertaining (in the beginning), but sooner it became ridiculous (Maori vs. Shaolin Monks?!? c'mon... :smallconfused:)

Sometimes it can be funny... after all, it's the same concept at the base of a lot of alternate history films or books.

Agreed.

This sounds just as stupid as the similar show about animals attacking eachother that ran on Discovery a while back. The biggest problem there was that not only did they have to have the animals attack eachother for no reason, their "simulations" did not account for the actual damage caused and how animals react to them:

One episode had an Australian Salty (Saltwater croc) fight with a Great White, and appart from the stupid idea that they should just attack eachother front on, instead of one sneaking up on the other, the shark won after getting one of it's main fins completely ripped off (which should have hampered it's swimming abilities no less) and it still choose to continue attacking...
Another episode had a leopard attacking an anaconda (again, for no reason) and they had the anaconda keep attacking until the leopard was strangled, even though the initial attack had broken the spine of the anaconda (rendering it paralyzed for the last 1/3 of it's body length plus assorted other wounds). My point in both cases would be that a real wild animal would sense it's wounds and dry to escape rather than turn on the offensive.

WhiteHarness
2009-04-23, 12:18 PM
I'm not sure why the ninja is even a contender. It seems to me that there is no historical evidence that the ninja would even be trained in hand-to-hand combat, modern ninja movies and strip-mall martial arts traditions aside...

Spiryt
2009-04-23, 01:06 PM
Ah...

how?
It concentrates all force of blow on very small area. In 'normal' conditions it does produce the cut, and if it strikes something it could not cut, concentration of force produces dents more readily. Also sheer shock for something under uncutable area will be greater.

Flanged maces had sharp flanges as well, modern reenactors specifically advise others to not make them that way, as it concentrates force to well.

Helmet 'cutting' Swordguy had showed is also good example. I don't think that crumpling the steel would be possible with dull blade.



Yes, but why in Heaven's name would you carry a sword into battle in the first place if you knew you could confidently expect to have to bash with it? Why not carry a weapon better suited to bashing, such as a mace?

After all, this is a fight to the death we're talking about; you'd think they'd bother to consider the best tool for the job in front of them before wading into the thick of it.

And how exactly you want to foresee who you will be fighting with next moment?
What if this fully armoured guy attacked you in rude way, without allowing you to drop the sword and grab the mace?

And beacuse sword can bash with longer range than 90% of maces (which were rarely longer than 70cm), not to mention that it has all other advantages of being sword.

Few expoeriments like the Arma ones show that sword is quite effective even if it doesn't cut or thrust. The fact that it doesn't excel in that use doesn't mean that it can't be used that way.

Mr. Scaly
2009-04-23, 03:57 PM
Somewhat appropriately, this thread is starting to resemble a vs. thread in its nitpickiness. :smallwink:

And now comes the inevitable historical criticism. Did that Spartan expert realise that Thermopylae was a lost battle? That the strongest Greek position fell after only three days of fighting? And that the Spartans were most certainly not alone against the Persians?

warty goblin
2009-04-23, 04:28 PM
It concentrates all force of blow on very small area. In 'normal' conditions it does produce the cut, and if it strikes something it could not cut, concentration of force produces dents more readily. Also sheer shock for something under uncutable area will be greater.

Flanged maces had sharp flanges as well, modern reenactors specifically advise others to not make them that way, as it concentrates force to well.

Helmet 'cutting' Swordguy had showed is also good example. I don't think that crumpling the steel would be possible with dull blade.

Yes, it also causes your edge to break more readily, and the concentration of force gained is unlikey to be significant enough to make the potential loss of your weapon worthwhile.

I'd also note that cutting and crushing are physically distinct phenomina, one involves severing molecular bonds, the other altering their alignment relative to each other.



And how exactly you want to foresee who you will be fighting with next moment?
What if this fully armoured guy attacked you in rude way, without allowing you to drop the sword and grab the mace?
Situational awareness, it's what keeps you alive anyway.



And beacuse sword can bash with longer range than 90% of maces (which were rarely longer than 70cm), not to mention that it has all other advantages of being sword.

Few expoeriments like the Arma ones show that sword is quite effective even if it doesn't cut or thrust. The fact that it doesn't excel in that use doesn't mean that it can't be used that way.

Yes, the sword has reach on a mace. On the other hand it can't do anything to a guy in armor with the vast majority of hits, which makes this excess reach difficult to exploit at best. Part of this comes down to balance, most swords have a center of gravity within a foot or so (tops) of the crossguard. This means that a strike with the tip of the blade will produce a lot of torque, and the leverage will be against the striker keeping the blade from rotating. An impact weapon however has a center of mass much, much closer to the head, and thus produces much less torque on a swing, allowing more of the force of impact to actually be transfered to the target.

Spiryt
2009-04-23, 04:49 PM
Yes, it also causes your edge to break more readily, and the concentration of force gained is unlikey to be significant enough to make the potential loss of your weapon worthwhile.

Replicas of historical swords like Albions are tested against metal objects to ensure that some bashing against hard object isn't irreversibly destructive to blade.

Loss of sharrpness and edge geometry in one said damaged point of impact doesn't mean that it can't be reapired by resharping and other stuff.

Even if the piece is not as good as it was it doesn't mean "loss of weapon".

Swords had to bash into other hard objects with their edge,it was hard to avoid, especially if the sword was two hander, so was used as a defensive item in the absence of shield.

Of course, one should deflect blows with flat and all. But striking something even accidentaly will happen sooner or later.

If swords were getting ruined instantly in the heat of heavy fighting they were designed to do, they wouldn't be used.

Also



Situational awareness, it's what keeps you alive anyway.


So assuming that our hero has weapon for every occasion right with him he starts fighting with mace. He just dropped his sword.

Considering that combat is chaos and often constant motion, even if he survived and managed to return to the place, it's very possible that he lost his sword. It get completely lost/crushed by hooves/somebody took it.

So what's the point with this caring about weapon anyway?

Of course, it's certainly possible that he has time to stay calmly for a while, sheathe his sword and grab a mace, if he has it. But it's equally possible that he has not.



Yes, the sword has reach on a mace. On the other hand it can't do anything t a guy in armor with the vast majority of hits, which makes this excess reach difficult to exploit at best. Part of this comes down to balance, most swords have a center of gravity within a foot or so (tops) of the crossguard. This means that a strike with the tip of the blade will produce a lot of torque, and the leverage will be against the striker keeping the blade from rotating. An impact weapon however has a center of mass much, much closer to the head, and thus produces much less torque on a swing, allowing more of the force of impact to actually be transfered to the target.

Indeed. What's the point though ?

warty goblin
2009-04-23, 06:00 PM
Replicas of historical swords like Albions are tested against metal objects to ensure that some bashing against hard object isn't irreversibly destructive to blade.

Loss of sharrpness and edge geometry in one said damaged point of impact doesn't mean that it can't be reapired by resharping and other stuff.

Even if the piece is not as good as it was it doesn't mean "loss of weapon".

Swords had to bash into other hard objects with their edge,it was hard to avoid, especially if the sword was two hander, so was used as a defensive item in the absence of shield.

Of course, one should deflect blows with flat and all. But striking something even accidentaly will happen sooner or later.

Oh I quite agree that swords had to tolerate this, it's just stupid to do that to them on purpose, as in, actual battle strategy. It'd be like dumping coffee on your keyboard as a way to get the crumbs off just because then thing was waterproofed.


If swords were getting ruined instantly in the heat of heavy fighting they were designed to do, they wouldn't be used. For large periods of history swords were status symbols combined with last ditch utility weapon, not the primary tool of combat. See classical and pre-classical Greece, at least some of the dark ages, and much of the medieval period. Most of the time people were pretty much stabbing each other with some sort of sharpened thing on a stick- spears, halbards, poleaxes etc.



So assuming that our hero has weapon for every occasion right with him he starts fighting with mace. He just dropped his sword.
I think it was not at all unusual to carry both sword and mace, or indeed two weapons in general to cover both this eventuality or a weapon being damaged or lost. Also, why drop the sword, or more pertinantly, why not start out weilding the mace? Remember this is combat between large numbers of men in slow moving formations, you get time to see who's going to be attacking you for the most part.


Considering that combat is chaos and often constant motion, even if he survived and managed to return to the place, it's very possible that he lost his sword. It get completely lost/crushed by hooves/somebody took it.
Melee range infantry combat? Constant motion? Not so much. Remember, infantry for most of history (pretty much up until the advent of rapid firing, accurate firearms) fought in large blocks of one sort or another, and at best moved at a run, and only that over limited distances. Movement only happens after the battle is concluded, aka one side or the other breaks and runs for it. Once an army is running for it, rather by definition the soldiers are caring more about their lives than their equipment or just about anything else.


So what's the point with this caring about weapon anyway?
Melee weapons, like firearms, are situationally useful. There are times when a mace is not a good thing to be weilding- aka you are being poked at by a lot of spears, and the better reach and maneuverabity of the sword is an advantage, and there are times when you are fighting somebody in Gothic flutted plate armor and a giant meat tenderizer is the only way to go. Unlike firearms however melee weapons are reasonably light, and it is plenty feasible to carry more than one.


Of course, it's certainly possible that he has time to stay calmly for a while, sheathe his sword and grab a mace, if he has it. But it's equally possible that he has not. Yeah, if he doesn't have a mace, he's better off with the sword, no question. But again, most of the time one would see what sort of formation one is squaring off against before they are two and a half feet away from you, and could prepare appropriately.



Indeed. What's the point though ?
It takes energy being transfered to the target to penetrate it. If your weapon is less efficient at doing this than mine is, it takes you more effort to do comparible damage. If this difference is minor it means you tire out earlier, which is bad news. If the difference is major, like between a sword and a mace, you are going to have to wind up and commit to a massive attack with all your power behind it to do anything at all. This is the sort of attack it is both easy to dodge, and more important, easy to prevent by killing the person using it. This is worse news.

Verruckt
2009-04-29, 01:24 AM
Tonight's episode saddened me greatly. I enjoy the show just for the sheer rollicking fun of it as always but this one just seemed shoddy. There were some great scenes to be had, the morningstar and halberd performed as expected on unarmored targets, and it's good to know that if pigs do fly you can always CUT THEM IN HALF, but on the other end we saw some really odd decisions.

1. The Grenado: Apparently Pirates have discovered what the modern military has failed to produce, a reliable air bursting hand grenade. This was just silly, and the fact that the pirate got kills with it even though it was shown to have no plate armor penetration is puzzling.

2. The Blunderbuss: If the test they aired in the episode was indeed the only test they used for the blunderbuss then anyone with even a cursory knowledge of plate armor could point out a grievous error. Plate armor is layered, plate/chain/pad/linen if I remember correctly, yet the test was essentially cuirass against bare skin. The single penetration that the blunderbuss got through the plate may well have been slowed enough to have been halted by the next two layers, but we'll never know because they didn't test for it.

These two weapons accounted for nearly all of the pirates kills... and yet they seemed to anyone paying attention to be largely ineffective? I don't buy the pirate's win here, I really don't.

Also Hollywod physics with firearms always gets my hackles up, and that blunderbuss almost made the knight do a backflip... le sigh. The final simulation (which I know is just a reenactment of an aggregate of the scores and not really representative) showed the knight going down the way they almost always did historically, he ended up on loose footing, fell over, and was shot/stabbed/otherwise murderfied up close while he couldn't move.

/rant

Still much looking forward to next week's episode, Big .45 American Firepower vs. the Amazing Japanese Self-Firing Nambus!

Irenaeus
2009-04-29, 06:27 AM
*Snip*I'm eternally gratefull to anybody who knows more than me on a subject, who is willing to do a good write-up on it, and with sources no less. You just took a thread on what seems like a quite silly show, and turned it really interesting. Thanks.

I seem to remember having heard that the high-quality versions of the katana was essentially a way of creating a good product from inferior materials. Can you or anyone else confirm this? Or give some pointers to where I can read more on the metallurgy involved?


Early katanas were intended for the following:
-Making ride-by attacks from horseback
-cutting through throngs of unarmored or lightly armored foesThat's it. I'm going home to play Mount & Blade.

Yulian
2009-04-29, 08:07 PM
I watch it more for the weapon demos and such than anything else. They run through those ballistics gel torsos like crazy.

But really, unless there's a huge technological advantage, it's mostly going to come down to who's the most skilled fighter in a one-on-one situation.

The Pirate vs. Knight one was insane. The pirate shot the knight like, 4 times, and grenadoed him. We're looking at maybe 5 centuries of technological development into the age of firearms. It's like putting a modern US Army infantryman up against a a conquistador. Once you bring guns into the mix on one side and not the other, technology will trump. History bears that out every time.

I am also in the "primitive, airburst grenade is laughable" school of thought. We're just developing "smart shells" that do that currently.

Eh, fun enough, but I don't really care about the results they get, more the getting there. Those "Apache" (not their name for themselves) knife fighters were freaking terrifying.

- Yulian

Mr. Scaly
2009-04-29, 09:04 PM
Pardon my ignorance on explosive weapons, but how hard could it be? Light the fuse, wait a couple seconds, toss it in the air then watch it explode above the ground, right?

Verruckt
2009-04-29, 09:34 PM
Pardon my ignorance on explosive weapons, but how hard could it be? Light the fuse, wait a couple seconds, toss it in the air then watch it explode above the ground, right?

Well, sortof...

Works like this: If I have a modern hand grenade, with say a 5 second fuse, I can pull the pin, let the spoon pop, and "cook" it. That is, I let the fuse burn down a bit before I throw it. Then I guestimate the distance between me and the target, and the time left on the fuse, and where the grenade will be when the fuse runs out. Not the simplest thing in the world, but not especially hard either.

The Pirate, however, gets a couple new wrinkles. Firstly, he has to get the thing lit, which is not as easy as it sound given that he doesn't have a lighter or modern matches. Secondly, the pirate has no idea how long he's got until this thing goes off, fuses were fickle things then, and even ones cut to a uniform length might not have the same burn time. Thirdly, his target is moving towards him and wants to make him rather dead.

So, assuming that the pirate manages to get it out and light it without getting a crossbow bolt through the neck, and correctly guesses how long his fuse is, and then does a little impromptu calculus to determine where he needs to throw it and how long he needs to hold it, all whilst staring down a guy in Gothic Fullplate on a big angry charger, then yes, he might be able to airburst the knight.

leafman
2009-04-29, 10:19 PM
I really liked how the grenado was given the edge over the knight's flail(morningstar :smallsigh:). I mean sure the knight's weapon was a one hit kill and the grenado was completely ineffective against armor, but the grenado had an explosion and clearly anything that makes a flash and a big boom is more effective :smallbiggrin:

They really need to make the fight at the end reflect reality. The knight hit the pirate multiple times with the flail, yet the pirate wasn't critically injured.

sealemon
2009-04-30, 12:04 AM
The Pirate vs. Knight one was insane. The pirate shot the knight like, 4 times, and grenadoed him. We're looking at maybe 5 centuries of technological development into the age of firearms. It's like putting a modern US Army infantryman up against a a conquistador. Once you bring guns into the mix on one side and not the other, technology will trump. History bears that out every time.

Except that Pirate vs Knight really isn'tthe same thing as modern soldier vs. conquistador. The pirate's guns simply aren't as reliable, hard hitting, or accuare as modern firearms. As was pointed out (then promply ignored) duringthe show, early firearms were inaacruate as all getout, and were very prone to missfire...if you were lucky. Worse case was having the gun EXPLODE, and losing a hand over it.



The Blunderbuss: If the test they aired in the episode was indeed the only test they used for the blunderbuss then anyone with even a cursory knowledge of plate armor could point out a grievous error. Plate armor is layered, plate/chain/pad/linen if I remember correctly, yet the test was essentially cuirass against bare skin. The single penetration that the blunderbuss got through the plate may well have been slowed enough to have been halted by the next two layers, but we'll never know because they didn't test for it.

I was thinking the same thing. Not the first time they've done that either---they see m fond of just using a single peice of armor over the target, no matter how many layer were acually worn.

In a related topic, I find it funny that they spent so much time talking about how vital the Spartan sheild was to their effectiveness on the battlefeild, while ignoring the Knight's sheilds entirely.


Overall, This was the silliest fight of all, as was previously pointed out, there's no way a pirate would take on a knight on the land, and a knight in full plate on a ship is even sillier.

that said, I still like this show in a goofy fart and burp kinda way

Swordguy
2009-05-02, 06:25 PM
I'm eternally gratefull to anybody who knows more than me on a subject, who is willing to do a good write-up on it, and with sources no less. You just took a thread on what seems like a quite silly show, and turned it really interesting. Thanks.

I seem to remember having heard that the high-quality versions of the katana was essentially a way of creating a good product from inferior materials. Can you or anyone else confirm this? Or give some pointers to where I can read more on the metallurgy involved?

Sorry it took so long to get back to you on this.

Yes, the katana is "a way of getting a good result from inferior materials". Japanese iron is pretty low quality, from a metallurgical standpoint. The much-vaunted process of folding the metal wasn't designed to make the sword extremely sharp and reasonably durable (it was a side benefit) - the real reason was that repeated folding and hammering of metal works the impurities out. It's a well-known phenomena - the Japanese weren't even close to the only ones to figure it out. I can give you sources if you want them - or you can ask one of the GitP smiths. I think Whiteharness is a smith.

On-topic, Spike is running a Deadliest Warrior marathon today, and since I don't feel like watching horses run in a circle, I finally got to see the show.

I'm pretty appalled. It's fun to watch the bone-laced ballistics gel get ripped up, but wow...there's some propaganda going here. I especially like the fact that Spartans are suddenly unable to turn their head or lift their shield when stuff is thrown at their face. I'm also impressed - I had "no idea" that the ninjato was a sharper, faster, and stronger weapon than the katana. And by "no idea", I mean that I'm aware that the ninjato is generally a fairly low-quality weapon that's immenently disposable.

Fun to watch though, even if I woke up neighbors while screaming at the TV that "they're doing it wrong".

WitchSlayer
2009-05-02, 06:54 PM
That's it. I'm going home to play Mount & Blade.
Just when I stopped my addiction to that game.
Thanks a lot.

Irenaeus
2009-05-03, 04:20 AM
Sorry it took so long to get back to you on this.

Yes, the katana is "a way of getting a good result from inferior materials". Japanese iron is pretty low quality, from a metallurgical standpoint. The much-vaunted process of folding the metal wasn't designed to make the sword extremely sharp and reasonably durable (it was a side benefit) - the real reason was that repeated folding and hammering of metal works the impurities out. It's a well-known phenomena - the Japanese weren't even close to the only ones to figure it out. I can give you sources if you want them - or you can ask one of the GitP smiths. I think Whiteharness is a smith.Thanks! I can bug a smith about the details, I just wanted to get my vague memory confirmed, and to know about any sources if you had them lying around.


Fun to watch though, even if I woke up neighbors while screaming at the TV that "they're doing it wrong".Jon Stewart: "If I didn`t do this show I`d be the crazy guy at the bar sitting at the corner screaming 'He doesn`t know **** about what he`s talking about!' That`s the reason I do it."

I greatly prefer screaming at the TV to doing something about it, myself.


Just when I stopped my addiction to that game.
Thanks a lot.It always comes back. :smallbiggrin:

Funnily enough, I kind of forgot about Mount & Blade after I made that post.