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Thread: Would European swords easily shatter Samurai armor?

  1. #1

    Would European swords easily shatter Samurai armor?

    The pro knight side often assumes that European longswords were not only superior to Katanas that if the two sword impacted, katanas would shatter upon impact......

    They even go as far as saying European swords were far superior to Samurai armor that one whack from a Scottish claymore or bastard sword would immediately shatter the Samurai armor, if not outright cut through it immediately upon impact and slice apart the Samurai's limbs or chest in half.

    In many of these knights vs samurai debates, at best the Samurai armor will be able to protect the user but get heavily dented from typical European longswords. Even in a few debates I witnessed where boths ides of the debate agree that Samurai armor will be able to withstand whacks several times before finally showing visible signs of wear (such as scratches and slight but harmless disfiguration), the pro-knight side still argues even if the armor protects the Samurai and nullify 90% of the blow's impact, one whack a lone despite only harming with 10% of the blow's original power will hurt the Samurai due to kinetic energy and give him brutal bruises or even broken bones despite wearing full Samurai armory.

    Basically a double standards in which the pro knight assumes their swords were so much stronger and heavier that there is no need to thrust the armor or hit the weak points.

    The assumption is that Samurai armor were made with such inferior metals that even a European daggers used by knights would easily penetrate Samurai armor and kill the wearer in one hit.

    I am curious was European blacksmitting and metallurgy that superior that you can simply attack a Samurai armor with modern knives and it will easily pierce the chestplate and hit the adbdomen area of the wearer of Samurai arms?

    I'm not lying in at least several of these knights vs samurai debates, some debaters rooting for the knights sides literally brought up that modern Western blacksmitting techniques and metals were so damn superior to what the Japanese had that you merely need an American Civil War era sabre and even a modern military knife to pierce the armor without any trouble and hit the flesh!

  2. #2
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    I'm not sure how many answers you will get to this one. Some Samurai armours were musket ball proof just like the contemporary Western ones. As always it ends up being a matter of which armour, when and made for what purpose. I could say more, but see no point as the argument seems based more on ignorant jingoism than knowledge
    .

  3. #3
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    No sword of any kind can cut through armour. Swordsmen were taught to aim for unprotected parts of the body.

    "However, Japanese armor has, for the sake of easier movement, unavoidable and exposed weak points, and it is this design defect that is targeted by the omote set of techniques in Katori Shinto-ryu."
    – Otake-shihan
    Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books.
    http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Bronz...ipment/p/3272/

  4. #4
    I'm surprised that you think that "no sword of any kind can cut through armour". That may have been true of the regulation military sword, but Wilkinson and others made special exhibition swords that were capable of cutting through armour and other metal objects. (One of the exhibitionists, named Henderson, could cut through cuirasses or breastplates and could also sever 2 3/4 inches of solid lead and steel plates 6 to the inch, etc.) Moreover, for warfare, there were specially-made Asian swords (e.g., tulwars, scimitars, and katanas) that were capable of cutting through armour and musket barrels, etc., as evidenced by numerous eyewitness accounts.
    Cheers!

  5. #5
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    You've been watching too many Hollywood movies.
    Last edited by Dan Howard; 03-02-2017 at 11:56 PM.
    Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books.
    http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Bronz...ipment/p/3272/

  6. #6
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    There are some accounts of helmets being split in Napoleonic battles however I think by this time a lot of helmets had become more decorative than functional (lots of sheet brass etc). I think eywitness accounts of gun barrels being cut are more along the lines of ''my wifes second cousin knew a chap whose maternal grandfather had heard from a friend that a damaged barrel had been found on a battle field where swords had been used ''

    Having been thouroghly nasty in rubbishing such accounts I will now sail on the opposite tack and pose this question: If a light machine gun had been abused in the sustained fire role such that the barrel was glowing and starting to sag (they could), could a well aimed cut from a good blade damage or sever it in that condition?
    The journey not the destination

  7. #7
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    You can use a chisel and anvil to cut a red hot gun barrel. Once it cools down you need a saw.

    Mr. Brown had this question thoroughly answered two years ago
    http://myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=31590

    Asking the same question again won't elicit a different answer. Contrary to what the current US administration would like us to think, there is no such thing as "alternate facts".

    This is a good example: http://www.shinkendo.com/kabuto.html

    Here we have a 500 year old helmet placed at optimal height on a rigid surface and was cut by a master swordsman wielding a blade that was specifically made for the task using a technique that would never have been employed in battle and the best he could do was a "world record" 13cm cut that was so shallow that it wouldn't have scratched the scalp of someone who was wearing it. It is a shamefiul destruction of an irreplacable artefact.
    Last edited by Dan Howard; 03-03-2017 at 03:43 AM.
    Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books.
    http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Bronz...ipment/p/3272/

  8. #8
    Many apologies. I've accidentally used moderation tools instead of replying to your post. If it isn't too much trouble could you repost your last reply?
    Last edited by Dan Howard; 03-03-2017 at 03:24 PM.

  9. #9
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    Regarding the tournament demonstrations, they don't really tell us much. If you sit an item on a hard surface and clamp it so it is held rigid, it is a lot easier to damage. Many of these feats are impossible to repeat when the item is being properly worn.
    Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books.
    http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Bronz...ipment/p/3272/

  10. #10
    No trouble, but not worth reposting. The evidence can speak for itself, and people can believe what they want.
    Last edited by L. Braden; 03-04-2017 at 08:12 AM.

  11. #11
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    I will reluctantly return to this thread.... How often is like compared to like, and contemporary evidence looked at. Sword v armour, swords were always the secondary weapon, primary weapons being Spears (pikes) Halbards Naginata, Bows and Muskets, primary armour breakers were War Hammers and Maces and funnily enough the Samurai had their own versions of these latter as well. Real Armour, (Western and Eastern) as opposed to reenactment stuff (and I am familiar with both) has to balance protection with mobility and weapon handling. It can always be broken, but not easily and the committed blow to do so usually places the attacker at risk as well. 16th and 17th century Westerners had a great respect for Japanese swords, and Samurai. The Spanish and Portuguese hired large numbers of them as mercenaries, the Indian Rajahs banned them from landing from the above ships they were so wary of them. Conversely Musashi developed his two sword technique influenced by Western sword and dagger, Western blades were respected and Tokugawa Ieyasu wore a modified Western armour. A link now removed led to the original argument, and 'puter games were referenced as "Proof"..................... 'nuf said, Computer Games are not the Real World!

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