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Inactive Forums => The Riddle of Steel => Topic started by: Brian Leybourne on January 09, 2004, 01:42:50 PM



Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Brian Leybourne on January 09, 2004, 01:42:50 PM
John Clements (the top ranked guy at ARMA) has this to say on the matter.

It's not a new article, but an interesting one for those of you who have been wondering.

http://www.thehaca.com/essays/knightvs.htm

Brian.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Ingenious on January 09, 2004, 10:47:44 PM
My response to this is thus: That article and the other one on rapier vs katana were pointless. The man could not come to a conclusion in either way,...
The man clearly is a speculation artist.(IMO)
'There are many other factors that still could be raised when speculating on a hypothetical combat between a knight and a samurai.  In the end though, my own answer to the question of who would win is that it is unanswerable...' --quote from his article on knights vs samurai.

'So, after all this I am reluctant to form an opinion of one over another, but I have to say I really don't know one way or the other. I have tremendous respect for kenjutsu's excellent technique and its ferocious cutting ability, yet I favor the rapier's innovative fence and vicious mechanics. Though it's very fun to speculate on, I think "who would win" between a rapier swordsman and a samurai is a moot question and unanswerable.'--quote from his article on katana vs rapier.

Now then, regardless of whether or not he's qualified to write in terms of combat and such... he should at least know a thing or two about writing before he attempts to do so. When comparing and contrasting two different styles to see which would be the 'victor', you should at least come to a conclusion of SOME sort in the piece itself. Do not just offer speculation, opinions, and facts... and then say that there is no conclusion or that the question is unanswerable. If you knew it was unanswerable before-hand.. as I'm sure a top ranking-ARMA guy would in this case.. then why freakin write the damned article at all? If it is to speculate then fine... but if it is to offer and support which style of combat would win over the other, at least have the article answer that.(Redunant thinking to get it through everyone's head btw.)
If one was to pit a 'knight' vs a samurai, then pit a samurai vs ANY style of knight... and see which would win in a fight. Don't sit there and say that there are too many variables in the equation and too many unknowns to attempt such a thing.
Did mathematicians/scientists think along these lines? If they did, Einstein would not have been himself... Newton would have been 'hit by the apple' and not even cared to figure out why. Also, had people like Oppenheimer et. al given up on the Manhattan Project.. World War 2 would have been longer, and Russia might be the world's super-power after the Cold War happened... and the nuclear arms race. The world itself would not be where it is right now if people at any point just sat back and said 'there are too many variables and unknowns in the equation' to warrant ANY effort whatsoever.

There. I am done ranting.
It's just, when I sit here and read something intently.. I'd like for it to have a POINT to its creation.

-Ingenious
I might have to dodge some hate mail and such for my criticism.. but hey.. I felt like I should at least voice my opinion of the article.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: montag on January 09, 2004, 11:12:11 PM
which brings me to the question: who are these ARMA guys anyway?
It doesn't mean anything that I never heard of them before, but I read some of their articles and remember noticing a large number of spelling errors and the fact that most of their articles are concerned with (a) why one must, must, must parry with the flat (more reasonable schools of similar bent beg to disagree politely or state that the sources are contradictory) or (b) how no one likes or understands their hobby like they do and what bad swords are sold out there.
At least, that was my impression, which I got despite being terribly interested when I came across to site (via TROS). So, what am I missing?


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Brian Leybourne on January 10, 2004, 02:39:39 AM
Cory,

There's a big difference between not being able to decide between two things, and making a study of them and from that coming to the conclusion that it's not possible to decide between them.

Big difference. Not the same thing at all.

Brian.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: montag on January 10, 2004, 07:10:37 AM
There's also a big difference between making a _study_ of something and coming to a (semi-)scientific/professional conclusion and throwing opinions and possible factors around and then refusing to form an opinion on the original question.

Big difference. Not the same thing at all.


Sorry, but the critique was, that the text is framed as an opinion but ultimately refuses to offer opinion. If OTOH the text is supposed to have scientific value it would be acceptable to say the data is not sufficient or the problem is too complex. I frankly fail to see scientific value, YMMV.
btw: the text fails by its own standards:"In matters like this we certainly cannot not invoke mystical principles or endless “what ifs” and still engage in intelligent conjecture. All we can do is give an opinion of questionable value."


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Valamir on January 10, 2004, 08:35:11 AM
This article and the preceding one on katana and rapier accomplish precisely what they set out to do.  Honestly these ranting critiques of them sound more like somewhat wanting to find some reason to dismiss them.

Their purpose is this:

There are alot of raving fanboy ignoramouses out there who will argue endlessly about such topics.  This almost almost boils down to a whose dick is bigger arguement between Nippon-philes and Nippon-phobes and has nothing what soever to do with anything.

These articles are designed to point out three things.  1) Niether the katana nor the Samurai are empirically superior as a weapon or a warrior.  2) that eastern and western styles and weapons designed and evolved to meet the specific cultureal and martial needs of their respective regions.  They both equally represent a near perfect melding of form to function.  and 3) that any discussion about who would win in a fight is utterly pointless because a knight or fencer did not evolve to fight in Japan and a Samurai did not evolve to fight in Germany.

For where they were and what they did they were the best.   IF there had been some random teleporting matchup the winner would be unpredictable because so much of knowing how to fight is knowing how to oppose your opponent.  An opponent which in this case was equally unknown to both parties.  The best knight in the world vs the best samurai in the world would be determined by a toss of the coin.  Who managed to do something deadly that their opponent didn't expect first.

Only if the two forms were to fight against each other for a period in excess of a generation would the respective martial traditions of east and west have been challenged, to see who could have identified their opponent's strengths and weaknesses and altered their own style and equipment to take advantage first.

Even on that matter speculation is pointless, because while one can point to the rapid development and evolution of western styles vs the tradition bound style of Japan, one can also point to how incredibly rapidly all of Japan was mobilized to change once confronted with the irrefutable need to.

Who would win?  Its all fanboy nonsense crap.  It is a question that is A) not answerable and B) not worth asking except by the ignorant.

That is what the articles tell us.  That is their purpose.  And that is what they accomplish.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Ashren Va'Hale on January 10, 2004, 09:15:30 AM
Quote from: montag
There's also a big difference between making a _study_ of something and coming to a (semi-)scientific/professional conclusion and throwing opinions and possible factors around and then refusing to form an opinion on the original question.

Big difference. Not the same thing at all.


Sorry, but the critique was, that the text is framed as an opinion but ultimately refuses to offer opinion. If OTOH the text is supposed to have scientific value it would be acceptable to say the data is not sufficient or the problem is too complex. I frankly fail to see scientific value, YMMV.
btw: the text fails by its own standards:"In matters like this we certainly cannot not invoke mystical principles or endless “what ifs” and still engage in intelligent conjecture. All we can do is give an opinion of questionable value."


odd, very odd, I read the article and found that there was an opinion, granted one must be able to read and think in order to see it... but the opinion/conclusion was that the myriad of variables involved in such a complex comparison renders the debate pointless as one can not reasonably come to a valid logical conclusion and thusly those that say "the katana is the best sword in the world and would cut your car in two! so therefore the samurai will always win" are freaking buttmonkeys. Same with those who say Knights would whoop the samurai hands down.

Note that in the article he mentions that the question is so over simplified that its next to impossible to render any conclusion without performing a colonoscopy on your self to find said conclusion in which scenario remind me never to shake your hand.

So there is a conclusion, and its that the question is dumb.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Lance D. Allen on January 10, 2004, 10:01:06 AM
Personally, given the supposition that the knight and the samurai (both, theoretically, the best of their kinds) would also be using the finest quality gear put forth by their respective cultures.. I think the balance would tilt in the favor of the knight.

As much of samurai armor was lacquered wood, leather and such (due to their overall shortage of metals) and the knight's fitted steel, that would make a great difference. The samurai would have an advantage in speed and maneuverability, but (also assuming) that he'd not have time in this theoretical culture-on-culture grudgematch to assess the exact weak points of his opponent's armor, the knight, not nearly so slowed as modern stories make the armored fighter seem would have a notable advantage..

But if it was purely skill-based, rather than based on equipment also, I think Valamir's "coin toss" estimate is pretty accurate.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Bob Richter on January 10, 2004, 11:07:57 AM
Wow. Is it really standard practice in ARMA to parry with the flat of the blade?

That's patently absurd. I can't think of a better way to break a sword than to parry with its flat.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Lance D. Allen on January 10, 2004, 11:34:01 AM
Sounds like Jake (or maybe Salamander?) should clarify. They're our resident RMA gurus.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: montag on January 10, 2004, 12:05:48 PM
Valamir, Ashren Va'Hale,
as far as fanboys are concerned, I'd say you have a point in that the article might be aimed at them. We might discuss whether anyone with a grain of real interest in the matter really believes the myths the article deconstructs, or whether Clements is merely knocking down strawmen he constructed himself. I'd tend to say it's a bit of both, since there certainly are a few misconceptions on the one hand but no serious person will believe you can split cars with katanas. I'm sorry, but anyone who holds the katana-car opinion is either a moron or just not interested in facts in this particular matter. I submit that part of my problem with the article comes from being addressed – as a reader – as if I wasn't interested in the facts. See, the article does not say "this is an educational piece for fanboys willing to learn some facts", especially since the author clearly states his own interest in the matter. So, IMO, the myth-demolishing is a side benefit of the article not its main point. If it is the main point, I again submit the author did a horrible job at getting that point across.

Now, as to the question, whether saying "one just can't tell" is a valid conclusion. In a scientific context, it possibly is, though even here the refusal to take sides is unlikely to get you any respect. At least, that's the case in my discipline, psychology, where we certainly encounter enough cases where it's hard to reach a conclusion. Nonetheless, the job of a scientist is not done with naming the factors involved, it also involves judging their relevance to the best of his or her professional ability. Others are of course free to disagree violently with that judgement, and each side is expected to argue its case. Clements however refuses to make any decision at almost every step of the way. He almost manages to bring himself to say that the shield gives an advantage to the knight (he could still evaluate this advantage in light of other factors later, balance it with something else and reach his desired conclusion) but with much hand-wringing again avoids making even partial or tentative  conclusions. He is also obviously unable to rate influential factors by their importance, in some cases coming back to "skill", the only factor he can legitimately assume to be equal for the purpose of this mental experiment.
So, I'd say, from a scientific point of view, Ingenious original critique is perfectly spot on. It's acceptable to have no empirical data in some cases, but when you throw your hands up in the air at _every_ point, mumbling "I just can't tell, I just can't tell" you are not doing anything scientific.

If the purpose was not scientific, but informed opinion, I'd again say Clements did a poor job by not forming an opinion except "I don't know". The premise stated in the introduction "Therefore, neither can be looked upon as being universally more effective under all conditions against all manner of opponents.  In one sense, it is like asking who are better soldiers, jungle fighters or ski troops?  It depends upon the situation and the environment." is perfectly reasonable and acceptable. Simply put: "I know that!!". When I read on, I expect to be told the writers opinion on the relevance of various factors to the outcome and how it all stacks up in his opinion. Since the author and I agree, that in a concrete instance "it depends on circumstances", repeating that point through the entire rest of the text is perfectly pointless. Clements explicitly offers his "humble thoughts on the matter.", so I expect bias. If that opinion consists in so much hand-weaving and "I can't tell"s, I'd rather not have wasted my time. "You can't tell, too many factors" is a conclusion I can reach with a pal at the pub in 10 seconds, we don't need an expert for that. In fact, if he can come up with nothing else, what makes him an expert? The fancy jargon? He's obviously unable to answer the question, and he admits as much. He can't even provide a conditional (if..then) or tentative conclusion. So, there really is no point in asking him and he doesn't really have any business to write a lengthy article, unless he desires to put his shortcomings on display.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Anthony I on January 10, 2004, 12:18:31 PM
Quote from: Bob Richter
Wow. Is it really standard practice in ARMA to parry with the flat of the blade?

That's patently absurd. I can't think of a better way to break a sword than to parry with its flat.


Bob,

Plenty of the actual source materials support parrying with the flat- I'd suggest that you read and/or search the ARMA forums ( ARMA (http://www.thearma.org) ), as this has been hashed over more times than I can count.


[[edited out a typo]]


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: montag on January 10, 2004, 12:22:42 PM
Quote from: Bob Richter
Wow. Is it really standard practice in ARMA to parry with the flat of the blade?
That's patently absurd. I can't think of a better way to break a sword than to parry with its flat.

I know nothing of the matter except what I read on their page and some others, but as I understand, their reasoning is like this:
(1) the blade is actually quite flexible, so breakage is not too much of a concern
(2) using the edge will damage the edge hence the cutting ability hence the effectiveness of the sword
(3) using the flat allows for some manoeuvres to follow, while using the edge implies "attacking" the other sword, and is thus a dead end as far as manoeuvres are concerned. (IIRC the relevant historic manuals were fairly dismissive of "parrying" in general, because it's too passive)

the counter-arguments AFAIK are:
(1,2) yes, but it might break. If it does, I'm screwed. The edge is a secondary concern on a fight-by-fight basis.
(3) not necessarily, you can still do some stuff after parrying with the edge.

The historical literature seems ambiguous, though generally in ARMA's favour (but I mostly read their stuff, so I can't really tell). Personally, I got the impression that ARMA's stance was bordering on zealotry, involving lengthy explanations why a particular contradictory document does not actually say what it seems to say, and leaving no room for doubt whatsoever (an interesting contrast to the knight vs. samurai stance btw).
Maybe some expert can clarify further.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Bob Richter on January 10, 2004, 01:09:10 PM
The facts as I see them are these:

1) A good sword which is 4 inches across the forte is perhaps a quarter of an inch across the flat.

2) The point of a parry is to stop or deflect an attack. This means your blade will be absorbing a fair quantity of energy. Would you rather absorb
it across a 4 inch depth of steel, or a quarter-inch depth of the same?

3) All the parries I was taught meet the opponent's blade with the edge, at about the midblade to the forte.

I have seen fools try to parry a sword with the flat. Even with the blows we use in theatre fighting (which are not particularly forceful for all that they give the appearance of being,) I have seen blades snap because of such folly. If you parry with the flat, you will soon be out a sword, and won't be worrying about how your edge might have become a little notched if you had parried with it.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Ingenious on January 10, 2004, 03:05:08 PM
Montag,
Thanks for clearing up my point. Sometimes my points are not clear as glass.

-Ingenious


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Deacon Blues on January 10, 2004, 03:47:14 PM
Given that you're hitting your sword against shields, armor and other swords all day, isn't a little nicking inevitable?  I wouldn't be so concerned about keeping my sword from nicking if I were accustomed to it happening - i.e., if I used it as a tool of the trade and were OK with taking it in for resharpening every so often.

So, the argument "You can't parry with the edge - it'll nick!" doesn't hold a lot of water for me.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Salamander on January 10, 2004, 03:53:15 PM
Quote from: montag
which brings me to the question: who are these ARMA guys anyway?
It doesn't mean anything that I never heard of them before, but I read some of their articles and remember noticing a large number of spelling errors and the fact that most of their articles are concerned with (a) why one must, must, must parry with the flat (more reasonable schools of similar bent beg to disagree politely or state that the sources are contradictory) or (b) how no one likes or understands their hobby like they do and what bad swords are sold out there.
At least, that was my impression, which I got despite being terribly interested when I came across to site (via TROS). So, what am I missing?


ARMA is the Associatin for Renaissance Martial Arts. Based in Texas they are among one of several groups studying the finer points of renaissance fighting arts. The methods of these groups vary, but they all hold one thing to be inviolable. That being the desire to find the truth behind the arts practiced in renaissance and medievel Europe. However, they do butt heads, as can be expected from any passionate pursuit.


Title: The Parry.
Post by: Salamander on January 10, 2004, 04:14:24 PM
Quote from: Bob Richter
The facts as I see them are these:

1) A good sword which is 4 inches across the forte is perhaps a quarter of an inch across the flat.


I am curious as to whose swords you are using. A blade with a four inch wide forte would weigh a terrible lot. Perhaps you meant 4cm forte? This would place it in the realm of usable and well within the statistical average for weapons used at the time. A thickness of 1/4 inch has been seen, but more often then not a blade will be a bit thinner. Perhaps half that...

Quote

2) The point of a parry is to stop or deflect an attack. This means your blade will be absorbing a fair quantity of energy. Would you rather absorb
it across a 4 inch depth of steel, or a quarter-inch depth of the same?


I am glad that you provided a definition of the parry with which I can work. The idea that it is better to absorb the energy across the thickest, most rigid part of the blade is a scientifically viable one. There are several quite skilled scholars out there who agree with you, the reputable Steven Hand among them. But there are also scholars who disagree and those who "sit on the fence" as it were.

When dealling with the parry, we can either absorb the energy of it, or spring it back into the opponent, or use that energy to bring your own weapon into action. When parrying with the Stark (strong) of the blade edge to edge we see the energy absorbed by the defending swordsman. If, however we use the flat, we can return some of that energy to the opponent's blade and this can assist us in our options. I of course would not counsel a parry, I would counsel a counter. Why let him continue to swing away at me when I can take the energy of his attack and use it to kill him?

Quote

3) All the parries I was taught meet the opponent's blade with the edge, at about the midblade to the forte.


This is called "answering the weak with the strong" The strong being the part of the blade from the cross to about the middle of the blade's length.

Quote

I have seen fools try to parry a sword with the flat. Even with the blows we use in theatre fighting (which are not particularly forceful for all that they give the appearance of being,) I have seen blades snap because of such folly. If you parry with the flat, you will soon be out a sword, and won't be worrying about how your edge might have become a little notched if you had parried with it.


I wonder who makes these weapons for you. The swords I have used were VERY hard to destroy. If a blade snaps, it was due to poor temper. A metal blade tempered and made in the European style will have spring and will not snap. I have seen a well made blade, while still having a high degree of rigidity, be quite able to absorb the energy of a blow.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Bob Richter on January 10, 2004, 04:38:36 PM
>>>I am curious as to whose swords you are using. <<<

Actually, on this one point, I made my post in haste and without really thinking, grabbing a figure out of thin air. In doing so, I believe i constructed a fairly monstrous blade. My apologies.

>>>I wonder who makes these weapons for you. <<<

These weapons were not of the highest quality, it is true, but I have not seen one break from being struck on the edge of the forte. The idea that a strike to the flat is less likely to break a blade is an excersise in absurdity.

>>>When parrying with the Stark (strong) of the blade edge to edge we see the energy absorbed by the defending swordsman. If, however we use the flat, we can return some of that energy to the opponent's blade and this can assist us in our options. <<<

Since I have little experience in practical swordsmanship (as I say, my closest approach is being a theatre fighter,) I cannot truly answer this point. On the other hand, I am not convinced by it.

Now that I think of it, I have seen some counters that contact flat-to-flat, but these are useful against thrusts only. Perhaps I only need further instruction. For now, parrying with the flat still strikes me as ludicrous.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: montag on January 10, 2004, 04:39:28 PM
Quote from: Salamander
ARMA is the Associatin for Renaissance Martial Arts. Based in Texas they are among one of several groups studying the finer points of renaissance fighting arts. The methods of these groups vary, but they all hold one thing to be inviolable. That being the desire to find the truth behind the arts practiced in renaissance and medievel Europe. However, they do butt heads, as can be expected from any passionate pursuit.

do I understand you correctly, that ARMA is basically a hobby group, a club of sorts? See, their panel of experts, and the great stock the author's of TROS put into ARMA's endorsement seemed to suggest that ARMA is somewhat more than a hobby group.
Could you elaborate on their status a bit? For if they're merely a group of enthusiasts my criticism of Clements' article would of course be misplaced (but then, so would any reliance on their authority).

Besides, I think it's possible to draw a line between "passionate pursuit"  of something and saying the other just simply must, must, must be wrong. Your response to Bob Richter is an excellent example of the former, while his original post IMO was an example of latter, since he suggested the ARMA guys had no idea what they were doing. But just as it seems obvious to me that the ARMA guys wouldn't favour parrying with the flat if it constantly broke their swords, I think they are themselves going too far in the other direction.
"You might as well fall flat on your face as lean over too far backward"--James Thurber


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Bob Richter on January 10, 2004, 04:43:22 PM
>>>since he suggested the ARMA guys had no idea what they were doing.<<<

It is true. I am not known for my tact.

This was not my intent, I was simply reacting with incredulity to the apparent belief of ARMA members in something most theatre fighters consider patently false.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Jake Norwood on January 10, 2004, 05:39:24 PM
Well, damn.

A big, stupid thread while I'm away. Let's see if I can add my own supported opinions here.

[rant mode]

First, my credentials in the area, so that I'm not talking out of my ass. I am currently the senior ARMA student, with as many or more hours of personal time training with John Clements as anyone currently involved in the ARMA. People can hop on whatever hobby-horse political bandwagon they want on this issue, but Ewart Oakeshott and Sydney Anglo are considered to be the two absolute top scholars in the field, and both consult (or, in Oakeshott's case, consulted, since he passed away last year) with Clements and the ARMA on a regular basis. Not with any other group, and sure-as-hell not with any stage fighters. The ARMA is not the wellspring from which all WMA knowledge flows, but the senior ARMA guys are serious scholars and fighters, and we'll all put our money where our mouth is. Doubt it? New Orleans, Feb 28th and 29th, I'll see you there.

What does my study within the ARMA entail? Mostly I train physically, trying to gain competence and skill with attested historical techniques and occassionally with still iffy interpretations. Nothing is set in stone, and anything that I do in a fight or in training is subject to scrutiny under lenses of physical effectiveness with intent and speed against an opponent who isn't cooperating, and historical evidences that the technique is being correctly performed. I spend more time studying old German manuals than I'll ever spend working on TROS or on these boards.

I'm also smart enough to know that teachers don't know shit. I know more about historical fencing than anyone that I ever took instruction from except perhaps John Clements, and I know more than he does in many areas. That isn't to say that I don't learn from John every time I see him--I do, but one man can't study everything. Thus *ever* saying "that's what I was taught" as some kind of proof is simply evidence of foolishness in believing what you hear without any kind of visible proof, evidence, etc. It amazes me that a person can be an atheist because there's "no proof of a god," and then believe in nonsense about killing a human being from a fat guy in a foppish hat that took stage combat classes. Whatever.

So let's hit a few of these topics here, if I can.

1) The knight vs. samurai article didn't have a point.
Yes, it did, and Valamir hit on it. If you don't belong to the audience that this *editorial* was written for then don't get your panties in a bunch over it. What a bunch of self-righteous know-it-all assholes roam the internet. The discussion on FARK.com on this very topic is exactly the crap I'm talking about. The article was for fanboys. I know the guy who wrote it. I know him damn well.

And yes, lots of people *do* believe that a katana can slice through a car. I listened with disgust for an hour once as a senior kenjutsu student spouted such nonsense at one of my classes. He then proceeded to use such poor cutting technique that he broke is cheap katana on a gourd--a gourd that I then cut with a blunt sword and little effort. Is this guy everybody? No. Are there a lot like him? Yes, there are, and many of them *should* know better, but don't.

2) John has spelling errors.
Yeah, true. When the ARMA, then HACA, site first popped up, it was a little group without much other than a desire to "get it right." It has since grown very, very large, and in fact has more members than all other similar groups combined, and has produced as much or more scholarship than these other groups combined. John Clements, however, has only recently acquired proofreaders for his material on line, and much of it is being fixed. This takes time, especially since most of the ARMA's staff is volunteer help. Is it an excuse? Not really, but it really appears that some people attack it because they like to attack, instead of addressing the specific scholarship of specific points as they applied to the thrust of the article.

3) The ARMA is a hobby.
As far as I'm concerned, anything that you do for fun and not professionally is a hobby. That includes RPing, religion, and any-and-all physical excercise unless you're pro. For John it isn't a hobby, because it's his job. For me, it is, albeit a very time-consuming one. The ARMA is a very serious group, but many, if not most, of its members are simply having fun training while 10% spend time and money on the really serious stuff. I'm one of those in the 10%.

4) Edge-vs.-flat
The ARMA stance on edge-parrying is really in contest to the edge-bashing static-blocking of hollywood, reinactment, and the stage. It is poorly understood outside of the ARMA, mostly due to John's very aggressive form of communication. You will NOT find serious scholarship or practice anywhere in the historical fencing community that advises or even excuses stage-combat style edge-to-edge static blocks. The volumes of evidence against such blocks are untold in number. There is, in fact, no evidence that such blocks were ever employed prior to the smallsword in the 1700s. Prove me wrong, I dare you.

What you do see are proactive movements and "parries" where you strike at an opponent's weapon with your edge. At full speed these techniques with infrequent exception lead to edge-on-flat contact, or edge-on-bevel contact, but not edge-on-edge static contact. Do the edges ever meet? Certainly. Fighting is chaos. Do you ever receive an attack on your edge? If it's near the ricasso/forte/stark, then yes, and this is not the form of edge-parrying that you hear John ranting about (yes, I agree wholeheartedly that John rants). There are stifling actions and "absetzen" that occur there. ARMA has never taught otherwise, but there is much confusion on the matter, primarily due to constant beating-a-dead-horse discussion on the internet. A prime example is Greg Mele's article in the first and only issue of SPADA, published by Chivarly bookshelf. Although Greg and his peers thought that the article went against standard ARMA teachings, the opposite was true. The article finely supported everything that we teach, and it's all excellent scholarship.

The issue of edge nicks holds very little water for me as well, as some nicking is inevitable. The real reason is simply function and efficiency. Single-time defenses are impossible if your edge is busy parrying a blow, yet almost all parries prior to the 1600's are single-time, and those that are not are called "the parries used by bad fencers" in the manuals of the most important masters.

I also must address this quote, "I was simply reacting with incredulity to the apparent belief of ARMA members in something most theatre fighters consider patently false." Theatre fighters know shit. There, I'm displaying my tact. One of the best and most respected theatre fighters is ARMA collegue John Waller. Waller coreographed First Knight and several other films. Waller's book, "Sword Fighting, a Practical Guide for Stage Fighting" (or something to that effect) is one of the better manuals out there. It's shit. There is hardly a single attested historical technique in the whole book. Now, I'm not saying that stage fighting is worthless on the stage, or that there aren't good reasons for some of the things that are done in stage fighting, because there are, and not hurting your opponent is a big priority. How could one respect a "martial art" whose goal was *not* to hurt one's opponent? Think about it. This "Belief" in ARMA members (and, though they use different words, in the entire HES community) is backed by every manuscript on swordsmanship from the late 1200's (MS I.33) to the early 1600s in Jakob Sutor. If you're talking movies, then I defer to stage combat. If you're talking combat with a focus on killing, maiming, and fighting an uncoorperative opponent, leave the fops at home.

5)Parrying with the flat causes broken swords.
Actually, it doesn't. I've seen a few bend, made by MRL (which is legendary for crap). I have seen many, many swords broken from edge-parrying, leading to gouges that eventually become stress fractures. Swords, as mentioned here previously, had tremendous flex. One reinactment group in the VA area stopped breaking swords when they switched over to historical techniques which do not endager the flat like stage combat parries do. They went from breaking a few swords a season to breaking none.

[/rant mode]

I probably insulted a few of you, which was not my intent, but please understand that I deal with this sort of discussion on a constant basis as a teacher of swordsmanship and the "senior" ARMA student. I'm not trying to defend John here, except that I will say he is the finest fighter I have ever met and my friend. I am trying to put some things into perspective, I suppose. The TROS board is different from a lot of other RPG boards in that many people from the HES community come here, and that the game is endorsed by the ARMA. That means that a thread like this isn't really off topic. I think that questioning the ARMA's methods and credibility are not only fair but worthwhile. We at the ARMA do it, too, and John's opinions on swordsmanship are not the same that they were three years ago when he became my teacher. There is simply too much new information constantly available to feel too comfortable in any position. What we can do is take a stance and defend it until it wins out or is defeated, at which point we nod, accept that we were wrong, and we amend our training and our "doctrine." Zealosy? No, none, although John is a very firey speaker and generally a feisty guy. A "man of choleric temperament" that is more like George Silver than probably any man alive. I can't help that, though at times I wish I could.

Where we go wrong in HES is when we say "I think that it's like *this,* because..." and then go on to cite personal experiences alone or our guesstimations based on what we know (or think we know) about combat. Where we go right is when we say "We know that master so-and-so said *this,* and based on what we know about combat and biomechanics, we can use the writings of these other 6 masters to triangulate what it is that master so-and-so meant. We could be wrong, but this fits the instructions and it's martially sound. That's where the Edge/flat thing comes from, and that's where the ARMA is coming from.

Those of you interested in edge-on-flat and flat-on-flat quotes (and similar technique issues that you disagree with due to stage or reinactment experience) can request them, and I'll dig a few up from a few different centuries if you like. For now, honestly, I'm not sure that it would make much a difference to most of you, and I'll wait for a sincere request.

Thanks for playing.

Jake

Jake


Title: Well...
Post by: Salamander on January 10, 2004, 06:59:19 PM
I think Jake summed it up nicely, if not bluntly. Probably better than I could have done,as the man does have at least three years on me in the art of defence... I wanted to say something about the chaos of a fight, but Jake beat me to it. In regards to that, I have handled a few historic examples of weapons, really used four hundred - five hundred years ago. In all of the examples I saw and handled I think perhaps 1% may have shown any sign of edge damage on the stark of the blade, the part we are taught to parry with, flat or edge. Most nicks were along the schweck or weak of the blade, where one would expect damage to be from hitting a shield or other solid object whilst attacking, not defending.

In regards to Theatrical or stage swordsmanship, it is a style designed to entertain. They will invariably use a style drastically different from real fighters because they have to. If they were to use historic techniques, the fight would last but a few seconds... hardly entertaining for the crowd who has paid good money to see the production. Stage combat is good for what it does, entertains people on a stage, but to say it will do in a real fight is a dangerous mindset to entertain. Just as historic swordsmanship would be a poor hoice for theatrical production.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: montag on January 10, 2004, 08:25:14 PM
Jake's reply makes sense to me, both regarding the scholarship at ARMA and Clements' article. For reasons stated above I continue to believe the article is not written well. IMO the FARK thread http://forums.fark.com/cgi/fark/comments.pl?IDLink=785597 is both funny and surprisingly reasonable by FARK standards.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Ingenious on January 10, 2004, 10:45:55 PM
Well damn, all I did was criticise the dude's writing. I hope I did not offend anyone in the process, and I am sorry if I did.. as it was not my intention. I did not attempt to discredit the author, I just noted that his proficiency in penmanship/writing is not quite at the same level as he might be with swords....
I had no problems in trusting his creditials and being a member of the ARMA, etc etc.. I just did not like the way he went about bringing about the question that was not answered.. The title itself seems to imply that an answer was to be had.. and I was left hanging.
It would be like either of the first two LOTR movies, or even books... that just end suddenly.. and if there were no more movies/books after that, you'd be left hanging.. and feeling like I did after I read his articles.

To some, having a beef with the way someone writes is foolish and pointless.. but to others it isn't.
*shrug*

-Ingenious


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Jake Norwood on January 10, 2004, 11:24:00 PM
Ingenious-

I wasn't attacking you, buddy, nor anyone in specific. You have every right to expect good writing in professionally published work, even though the "real thing" is usually short of that. Part of the problem with internet discussion is that several items get clumped in together, so that valid issues with one problem end up appearing to substitute for reasonable debate. Make sense? That's what I was ranting about, I think.

I know that *I* have issues in the way I write, and that after THREE proofreaders, one of which was professional (and none of which were me), TROS is still riddled with errors. It drives me nuts.

So no offence taken, and I hope that I didn't offend much (though I'm sure I did...oh well).

Jake

ps. Salamander does hit some valid points on stage combat, which I wasn't attacking as an art in-and-of-itself, but rather as a substitue for actual martial ability/knowledge. Hope that's clearer.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Ingenious on January 10, 2004, 11:41:30 PM
Point conceded.
Now then, checketh your e-mail so that we might dicuss the ARMA event coming up.. as I am not that far from New Orleans.

Secondly, if you are in need of a proofreader still, I have volunteered my proof-reading services to Brian before. Shortly he replied to me, and I noticed that the gramatical errors to be had in the core-book were not of his making. However, whilst I am not the world's foremost expert on writing, I am a bit more knowledgable than most. So just send me some stuff in an email to proof-read, edit, etc. if you so choose.

Now then, back to the ARMA event. It would be a great opportunity to meet the author and see exactly how experienced he is with swords as compared to pens.

The pen IS mighter than the sword, though. :-D
-Ingenious


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Salamander on January 11, 2004, 12:01:55 AM
Quote from: Ingenious

Now then, back to the ARMA event. It would be a great opportunity to meet the author and see exactly how experienced he is with swords as compared to pens.

The pen IS mighter than the sword, though. :-D
-Ingenious


LOL

Yeah, now lets see you counter an assault from Jake using a longsword with your Waterman fountain pen...

:D

Remember to use the flat ;)


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Bob Richter on January 11, 2004, 01:07:11 AM
After reading Jake's response it is clear to me that I have absolutely no idea what the ARMA types are talking about. As such, I have no business talking about it myself.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: sirogit on January 11, 2004, 06:42:08 PM
I'd like to say Bravo to Jake for clearing up misconceptions and half-truths which spring up so quickly out of this discussion. It bothers me deeply when people dedicated to genuine knowledge are mocked because their veiws don't coincide with pretty-boy-starring hollywood action movies.

For the record, I'd say with my bottom-level knowledge of essay-writing, that the article's point is NOT "Hey, who would win, samurai or knight?" but "What is known about the martial advanatge/disadvanatge that would be had between a samurai or a knight in combat?" Which it does answer decisevly.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: contracycle on January 12, 2004, 01:06:44 AM
Quote from: sirogit
I'd like to say Bravo to Jake for clearing up misconceptions and half-truths which spring up so quickly out of this discussion. It bothers me deeply when people dedicated to genuine knowledge are mocked because their veiws don't coincide with pretty-boy-starring hollywood action movies.


Hmm, the problem is how to determine which is which, though.  I mean, for example, the entire alleged phenomenon of "nipophilia" remains undemonstrated.  Then you get into all the denunciations of academia and (more speculative psychology) claims that some sort of inferiority complex has caused the "west" to undermine its own history.

Who then is really working to a political agenda?  Who is really a seeker after truth?  The ARMA has too much One True Wayism for my tastes, and I had exactly the same reaction to the Sam v Kni article as many others: after reading it, I wondered why I'd bothered.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Muggins on January 12, 2004, 05:43:10 AM
Dear All,

Coming late to the discussion, I would like to congratulate Jake on a generally agreeable summary of issues. One of the things anybody involved in the WMA (western martial arts) community realises soon after they get involved, is that people who push the envelope tend to have egos. Some, like John Clemens, manage to offend more people than is good for the art, but he still knows what he is talking about. Oh, and Jak and I have met on other forums to discuss the finer points of German longsword, and he has done a great job of repairing some of the damage my first contacts with ARMA did.

On the points discussed:

1) Knight vs. Samurai- yup, fairly pointless article, made worse by illogical structure. There is actually some progress towards a scientific (in a martial sense) answer to the question. It is possible to use kenjutsu or kendo techniques against western techniques, and one person I know does. Provided the Eastern practioner is prepared to discuss safety, armour, and acceptable techniques (is grappling allowed)- yes, that is a ig- there is no reason why such contests of skill should not take place. Here's hoping!

A few things to think about:
- Range: the western longsword has a much longer reach than the katana
- Sturdiness: not that I have ever seen a tempered carbon steel break, the katana is by dint of its construction a thicker, stronger blade
- Relative skill: the knight was normally a highly trained swordsman, even though the lance or warhammer would have been a primary weapon. The samurai was a highly trained horse archer, for whom the katana was secondary. Not that there were not supremely skilled swordsmen, but first job in life was ride and shoot.
- Armour: The relative flexibility of the two armours is moot- you can turn back flips in full plate. Weight, and the ensuing fatigue over long periods is far more important. Oh, and the western halfsword approach is a valid tool against any form of armour.

2) Edge versus flat: I think the historical stuff generally supports trying to avoid edge-on-edge clashes. One earlier post did get to me: preferring to take the impact on the edge because it is backed by 4 cm of steel. Actually, the reverse idea occurred to me- surely one would like to spread the impact over as large a surface as possible, rather than focus it on that tiny edge?

That's my two cents' worth

James Roberts
(who has run one TROS game using the quickstart rules, and is impatiently awaiting his copy, and so has been keeping quiet)


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Valamir on January 12, 2004, 05:58:57 AM
Its not an inferiority complex at all.  In fact, its quite the reverse.  

Its the "superiority complex" of the Victorian Age that had leading scholars of the period dismissing the achievements of the past and holding up their present as the pinnacle of evolution.  This is the period from which stems the idea of the evolution of the sword from primitive knightly weapons to the superior perfection of the small sword.  In order to make this evolution work, earlier swords had to become inferior to what they were.

The Victorians were great at creating hierarchies.  Hierachies which invariably put:  Modern, Western, British elements at the top.  Pretty much every area of science was centered on identifying an evolution from inferior to superior.  A great amount of modern scholarship (whether museum curators, reinactors, or stage performers) accepts alot of those conclusions as truth.

This has led to a general widely held belief that knights were slow and clumsy, their weapons heavy and awkward, and their fighting style primative.

On the other hand the exotic is often held to have an innate superiority to it.  This is no harder to understand then basic "grass is greener" psychology.  When the west encountered Samurai, they were by and large inscrutable and alien.

At the time when Japan was opened to the west, the western sword making art had largely gone by the way side.  Cavalry sabres were mass produced in factories, the cheaper versions often simply being stamped out of a sheet of cold steel and shaped with a grinder, or even cast in a mold.  The katana by contrast was a work of art and an amazing achievement of artisanry.  It was rightly regarded as being a superior weapon to anything being used in the west in the 1800s.

The built in assumption that anything from the 1800s was automatically superior to anything from previous centuries fed into the idea that the katana was some sort of super sword better then anything the west ever produced.

This is a widespread belief, and only really in the last few decades has medieval scholarship begun to peel back some of the Victorian era assumptions.  Most of these concentrate on social and economic issues.

Weapons and armor are artifacts, and artifacts of a sort typically left to museum curators.  Bones and pottery sherds have entire branches of science dedicated to painstakingly understand them.  With weapons and armor, they're generally satisfied with putting them in a category, sticking a label on them, and hanging them on the wall.

Its largely left to amateur scholars like Eric Schmid to try and piece together the reality of chain mail or ARMA to piece together the reality of swords and fighting techniques.

As such they have all of the advantages and disadvantageous inherent in amateur scholarship.  But that status alone does not invalidate their work.  And if they are a bit zealous about it...of course.  Its to be expected.  Amateurs do because they're passionate about the topic.  And passion breeds zealotry.  

But truthfully I saw nothing over the top in either article, other then a slight embedded tone of weariness and frustration to have to be stating things again that have been said already numerous times.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: contracycle on January 13, 2004, 12:36:27 AM
Quote from: Valamir

This has led to a general widely held belief that knights were slow and clumsy, their weapons heavy and awkward, and their fighting style primative.


I'm not sure I accept this; at the same time the Victorians were engaged in the "manufacture of national history", the elevation of national heroes and the definition of a sort of historical providence, raised statues to Celtic heroes and engaged in a search for the origins of the particular virtues of their states.  I see the scorn heaped on knights being rather detached and unrealistic as being a bourgeois/peasant criticism (look at Robin Hood cunningly defeating the slow and cumbersome lords).  I suggest the anti-Japanese patch we went through in the 80's, when they appeared to present a serious threat to US economic dominance, is the source of this contemporary view; tied into this is the rise of a sort of supra-nationalistion and the "clash of civilisations" doctrine.

I was talking to a French guy the other day and he said "oh, we have Charlemaigne hammered into us from day 1 in school".  Its hardly as if the Victorians wiped medieval studies off the map, frequently they put it on the map.  It seems to me the attacks on the alleged European view of its own history are badly misplaced.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Muggins on January 13, 2004, 03:47:14 AM
I would have to agree with Contracycle. Most of the damage to the prestige of the knight was done in the first half of the 20th century. People often looked at collections of weapons and armour from the Victorian period, and failed to distinguish between the many pieces of replica weaponry and armour. The idea of slow and unwieldy is generally a Hollywood notion- though modern fencing does spread some fiction around. In the 1880s, people like Burton, Hutton and others were actually publishing good accurate books on swords and sword fighting techniques. Similarly, the mystique of the Medieval period was being rekindled by Bulfinch and his mythologies, the romatic poets and others.

On the other hand, the Americans were the people who generally interacted with the Japanese. The Americans definitely had no history or knowledge of swords or their users, and much of the mystique of the samurai is brought to us by American writers.

James


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 13, 2004, 12:21:27 PM
Quote from: Ingenious
Did mathematicians/scientists think along these lines? If they did, Einstein would not have been himself...
-Ingenious

I might have to dodge some hate mail and such for my criticism.. but hey.. I felt like I should at least voice my opinion of the article.


No hatemail, but to answer your question regarding scientists, have you ever heard of Heisenburgs Uncertainty principle?  Fundamental to the idea of Quantum Mechanics is the apparent fact that certain datum are not ascertainable or observable...

JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Jake Norwood on January 13, 2004, 12:28:53 PM
The Victorians did a weird number on the Knight, actually. On one hand you had Egerton and Castle, who wrote "Schools and Masters of Defence," considered to be the definitive work before the Anglo's "Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe" on the subject. They were practicioners very much in the way that the ARMA or similar groups were, actually, but they came to pretty conflicted results. They insisted that there was a system of fighting early on, and were familiar with many of the old manuals (Talhoffer, Meyer, Fiore, etc.). Often they would even train and practice with antique weapons, which were quite available for reasonable prices at that time.

In the same book, however, you find the often-quoted sentiment that Knights knew no science, and that they relied entirely on strength and armor, not skill...huh? That's what they did. Richard Burton in his earlier "Book of the Sword," does the same thing, and the general consensus is that the foil and epee fencing of the 1800s is the pinnacle of the art (too bad since it is now out of use, these authors all lament). It is at this same time that victorians, in their fascination with the romanticized middle ages, begin producing replica swords and armor of varying quality, which were always much heavier than the real things. This led to further generations handling the replicas and thinking that the armor and weapons of the knight were very heavy--because the experience of those immediately following Egerton, Castle, and Burton was with Victorian replicas, not the antiques that were previously available.

It was also the Victorian age that introduced the arthurian cycle as we know it popularly now, inserting mention of armor and swords that were horribly heavy (perhaps to show how manly the bearers were?).

So although the Victorians did try to ressurect "WMA," a movement that blossomed up until WWI, when all the practioners were probably wasted away in that "Great War," in the long run Victorian culture re-wrote medieval history (just as they re-wrote male/female relationships and so much more).

Jake


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Caz on January 13, 2004, 01:01:52 PM
Actually victorian manufacturers often crafted weapons and armours of excellent fraudulent quality.  There are armours and weapons in museums today that no one has been able to reach conclusion on if they were victorian fakes or originals.  I've personally inspected some victorian repro plate armours.  From what I've seen, about half of them are decorative junk, but the other half were quite well crafted, usable armours, often a mix of the two.
    Perhaps their views on swords were simply writers hype, as is so prevalent now?  Perhaps if you've hanled duelling epees and smallswords all your life, when you picked up a medieval cutting sword, you'd say "this must weigh 10 pounds!" ?
    I'm sure they did produce a lot of heavy junk replicas though, just as they do now, but luckily for them it was still the age before the gaudy ebay fantasy garbage there is now ;)


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 13, 2004, 01:04:30 PM
Quote from: Wolfen
Personally, given the supposition that the knight and the samurai (both, theoretically, the best of their kinds) would also be using the finest quality gear put forth by their respective cultures.. I think the balance would tilt in the favor of the knight.

As much of samurai armor was lacquered wood, leather and such (due to their overall shortage of metals) and the knight's fitted steel, that would make a great difference. .


I think the wealthier Japanese Samurai did use Iron in their armor, especially later in the Feudal period.  In some cases they even incorporated bullet-proof curiasses they bought or acquired from Spanish and Puertuguese sailors into their Do.  

However, their armor was laced together in a way which IMHO made it more vulnerable to being damaged, (especially by the draw cutting weapons they themselves used) much more so than the rivited mail and plate used in Europe.  (You should also remember that for most of the knightly period Armor meant mail armor, not plate.)

Overall, I think this issue is both something which a lot of idiotic fanboys speculate endlessly about, but which also does hold some interest for those of us who consider ourselves serious students of the lost Western Martial Arts.

I think the purpose of John's editorial was to try to shed a little genuine light on the subject matter (for the benefit of folks who, like me or John himself, are serious but did occasionally wonder about such things) while also putting into some perspective just how difficult it would be to actually make the comparison (for the fanboys).

I made a couple of comments about the editorial on the ARMA website which John responded to in a manner which I think demonstrates that while as Jake admits he can rant and be undiplomatic sometimes, his primary goal is to seek knowlege of this field especially.

http://www.thearma.org/forum/showflat.php?Cat=&Board=openresearch&Number=4234&page=10&view=collapsed&sb=5&o=&fpart=1

Regarding ARMA's credentials as serious historians of the lost Western Martial Arts, as Jake pointed out Sydney Anglo and Ewart Oakeshotte seemed to feel pretty confident about them, and a look at the bottom of the ARMA web page is a pretty impressive list of who's who in the academic side of the field.

For that matter, try a few discussions on their forum.  In a recent thread about the effectiveness of mail armor one of the worlds premier experts on ancient armor chimed in with some fascinating new insights.

JR

P.S.
As for Johns spelling, he spells better than I do so I can't complain!


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 13, 2004, 02:12:11 PM
Quote from: Muggins
I would have to agree with Contracycle. Most of the damage to the prestige of the knight was done in the first half of the 20th century. People often looked at collections of weapons and armour from the Victorian period, and failed to distinguish between the many pieces of replica weaponry and armour. The idea of slow and unwieldy is generally a Hollywood notion- though modern fencing does spread some fiction around.
On the other hand, the Americans were the people who generally interacted with the Japanese. The Americans definitely had no history or knowledge of swords or their users, and much of the mystique of the samurai is brought to us by American writers.

James



I think the Victorians did a lot of damage, especially in the categorization, analysis and remaking of weapons, as well as the whole idea of the knight as a dark age idiot.  It wasn't until Ewart Oakeshott came up with the revolutionary idea of categorizing weapons by their functional (cutting, thrusting, handling) aspects than the ornamental / "artistic" (pommel shape, gold leaf, and other deocrations) that some of these misconceptions began to be undone (and incidentally, a lot more of those Victorian forgeries began to be discovered.)

You can see the aftermath of this continuing to this day.  Actual functional historial weapons which are examined in such places as Swiss auction houses continue to appear to be lighter and much more finely wrought than the best replicas.  For example, many arming swords, cut and thrust swords, messers, schiavonas, and even fairly long bastard swords appear to weigh as little as somewhere in the 2- 2 1/2 pound range, while the equivalent replicas often weigh as much as a pound more, and are far inferior in harmonics, balance, temper and handling.

I would also agree that Hollywood has played a huge role in the consolidation of cliche's into a permament part of the sofwtare structure of the human mind.  

But I also think a bigger overall aspect of this was the immense psychological impact of the gun on Western culture, which led the west in general to abandon not only knights and swords as "serious things" but also the scores of indiginous martial arts traditions of Europe, of which each country seemed to have had four or five (these ranging from such things as Irish alpeen sitck fighting to such anarmed arts as the French Dances De la Rue kickfighting arts) which were all abandoned and nearly forgotten usually by the mid 19th Century or so.

Finally the Eastern Martial Arts fetishization which occurred in the 70's replaced this gap in our cultural heritage, and has stubbornly resisted any encroachment on it's cultural niche.

So I blame the English, as I do with so much Historical evil, first of all, and then American media, going back as far and to such probably well intended folks as Mark Twain with his Connecticut Yankee in King Arthurs Court and Monty Python's staggering knights in Holy Grail and Jaberwocky.  (Though Terry Gilliams more historically inspired films and especially Terry Jone's recent spate of mostly excellent period documentaries have done much to atone for this) All these emphasized the cliche of the lumbering knight, the primtive caveman like Scotts  and Irish, the benign Romans (who the British historians considered their spiritual ancestors), and the travesty of letting Richard Gere play a knight with little bits of foil on his shirt.

Enough said, I'm foaming at the mouth..

JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Bastoche on January 14, 2004, 05:41:12 AM
Quote from: Drifter Bob

No hatemail, but to answer your question regarding scientists, have you ever heard of Heisenburgs Uncertainty principle?  Fundamental to the idea of Quantum Mechanics is the apparent fact that certain datum are not ascertainable or observable...

JR


This goes slightly off topic so sorry. But As a physicist, I have a hard on letting such a statement go un commented ;-).

The uncertainty principle is a very uncommon feature of nature. Comparing one of the most fundamental principle of physics to a more or less medical science (the art of killing with a sword) misplaced at best.

All what the uncertainty principle says is that you can't have a perfect precision on both of two "coupled" measurements. Like speed and position for example. And we're talking rocket science precision! They are observable, unlike what you claim. I think you may be confusing the Schrodinger's cat with Heisenberg's uncertainty principle...

To slip back on topic: Great thread! I really enjoy your testimony Jake. I stumbled upon the haca site a while ago and read some articles with great interest.

My take on it is that the most skilled will win. Assuming equal skill, I'd go with the coin toss. I personnally think that the best way to recreate medieval or renaissance fighting is by creating an entire new style optimized for killing with the knight's tools. That is proper recreation armor and weapon. Then comparing this well controled style with old books, this could give new insight on how these guys fought. I assume that's exactly what ARMA training camp are about. Right?


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Caz on January 14, 2004, 01:17:04 PM
That would be tough as training data could not be compared to data of its actual effectiveness in real life, likely resulting in an inneffective and artificial style.  That's basically what sport, play, and reenactment type groups do, and it comes out nothing like the old texts.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 14, 2004, 01:26:38 PM
Quote from: Bastoche


This goes slightly off topic so sorry. But As a physicist, I have a hard on letting such a statement go un commented ;-).

The uncertainty principle is a very uncommon feature of nature. Comparing one of the most fundamental principle of physics to a more or less medical science (the art of killing with a sword) misplaced at best.


Well, first of all the post I was replying to specifically referred to Einstein, so I wasn't the one who drew the initial comparison between fencing and high physics.

Second, as a scientist, you surely recognize that coming to the conclusion that available data is insufficient to answer a given hypothesis is valid.

Third, as a phsysicist, you should realise that the physics of something as complex as a sword fight between armored opponents would actually be extremely complex, notwithstanding the other aspects such as the socio-psychological aspects.


Quote

My take on it is that the most skilled will win. Assuming equal skill, I'd go with the coin toss. I personnally think that the best way to recreate medieval or renaissance fighting is by creating an entire new style optimized for killing with the knight's tools. That is proper recreation armor and weapon. Then comparing this well controled style with old books, this could give new insight on how these guys fought. I assume that's exactly what ARMA training camp are about. Right?


No this is not the approach that ARMA takes, it's actually much closer to the way I sort of accidentally got into it originally.  

Jake could answer better, but from what I understand, ARMA primarily focuses on interpretation of the Fencing manuals, as informed by test cutting with real swords, learning the guards, counters, and strikes in accordance with the material in the books (and informed by contextual analysis of period history) and finally testing the theoretical work by sparring with several types of equipment (both offensive and defensive) which are as realistic as possible.  Basically I think you just have the emphasis backward.

DB


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Muggins on January 15, 2004, 04:49:51 AM
Urrgh. (repeats to self, "I am not a scientist with an interest in philosophy on this forum").

On the completely off-track physics bit: it is not possible EVER to validate or prove a hypothesis- it is only possible to invalidate it. Preponderance of evidence is not proof that a theory is right- merely that it is not proved wrong. Empirically, gravity works. Theoretically, it is but a theory and can be proved wrong. One of the issues I often work is whether someone is presenting a logical argument or theory- if the the argument is circular or vague, if there are no criteria for disproving that theory, then it is considered poor science and dismissed.

But I actually like swinging swords and dodging spells, so I shall let the professional part of my brain relax (unless someone asks for elaboration...)

James


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Bastoche on January 15, 2004, 06:35:09 AM
Quote from: Drifter Bob

Well, first of all the post I was replying to specifically referred to Einstein, so I wasn't the one who drew the initial comparison between fencing and high physics.


The Einstein argument was implying that Einstein was not put down by the amount of work he ahd to do to develop all what he did. The point was "If Einstein could find the answer to E=mc^2, why couldn't we find the answer of a knight vs a samurai". I couldn't understand or missunderstood why you introduced the uncertainty principle...

Quote from: Drifter Bob

Second, as a scientist, you surely recognize that coming to the conclusion that available data is insufficient to answer a given hypothesis is valid.


More or less. I would rather say "to invalidate a given hypothesis" rather than "answer" but that nitpicking on my part ;)

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Third, as a phsysicist, you should realise that the physics of something as complex as a sword fight between armored opponents would actually be extremely complex, notwithstanding the other aspects such as the socio-psychological aspects.


I'm not sure.  It's actually more an engineer's work than a physicist's

Quote from: Drifter Bob

No this is not the approach that ARMA takes, it's actually much closer to the way I sort of accidentally got into it originally.  

Jake could answer better, but from what I understand, ARMA primarily focuses on interpretation of the Fencing manuals, as informed by test cutting with real swords, learning the guards, counters, and strikes in accordance with the material in the books (and informed by contextual analysis of period history) and finally testing the theoretical work by sparring with several types of equipment (both offensive and defensive) which are as realistic as possible.  Basically I think you just have the emphasis backward.

DB


My point is that sword fighting at the time was a science. That science is so old that it was probably not that far off perfection. If they could do it then, we should be able to do it now. No? Assuming their techniques were as efficient as could be, "new" techniques should converge toward their techniques. Besides, I think studying old books is a good way to go too. Assuming these books contained the best techniques known at the time...


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: contracycle on January 15, 2004, 08:36:07 AM
Quote from: Bastoche

My point is that sword fighting at the time was a science.


An assumption.  And a surprising one, considering the spectacular absence of a scientific method, a theory of science, or organs practicing science.

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 That science is so old that it was probably not that far off perfection.


Another assumption

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Besides, I think studying old books is a good way to go too. Assuming these books contained the best techniques known at the time...


A self-described assumption

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 If they could do it then, we should be able to do it now. No? Assuming their techniques were as efficient as could be, "new" techniques should converge toward their techniques.


Yes, pretty much.  And I agree, the books are a good starting point.  And maybe after 100 years, it will have built up enough of a tradition and a body of practice that it will actually be a really existing martial art.  Whether or not the martial art, as a martial art, resembles the praxis of European nobility, however, remains doubtful in my eyes.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Bastoche on January 15, 2004, 09:01:39 AM
Quote from: contracycle

An assumption.  And a surprising one, considering the spectacular absence of a scientific method, a theory of science, or organs practicing science.

Another assumption

A self-described assumption


I concur. But if your life depended on it, would you randomly try new fighting techniques until you found the proper one? Probably these "scientists" weren't aware that they were using the "modern" scientific method, but I do not think it's that wild a guess to assume there was a systematic approach/study to the art of the sword. An assumption nonetheless. An hypothesis...

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Yes, pretty much.  And I agree, the books are a good starting point.  And maybe after 100 years, it will have built up enough of a tradition and a body of practice that it will actually be a really existing martial art.  Whether or not the martial art, as a martial art, resembles the praxis of European nobility, however, remains doubtful in my eyes.


Absolutely.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Salamander on January 15, 2004, 10:00:37 AM
I'm gonna throw my hat in the ring here before the (war)hammer comes down.

The use of the sword was in fact a science, or at least an empiracle set of observations that led to one person living and another dying. So it was evolutionary and subject to science at the very least. To me using a sword is both an art and a science. During my mere year of learning to fight with these weapons I have come to a few conclusions.

1). There is definitely science involved in this game. The fields I can think of off the top of my head include Physics, Math (geometry), Mechanical Engineering (I know not a science, but application thereof), Metalurgy, Psychology, Kinesthetics (body mechanics) and Medicine. If you need me to explain them, by all means ask.

2). The art of using a sword comes from the human will to do it. If you cannot bear to pick up the sword it will lie there, unused and literally harmless.

3). We have not been able to perfect the skills of the sword because these skills were lost to us for hundreds of years. My instructor tells me that he believes the last man to teach the use of the longsword died 60 years before the United States of America became a country! Things that they took for granted as common knowledge are what we had to work hard at to regain. Now we know how to walk. We are learning to run. It has very much to do with the society and the evolution of weapons & warfare. Why should they bother to continue teaching men how to use a longsword or Cut & Thrust sword when the musket he has will do the job nicely? It would be like me saying to you, "Well, your great-great-great-great-great Grandfather knew how to trap and gut animals, so you should too, but you have no outside information besides a bunch of euphamisms and a few woodcuts to work from, so make me a leopard skin coat". We were literally running blind on this stuff. We have just recently begun to really appreciate the fact that our next meisters will be our grandchildren.

4). The Meisters were proprietary of their information. They would have books published that would help to remind his student body of his teachings. Unless you were on the inside you would have a tough time figuring out what was going on in those books.

5). Museums study the weapons, but not their use. The museums look at weapons as little more than markers of events. The next time you go to a museum check it out. They never say that this type of sword or this type of breastplate was used thusly by this class of people who were after these goals. They say "X" article was found at "Y" site by "Z" person in "ABCD" year. End of story.

Please remember that the use of the sword evolved over thousands of years. Many is the time when I have said, "hey check out this cool new thing" to my instructor only to have one of the senior scholars say after the demo, "Ringeck did that five hundred years ago". I think that they found just about everything there was to make a sword effective.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Bastoche on January 15, 2004, 11:31:03 AM
Good points Salamader. I might add that from my limited kenjutsu knowledge, fighting with a sword (or any fighting style for that matter) is mostly about stratgy. It's fully analogue to a chess game. Another science and art in itself.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Lance D. Allen on January 15, 2004, 01:33:17 PM
Quote from: Bastoche
fighting with a sword (or any fighting style for that matter) is mostly about stratgy. It's fully analogue to a chess game. Another science and art in itself.


Which is why, to bring the discussion back over to the asian side of things, rumor persists that Go Rin No Sho or A Book of Five Rings is required reading for Japanese business students. The book gives no direct analysis to wide-spread strategy, but is essentially a description of Musashi's beliefs on how a man should comport himself, the use of the other tools of a samurai's trade, and the basics of his school of swordsmanship. However, the discerning student can take the strategies and advice therein and apply it to any sort of situation where strategy is required.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 15, 2004, 05:04:11 PM
Quote from: contracycle

An assumption.  And a surprising one, considering the spectacular absence of a scientific method, a theory of science, or organs practicing science.

 
There were aspects of both science and art to swordsmanship.  
 
It is silly to claim that "they", if you are speaking of the masters, lacked scientific method.  Most of the extant fecthbuchs were written during the later renaissance, some of them with considerable efforts at systemization and a 'scientific' approach.  There is no reason to assume that they were significnatly less able or lacking in theoretical knowledge than their contemporaries in various other fields, such as Gallileo, Copernicus, Gregor Mendel, or Da Vinci, to name just a few.
 
Fencing, martial arts of any kind, are less easily quantifiable however than the orbits of the planets or even the dominant and recessive characteristics of plants.  Thats because there are too many random elements, and it is too personal an art.  And unlike in some Asian martial arts, there was very little intentional unanimity or cohesion of approach among the European fencing masters, even within the various rough national groupings (Italian and German, say).  This is both a strength and a weakness.  The masters took many approaches and favored different techniques and weapons.  It is very interesting therefore to note those surprisingly many areas where they did actually agree (such as many of the pole -arm techniques as seen in such diverse sources as Tallhoffer and the Jeu du la Hache...)
 
Regarding the subject of ressurecting the martial arts of Renassaince Europe (to use Sydney Anglo's term), yes it will be quite a while before we reach the level of the masters.  Undoubtedly most of the masters never wrote any of their techniques down at all, and it is true that the ones who did publish the two score or so treastises that we have did so in a manner which can be cryptic and difficult to decipher.
 
However, I think it's clear that practicing the actions, and especially sparring, makes the euphemistic hints and the vague looking woodcuts start to come to life and make increasing amounts of sense.  
 
There are daunting obstacles to succeeding in this.  The practitioners of modern WMA have only been organized groups doing this seriously for about ten years, and few individuals more than 20 or 30.  There are limitations to what can be learned, and not everyone is doing everything right.  
 
Many of the schools around the country and the world increasingly do sparring with weapons that cannot be used full-force and in an increasingly formalized manner which will make material progress slow, or even misdirect it into some ritual offshoot like kendo.
 
Even those schools which do emphasise full-contact, full - force sparring like ARMA have years to go before they get their first pass through the panoply of weapons necessary to understand the big picture of weapon combat - they train now almost exclusively with the Dagger, Rapier, Cut-and-Thrust sword and most especially the Long Sword (and it's sub-types the Bastard Sword and Great sword) and their philosphy and basic tenets and canonical beliefs reflect this (and I think will begin to change some as they move more into the use of other weapons like sword-and-shield and pole-arms).
 
On the other hand, what has been absorbed already however is ALREADY formidable and compares very well to existing 'traditional' martial arts of the East, at least in the realm of fighting with weapons.  One of John Clements claims to fame was that very early on in the 90's, before he had learned even a fraction of what he knows now, he entered an international martial arts competition and took first place in the weapons division.   Several of the ARMA members have reached a level of skill which makes them equal or probably superior to practitioners of any other martial art with weapons.
 
Seeing this stuff in action from truly experienced practioners is amazing.  There is a segment on the History Channel show (Modern Marvels: Swords Axes and Spears) where you can see John and a colleague demonstrate renaissance longsword techniques for a few minuntes.  It's like nothing you have ever seen.
 
Finally, yes it's strategy, but it's many more elements than that.  It does not boil down easily to the realm of a chess game, the way some other more formalized martial sports can do.  I've been doing full contact, full - force wepaon sparring for many years, I have faced opponents from every kind of background and training, and I can testify, there are many, many other elements involved.  Courage, for one, to be able to face violent attack froom another person.  Even the pain of a wooden waster is intimidating or a padded SLA which can still knock you out and break bones.  Sheer reptillian physical reflexes and reactions.  Strength and endurance.  Perhaps most important of all, psychology, bluff, the ability to read the facial expressions and body language of others, and the ability to hide or mislead with your own.   All these elements are what keeps fencing on the border between art and science, and keeps it forever in that realm of "uncertainty", if my physicist colleagues will pardon my use of the term.
 
JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Caz on January 15, 2004, 07:02:56 PM
lol so when are they going to make Master (insert name here) fencing manual required reading for business men in the west?


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Ben Lehman on January 16, 2004, 03:32:53 AM
Quote from: Jake Norwood
It was also the Victorian age that introduced the arthurian cycle as we know it popularly now, inserting mention of armor and swords that were horribly heavy (perhaps to show how manly the bearers were?).


BL>  Just as a note:  Although I'm sure that you're right about Arthur, mentions of extremely heavy weapons (and accordant bad-assness of their wielders) are not merely the artifacts of modern dumbing down of melee combat.  On the contrary, they date back throughout the entire history of human literature and, honestly, probably before.  The Sumerians write about Gilgamesh carrying an axe weighing 50 (Sumerian units of weight), and so big that it requires a cart to carry it.  The Sumerians were excellent warriors, conquering most of the modern Middle East, and I can only assume that they knew what they were talking about, although they have clearly exaggerated somewhat.
  I have always assumed that this is because, provided you can move it around effectively, there isn't anything like a big, heavy weapon for breaking a guard and bashing the other fellow's brains in like so much peanut butter.  Of course, I'm a mythology / literature geek, not so much a weapons and fighting geek, so I am willing to freely admit error in advance.

yrs--
--Ben


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Bastoche on January 16, 2004, 10:22:16 AM
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All these elements are what keeps fencing on the border between art and science, and keeps it forever in that realm of "uncertainty", if my physicist colleagues will pardon my use of the term.


You're all excused ;). I mostly agree with what you said but I don't quite agree with you on one small point. You talk about randomness. I rather think it's that there's too many variables. It's not the same as total randomness. In the sense that the more you master your style, the less these factors are "random" and the more control you have over the fight. There's many stances, many strikes and many counter strikes, etc. And square that if not more for the number of combinations between two fighters. Plus many other factors. The more factors you know throughly, the less randomness there is. There wouldn't be much strategy at all if there wa more randomness than control.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 16, 2004, 10:39:39 AM
Quote from: Bastoche


You're all excused ;). I mostly agree with what you said but I don't quite agree with you on one small point. You talk about randomness. I rather think it's that there's too many variables. It's not the same as total randomness. In the sense that the more you master your style, the less these factors are "random" and the more control you have over the fight. There's many stances, many strikes and many counter strikes, etc. And square that if not more for the number of combinations between two fighters. Plus many other factors. The more factors you know throughly, the less randomness there is. There wouldn't be much strategy at all if there wa more randomness than control.


Well, on this for once I'll admit I don't know for sure, in the sense that I really don't know if my own experiences are pretty a-typical.   I learned streetfighting and to spar with weapons mostly on my own, experimenting with different thigns and picking up a few things here and there from different people I have fought.  It's only in the last two years that I have begun to attempt to apply the various specific techniques found in the Fechtbuchs to my own style, and I have often been surprised by their efficacy.

From my perspective, and again, maybe thats just me, the profusion of variables makes it seem like there is a random element, you stumble, you slide, your hand slips, a drop of sweat falls in your eye, you misjudge an opponents intent or the direction of their attack by a fraction of a second or a few inches, and everything changes.  Somebody like Jake who has had a much more systematic approach to martial arts may see it differently.  

I still think a small percentage of the experience is if not random, very hard to get your head around.  I read an interview with John Clements where he said that even now sometimes very strong and agile amateur fighters can beat him as many as 3 times out of 10 on a bad day.  And then there's the "mutual death" phenomenon, I tend to see a lot when you are fighting with experienced fighters for the first time.  Until you have a sense of the other guy often you both can be too agressive and both get hit, usualy the first two or three times you cross blades.

All that ads up to the historical importance of Armor, to me!

JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Bastoche on January 16, 2004, 12:52:36 PM
Quote from: Drifter Bob

From my perspective, and again, maybe thats just me, the profusion of variables makes it seem like there is a random element, you stumble, you slide, your hand slips, a drop of sweat falls in your eye, you misjudge an opponents intent or the direction of their attack by a fraction of a second or a few inches, and everything changes.  Somebody like Jake who has had a much more systematic approach to martial arts may see it differently.


Worded that way, I agree entirely :)


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Jake Norwood on January 16, 2004, 04:15:09 PM
Re: Scientific Method

There's some interesting things to consider. The first is Vigianni's treatise, which is written as a question-and-answer session between a senior master and his student. I don't have a translation on-hand, but it's very much like the scientific texts of the period in tone and approach.

Second, is personal experience. There are some very scientific issues in fighting, no matter where it comes from. This seems pretty "duh," but in most RPGs it's not. Every time you swing at someone, you hit them. It's easy. You just have to follow the laws of range and time. This very simple and obvious truth was torn apart and examined to a great extent by masters as early as fighting itself, and by the 1500's is accompanied not only by tried-and-true methods, but diagrams full of some very solid (albeit comfusing) geometry. People were theorizing what would happen given certain variables, testing it, then training in it when a given theory prooved effective in practice.

The scientific method, as I remember it from school, is roughly:

1. Make an observation
2. Formulate a hypothesis, or educated guess
3. Test this hypothosis (controlling the variables as much as possible to single-out your target variable)
4. Record the results and compare them to your hypothesis. Modify if needed.

Comparing this to the fencing of the Germans in the 1400s...

1. Observation: The hypotenuse of a right triangle is longer than either of the other two lines forming it. Since a swordsman swinging at my legs is making a right triangle with the distance between our shoulders (one leg) and the distance from my shoulder to his target, my leg (another leg of the triangle), then this attack (the hypotenuse, a line from his shoulder to his target along the length of his sword and his weapon) is the longest line in this triangle.

2. Hypothesis: If I thrust at his head as he swings at my legs, I'll hit first and deeper, because my range is shorter and therefore my time is less.

3. Test: This is easily tested in practice, and through full-speed sparring. In the 1400's, it would be tested against an enemy as well. The results are as expected.

4. Record: Hence the birth of the fencing manuals and books' like Musashi's Five Rings (which, btw, is more "spiritual" than its western counterparts, which ranged for pedagogical and scientific to collections of tricks and advice, but rarely anything more than minor references to western "spirituality," ie Chivalry, Knighthood,  Christianity, ever appear in the western texts).

4a. Modify: Further tests show that if the guy attacking your legs slings his weapon out with his off hand, releasing with his lead hand, he gains almost 10" of range, nullyfying your advantage. As this is observed, new tests are spawned.

Now, it's true that we use the scientific method in almost all of our decision making, but the sword masters were conscious of their approach and it's question-test-answer nature. This is clear from the earliest known manual, MS I.33.

Jake


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Jaif on January 18, 2004, 04:23:27 PM
Fighting is as scientific as life-and-death poker.  I don't doubt that observations lead to hypothesis on techniques that were then tested in mock and real duels, but that's only part of the game.  Once you toss human emotions into the mix, science tends to take the back seat.  Make it a life-and-death situation, and fear obviously dominates all, unless you're crazy.

-Jeff


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Jake Norwood on January 18, 2004, 04:42:35 PM
Well, I can't agree entirely. The historical records don't seem to support that view.

Serious poker, however, for those who play big-stakes, is largely a game of psychology--which is a science. So there you go.

Jake


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Jaif on January 18, 2004, 05:05:12 PM
I was careful to use the word "fighting" in this case, and the historical record does support my contention.  In practically every first-person account of battle that I've ever read, fear is at the top of list.  Furthermore, there was a famous study in WWII showing clearly the effects of fear on soldiers in many different ways (e.g. long-term and short-term reactions).

So while I agree that techniques developed in a scientific, or at least thoughtful manner, I think duels start to involve bluffing, reading your opponent, and other imperfect arts, and actual fights to the death involve fear, which further complicates things.

Let me toss my one personal example out there: I took a fencing class in college.  I was paired up with someone who had actually fenced before, and was takeing the class for credits.  He was better than I was (duh), and beat me in practice spars; in fact one day he got in a bit of a show-off mood, and disarmed me.

Late in the semester we had a serious of 'real' matches, where we had students act as judges and tried it out with real fencing rules.  When I had my match with my partner, I baited him by keeping a weak grip and being rather defensive; he took the bait and tried to disarm me.  Since I was ready for it, I casually moved out of the way which left him way out of position, so I got an easy touch.  That action so psyched him out that I got more points - I may have even won that match (it's been a long time, not sure if I remember it all).

Anyway, as scientific as the techniques may be, the truth of the matter is that when egos are on the line it enters the realm of art.  I further suggest that if it had been life & death that would have colored both of our actions even more.

-Jeff

P.S. A friend of mine's father was a psychiatrist; I'm certain he would have contested that your use of 'psychology' was in fact science.  He told me (to paraphrase) that the scientific part of psychology generally rests in the observable reactions to drugs; the idea that we can predict the actions of individuals scientifically has yet to be shown except in the general sense (e.g. 1000 people, when confronted with situation X, 990 will respond in Y way).


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Jaif on January 18, 2004, 05:16:15 PM
I forgot one other thing - someone used the word 'hobby' up above.  I'd like to point out that Einstein had a job in a patent office, and science was his hobby.

-Jeff


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 18, 2004, 07:22:51 PM
Fear is definately a factor, and I agree the psychological aspect is the most unpredictable part of melee combat.  But it CAN be mastered, at least for a while, it is possible to get yourself in a state where you are basically fearless.  Liquor helps a lot (and is a historically very underestimated factor), and so does psychological conditioning of various types, seemingly at the expense of sanity.  

Historically, the European Knights, the Vikings, and the Celtic and Germanic tribes before them often displayed courage which went well past the point of sanity.  I can think of just one example from thousands, of a Templar grand Master during the Crusades who first tried to talk a group of 300 knights into attacking a force of 7,000 arab cavalry, and then when they refused, charge them himself.  Or another group of templars who when their galley was boarded by Mamelukes chopped holes in the floor of the craft so that all would sink and drown.  When you read general accounts of the medieval period, such as for example Barbara Tuchmans "A Distant Mirror", you are more often struck by the insane reckless bravery of those knights than anything else (it was often a severe tactical liability).  

The examples you cite about troops in WW II are accurate, but you have to remember, most troops in WW II on either side were conscripts, and basically none had the lifetime experience of warrior indoctrination that a knight or a member of a Classical Era Barbarian tribe would. Not that they didn't feel or know fear, but they seemed to be able to put it out of their mind.  I am familiar with this state of mind, and I can say that it is a dangerous thing, your judgement gets replaced by rage, like a pitt bull which has been conditioned for fighting.  You put fear behind you along with all restraint, and that is a good feeling, it is something which feels like a drug, but it is a very dangerous temptation.   The Berserks among the Norse tribes are probably the extreme example of this.

And even those troops in WW II in some cases endured conditions which are so far beyond the endurable as we could rationally consider it.

One of the reasons I personally started getting back into WMA in a serious way was because it formed a positive outlet for otherwise destructive aggressive tendancies, "battle lust" if you will, which I had aquired from fighting in the bars and streets of the French Quarter.  That was conditioned, I was a dreamer, quite peaceful, as a kid.

As an example of another colder approach to controlling fear, I'd also point out the Romans, who conquered Southern Europe and the Med by sytematically slaughtering the fighting component of the populations of every nation they encountered, not with artillery, but in what amounted to hand to hand combat with swords, shields and javelins, and it was the conquest of fear, it's replacement by discipline in holding the line, following orders, and sticking to training, that enabled them to slaughter enemies in huge numbers much larger than any medieval battles.


JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Half-Baked on January 18, 2004, 10:28:29 PM
Quote
P.S. A friend of mine's father was a psychiatrist; I'm certain he would have contested that your use of 'psychology' was in fact science. He told me (to paraphrase) that the scientific part of psychology generally rests in the observable reactions to drugs; the idea that we can predict the actions of individuals scientifically has yet to be shown except in the general sense (e.g. 1000 people, when confronted with situation X, 990 will respond in Y way).


He might describe it as a Soft Science, where experimental results cannot be reproduced. Makes removing all the variables difficult. For example you could not get two people sparring to be exactly the same difference apart every time. Fields of study that can be described as soft sciences usually called themselves a science because of the increased respect it gave their discipline. This is especially true in the world of academia and research grants. Basically what they are saying is we can reproduce the results 100% each time, but it is close enough to draw some useful conclusions.

Quote
The examples you cite about troops in WW II are accurate, but you have to remember, most troops in WW II on either side were conscripts

Quote
As an example of another colder approach to controlling fear, I'd also point out the Romans, who conquered Southern Europe and the Med by sytematically slaughtering the fighting component of the populations of every nation they encountered, not with artillery, but in what amounted to hand to hand combat with swords, shields and javelins, and it was the conquest of fear, it's replacement by discipline in holding the line, following orders, and sticking to training, that enabled them to slaughter enemies in huge numbers much larger than any medieval battles.


Ironic it isn't it that the Roman troops were conscripts and volunteers until about 100 BC when Marius made his reforms. They managed to defeat the Gauls, Spanish, Carthaginians, Macedonians and Greeks, not to mention the whole of Italy, with conscript and volunteer soldiers. The evidence does not quite fit your argument in this case, but it is still probably true. Roman society may have better conditioned its citizens before they were conscripted with its general attitudes. Got to love anecdotel evidence.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 18, 2004, 10:46:45 PM
Quote from: Half-Baked


Ironic it isn't it that the Roman troops were conscripts and volunteers until about 100 BC when Marius made his reforms. They managed to defeat the Gauls, Spanish, Carthaginians, Macedonians and Greeks, not to mention the whole of Italy, with conscript and volunteer soldiers. The evidence does not quite fit your argument in this case, but it is still probably true. Roman society may have better conditioned its citizens before they were conscripted with its general attitudes. Got to love anecdotel evidence.


Well, I was actually arguing that the Romans had a different, colder  approach than either their barbarian rivals or their knightly replacements, but the whole psychology of the Legion was much closer to the old barbarian ethic than to that of a modern Army today.  They worshiped their eagles (standards) as demi-gods, and also worshiped martial deities, their entire value system was based on war.  

And lets not forget, by the time of the Marian reform, conscript or not (and conscription was not the norm until Imperial times) a Roman soldier was signed on for a term around 20 - 28 years (depending on the era); they were professional carreer warriors, inclulcated into the warrior spirit from the moment they enlisted (or were conscripted).  It was their life.  Even after discharge they were still subject to recall and often settled in veterans colonies in dangerous border areas where they were expected to act as a bulwark against barbarians.  

It is also notable, that the earlier Republican Roman army, which was made up of citizen - volunteers of some minimal standard of means, performed better than the much later army which was made up mainly of paid mercenaries.  Both the early Romans and the early Greeks, despite being civilized, retained strong elements of barbarian warrior culture in their earlier societies, certainly through most of the Republican period in Rome.

And I'm certainly not contemptuous of the courage or skill of popular militias by any means.  The finest example of that are probably the Swiss, though there are many many others.  I'm just pointing out the difference of a part time soldier to someobody for whom being a warrior was their whole life.  (Of course, there is also the irony of the stereotypial Renaissance man, most of the Fecthbuchs were written in their era...)

As for my anecdotal evidence, alas, I lack access to any broad statistical analysis of the subject, though statistics can be as misleading as anecdotes.  I honestly believe however that anyone reading a broad cross section of medieval military history will be struck by the often reckless bravery of the knights.  They also frequently displayed great opportunism, cruelty, and even what might be thought of as cowardice under some other circumstances, but given half a chance at a good fight they seemed to lunge at the opportunity like the crazed pitt bulls I referred to earlier.  IMHO, of course.  I would be interested to hear other folks perspectives on that.

"There are Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics, in that order."
-Mark Twain

JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 18, 2004, 10:51:44 PM
I would also add this comment.  From a strategic perspective, it may in some cases actually be better or more efficient, in a cold calculating accountants sense, to have an army of frightened cosncripts bullied into strictly following orders by a system of NCO's and ruthless punishment, than a less organized less disciplined if probably braver mob of barbarians, acting based on personal courage and ties of brotherhood.

Sometimes this is the case, as it was with the celts in Ceasars time and in many cases, the Germans, Dacians, Iberians, Samnites and etc. when facing the Romans.   Sometimes not as with the first few Roman encounters with the Celts or much later against the Goths at Adrianople, or with the Greeks facing the Persians, or the Swiss militias against the Hapsburgs or Charles the Bold.

Certainly for an authoritarian, oligarchal society like ancient Rome, that becomes the only way they can afford to run the army.  At some point it's hard for anyone to have a huge charge of warrior spirit over the idea of fighting to make the rich richer...  Similar things happened toward the end of the medieval period; kings preferred to outfit their own Men At Arms rather than rely on the braver and arguably tougher, but much more independent and unpredictable knights.


JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Ingenious on January 19, 2004, 12:40:30 AM
The quote about your father being a psychiatrist was amusing.
A psychiatrist is one who specializes with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental and emotional disorders.
A psychologist is someone that is trained and educated to perform psychological research, testing, and therapy.
Therefore a psychologist is more apt to be quotable when referring to human emotions such as fear, bravery, ego, etc... rather than one who prescribes drugs for the insane people in the world.

And to press my issues with Jaif's post even further...
'I further suggest that if it had been life & death that would have colored both of our actions even more. "
If the previous battle where he DID disarm you had been a life and death situation... you'd be at his mercy.. therefore it would not have left an opening for a second bout.. and he would not have developed such an ego as to try to disarm you again(in the second bout that NOW would not have taken place) only you suckered him that time. You would be dead. End of story.
But a good thought as to the psychology of fighting... and bringing ego into the picture. In a few TROS combats of note in my experience.. ego HAD gotten the best of me and I over-estimated several opponents. Lucky for me my seneschal was not one to easily pick up on my total surprise when after a level 3 wound, my opponent keeps ticking...and putting more effort into his attacks WITH that wound than I was capable of with the majority of my total combat pool. If my character had reacted as I did.. he'd be dead.

-Ingenious


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Half-Baked on January 19, 2004, 01:40:50 AM
Quote
It is also notable, that the earlier Republican Roman army, which was made up of citizen - volunteers of some minimal standard of means, performed better than the much later army which was made up mainly of paid mercenaries. Both the early Romans and the early Greeks, despite being civilized, retained strong elements of barbarian warrior culture in their earlier societies, certainly through most of the Republican period in Rome.


Drifter Bob:
If your interested in the topic that covers why Greece and Rome, and Western societies that inherited its military traditions, have been successful have a read of Why the West Has Won: Carnage and Culture from Salamis to Vietnam, by Victor Davis Hanson, a noted a military historian. It is worth a read if you interested at some of the factors that gave the Romans, Greeks and other western armies the military edge. Mostly it is to do with the higher morale and their stake in the result of the battle. A very interesting read. Victor Davis Hanson has made also made an important contribution to the study of Greek warfare between states and how the agriculture of the olive and vine contributed to how seiges and Greek warfare played out.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: contracycle on January 19, 2004, 01:44:45 AM
We cannot just project the scientific method backwards in time just becuase the topic was "important".  Childbirth is also important, also life threatening.  As soon as Jaif says that emotions mean that "science tends to take the back seat" he concedes the difficulty in developing a serious science of martial arts at all.

Gregor Mendel, although not himself a scientist in certain lights, is often described as the father of the scientific method.  He was born in 1822; this should give an idea of how absurd it is to project "scientific" claims back to the C.15th and C.16th.

The "dialogues" method, while formal, is not truly scientific.  Lots of  documents exist in this form, from Persia to China.  They suffer from the fact that it is not really a conversation, but a convgersation staged to produce the outcome the author has in their head.

As I alluded above, if "importance" was sufficient to produce the scientific method, we then have to project science back to every single human activity of any significance, particularly, say, the creation of Achulean hand-axes.  All of which renders the scientific method pretty much useless, and seems at odds with the massive improvement in control over the world we gained when we did develop the method.

This, similarly, is what bugs me about claims that there is a "lost" western martial art.  I mean, why do we even think this?  A handful of instruction books does not make a martial arts tradition.  Its quite possible to say that knights have developed great personal skills without also claiming that they had an explicit and known martial art which taught them these skills.  Its also quite possible to say that the best way to re-discover these skills is to develop a martial art of the same subject with the same tools.  And we can do both of those without projecting backwards a martial arts tradition and a scientific method for which no evidence exists.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 19, 2004, 02:24:54 AM
Quote from: contracycle
We cannot just project the scientific method backwards in time just becuase the topic was "important

Gregor Mendel, although not himself a scientist in certain lights, is often described as the father of the scientific method.  He was born in 1822; this should give an idea of how absurd it is to project "scientific" claims back to the C.15th and C.16th.


Ok fine, how about Gallileo, (born 1564) Copernicus (1473) Tycho Brahe (1546) Johanes Kepler  (1571) Leonardo DaVinci (1452) Roger Bacon (1214) etc. etc. etc.  These were all, to a greater or lesser degree, men of science, considered part of the western scientific tradition.  These men were contemporaries of the men who wrote the Fechtbuchs, almost all of which are on hand date from the 15th century or later.   Do you assume that the swordsmen were inherently less scientific than their contemporaries who dabbled with alchemy or stargazing?

Quote
This, similarly, is what bugs me about claims that there is a "lost" western martial art.  I mean, why do we even think this?  A handful of instruction books does not make a martial arts tradition.  Its quite possible to say that knights have developed great personal skills without also claiming that they had an explicit and known martial art which taught them these skills.  Its also quite possible to say that the best way to re-discover these skills is to develop a martial art of the same subject with the same tools.  And we can do both of those without projecting backwards a martial arts tradition and a scientific method for which no evidence exists.


Maybe you should look over some of the fechtbuchs before so readily dismissing them, or at least a good overview of them like Sydney Anglo's Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe.  If you had, you would know for example that there is considerable evidence of consistency across the board, in spite of all the differences.  For example, some very technical axe fighting techniques described in a French book published in the 16th century are almost identical to a whole spate of specific techniques published in Germany generations before.  There are many links between traditions where there is no evidence that there was any direct knowlege of the other.

In addition to the books, there are also volumes of letters, chronicles, and official records which bear out this information, which is also informed by modern archeology and reproduction.

Ultimately, as I pointed out before, the fact that the limited work which has already been done in interpolating the Fechtbuchs has already led to such superior fighting techniques on the part of it's practitioners, is proof positive to me that there is a Western Martial arts tradition.   It's obvious to anyone who has had any real experience fighting with weapons who observes the techniques in action, they are revolutionary, there is nothing like them in "traditional" eastern martial arts.

Additionally, there are scores upon scores of documented western martial arts, many if not most of which are the direct descendants of the old fencing traditions, all over Europe, most of which largely died out in the 19th century.  Even today though, almost every single European country still has a remnant of old stick fighting, club fighting, and unarmed combat traditions, like Bata in Ireland or Savate-Danse du Rue in France.

Such traditions exist in fact all over the world.

The idea that there is no western martial arts tradition is hinged upon the patently unscientific notion that people of the west are uniquely bereft of this aspect of culture compared to every other group of people on the planet.

JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Half-Baked on January 19, 2004, 02:39:09 AM
Quote
Gregor Mendel, although not himself a scientist in certain lights, is often described as the father of the scientific method. He was born in 1822; this should give an idea of how absurd it is to project "scientific" claims back to the C.15th and C.16th.

And here was I thinking that Aristotle was the father of the scientific method. Observe a phenomenon and deduce a conclusion regarding that phenomenon. Maybe that is not the modern definition, but it forms the basis that would become the scientific method. If Gregor Mendel is the founder of the scientific method it would mean that Isaac Newton (Born: 4 Jan 1643), Copernicus (Born: 19 Feb 1473), Galileo (Born: 15 Feb 1564) etc were not scientists. Draw on your own conclusions on absurdity.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Ingenious on January 19, 2004, 03:03:48 AM
Just because someone was alive before a term was coined as to describe what something is does not mean that they themselves were not capable of being called this term. Is prehistoric man not human? Even though language and the term human was not used back then?

As to Mendel being 'often' called the father of the scientific method.. I am 'often' called God. It does not necessarily mean that this is true. When saying such things, offer source material that you read/heard/saw it from... so that one might not assume that you are full of ****....

Sorry for this post/rant.. it is 5am here after-all..
-Ingenious


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Jaif on January 19, 2004, 05:08:24 AM
Lot's of responses, and I'm tired, so I'll saw off the shotgun and go scattershot... :-)

1) It wasn't my father, it was my friend's father.
2) What is 'bravery'? Is it brave to lead a suicide charge for no good reason? Or is it foolhardy or reckless?  If personx reacts to fear by running away, and persony reacts to fear by running towards, aren't they both reacting to fear?
3) An interesting thing I found from that WWII study was that everybody in combat was either scared or insane, and that the longer you exposed individuals to combat, the more likely they were to go insane (e.g. battle fatigue).  Note I'm using insane loosely here.
4) I think we're getting hung-up on the definition of 'scientific method'.  That's simply one way of making advances.  Just because you don't use the scientific method doesn't mean you're not being thoughtful.
5) That said, I doubt that martial arts trainers used the scientific method; did they publish there experiments in peer-reviewed journels and await independant verification by others?  How well controlled were there tests?  Again, a rational, thoughtful approach is not necessarily "the scientific method".

In the end, I easily accept that fighting techniques were developed thoughtfully, with much observation and testing of ideas.  I've always thought it foolish to believe otherwise, and the small amount I've studied about military history has always born this out.  My only contention is that the thoughtful side of fighting is just that: a side of fighting, and without taking the human part into the equation you can't really describe the whole thing.

One last thing: knights and samurais may be neat, but I wonder what would have happened if a well-lead medeival English army with longbowmen had met the Mongols.  That would be cool. :-)

-Jeff

P.S. It happens all the times in Age of Kings (computer game), but somehow I doubt that's a realistic simulation. :-)


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Crusader on January 19, 2004, 05:21:23 AM
Why, contracycle, do you seem so offended by the notion that the West could have had a martial tradition?  By your logic, then the East doesn't have one either.  What, in your eyes, constitutes a cultural tradition of the scientifically-approached study of combat?  Are you arguing that, simply because the scientific method, as we modern folks understand it, did not exist in the middle ages, there can therefore have been no scientific pursuit of expertise in arms until recently?  

In any case, the phrase "martial art" has a long history in the West, the "Arts of Mars" being referred to by one or more Roman writers.  That the study of arms merited such a description in Antiquity demonstrates that it was indeed perceived as an art, on par with other pursuits commonly so described.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: contracycle on January 19, 2004, 05:39:43 AM
Quote
Why, contracycle, do you seem so offended by the notion that the West could have had a martial tradition?


Why would you think such a thing would *offend* me?  Beware spurious attribution of motive.

Quote
By your logic, then the East doesn't have one either. What, in your eyes, constitutes a cultural tradition of the scientifically-approached study of combat? Are you arguing that, simply because the scientific method, as we modern folks understand it, did not exist in the middle ages, there can therefore have been no scientific pursuit of expertise in arms until recently?


What I was pointing out was that to project science per se back like that undermines the argument; and we tend to do so just ebcause we are so familiar with science.  To an extent, yes I am arguing that whatever was done was Not Scientific, but this should not be taken to mean that I think it was stupid or incomplete or that nobody could learn anything.

But the difference is this: without a methdology and a system of continuing education, you can have isolated geniuses, and their mechanical bird or whatever gets displayed and no general lessons are learned.  The presence of a few books does not imply a whole such system.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Muggins on January 19, 2004, 07:30:07 AM
Ah, but publication never takes place in a vacuum. Consider: all the late period (16th C and 17th C) books were actually commercial enterprises. A fechtbuch like Meyer's 1570 manuscript was so popular it was reprinted 4 times, up until the 1640s. This manuscript obviously had a market, and clearly refers to several other books tha he expected his read to have familiarity with. This does not sound much like "isolated genius".

As another example, consider the oral tradition by which the verses of Lichtenhauer were transmitted over time. In a manner similar to the teachings of Japanese masters, these verses survived for nearly 100 years before they were written down. On another tack, there are modern fencing masters able to trace the lineage of their classical fencing technique through to the 17th century.

The western martial tradition is as viable as the eastern. Actually, considering the fact that much of what we consider eastern martial art today was created/modified for the purpose of inclusion in schools in the 1890s, there are plenty of Japanese historians who would argue that, in the period prior to the encoding of kendo, judo and karate for the school syllabus (and the invention of katas as such like), only a tiny fraction of the country knew of or understood the martial arts culture. Most of the old arts were restricted to the nobility (and then to only some members), and lacked the exposure that the common fraternities of Europe such as the Marxbruders gave to their art.

James


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Muggins on January 19, 2004, 07:36:17 AM
On the issue of fear as a big factor in fighting:

Fear alters a lot of things during a life or death situation. Reading Amberger's Secret History of the Sword, you can see how it affects people. However, the basic idea behind drilling a technique or procedure endlessly is to produce the requisite muscle memory to perform the technique under stress. Same idea behind drilling soldiers under fire- do it until it becomes second nature.

When it comes to the scientific nature of any martial art, the thinking and reasoning happens away from life-and-death situations. It involves considering how the body moves, and the possible permutations in a situation. Pose the problem, find a possible solution, test the solution under different conditions. If it works, then you drill it against the time when it may be vital to saving your life. When considering the complex geometry postulated by the 16th and 17th C masters, it is about making sure your form and responses are perfect before a fight, not about visualising a fight in terms of line and angles while actually involved.

James


Title: Well, you guys have been busy.
Post by: Salamander on January 19, 2004, 08:04:55 AM
Wow guys, just wow.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: tauman on January 19, 2004, 02:04:12 PM
There is more than a "presence of a few books" to support the existance of a martial tradition of Europe.

The books by the Italian masters, for example are not just single works without any references to any other martial works--the later masters refer to the earlier ones, and not just by name, but also by specific techniques and views. Furthermore, in the Bolognese school, we know that Manciolino and Marazzo had the same master. Small wonder then that the techniques they teach in their manuals are so similar (yet not identical). In fact, you can trace the development and evolution of Italian swordsmanship and unarmed techniques by reading the manuals in chronological order.

The presence of the English Masters of Defence clearly shows that the teaching of martial arts was organized and well-known in Elizabethan England. Pupils would take over for masters in the same way that happens with eastern martial arts schools today.

In the German system (as Jake can tell you much better than can I), the work of Liechtenauer spawned a whole system with later masters referring to him several generations later. The techniques are clearly similar, with the same names and general philosophy. While I guess it is possible that succeeding generations kept "reinventing the wheel" it just doesn't seem very likely.

Read the books for yourself--many of them were systematic and highly refined and show an understanding of swordsmanship beyond just being quick and strong, with martial theory equal to anything seen in the east.

Now as to how scientific it was. Well, is swordsmanship an art or a science? I don't really know how to argue that one way or the other (I'd say it's an art founded upon the principles of science). However, if you read some of the better Italian rapier manuals, you'll see that the reasoning behind the techniques is clearly explained, with a full understanding of the relevant principles of geometry, physics, and human physiology. As a result, I can give you real reasons for why you should and should not do something, beyond just "it works for me." And these reasons would not be "mine," but would instead be exactly as explained in the manuals.

Steve Reich

Quote from: contracycle

But the difference is this: without a methodology and a system of continuing education, you can have isolated geniuses, and their mechanical bird or whatever gets displayed and no general lessons are learned.  The presence of a few books does not imply a whole such system.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Jake Norwood on January 19, 2004, 02:22:46 PM
The real issue here, as far as I can see, is "what is science?"

I say that swordsmanship is a science, because it was called that three hundred years before the aformentioned crystalization of the scientific method. Some would say "there's no science in war," but thousands of Military Science proffessors would do more than beg to disagree.

It is pompous and limited to assume that science was invented in the last 300 years, and that all previous mentions of the term are invalid, because they don't conform to a high-school definition of the term "science."

As with most arguments, this appears to be about semantics.

Jake,
who's degree is in linguistics, a science.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Vanguard on January 19, 2004, 03:05:52 PM
Wow

This discussion has gone all over the place and, at some points, a little out of control.

When you consider the very title of this thread - Samurai Vs Knight.

Might as well have proposed Spartan Vs Praetorian, Kung-fu Vs Karate, Berserker Vs Jedi-Ninja. Surely it's all just done for a laugh, taken seriously perhaps, but a laugh nonetheless.

You can criticise the author for not having addressed any of the issues raised, agree with him on opinions he presented, or indeed argue that he presented a flawed argument. Hell, I haven't even read the article, and I dont think I need to. But this seems to have gone completely off-topic. And now comes across more as a clash of egos than anything.

Admitedly, some superb arguments have been raised. And my mind has been opened on a variety of subjects. But enough surely.

I've just spent the last hour reading this and my head now hurts.


Take care


P.S - to clear some statements as best my keyboard-zen-master style can manage.

-Whether you argue that an age might have possessed a certain level of science does not necessarily mean it was applied to swordsmanship. Certainly to a degree, I'll grant (inasmuch as weapon and armour manufacture, study of physiognomy, and observation of cause/effect). But a modern day football player, or indeed special forces soldier, does not know the science of his art to the same degree as a nuclear phycicist. In my opinion. It is more a question of instilling conditioned reactions, and of applying an understanding of dynamics to particular situations. Creating instincs and learning how to use them.

-Psycholody is indeed not a strict science as say chemistry and, to the most part, physics. It is a kind of Pop-science. And I agree with the statement that it's empirical nature is derived from a study of drug effects, and of quantifiable observations of how x amount of people will respond to factor X as opposed to factor Z. Though a simplification, I'l' admit. I'm saying this as a Psychology graduate. Thus to say any martial art is scientific because phsychology is involved is kinda cartoon-association. It may involve science. But they're not quite the same thing.

-I  parry the edge of an opponent's blade with my flat. But ideally, the flat of mine against his flat. Though with the rear-edge kinda angled in slightly. Probably not technically correct, and apologies for the heinous terminology, but my two-cents. Or pence.

These are all responses to tangents, however. So you may wish to ignore them altogether.

And I hope no one's been offended. Too much.... :)


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: montag on January 19, 2004, 05:03:01 PM
Quote from: Vanguard
-Psycholody is indeed not a strict science as say chemistry and, to the most part, physics. It is a kind of Pop-science. And I agree with the statement that it's empirical nature is derived from a study of drug effects, and of quantifiable observations of how x amount of people will respond to factor X as opposed to factor Z. Though a simplification, I'l' admit. I'm saying this as a Psychology graduate. Thus to say any martial art is scientific because phsychology is involved is kinda cartoon-association. It may involve science. But they're not quite the same thing.  

Didn't you learn that degree of precision in prediction does not a science make or unmake? If that were the case, physics wouldn't be a science anymore since Heisenberg. Just because something like the weather or the human mind and behaviour does not reduce to neat billiard ball causality and can readily be predetermined that doesn't mean the study of the matter is not a science.
And where's that "study of drug effects" come from? That's pharmacology or psychiatry (I personally don't regard the latter as a proper science since – as I experienced it and from the psychiatry books I read – it's founded on trial and error, not theory and test, but that's merely a layman's opinion, I'm a psychologist.). What about Behaviorism, cognitive psychology, neuro psychology, developmental psychology, social psychology, differential psychology. None of these have anything to do with drugs. So your statement is reducible to "its empirical nature is derived from empirical observations". Nice tautology.
You further state, that the involvement of psychology into anything doesn't make that subject a science. Well, of course it doesn't, otherwise "driving", "drinking", "dressing" and so on would all be sciences. Similarly, nothing becomes/is a sciences just because it involves physics. You're knocking down your own strawman here. Something does become a science or the topic of scientific investigation when you apply scientific methods to the factors relevant to it, whether these factors are psychological or physical is rather irrelevant.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 19, 2004, 05:25:13 PM
Quote from: Jaif
One last thing: knights and samurais may be neat, but I wonder what would have happened if a well-lead medeival English army with longbowmen had met the Mongols.  That would be cool. :-)

-Jeff

P.S. It happens all the times in Age of Kings (computer game), but somehow I doubt that's a realistic simulation. :-)


There were two major battles between the Mongols and mixed armies of European Knights.  One was between the Mongols and an army headed by the king of Hungary, and the other was between the Mongols and the king of Poland and the Teutonic Knights.  The latter also included contingents of Knights Templar.

In both cases the western forces had combined armies including knights, infantry and marksmen (mostly crossbowmen) though the marksmen and infantry in particular were nowhere near the high level of training one would find later in the medieval period.

Both battles ended in a strategic victory for the Mongols, particularly the battle against the Hungarians, but contrary to popular opinion both battles cost the Mongols far more in casualties than they had bargained for, in spite of piss poor tactical planning and discipline by the bulk of the Western forces.

The early 20th century military historian Hans Delbruk wrote a very salient analysis of these battles in his book Medieval Warfare (part of a three part series)

Later on the Mongols allied with the Crusader states in their invasion and destruction of the Arab kingdoms, and later against the Mamelukes of Egypt.  This was because the local Mongol general was nominally a Christian (of the Nestorian branch), though at one point the Crusaders actually allied with the mamelukes against the Mongols briefly.  The Crusader Kingdoms were too weak though at that point to affect the war much either way.

JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Crusader on January 19, 2004, 09:46:41 PM
My apologies, contracycle, for incorrectly guessing at your motive.  Note that I did place the word "seem" before "offended".  I realized what I was doing, and was not trying to be confrontational.

However, I cannot deny that, at least it seems so to me, you come across as more than a little hostile on this subject.  

I'd like to hear your thoughts on the Eastern Martial arts.  Would you consider them scientific?


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: contracycle on January 20, 2004, 12:32:02 AM
Quote from: Jake Norwood

It is pompous and limited to assume that science was invented in the last 300 years, and that all previous mentions of the term are invalid, because they don't conform to a high-school definition of the term "science."


I'm afraid I think its arrogant to attempt to seize the credibility of science in a milieu when that was not an option.  If the western way was scientific, then so muct have been the Mesopotamian, and the Egyptian, and the Macedonian, and the Carthaginian, and the Roman.  Several of those are much more intellectually sophisticated societies with a much longer academic tradition than that of the european west, what with the dark ages and all.  To do this makes the very term "science" value-less, as we are using it to describe any sort of investigation whatsoever.

Science, as a particular methodology, as a formal and articulated methodology, is a product of the last 300 years, case closed.

Crusader wrote:
Quote
However, I cannot deny that, at least it seems so to me, you come across as more than a little hostile on this subject.


In my opinion, ARMA makes a number of highly contentious claims of which I disaprove, and which I think are tangential to their practical direction.  It saddens me that so much rhetoric, as I see it, accompanies and to my mind diminishes their practical acheivements.  I will always have to wonder whther a particular position is held because they think its true, or becuase its an opportunity to bash the "nippophiles" or the secret cabal intent on denying the west its true heritage of martial arts.  This stuff is badly counter-productive, IMO.  I wish the ARMA would spend more time in their articles telling us what they do know, what they have learned, and less time complaining about some fencing master in the 30's.

Quote
I'd like to hear your thoughts on the Eastern Martial arts. Would you consider them scientific?


Not exactly, becuase I use the term more precsiely than that, I feel.  Certainly I have a tremendous respect for the methodology of teaching they employ.  Overall, I regard it as a highly sophisticated pedagogical apparatus.  I think an attempt to develop a western martial art could well learn a lot from these methodologies, which is one of the reasons I dislike the rejectionist bent the ARMA appears to have.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Bastoche on January 20, 2004, 05:18:46 AM
Quote from: contracycle

Science, as a particular methodology, as a formal and articulated methodology, is a product of the last 300 years, case closed.


As a scientist myself, I don't agree with this. First it was probably more like 4-500 years ago. Second, the only different thing between the "modern" science and what was before is nothing but a label. Before there was science. It was just not recognized as such. As a scientist, what I consider to be science is a systematic study of any field. "Modern" science is a label on the 4 part system (hypothesis, observation, comparison, conclusion). I oppose "science" to "randomly trying anything until one find the solution". Like Jake said, it's only a matter of semantics. If the word "science" troubles you, let's use "systematic study".

Another point: my first language is french so maybe it's a trick of translation but... Psychology is not psychiatry. The former is the study of social disorder while the other is the study of mental disorder. Psychology can somethings be cured without drugs. Psychiatric problem more often than not can't. Schizofrenia (sp?) is a psychiatric issue. Depression is a psychological one. Of course both are intricatly related but they are very different. Psychologists are therapist. Psychiatrist are doctors.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Muggins on January 20, 2004, 05:40:38 AM
When I consider Eastern Martial Arts nowadays, I always tend to get bogged down in the "highly sophisticated pedagogical" manner of teaching. Modern hoplologistic thinking (mouthful, that) holds that the major Japanese, Chinese and Korean arts have been specifically designed with the good of the student in mind, rather than fighting supremacy. Discipline, physical fitness, self-confidence, all these principles are designed into the syllabus because that is what was required for schools in the late 19th and early 20th century. The whole system of belts, katas, advanced and basic techniques would horrify the old masters, who rarely taught more than 3 or 4 students they handpicked. But for the purposes of the army in Japan and Korea (China is a little different), the early introduction of martial arts into schools was essential to breed fit, disciplined (read brain dead) soldiers. Kenjutsu was stripped of much of its prestige, karate lost the free form flow, Taekwando grew to be the kicking contest it is today.

In many ways, what we consider eastern martial arts today is a toned down version of the intensely secretive arts passed from master to student for ages in the Orient. As my background is Goju Ryu karate (I have a black belt somewhere), this is what I shall refer to. Some of the karate people I know who are now trying to reconstruct the original Okinawan styles say it is amazing how different the old days were. For example, daggers and knives were used often, and weapons training was often a starting point. Self-defence, i.e. kill and disable the opponent as soon as possible, was the goal, and that was what was taught. The secretive nature of the art is also emphasised- every master saved up his collection of tricks while attempting to learn his contemporaries. What also comes through is the distortions commonly assumed in the art- that it was a peasant art, it was an old art, etc. Some of the recent work points to it being a merchant art, which only started deviating from the Chinese forms relatively recently, in the middle of the 18th century.

I can think of various different examples of how the incorporation of physical fitness into schools has changed the entire face of eastern martial arts. In some ways, the small bands of eager learners for the western arts is sometimes closer to the original eastern spirit than people acknowledge. It is about learning and extending the art, about creativity and the willingless to learn. What has often turned me away from EMA is the lack of such- you try something new, you get told "stick to the form".  This then is my take on the pedagogical approach of EMA (I can reference any of these thoughts if you wish).

Which is not to say that those of us swinging swords around are not without faults. My beef with ARMA has always been in the marketing. "Our way is the best", "Our panel of experts is better than yours", etc. In this game, with such a small group of devotees, such oneupmanship is self- defeating. Yes it would be nice to be mainstream, but not yet. Similarly, we have to learn from what is currently available, and my karate and aikido are value for interpreting other ways to fight.

And I won't even touch the science bit....

James


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Calithena on January 20, 2004, 07:47:02 AM
The scientific method is generalizing from sensory experience and testing those generalizations. This is literally older than any written work we know of: humans have been doing it forever. A lot of animals even do it, in a limited sort of way (they can't state their generalizations).

Quantum physics offers the greatest degree of precision in prediction of any scientific theory ever yet put forward by human beings, at least if you use the pedestrian measure of the numerical agreement between what the theory predicts and what is observed. The indeterminacy principle does not magically make QM into meteorology, though it does imply that there are certain pairs of qualities of physical entities (position and momentum, energy and time) which are not jointly fixed to a mathematically absolute degree of precision. But there are other qualities which can be so fixed, and there are whole, valuable fields of scientific inquiry which never reach a level of precision even in the ballpark of where the indeterminacy principle would matter to them.

I've learned a lot of really interesting things about historical fighting from this thread, which is why I keep checking it. Thanks to the relevant posters for their good work.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: contracycle on January 20, 2004, 08:36:21 AM
If "science" is to be used so broadly, then the "deductive divination" practiced by the Sumerians will have to be treated as a true science rather than a proto-science.  The Sumerians made the first serious attempt to catalogue and define the world, to record and deduce divine cause and material effect, and to identify the exceptions and discrepancies that pointed to gaps in their knowledge.  There is certainly some form of scientific endeavour going on.  People are thinking, analysing, trying to make sense of their environment.  But it is also such a far cry from the modern praxis of science that to refer to it as science is functionally misleading.  

Muggins wrote:
Quote
I can think of various different examples of how the incorporation of physical fitness into schools has changed the entire face of eastern martial arts. In some ways, the small bands of eager learners for the western arts is sometimes closer to the original eastern spirit than people acknowledge. It is about learning and extending the art, about creativity and the willingless to learn. What has often turned me away from EMA is the lack of such- you try something new, you get told "stick to the form". This then is my take on the pedagogical approach of EMA (I can reference any of these thoughts if you wish).


Absolutely agreed; free-thinking they are not.  But as an institution with specific goals - turn out X pupils able to perform Y manoeuvres - they have a very refined procedure for achieving those goals.  And this is partly because they already know what it is that they want to teach, they are not trying to teach AND discover.  Is ARMA a school, or a laboratory?  

This thread was originally raised as a critique of the K vs. S article.  Attacks on that article, and on some of the other opinions expressed on the ARMA site, are not simultaneously attacks on everything ARMA touches.  I definitely SUPPORT the efforts they are making to learn how these tools handle in a practical way.    This distinction is a caveat I feel I need to state again.  It is NOT their practical efforts I criticise, only the surrounding "hype", as I see it.


Title: Okay.
Post by: Salamander on January 20, 2004, 09:02:02 AM
As Calithena has pointed out, we have been using a scientific method since before we discovered fire. Just because you do not recognize it as "modern" does not make it any different.  If it were not for scientific method, we would not have been able to develope a knowledge and technology base similar to that which we have now. To say that science did not exist until Herr. Mendel came along is the quintessence of arrogance, not the ARMA debate.

I am dissappointed in those of you who are so great as to look down upon the skills and methods of the Masters as written down in the fechtbuchs. Have you ever read one? Have you ever even heard of the existence of these precious texts prior to the inception of TRoS?

Have you ever picked up a real sword?

Have you ever tried to move with one in your hand?

Have you ever hefted one?

Felt it's incredible balance?

Its weight?

Admired its geometry and realized what the weapon was designed to do specifically and understand the implications to how you employ the weapon?

The feel of the shape and texture of the grip and pommel interacting with the lines of your hands or the leather of your gauntlet?

Ever swung one with intent?

Perhaps tried to perform a few cuts in the air?

Take out the occaissional rogue frozen pumpkin on a snowy, blustery day?
 
See how it feels when you use simple geometry and math to counter an opponent's cut and hit his arm? With a practice weapon of course...

The techniques involved in the use of a sword are quite scientific. Terribly so in fact. The art is to teach your body to do what the techniques dictate. Until you have done this, how can you be so sure? Honestly.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: toli on January 20, 2004, 09:08:03 AM
Quote from: Jake Norwood

It is pompous and limited to assume that science was invented in the last 300 years, and that all previous mentions of the term are invalid, because they don't conform to a high-school definition of the term "science."

As with most arguments, this appears to be about semantics.

Jake,
who's degree is in linguistics, a science.


As a scientist (PhD Ecology), I think you can easily define the scientific method as simply "learning by testing".  Some people would like to add "testing through manipulative experiments", which would eliminate many of the 'soft sciences', but that in my mind is is silly.    

Different groups of scientists, often think differently about what science is.  For example, my father is a mathematician.  He has argued (much to my annoyance and as only a mathematician can) that ecology isn't really science because there are so few LAWs that we can define that are all encompassing.  What ever.  

I think if you test your ideas through observation (collection of survey data) or experimentation...you at least have a scientific approach...NT


Title: Re: Okay.
Post by: toli on January 20, 2004, 09:13:06 AM
Quote from: Salamander

Have you ever picked up a real sword?

Ever swung one with intent?



I think the people who could best answer these types of questions are people with combat experience.  Unless you're actually in a fight where real injury or death is possible and your intent is to injure or kill your opponent, all the philosophy is just philosophy.  

That doesn't mean, of course, that the methodology taught in the training wasn't developed 'scientifically' through the testing of ideas...NT


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Muggins on January 20, 2004, 09:44:58 AM
Linguistics is a science?! (not serious)

(My background, for those who care involves an undergrad in pure mathematics and geology, a MSc. and PhD. in Isotope Geochemistry, a B.A in History, Ancient History and Comparative Religion (gotta know your enemy:)), and one of the courses I teach is History and Philosphy of Science (for my poor bewildered littel aspiring geologists). All of which means I know absolutely nothing about science (and I ain't kidding!).)

Contracycle is both wrong and right by refusing the label of 'science' to martial thoughts in the 16th and 17th century. Wrong, because they are probably more valid as sciences today with our overly broad and encompassing view on things, and right, because by strict consideration the ideas lack rational organisation and consistency.

One of the problems when defining anything as a science lies in the context in which something is considered. The Greeks promoted a philosophy through which the natural world could be understood through rational thinking. Arguments on the nature of things were decided by a close examination of the logical underpinnings of the theory (not by empirical testing). In some ways, the Greeks were more exacting than we are today as to the rational basis of our science. The core idea is of course that there is a single truth out there that can be deduced. The same idea is present in most mathematics: there is only one right answer to a question (even in quantum mechanics, there is only a limited solution set to solve the problem).

The real world does not work that way, and much of the rational Greek outlook on life was pushed out of the way by barbarians and alchemists. Alchemy did wonders for the development of chemistry (not). The big problem was this: alchemy is devoted to working towards something that is believed to exist. To this end, very little work was devoted to reactions that failed to work, or why they failed to work. Roger Bacon started to formalise empirical observation in the natural world ('science').  Later Humanists such as Erasmus, Kepler and so on did much more work and even tied empirical observations to mathematical expressions. But was this work 'Science' under modern definitions? No.

What was lacking was a framework to hang the empirical observations from. Descartes is often credited with starting modern scientific thought, by reducing arguments and constantly tackling assumptions. I prefer not to consider this the birth of science, but the birth of modern thinking. By realising that the problems with observations can be solved by tackling the assumptions underlying the observations (if the waves do not behave like gods control them, then maybe there are no gods controlling them...), the natural sciences were born.

Strangely, it is only in the late 19th and early 20th Century that rigorous sciences such as chemistry and physics emerged. Both are heavily dependent on the technology and expertise to make the necessary observations, as well as on a mechanistic mindset. Much of the exploration of electricity can be considered pseudoscience or engineering, and would not stand up today as enlightened use of the theory of science. However, things worked, even if Newton, whose laws ruled the Industrial Revolution but who left space for divine intervention in all things.

It is only since the 60s that 'modern science' has existed, following the books by Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn. Under their enlightened rule, anything that involves rational thinking and logical thinking has been reclassified a science. Paradigm and context are all important, and just becuase the context of a thought is not considered correct today, it does not invalidate the process. Many of these newer sciences, such as psychology and statistical work in the humanities, often fail to realise that the underlying assumptions in their work are false (consider: psychology is dependent on the human brain- which ain't rational). At the same time, natural sciences have also been able to tackle their subjects more radically.

Anyhow, by the Greek standard, we do very little science nowadays. We assume too much and contextualise paradoxical observations. By the modern standard though, Bacon, Newton and the old masters were very much scientists, within their own paradigm and context. They observed, they theorised, they tested their theories in the manner of the day. As such, they were on the cutting edge of the art!

James

-hopefully that will kill this thread dead. I want get back to mowing down samurai with my zweihander!


Title: Re: Okay.
Post by: Salamander on January 20, 2004, 10:18:37 AM
Quote from: toli

I think the people who could best answer these types of questions are people with combat experience.


And if some of us have had said combat experience? What then?
   
Quote

That doesn't mean, of course, that the methodology taught in the training wasn't developed 'scientifically' through the testing of ideas...NT


An excellent point, which I believe supports the treatise I put forward in regards to the art and science of swordsmanship.


Title: Re: Okay.
Post by: toli on January 20, 2004, 10:30:42 AM
Quote from: Salamander
Quote from: toli

I think the people who could best answer these types of questions are people with combat experience.


And if some of us have had said combat experience? What then?
   
Quote

That doesn't mean, of course, that the methodology taught in the training wasn't developed 'scientifically' through the testing of ideas...NT


An excellent point, which I believe supports the treatise I put forward in regards to the art and science of swordsmanship.


In the first case, my point is that I would fairly quickly defer to some one who had actually tried to kill some one with a knife when discussing how much technique one remembers in a knife fight.  My experience from wrestling (in high school) is that it becomse a bit of both the "science" that you learn in practice and improvisation as opportunities arise.  The science is, however, important in providing the opportunities.  However, one isn't really worried about dying in a wrestling match...

As to the second point, I think we essentially agree.  However, I think the key point for something to be a science in the modern sense is the testing of ideas with the collection of new data.  Many of the Greek scientists had rational but incorrect theories that persisted because they were'nt really tested.  THis is probably more true in biology than in some of the physical science...where the temple falls down if you don't understand the physics of building...NT


Title: Re: Okay.
Post by: Salamander on January 20, 2004, 10:38:51 AM
Quote from: toli

In the first case, my point is that I would fairly quickly defer to some one who had actually tried to kill some one with a knife when discussing how much technique one remembers in a knife fight.  My experience from wrestling (in high school) is that it becomse a bit of both the "science" that you learn in practice and improvisation as opportunities arise.  The science is, however, important in providing the opportunities.  However, one isn't really worried about dying in a wrestling match...


And say if you were perhaps involved in a conversation with a fellow who may have been forced to use a knife at one time in his military career? A rifle or SMG many times? I come from the land of, "You fight how you train".

Quote

As to the second point, I think we essentially agree.  However, I think the key point for something to be a science in the modern sense is the testing of ideas with the collection of new data.  Many of the Greek scientists had rational but incorrect theories that persisted because they were'nt really tested.  THis is probably more true in biology than in some of the physical science...where the temple falls down if you don't understand the physics of building...NT


Ah... here we have a slight problem. You use the qualifier of science in the modern sense. We really must nail down which context we are discussing here. I feel it may be slightly unfair to refer to an ancient practice using modern standards. It's like comparing the aerodynamic knowledge of the Wright Brothers to the that of our friends at Boeing Defense and by those standards we could say that the Wright Brothers did not make the world's first aeroplane, but in fact a motorized flying bicycle.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Bastoche on January 20, 2004, 10:48:31 AM
Some discipline like sword fighting and crystal growth are both art and science. They're science on the part of the variables over which we have control and art on the part of the guesses enlightened through experience (or instinct or luck or...) you need to make over the uncontrolable variables.


Title: Re: Okay.
Post by: toli on January 20, 2004, 11:54:00 AM
Quote from: Salamander
You use the qualifier of science in the modern sense. We really must nail down which context we are discussing here. I feel it may be slightly unfair to refer to an ancient practice using modern standards. It's like comparing the aerodynamic knowledge of the Wright Brothers to the that of our friends at Boeing Defense and by those standards we could say that the Wright Brothers did not make the world's first aeroplane, but in fact a motorized flying bicycle.


The qualifier is just a qualifier and helps to specify what I mean by science.  Your airplane example is not really a good one in this case.  It isn't a question of the quantity of knowledge but of the methodology in developing that knowledge.  Modern science requires testing of ideas not just thought experiments without data to support them.  

As to the question of fencing as a science, after further thought, I think I wouldn't necessarily call it a science but technique (but see below). I think when people refer to fencing or what have you as a 'science' what they really mean is that there is a detailed technique and not just natual instinct and ferocity (or what ever).  

Instead, I would potentially call fencing a scientifically derived technique.  To me, as a scientist, science requires hypotheses and the testing of those hypotheses.  Without the testing, you have philosophy not science.  This doesn't mean that an individual has to do all steps in the process.  For example, there are theoretical physicists and experimental physicists.  (pure Math is, I think, not really science but something unto itself).  After the testing but without a new question and test, you have technique or methodology or something similar.  The development of a particular fighting style may have been based on observation, idea development and then the formal (experimental) or informal (experience based) testing of those ideas into a technique.  But the use of those techniques is not necessarily a science (but wait...)

A biological analogy would be the use of PCR, a methodology for amplifying DNA.  Doing a PCR reaction to amplify some piece of DNA is a scientific technique but isn't in an of itself science, even if the person doing it is scientifically trained.  I use SCUBA as a technique in much of the research that I do.  That doesn't make SCUBA a science, although the equipment was developed through basic scientific principals and testing (to some exent).

A way in which fencing would be a science, by my definition, would be in the process of probing your opponents weaknesses.  In this case, you would be using the methodology of your fencing school to answer the current problem of how to defeat your current opponent... and than apply other techniques to do so.  I'd be happy to call fencing a science under these conditions.  However, a situation of "I stab with my bayonete this way because that's how I was taught to do it" is, by my definition technique...not science.  If there is no thinking there is no science.

An important note regarding this particular discussion is that I am not making a value judgement regarding technique vs. science.


Title: Re: Okay.
Post by: Salamander on January 20, 2004, 12:18:34 PM
Quote from: toli

The qualifier is just a qualifier and helps to specify what I mean by science.  Your airplane example is not really a good one in this case.  It isn't a question of the quantity of knowledge but of the methodology in developing that knowledge.  Modern science requires testing of ideas not just thought experiments without data to support them.  


Semantics aside, this is exactly what happened with the Wright Brothers. They said, "why do birds fly and we can't?" So they asked, what parts of the bird seem to be doing the most work? The wings. So they looked at the wings made an observation and went with it. They did not know it was going to work until that little 12HP paper and wood contraption lifted off the rails. The guys at Boeing look at an airfoil and make a calculation based upon hard numbers and say "this will provide the required flight properties" or "this will fail to provide the required flight properties". Pre-aerodynamics and post aerodynamics. Same effect, just a different look at the picture.

Quote

As to the question of fencing as a science, after further thought, I think I wouldn't necessarily call it a science but technique (but see below). I think when people refer to fencing or what have you as a 'science' what they really mean is that there is a detailed technique and not just natual instinct and ferocity (or what ever).  


And where are these techniques derived from? They in essence hypothsized what effects a specific action would incur. Through observation (did you see that?! He gutted the poor fool like a fish!!!) or (I can't believe we even thought that would work...) they were able to determine the effectiveness of the movements in battle. Do not say they were not scientific simply because they did not share your nomenclature.

Quote

Instead, I would potentially call fencing a scientifically derived technique.  To me, as a scientist, science requires hypotheses and the testing of those hypotheses.  Without the testing, you have philosophy not science.  This doesn't mean that an individual has to do all steps in the process.  For example, there are theoretical physicists and experimental physicists.  (pure Math is, I think, not really science but something unto itself).  After the testing but without a new question and test, you have technique or methodology or something similar.  The development of a particular fighting style may have been based on observation, idea development and then the formal (experimental) or informal (experience based) testing of those ideas into a technique.  But the use of those techniques is not necessarily a science (but wait...)

A biological analogy would be the use of PCR, a methodology for amplifying DNA.  Doing a PCR reaction to amplify some piece of DNA is a scientific technique but isn't in an of itself science, even if the person doing it is scientifically trained.  I use SCUBA as a technique in much of the research that I do.  That doesn't make SCUBA a science, although the equipment was developed through basic scientific principals and testing (to some exent).

A way in which fencing would be a science, by my definition, would be in the process of probing your opponents weaknesses.  In this case, you would be using the methodology of your fencing school to answer the current problem of how to defeat your current opponent... and than apply other techniques to do so.  I'd be happy to call fencing a science under these conditions.  However, a situation of "I stab with my bayonete this way because that's how I was taught to do it" is, by my definition technique...not science.  If there is no thinking there is no science.

An important note regarding this particular discussion is that I am not making a value judgement regarding technique vs. science.


But the problem is the blurring of science and technique. Science is the foundation of the technique in the art and science of fence. The majority of students I learn with, granted, do not understand the science behind the movements we use, but it is there. The understanding and cognizance is not employed during the true or pure application of the form, as they have been learned on an "instinctive" level, but to teach your body these things with the greatest effect, a true fencer will always ask why this or that works. This leads to the ability to "improvise" when there is a need to. The finest fencers were in fact artists, mathemeticians and other well learned people. An example, Albrecht Durer, an artist and mathemetician and three of his fellow students were able to hold off 50 town guardsmen in one sitting during a brawl in Altdorf in 1524 or somewhere thereabouts.


Title: Looks over shoulder...
Post by: Salamander on January 20, 2004, 12:19:26 PM
for the giant thread lock in the sky... :D


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: toli on January 20, 2004, 12:52:19 PM
I think at some level we are arguing some of the same things.  

I agree entirely that the development of fencing techniques probably (I only say probably because I don't know enough about it) followed and follows a scientific approach.  That was my point RE the the informal experiment = experience = testing of an idea.  

My other point is that the application of those techniques is not necessarily a science even if the principles are based on scientically derived ideas.  Responding to a threat in a particular way because you have been drilled to do so is not science.  The reasoning for choosing that drill might be.  Likewise, the gas engine in my car was developed using science or at least a scientific approach, but driving it doesn't make me a petrochemical researcher.

It may be nit-picking but I do think there is a difference between science and technique.  I could train a monkey (or undergraduate, but that might be harder) to do underwater visual transects to count reef fish...doesn't make him a scientist...    :)

Re the plane thing, the wright brothers were testsing ideas in the field.  A modern engineer using aerodynamic theory and software to test plane designs on a computer are similar.  There is a different state of knowledge but the approach of applying previous observations and information to a test is the same approachy with different technical levels of methodology.  Rationalizing that the heavens circle the earth because man is important is not science.  

Within the realm of science, there are many peoply who would agrue that without a falsifyable hypothesis you are not doing science...


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Jake Norwood on January 20, 2004, 12:58:16 PM
Hey all.

I am not, NOT going to lock this thread. Why? Something about the chaos here is cathartic. I don't want every thread to end up this way, but I think that a lot of venting has come out here, and some good points. Is it TROS related anymore? Not really, but what the hell.

So, if you think I should lock the thread, just stop reading it. Vote with your feet, so to speak.

If you are getting something out of this chaotic mess, then keep on attending and commenting.

I have a lot of opinions on a lot of the topics here, but I'm going to refrain from now. Partially because I want to avoid ego in a discussion that's had plenty (some from me), and partially because I haven't seen solid refutement for my points--meaning that they're either rock-solid and undefeatable (ha-hah!), or that they didn't spark the imaginations of other posters (awwww...).

So the discussion can continue in violence, offence, and force, or it can die.

But I aint gonna kill it. Instead, I'm conducting a scientific experiement!

Jake


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: toli on January 20, 2004, 01:01:35 PM
But no one's really said who would win...the knight or the samurai.   I was just watching "The Hidden Fortress".  I say if the samurai were Toshiro Mifume, the knight wouldn't have a chance....


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Bastoche on January 20, 2004, 01:18:28 PM
Bah, I think this thread is still on it's rails since we are more or less debating on the feasability of answering the question mentionned on the first page. Besides, evryone has good points to make I think and the thread is greatly enlightening I think.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Jake Norwood on January 20, 2004, 01:19:09 PM
Awww crap.

Now I'm involved.

I love Toshiro Mifune. LOVE.

My money, honestly, is on the Knight, assuming well trained members of each class, circa 1450.

Assumptions:
The knight is German or some other northern race, wearing full-plate of the time, and armed with a bastard sword or similar instrument of about 4' in length.
The Samurai is armed with a tachi (battlefield katana) and armor from the warring states period.
Both are on foot, neither has a missle weapon at their disposal.

Why?
The knight has reach advantages both in build and in weapon (his arm is longer, as is his sword). This is huge advantage in a fight, as boxers, wrestlers, etc. can attest. Smaller was once believed better for Judo, but when the Russian sambo wrestlers entered the mix the Japanese readily accepted the idea of wieght classes.

The knight is accustomed to fighting many different kinds of sword and facing many different kinds of armor, which armor was generally superior in build, materials, and protection. This is supported by the adoption of western armor making materials when the Portugese set up shop at Nagasaki.

Assuming that texts describing national characters are accurate, the samuari is "ready to die," but the knight has no intention of doing so. This could spark a lot of controversy, but the knight is not going to take the same risks, and is going to work harder to preserve his life. The winner of the fight is the guy who goes home at the end of it.

I believe, and this is me, that geometry and western science wins out over "ki."

We all know that God will not allow a righteous man to fail in combat, and that the Japanese were all heathens. (Okay, hah hah, that's a joke for you judicial combat lovers).

The Japanese tachi, while an excellent weapon, was built for fighting different armors than the Knight's steel harness. The knight's weapon, on the other hand, is perfect for both unarmored targets and for working into the weaknesses of superior forms of armor.

The Knight belongs to a genetic line that consumes more meat and protein than the samurai, who--if a proper buddhist--avoids meat. Even if he's not a proper buddhist, meat is not as plentiful on the islands. The edge that such a diet and genetic history give are evident in modern sports.

Lastly, history points to the fact that western modes of warfare, which include the knight, were adopted by easterners who saw that they were more effective. The west has adopted very little from the east where warfare is concerned.

I believe that the knight has more advantages in his favor, given the above assumptions are true. I welcome counters to my arguments and arguments similarly presented in favor of the opposition.

Jake


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Bastoche on January 20, 2004, 01:23:14 PM
(I would bet on your take Jake ;) )


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: toli on January 20, 2004, 01:29:01 PM
Jake,

I actually agree with your overall agruement.  I still say Toshiro Mifune would win though...heh...I'm gonna have to re-watch all the Kurosawa movies...damn..

As a side thought, what about in a battle field context?  I think the tactical situation be imprortant and would follow Saracean-Frank model.  The Knights would win if they could correctly time and deliver the decisive charge, but the Samurai would have an advantage in missiles and possible better mobility...who knows...


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Vanguard on January 20, 2004, 01:38:16 PM
My personal take on the outcome would be with Jake.

But now shove the pair in a desert, swamp, mountain, grassy plain.... Who wins now?

Could climate sway the fight?

Just trying to piss ya'll off now ;)

But to respong to Montag -

Maybe should have added 'study'.

The study of martial arts does not a science make simply because it involves sciences (i.e: physics and/or psychology) and I stand by that.

Additonaly. Aye, I would say that many of the disciplines you mentioned are strictly sciences as defined by empirical terms. Which is what I think is being argued here. Behavioural, cognitive, developmental phsychology all revolve around testing a hypotheses against variables we ourselves have set. And then drawing a conclusion depending on which way those results go.
A baby reacts 3 secs quicker to a human face at 3 months than at one. Thus, it can now recognise human features. An assumption. There is no ultimate method of measuring such changes. Who knows what the fuck is really going on?

Drugs is a scarily accurate of determining phsychological factors. How 100 mg of something will affect, say, reflexes, in comparison to 500 mg.



Take care

(And apologies for calling an end to this thread - it has become a beautiful thing)


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Jake Norwood on January 20, 2004, 01:39:09 PM
If Japanese miltary stuff looked anything like the film "Heavan and Earth," then my money is on a western force of equal size, based on a very similar engagement in France in 732 (Poitiers, to be exact). Several simmilar engagements in the various crusades also point me in that direction. If you're talking about 1450, as I am above, then even more money goes on the west, who will have firearms, pikes, and crossbows.

Jake


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Valamir on January 20, 2004, 01:44:58 PM
How powerful were the Japenese bows?  Given that they generally didn't face heavy metal armor were they designed/able to penetrate such?  

During the crusades Islamic archers were far more deadly to the horses then the knights and inflicted great injury on the knights only when heat caused the Europeans to abandoned the heaviest of their armors.  Japan being a more temperate climate wouldn't have that advantage, and by 1450 horse barding was much more wide spread.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Half-Baked on January 20, 2004, 02:41:09 PM
Quote
Lastly, history points to the fact that western modes of warfare, which include the knight, were adopted by easterners who saw that they were more effective. The west has adopted very little from the east where warfare is concerned.


Jake, I agree with your assessment of Knight v. Samuri, but not the statement I have quoted. The western knightly style of shock cavalry was derived from the Persian Sassanid cataphracts of the 4th - 6th Centuries. It proved effective against the steppe invaders who raided the Iranian plateau. There is also gunpowder and various naval techniques that came from China across the steppe. These technologies allowed the west to project its power across globe from the 15th Century onwards.

Have a read of:

McNeill, William H., The Rise of the West: A History of Human Community, 1963

Very interesting book if you are interested in the movement of ideas between cultures.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Salamander on January 20, 2004, 02:57:40 PM
Quote from: Jake Norwood
Hey all.

I am not, NOT going to lock this thread.

Jake


Good. I was worried there for awhile.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Salamander on January 20, 2004, 03:13:49 PM
Sadly Jake, I happen to agree with you, so I won't be the voice of dissent on this one.

In regards to a bow, regardless of whose it was, it has been proved that an arrow fired from anything that can be charged by man (loading and pulling back without external mechanical or chemical means) will most likely not breach a suit of harness. In fact I have just seen a picture of a suit of harness that has the dint from a musket ball on its breastplate.

Apparently a seige arbelest (1400lbs pull) or a windlass charged arbelest (1000 lbs pull) could breach a suit of harness, but they were hell on wheels to aim at a moving target.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: toli on January 20, 2004, 03:21:46 PM
Quote from: Jake Norwood
then my money is on a western force of equal size, based on a very similar engagement in France in 732 (Poitiers, to be exact). Several simmilar engagements in the various crusades also point me in that direction.
Jake


Hattin 1187?...although I suppose Saladin probably had some heavy cavalry. ..

You could find numerous examples on either side of light horse vs heavy horse.  They each have certain tactical advantages.  I think in most cases when they lose the heavy cavalry defeat themselves through tactical misjudgements.  A great book on knightly warfare is Crusading Warfare.  I think the author is John Smail.  It gives a much more diciplined picture of Frankish knights than many other examinations.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Salamander on January 20, 2004, 03:24:36 PM
Quote from: toli
I think at some level we are arguing some of the same things.


Yes, yes we are, when are you going to admit I'm right!?! :D
 
Quote

I agree entirely that the development of fencing techniques probably (I only say probably because I don't know enough about it) followed and follows a scientific approach.  That was my point RE the the informal experiment = experience = testing of an idea.  


Okay, see, I told you I was right! ;)

Quote

My other point is that the application of those techniques is not necessarily a science even if the principles are based on scientically derived ideas.  Responding to a threat in a particular way because you have been drilled to do so is not science.  The reasoning for choosing that drill might be.  Likewise, the gas engine in my car was developed using science or at least a scientific approach, but driving it doesn't make me a petrochemical researcher.


True, exactly. But driving that car well is an art and science!

Quote

It may be nit-picking but I do think there is a difference between science and technique.  I could train a monkey (or undergraduate, but that might be harder) to do underwater visual transects to count reef fish...doesn't make him a scientist...    :)


Yeah, well, we probably wouldn't give either of them a sword, so...

Quote

Re the plane thing, the wright brothers were testsing ideas in the field.  A modern engineer using aerodynamic theory and software to test plane designs on a computer are similar.  There is a different state of knowledge but the approach of applying previous observations and information to a test is the same approachy with different technical levels of methodology.  Rationalizing that the heavens circle the earth because man is important is not science.  


This was my point entirely! Just because the cognizance of the parties changes does not determine one is science and one is not.

Quote

Within the realm of science, there are many peoply who would agrue that without a falsifyable hypothesis you are not doing science...


No comment.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: toli on January 20, 2004, 03:51:35 PM
Quote from: Salamander
Quote from: toli
I think at some level we are arguing some of the same things.


Yes, yes we are, when are you going to admit I'm right!?! :D
 


So what you are saying is that I was right all along....


Title: Re: Okay.
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 20, 2004, 04:52:37 PM
Quote from: toli
Quote from: Salamander

Have you ever picked up a real sword?

Ever swung one with intent?



I think the people who could best answer these types of questions are people with combat experience.  Unless you're actually in a fight where real injury or death is possible and your intent is to injure or kill your opponent, all the philosophy is just philosophy.  

That doesn't mean, of course, that the methodology taught in the training wasn't developed 'scientifically' through the testing of ideas...NT



Living most of my yound adulthood in some of the worst (9th Ward & 3rd Ward, and Irish Channel) and / or rowdiest (French Quarter) neighborhoods of New Orleans, I have had several experiences which, while not falling into the category of actual combat, since it's debatable whether either side intended to kill the other (I at least, did not), definately qualify as situations where "real injury or death" was possible.

One of these cases is due to the overzealous police a matter of public record, which you could probably find on the internet for about $10, given my name (Jeanry Chandler) the location (New Orleans, 3100 block of Magazine St) and the time (1992)

In the spring of 1992 I was attacked by three men, one of whom had a four foot stel pipe.  I defended myself with a wooden stake I found stuck in someones lawn that was part of an election sign.  I defended myself using techniques I had learned from doing WMA sparring for many years.  I defended myself well enough in fact that when the NOPD finally got there, I was arrested and charged with three counts of battery and one count of aggravated assault, all of which were later dropped by the DA after I had to spend two days in OPP, who determined that I was the victim of an "attempted mugging".  Actually, I don't think they planned to mug me, just beat me up real bad.

During this and a few other similar incidents, I can honestly say that WMA techniques had enabled me to emerge unscathed from very dangerous violent encounters with weapons.  Against a neophyte who has never fought with weapons, you can be fairly confident of being able to protect yourself with something approaching a weapon, even a very clumsy election sign.  

The odds change radically though when somene has even a little training.

JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Vanguard on January 20, 2004, 04:57:08 PM
Quote from: Vanguard
My personal take on the outcome would be with Jake.

But now shove the pair in a desert, swamp, mountain, grassy plain.... Who wins now?

Could climate sway the fight?

Just trying to piss ya'll off now ;)

But to respong to Montag -

Maybe should have added 'study'.

The study of martial arts does not a science make simply because it involves sciences (i.e: physics and/or psychology) and I stand by that.

Additonaly. Aye, I would say that many of the disciplines you mentioned are not strictly sciences as defined by empirical terms. Which is what I think is being argued here. Behavioural, cognitive, developmental phsychology all revolve around testing a hypotheses against variables we ourselves have set. And then drawing a conclusion depending on which way those results go.
A baby reacts 3 secs quicker to a human face at 3 months than at one. Thus, it can now recognise human features. An assumption. There is no ultimate method of measuring such changes. Who knows what the fuck is really going on?

Drugs is a scarily accurate of determining phsychological factors. How 100 mg of something will affect, say, reflexes, in comparison to 500 mg.



Take care

(And apologies for calling an end to this thread - it has become a beautiful thing)


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Vanguard on January 20, 2004, 04:58:20 PM
woops...

Was trying to edit. Trying to add a 'not'. Sorry.

I'll be quiet now.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 20, 2004, 05:04:51 PM
Quote from: Jake Norwood
If Japanese miltary stuff looked anything like the film "Heavan and Earth," then my money is on a western force of equal size, based on a very similar engagement in France in 732 (Poitiers, to be exact). Several simmilar engagements in the various crusades also point me in that direction. If you're talking about 1450, as I am above, then even more money goes on the west, who will have firearms, pikes, and crossbows.

Jake
'


I too, love Toshiro Mfune.  He is the Japanese Clint Eastwood TIMES Charles Bronson to the power of Robert Mitchum.

I agree with Jake that the Knight would win over a Samurai in a one on one contest, though I'm not so sure about the guys physical size or his diet making any difference.   I think the key factors would be armor, reach, and the fact which Jake also mentions that the Knight would be more used to fighting opponents with a wide variety of different kit.

On the other hand, in a field army encounter, depending on the era I would go with the Japanese.  The Western forces would have the advantage of heavy cavalry, but based on what I have read of a typical Knightly army of the Medeival period, the Japanese would probably have vastly superior discipline, much better infantry, and much more effective archers / marksmen (even though the European Heavy Crossbow and Longbow are probably superior weapons on an individual basis, and they may have also had better armor piercing arrowheads).  

I think in general the knigthly armies of the European Medieval period displayed terrible tactical judgement more often than they did decent or even good judgement, which often more than made up for their truely awesome superiority in heavy cavalry over anyone else they faced.

If you put something better balanced together like say a well lead Swiss Infantry army with Halberds and well organized and suppported by at least some knights, then you may have a different story.  The military orders, Teutonic Knights, Hospitalers or Templars might also be better disciplined.

Overall it would also depend a lot on the terrain, much as battles against the mongols, the turks, the saracens and the moors did.  In a more open terrain, I bet the Japanese would win.  If there was more rough ground where the Knights had an opportunity to pin them somewhere, they might have a better chance.  The lack of discipline and in some cases, seemingly sanity, of the Knights, the lack of light cavalry or cavlary archers, the poor quality of the typical infantry and the frequent poor placement and organization of archers (with the exception of the English) would all be big disadvantages for the Western forces.

IMHO

JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 20, 2004, 05:09:03 PM
Quote from: Jake Norwood
Hey all.

I am not, NOT going to lock this thread. Why? Something about the chaos here is cathartic. I don't want every thread to end up this way, but I think that a lot of venting has come out here, and some good points. Is it TROS related anymore? Not really, but what the hell.

So, if you think I should lock the thread, just stop reading it. Vote with your feet, so to speak.
Jake


I'm glad youre not closing it too, but maybe we could split it up into the three or four different arguments which seem to be taking place here:

1)The role of courage and fear in combat, and could knights conquer it

2)Were the Fecthtbuchs 'Scientific'

3)Is there a genuine Western Martial Arts tradition?

4) Could a knight beat a Samurai

5) Assuming WMA exists, is ARMA a valid organization for teaching it?



Plus an argument about the definition of science and the validity of psychology as a science, which might be off topic after all..

But I'm all for the chaos of this thread, I find it very interesting and informative too...

JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 20, 2004, 07:53:19 PM
Quote from: Jake Norwood


The Samurai is armed with a tachi (battlefield katana) and armor from the warring states period.



I noticed that in The Seven Samurai, Toshiro Mifune seemed to be armed with a No-Daci, a much longer type of sword.

Quote

 This is huge advantage in a fight, as boxers, wrestlers, etc. can attest. Smaller was once believed better for Judo, but when the Russian sambo wrestlers entered the mix the Japanese readily accepted the idea of wieght classes.


In wrestling, I agree size is a huge advantage.  (One of the very, very few nice things about being as heavy as I am) But in fencing, I think a little guy can easily make up for the couple of inches of reach disadvantage of his size.  Here in New Orleans in fact, our most notorious fencers back in the early 19th century were creoles of Spanish and French descent, who were often very short, some of the very best not even five feet tall.

You can read a bit about that here:

http://www.duellingoaks.com/oaks.html

I know that Americans ("kaintuks" by local perjorative slang) who were often huge men freuqently six feet tall or more, always refused to fence when challenged to a duel and preferred to take their chances with pistols or even squirrel rifles than face a diminuative creole with saber or colichemarde...

JR

JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: timfire on January 20, 2004, 10:45:33 PM
Quote from: Jake Norwood
[1]My money, honestly, is on the Knight, assuming well trained members of each class, circa 1450.

[2]The knight has reach advantages both in build and in weapon (his arm is longer, as is his sword).

[3]Assuming that texts describing national characters are accurate, the samuari is "ready to die," but the knight has no intention of doing so.

[4]I believe, and this is me, that geometry and western science wins out over "ki."

[5]Lastly, history points to the fact that western modes of warfare, which include the knight, were adopted by easterners who saw that they were more effective.


While I generally agree with you, Jake, I have a few quibbles.

[1] First, as much as I love the samurai (I, myself, study both Iaido and Aikido) I would have to agree that the knight would probably "win," though I think the reason would mostly be because of superior armor.

[2] While the taller European would definately have a longer arm, if we're talking 1450's the samurai's weapon would be just as long. In the 1600's the length of swords was regulated to about 27in + the handle. Before that time a standard tachi/katana would easily be up to 36in + handle (another 12-18in), for a total length of 4 - 4.5 ft.

[3] The notion that a samurai was "ready to die" is a misconception, a misconception that illistrates the different mindsets of the west and Japan. It is better to describe the samurai mindset as "victory at any cost." The samurai was more concerned with offense than defense. A samurai would not throw his life away, but if it took his death to destroy his enemy, he would (probably) do it. Personal survival was not neccessarily a requirement for victory, though he would prefer to live.

[4] The notion of ki being an integral component of fighting is a newer concept that was infused into martial arts over the last couple centuries, long after the warring periods of 1450.

[5] I know that guns and solid metal breastplates are examples of this, but other than those I can't really think of many examples of Japan adopting Western tactics until the 1800's. I also think that the situation then was diffferent; Japan had just reopened their borders to a world that had radically advanced technologically, and Japan wanted/needed to catch up. So rather than wait and possibly fall further behind, they hired European military advisers to update their armies.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Ben Lehman on January 21, 2004, 01:44:31 AM
For what it's worth, my money is on the Vietnamese Nationalist  (who, in 1450, were busy slaughtering the Chinese by the battalion) and, after that, the Mongol Horseman.  From there, the knight, the samurai, the Chinese Duelist, the Italian Duelist, the Aztec Eagle Knight, and so on in roughly that order.  (Those Aztecs only had obsidian swords, but they trained themselves to stay conscious during severe bloodloss.  How cool is that?)

On a slightly less flip note--

Two notes: one on the Samurai as they are percieved, one on the situation itself.

I think it is perhaps uninformed to say that the Samurai did not, at the proper time and in the proper place, employ techniques that were as scientifically* derived as any western counterparts.  But they did not leave texts, and the historical record is not well kept on exact techniques.  By the time that Samurai texts are written and the Bushido code is developed, the Samurai have existed for centuries as an oligarchical class of landholders and studying their techniques from those books is rather like, well, studying knighthood from Victorian Foil Fencing manuals...

Whatever method the Samurai were originally trained with is lost.  It remains in bits and pieces -- Jujitsu, Iajitsu and Kenjitsu -- but the essence was lost in the four century peace of the Tokugawa period, and what remains has been refined into "arts" akin to modern fencing -- useful for combat, but ultimately not the thing itself.

There are elements of the Japanese martial tradition that have survived -- mostly among the rebellious peasant class -- but the sword arts are not among them.

Assuming, then, that the knight and the samurai are meeting on a battlefield somewhere in the Afghani desert (roughly in the middle of Eurasia), the winner will undoubtably be the one who adapts to the strange situation, terrain, and fighting style fastest.  These are, effectively, two aliens meeting each other for the first time.  They have never seen each other's fighting style.  The samurai is not trained against hard metal targets and lance charges, and the knight is not trained against elite swordsmen or mounted archers (I understand that most knights fought with lance and mace, from horseback.)

Given that the knight is simply wearing more metal, and has better equipment (again, more metal), he has a slight advantage.  That said, the Samurai were a highly educated caste, and trained in creative arts, which might give them the slight edge in adapting quickly.

But the real winner is the one who suggest teaming up and conquering China. ;-)

yrs--
--Ben

* By "science" I simply mean "informed process of hypothesis, trial, and error."  As a "hard scientist" I feel reasonably confident in this definition.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 21, 2004, 02:32:22 AM
it's funny how we all went from ridiculing the notion of comparing a knight to a samurai to wholeheartedly enjoying indluging in this 'sordid speculation' ;)

Sometimes it's cool just to admit it's fun to play in the mud and git dirty!

JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Muggins on January 21, 2004, 05:38:19 AM
[quote="Drifter Bob]On the other hand, in a field army encounter, depending on the era I would go with the Japanese.  The Western forces would have the advantage of heavy cavalry, but based on what I have read of a typical Knightly army of the Medeival period, the Japanese would probably have vastly superior discipline, much better infantry, and much more effective archers / marksmen (even though the European Heavy Crossbow and Longbow are probably superior weapons on an individual basis, and they may have also had better armor piercing arrowheads).  

I think in general the knigthly armies of the European Medieval period displayed terrible tactical judgement more often than they did decent or even good judgement, which often more than made up for their truely awesome superiority in heavy cavalry over anyone else they faced.

If you put something better balanced together like say a well lead Swiss Infantry army with Halberds and well organized and suppported by at least some knights, then you may have a different story.  The military orders, Teutonic Knights, Hospitalers or Templars might also be better disciplined.

Overall it would also depend a lot on the terrain, much as battles against the mongols, the turks, the saracens and the moors did.  In a more open terrain, I bet the Japanese would win.  If there was more rough ground where the Knights had an opportunity to pin them somewhere, they might have a better chance.  The lack of discipline and in some cases, seemingly sanity, of the Knights, the lack of light cavalry or cavlary archers, the poor quality of the typical infantry and the frequent poor placement and organization of archers (with the exception of the English) would all be big disadvantages for the Western forces.

IMHO

JR[/quote]

I think many of the more recent military historians (Verbrugge comes to mind) have a much higher opinion of Frankish (Western) discipline and organisation than you think. The Crusaders were not a good example of the warfare of the time, being poorly lead and equipped (here you, hold this). Othe battles show a much higher degree of discipline. Similarly, the French knights during the 100 years' war were abnormally badly lead and trained.

But the lack of light cavalry has always been a Western problem, as the lack of horse archers. But if the opposing armour stands ready to fight, instead of skirmishing, there is very little on earth that could have withstood a full Frankish charge on open ground.

James


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Bastoche on January 21, 2004, 06:52:32 AM
Quote from: Drifter Bob

I'm glad youre not closing it too, but maybe we could split it up into the three or four different arguments which seem to be taking place here:

1)The role of courage and fear in combat, and could knights conquer it


There are some studies on the effect of fear and panic and/or panicing situation on people (TV report on discovery or something along those lines). Their conclusion is that no matter the situation (they looked at war, earthquake, plane crash, etc) each individual has an instrinsic behavior: 1/3 keep control of their senses and can take quick and good decision on the best course to take to survive. 1/3 just sits there unable to take a decision. The other third randomly does anything as unsensial it can be.

So the first 1/3 is highly likely to survive, the last one may be lucky and second more often than not die on place.

However, the study showed that with the proper training, fear was not a factor anymore. Soldiers, firefighters and policeman for instance are trained to react in certain ways in certain risky situation. With proper training, the chances of survival appeared uncorelated to the ability to manage stress. It was more or less correlated to the ability to understand the teachings about the situation. Of course the "basic" reaction one could call instinct has an influence on the reaction but not as much as learning. At least that's what the study showed.

So in a fight, you have two basic types of people. Untrained and trained people. The first third of the untrained people could stand a chance in a fight against a poorly trained person belonging in any category. But all trained people has a better chance to survive a stressful situation. The more you are trained, the less stress (fear) is a factor.

Quote

2)Were the Fecthtbuchs 'Scientific'


The question is about what is "scientific". The fetchbuchs are scientific in the sense that what it says comes from 1) a systematic/well-thought of/logical approach to combat and 2) from conclusion based on experience on the field. It's not as systematic or well controled as a physics experiment, but the results were not random.

Quote

3)Is there a genuine Western Martial Arts tradition?


Sure, look at occident's armies. Not, it's not melee fighting anymore. But soldiers trains in shooting, flying planes, riding warboats, shooting missiles, etc. It's all martial arts. Not as cool as jujutsu, but a martial arts nonetheless. And slipping off topic. Unfortunatly, we've deleted previous martial arts from our teachings. So I guess the answer would be "yes and no".

Quote

4) Could a knight beat a Samurai


With a "could" anything "could" happen ;) One might beat the other if some factor or another favors him ;)

Quote

5) Assuming WMA exists, is ARMA a valid organization for teaching it?


I guess it's only a matter of opinion. Mine is "yes as long as you don't take it all as The Truth".

Quote

But I'm all for the chaos of this thread, I find it very interesting and informative too...


Me too :D


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: tauman on January 21, 2004, 07:10:47 AM
Quote from: Drifter Bob

1)The role of courage and fear in combat, and could knights conquer it

I think it's really not so much 'courage' as controlling one's fear. Knights and samurai were being homo-sapiens who trained for war--I think that on average one would have as much chance as the other.

Quote from: Drifter Bob

2)Were the Fecthtbuchs 'Scientific'

I can't speak for all of them (as I haven't read all of them), but some of the Italian Rapier manuals certainly were. While I wouldn't call them "science-books," certain sections are absolutely scientific in the treatment of the theory and its application, reading not so much a books about fencing as books about the principles and use of geomoetry and physics.

Quote from: Drifter Bob

3)Is there a genuine Western Martial Arts tradition?

Yes. Based on the various manuals--not merely their existence, but how they relate to one another--and also based upon other non-martial historical texts, I think the evidence is very strong.

Quote from: Drifter Bob

4) Could a knight beat a Samurai

Yes, and the other way around, too. The point, to me, is that the samurai didn't have some exclusive body of martial knowledge unknown to the knight. Both were warriors that were (ideally) systematically trained in the arts of fighting and war.

Quote from: Drifter Bob

5) Assuming WMA exists, is ARMA a valid organization for teaching it?

Yes--although it is better for some weapons or schools than it is for others.

Steve Reich


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: toli on January 21, 2004, 09:08:55 AM
Quote from: Muggins

I think many of the more recent military historians (Verbrugge comes to mind) have a much higher opinion of Frankish (Western) discipline and organisation than you think. The Crusaders were not a good example of the warfare of the time, being poorly lead and equipped (here you, hold this). James


RE Frankish reclessness on the crusades.  I've been reading the autobiography of a Arab-Syrinian 'gentleman' named Usamah al-Mu..something or other.  He calls the Frankish knights the most cautious of all people and give several examples of what he means.  More recent treatemnts also have a higher opinion of crusader discipline than past ones.  THere were obvious tactical blunders, but in other cases they were highly disciplined when given the competent leadership (Richard I)....NT


Title: Heehee
Post by: Salamander on January 21, 2004, 02:50:34 PM
Quote from: toli

So what you are saying is that I was right all along....


*sigh* I guess we'll have to disagree to agree... :)


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Salamander on January 21, 2004, 03:27:18 PM
Quote from: Drifter Bob

I'm glad youre not closing it too, but maybe we could split it up into the three or four different arguments which seem to be taking place here:


Quote

1)The role of courage and fear in combat, and could knights conquer it


I believe that the knight, samurai or anybody else trained to operate in battlefield conditions could learn to conquer it. When I joined the Army, I was a milk fed farmboy. I would avoid conflict at school becaue it was the Christian thing to do. After I was finished Infantry School I could stare down the ugliest and go toe to toe with the nastiest. I didn't always win, but I always got better. When I finished Selections I never had to put hands on another person needlessly again. The individuals in question just knew there was something fouler than orcs in the deep places of the earth. The last job I did in The Queen's service involved prodigious amounts of gunplay and explosive ordinance. Not one of my men nor I would hide or take cover unless it was an operational neccessity.

Quote

2)Were the Fecthtbuchs 'Scientific'


Here I seem to part ways with many people... I beleive the Fechtbuchs were textbooks for the science of fence. The teachers provide the students with the art.

Quote

3)Is there a genuine Western Martial Arts tradition?


If we define a martial art as a systematic application of method and technique to cause harm to your foe, then yes... in giant playing card spades. The stuff I have learned in a year on how to use a sword is quite frighteneing. Also, all of the hand to hand and grappling/throws are eerily similar to what I learned in Advanced Hand to Hand.

Quote

4) Could a knight beat a Samurai


It really depends upon the people involved. The training tells, but the will wins.

Quote

5) Assuming WMA exists, is ARMA a valid organization for teaching it?


First of all... ARMA does not teach WMA or "Kunst dei Fechten" as I have heard the phrase turned. They teach people how to research it and learn it. Then they all get together and compare notes and argue about the signifigance of x or y and work out the best available solution. Association for Renaissance Martial Arts does a school mean.

As for Western Martial Arts existing, I firmly believe they do. You have no idea the number of things I was taught to do with a knife or my hands only to see them mirored in Ringeck's or Talhoffer's or Ott the Jew's work... When I asked the Hand to Hand instructors where they got this stuff from they would just say "That's how my instructors taught me".

[edited because I can't seem to spell "solution"]


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 21, 2004, 04:59:43 PM
Quote from: toli

RE Frankish reclessness on the crusades.  I've been reading the autobiography of a Arab-Syrinian 'gentleman' named Usamah al-Mu..something or other.  He calls the Frankish knights the most cautious of all people and give several examples of what he means.  More recent treatemnts also have a higher opinion of crusader discipline than past ones.  THere were obvious tactical blunders, but in other cases they were highly disciplined when given the competent leadership (Richard I)....NT


Oh boy, this is going to open a another whole new can of worms, but...

OK, not only were knightly armies secretly much better than we thought, they even did well in the crusades?  I have run across this kind of thing in a lot of forums for re-encators and WMA people, and I find it extremely disturbing.  A lot of the Roman re-enactors have gotten to the point now that they will tell you that Roman Legionaires were chivalrous fighters for justice, spreading peace and civilization across the land...

This is a very dangerous idea.  If we are going to learn anything from history we have to anylize it soberly, and not try to figure out which side we identify with and try to make them seem like the good guys or that they were less screwed up than they really were.

Look, you can interpret it or spin it any way you want.  I have read dozens of books on the battles in the middle ages, including some of the most detailed technical analysis available, and nowhere have I read about this overlookedtactical genius.  To the contrary.

Yes there were some victories, yes there were a few amazingly effective leaders.  But the majority of the time, the story was the same.  Lunacy, recklessness, poor planning, poor preparation.

You talk about the Crusades?  How many times did Crusader armies fall for feigned retreats, to their doom, again and again and again?  How many times did Crusader armies, including under Richard, march out into the Nile river delta at the worst possible time of the year?  How many times did they go into battle with inadequate supplies, without even considering the need for water?  How many times were they defeated by poor battlield intelligence (or even more often, by ignoring or failing to heed intelligence they did get?)

And lets not forget the propensity for the mighty knight to flee from the battlefield, attack out of turn, or do just about anything else they could think of irregardless of the effect it would have on the overall battle.

They did of course get much more organised as the middle ages gave way to the Renaissance, and eventually European armies became truly formidable, but in the medieval period, it was their iron mail armor, their weapons like the heavy lance, sword, and heavy crossbow, and their heavy warhorses that saved their asses in spite of incredibly tactical and strategic blunders.  You could even argue that those advantages made it harder for them to learn the tactical lessons.

lets try to 'keep it real' though folks, we aren't on one side or another.  I doubt too many people here are actually descended from knights anyway even if you do have European ancestry.  More likely to be the distant relative of some highly oppressed peasants!

JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Salamander on January 21, 2004, 07:15:31 PM
Quote from: Drifter Bob


lets try to 'keep it real' though folks, we aren't on one side or another.  I doubt too many people here are actually descended from knights anyway even if you do have European ancestry.  More likely to be the distant relative of some highly oppressed peasants!

JR


*Waving hand*
Oooh! Ooh!
Descended from Duchy of Leeds and by Marriage around 1520-something a good bit of Freiburg.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 21, 2004, 07:48:09 PM
Quote from: Salamander
Quote from: Drifter Bob


lets try to 'keep it real' though folks, we aren't on one side or another.  I doubt too many people here are actually descended from knights anyway even if you do have European ancestry.  More likely to be the distant relative of some highly oppressed peasants!

JR


*Waving hand*
Oooh! Ooh!
Descended from Duchy of Leeds and by Marriage around 1520-something a good bit of Freiburg.


Ok youre excused then.  Take off your shackles and step up to the sweetmeats tray.  Now the rest of you!  Back to your plows!

JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Muggins on January 22, 2004, 04:43:05 AM
I agree with Drifter Bob that it is mildly difficult to put too heavy a good spin on the Crusading armies. The armies were too cosmopolitan, with little central organisation, and each commander in the battle thought he knew best. Coupled with an unreliable supply train and a fanaticism of note, this meant that very little by way of good soldiering on a large scale occurred. A lot of the hesitation seen from the Crusader leaders can hinge upon the lack of control they felt they had over their forces.

However, there is a large body of evidence that says well organised, well led armies of the period were tactically and strategically sound. This can be seen in the actions of small, homogenous armies in the Crusades. Provided the leader was accepted as the leader by all, constant warplay and a innovative bent made Frankish armies formidable. It is only later, under the idiocy of chivalry and the absolute disregard for infantry, that we see major tactial mistakes made.

James


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Valamir on January 22, 2004, 05:14:10 AM
This discussion of "the crusades" is so vague as to be pretty useless.  There is a BIG difference between the organization and discipline of a crusading soldier on campaign, and the strategic organization and internal politicking of competeing Crusader lords.

One has to understand that the Crusading army was not a homogenous force united to defeat heathens.  It was a mish mash of small groups who were most often seperated from their traditional vows of loyalty (their liege being home or being in some other remote part of the region) and who thus found themselves in the service of others greater than themselves.  In many ways the structure of the Crusading army was a throw back to an earlier period where warrior would gather in the hall of whatever lord was strong enough to command them and generous enough to reward them for their service.  The primary goal of these men was wealth, plunder, and ideally setting up independent states for themselves.

Most of the crusades took place during a period where the line between the greater nobility (lords) and the lesser nobility (knights) were increasing.  The rules for inheritence and grants from the kings were becoming more regimented and the potential for upward mobility of knights to higher titles was sharply declined.  The days when a Norman adventurer could carve out a kingdom by attacking someone and claiming it were in the past and now war in Europe was a matter of kings and great nobles.  Only in Spain and Palestine could a knight or lesser lord through determination and strength of arms earn title and holdings by conquering land from the saracens.

That's what they were after land and titles.  Obtaining these was more important than defeating Moslems.  What appears to be a disorganized, incompetant mess by people who think the Crusades were about religion in fact was a carefully orchestrated (and generally brutal and messy) game between the Crusaders themselves over the real reason they were there.  Land.  

In this they were very successful.  Several of the Crusader States (and the smaller vassals to them) lasted for generations.  Claiming a title and passing it to ones heirs was the purpose and that purpose was served.  In fact, the reason the Crusaders fell on Byzantium was just more of the same.  Lots of profitable land to claim from a weak opponent who wasn't Catholic without needing to trek through the desert.

Most people don't realize that the City of Athens was conquered as part of the Crusades and was held by western lords for 250 years until taken by the Ottomans in the middle of the 15th century.

This is not revisionist history at all Bob.  But the assumption that these men were reckless or stupid or didn't know their own profession is patently absurd.  Their methods may look chaotic, but make much more sense taken in the context of what their true goals were.  And in the pursuit of those goals the Crusades were VERY VERY successful.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 22, 2004, 07:30:16 AM
Quote from: Valamir
This is not revisionist history at all Bob.  But the assumption that these men were reckless or stupid or didn't know their own profession is patently absurd.  Their methods may look chaotic, but make much more sense taken in the context of what their true goals were.  And in the pursuit of those goals the Crusades were VERY VERY successful.


I am under no illusions thast the Crusades were any kind of pious religious undertaking.

But lets try to stay in focus amigo.  Yes they were "successful" in many ways.  They were successful in building dozens of huge fortresses which were all destroyed, in putting city after city to the sword and massacring untold civilian populations, in leading hundreds of thousands of Crusaders to their often grisly doom, in radicalizing Islam and uniting the Arabs and Egyptians against the Franj, in smashing the power of Byzantium, in cynically massacring half the population of Southern France in the Albigensian Crusade, and in many other ways, but I'm not talking about whether the Crusades were "successful" in some vast historical sense.  The issue at hand was  whether the Knightly armies, during the Crusades and elsewhere, had tactical and strategicaly sound methods.  This, to remind you, was in the context of a hypothetical conflict between a Knightly versus a Samurai army.

To the latter point, I again submit: Did the Crusaders not repeatedly fall for the feigned retreat?  Did they not, time and time again march out into the desert or even more disastrously the floodplain of the Nile river, in spite of warnings, and to their utter doom?  Did they not repeatedly fail to provide adequate provisions, water, food, and supplies for their armies?  Did they not repeatedly fail to undertake adequate reconnisance, to their doom?  Did they not repeatedly ignore battlefield intelligence, to their doom?  Did they not repeatedly demonstrate a fatal lack of battlefield discipline at the crucial moment?

And for a fact, lets keep in mind after the first Crusade many crusading armies were led by the kings or dukes of their own countries of origin, and were not always the disorganized federations of independent knights you describe.

If you are honestly suggesting that there was a preponderence of battles fought in which the above listed flaws did not bring about doom for the Crusaders, then you will force me to cite specific battles and then you can explain or spin them...?

JR


Title: Well, on the plus side...
Post by: Salamander on January 22, 2004, 08:05:53 AM
It did lead to the Ottoman Turks fleecing our Pilgrims of small fortunes for the right to travel to the Holy Land. If our crusading forbears had not been so eager to carve out new kingdoms so far from home in such a brutal manner the support of the population might have been gained...

In regards to the arguement that the crusading nobles were a rag tag bunch if imbeciles and that they were sheer geniuses of the battle field... I say it is entirely possible that during all four(?) crusades we had a mixture of these elements as well as the fact that they were fighting in unfamilair territorries and moving amongst unfamiliar peoples. Also, let us NEVER forget the inevitable clash of egos bound to happen between swelled heads. I am quite sure were many with good common sense on the field, however, they were not in charge of the battle plans. Add in the ridiculous idea of the time that God would protect them and lead them to vistory as he was obviously on thier side and then the countless other factors and we see that the situation becomes quite drastically complex.

By the way, why exactly are we talking about 11-13th C. knights here when the arguement was Knight v. Samurai? The typical Samurai of our envisioning did not exist until the 15-16th C. at the earliest anyway.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: toli on January 22, 2004, 08:46:30 AM
Quote from: Drifter Bob

OK, not only were knightly armies secretly much better than we thought, they even did well in the crusades?  I have run across this kind of thing in a lot of forums for re-encators and WMA people, and I find it extremely disturbing.
JR


Smail in Crusading Warfare discusses the subject.  You can argue the subject with him.  Of course there were tactical blunders (Hattin)  but there was also substantial discipline in the face of a harrassing enemy (Arsuff).

Usamah ibn-Manqidh who was around in the 1100's calls them the most cautious of all warriors and gives numerous examples of why.

NT


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Valamir on January 22, 2004, 09:06:47 AM
John I think you missed my point ENTIRELY.  

Virtually every "tactical blunder" that you point to ties directly back in to the fact that these were not homogenous armies operating under a central authority.  They were armies by committee.

OF COURSE stupid decisions were made.  They were made for the same reason that political infighting and personal agendas lead to stupid decisions in every endeavor.

My point is that the stupid decisions ARE NOT indicitive of broad incompetance by the knightly armies, but were caused by the political turmoil of the knightly armies.

Further the political turmoil of the knightly armies were not because the knights were undisciplined rabble, but because of the situation that crusades engendered.  

Crusaders were cultureally and geographically diverse volunteers, the vast majority of whom were there for reasons completely indifferent to the Pope's desires.  The problems you site are because they were more interested in pursueing their own agendas then fighting the enemy.   One can look at the most successful campaign leaders and discover that universally the core of their army were drawn from their own personal retinue and retainers, and thus were disciplined soldiers following the orders of their leader.  Only the greater kings of Europe could muster a sizeable force relying primarily on their own men which is why the crusades generally faltered when such men were absent.  But even they could not field the entire army themselves and as soon as they had to go hat in hand to other forces in the area, the whole death spiral of compromise and loss of command and control.

As far as their fortresses being destroyed...several lasted for hundred years or more before being pushed out.  That's long enough for grandkids and great grandkids to have enjoyed the fruits of their labor.  Success.  

As for your tangental comments as to the side effects of their efforts...<shrug> in a day in age where the primary expectation of a patriarch was to provide for the future of his own family, why would they care what was done to people they didn't even have distant kinship ties to.
Its only relatively recently in human history where the importance of family blood ties has been all but erased in the West that we've expanded our empathy to encompass strangers.  For most of history, strangers lives were less valuable than livestock.  I firmly believe in judgeing the morality of people by the standards of their own time.  Not ours.

As for the relevance to the discussion on Samurai, its absolutely relevant in the interest of refuting claims that suggest that knightly armies were a bunch of undisciplined bumbling morons.  They were not.

John, your facts about the mistakes that were made are well taken.  But the conclusion you draw from them are way off base.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Crusader on January 22, 2004, 09:49:19 AM
...and medieval Islam was oh-so-organized and disciplined in comparison to medieval Europe.  I'd always heard that the main reason the Crusaders initially steamrolled the Muslims was because of the constant political infighting between Islamic rulers.  Muslim states seem to have been darn good at fragmenting into dozens of smaller, mutually antagonistic states, leaving them ripe for conquest.  Only when faced by the threat of the Frankish invasion did they put aside their differences, and even then not for long enough to drive the Franks out until two hundred years passed.

Go for it Drifter Bob:  Just how many times *did* Crusader armies fall for the feigned retreat?  Or charge at inopportune moments?  I think you should read the Memoirs of Usamah ibn Munkidh.  It's obvious that the Muslims had a very high opinion of the Frankish approach to war indeed, and saw them as a serious threat.

As someone else poited out, this thread had initally focused on the 15th and 16th centuries, not on the era of the crusades.  I think Europe and her armies had made massive strides forward in matters military since the fall of Acre.  Forget not that the 15th century witnessed the fall of Muslim Spain and two triumphs of the Knights of Rhodes over vastly numerically superior Turkish beseiging armies.  In the latter half of the century, a Burgundian author even drew up a plan for conquering the Turks and their horse-archers, one that might very well have worked, too.  In the wake of the re-emergence of the infantryman as a winner of battles and the chastening of the knights as they were made to fight on foot, and perform other functions not originally characteristic of the chivalry, Europe had largely overcome her problems of discipline and organization that had plagued her earlier armies.  I propose that Charles the Bold's Compagnies D'Ordonnance, circa 1473, after the re-organization of the Ordinance of St. Maximin de Treves, would have absolutely stomped any other force that any other culture in the world could have thrown at it, including the vaunted yet backward Japanese.  Surely no other culture anywhere else in the world (except maybe the Swiss...) understood combined arms to such a degree at that point in history.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: toli on January 22, 2004, 10:05:19 AM
[quote="Crusader I propose that Charles the Bold's Compagnies D'Ordonnance, circa 1473, after the re-organization of the Ordinance of St. Maximin de Treves, would have absolutely stomped any other force that any other culture in the world could have thrown at it, including the vaunted yet backward Japanese.  Surely no other culture anywhere else in the world (except maybe the Swiss...) understood combined arms to such a degree at that point in history.[/quote]

Well, of course, the Swiss stomped him...


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 22, 2004, 11:12:05 AM
Quote from: toli
[quote="Crusader I propose that Charles the Bold's Compagnies D'Ordonnance, circa 1473, after the re-organization of the Ordinance of St. Maximin de Treves, would have absolutely stomped any other force that any other culture in the world could have thrown at it, including the vaunted yet backward Japanese.  Surely no other culture anywhere else in the world (except maybe the Swiss...) understood combined arms to such a degree at that point in history.


Well, of course, the Swiss stomped him...[/quote]

And how!

JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 22, 2004, 11:21:32 AM
I'll grant that by the 16th century, European armies were quite formidable and effective.  But by that time you aren't really talking about "knightly armies", you are talking about sophisticated combined arms organizations in which the knights were but one component, because they had at last been taught the value of effectively trained infantry (by the Swiss) and marksmen (by the English and the Swiss) and they also had artillery, arquebuses, sophisticated siege equipment, and etc.

The problem with comparing 16th century Samurai with 16th Century knigths is that the Samurai had not adopted the same technology, they were more like the 13th century knights.

And to be clear, yes I do think the knights of that era were simultaneously almsot totally incompotent at the tactical demands of warfare while being extremely proficient individual and small-group fighters.  This is because they were still at that point basically fighting in an almost ritualised manner which their position within a feudal society allowed.   In it's own way it was like the cattle raiding and border feuding of the ancient Celts and Germanic tribes who were their forefathers.

It wasn't until they had faced all kinds of different enemies from the horse archers of the saracens, to the mongols, the archers of Wales, and the effective commoner clan / militia armies of Switzerland, Flanders, and Scotland, that they were forced to learn enough lessons to begin learning the lessons about total war, to fight like the Romans.  Since then when they have been able to strike that all important balance between barbaric vigor and 'civlilized' organizational methods and technology, they have proven mighty indeed.

JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 22, 2004, 11:25:54 AM
Quote from: Valamir
John I think you missed my point ENTIRELY.  
.

My point is that the stupid decisions ARE NOT indicitive of broad incompetance by the knightly armies, but were caused by the political turmoil of the knightly armies.

.

The problems you site are because they were more interested in pursueing their own agendas then fighting the enemy.  

.


The references to Charles the Bold made me think of this, but the Swiss Cantons fought without unified central leadership.

They were often led by committee.

They had fairly severe cultural differences, and definately had divergent agendas in many cases, and yet they won battle after battle after battle against the knightly armies of the Hapsburgs and the Burgundians.  

JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: contracycle on January 22, 2004, 11:49:58 AM
If it is conceded that the Western knights were fragmented at the campaign level, then I suggest it is implicitlky conceded that they were fragmented at the battle level too.  The very personal nature of allegiance and the co-ambitions of social equals means that the concession of command to a particular leader arises from political process or sufferance.  I suggest its quite easy to see the western knights as ill-disciplined, becuase you simply cannot guarantee that one of the war-bands that comprises the body as a whole will not take it upon itself to achieve its own goals.

Stepping back a second, this conversation seems to be polarising again after a brief period of sanity.

To say that the Western knight had a much more personal interest and approach is NOT to say that they are an unorganised rabble.  Thats egregious extension.  To opine that the Crusaders were less disciplined than the Islamic armies is not to say that they had no discipline.  To extend this argument as if it some slight directed at the Crusaders or Western armies in general is to play the man and not the ball.

I point out for example, that even at Arsuf, which I agree is one of the better examples of Crusader disipline, that discipline still failed and and the charge that initiated the battle was a violation of orders, IIRC, but Richard capitalised on this event.  As late as the civil war, the Royalist cavaliers charge under Prince Rupert is often accused of being irresponsible glory-seeking that played a major role in losing the war.  I would also agree that the Burgundian Ordnance was very organised, and very forward-thinking, but it was also outright unlucky and lost nearly every battle it fought.  The lesson was largely missed, I think, and burgundy itself, only a collection of personal loyalties, disapeared.

I accept and agree that the Crusaders were fragmented; I disagree somewhat that this is unrepresentative.  Feudalism was inherently fractured, the entire hundred years war is driven by the geographical seperation of various fiefdoms.  And consequently, the men who made up the armies were also fragmented in their cultures and allegiances.  The very mechanism by which these armies are mustered works against them operating as a unnified whole.  And lets not forget, this can have up-sides: it means they were also prone to using their own initiative, which can be a real virtue on the field.  An army that exercises initiative can be very unpredictable; you seldom guard against the illogical and the suicidal.

Hence I say again: this argument does NOT claim they were "incompetent bumbling morons"; it does not criticise their COMPETENCE on the field.  But I think it is relevant to whether or not they had a real tradition of the martial arts or "just" a group of experienced, self-taught, highly-skilled, well equipped *individuals*.  The motto of the english crown is "Dieu et mon droit" - "God and my right".  There is no "we" here.

I suggest the particuler aspect of the patricarchal  family and morality supports this readiung of the record.  Again, allegiance is local, immediate - it does not fight for the greater good, it fights for ITS good.  The Franks are, after all, of the same stock as the German barbarians who believed greatly in individual freedom and personal loyalty rather than over-wheening political structures.

Nobody is denying the western knights were effective.  I don't even think anyone is denying that their opponents recognised that effectiveness - we would not be talking about them if they had NOT conquored all those territories.  Nobody is saying they were  a rag tag bunch of imbeciles.
--
If we push on to the fifteenth century or so, I agree that this society is much more centralised, much more organised and developed, and carries much greater legitimacy for a central authority.  And I agree, that it is here that we see the development of a systematic treatment of the marital arts.  But I also suspect that it is so rapidly eclipsed by gunpowder that the effort is largely still-born.

I don't think theres a systematic structure of martial knowledge evident in the west.  In the castle the small knightly family was largely independant of greater structure.  I'm not even that sure that going to a school or a teacher to learn combat skills would even appeal to knights; surely you learned your trade from your father as a blacksmith or a cooper did, and their very survival qualified them to teach.  I donlt think there is much of a lost *tradition* to be rediscovered, although I do think there are lost skills that can be rediscovered (well, at least to an extent short of homicide).


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: contracycle on January 22, 2004, 12:27:02 PM
Hey Drifter Bob, I PM'd you about the cards thing.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 22, 2004, 01:57:56 PM
Quote from: contracycle

I don't think theres a systematic structure of martial knowledge evident in the west.  In the castle the small knightly family was largely independant of greater structure.  I'm not even that sure that going to a school or a teacher to learn combat skills would even appeal to knights; surely you learned your trade from your father as a blacksmith or a cooper did, and their very survival qualified them to teach.  I donlt think there is much of a lost *tradition* to be rediscovered, although I do think there are lost skills that can be rediscovered (well, at least to an extent short of homicide).


In your argument you are confusing warfare, in the larger sense, with a martial arts tradition of personal and small group combat.  By assuming that there was no martial arts tradition in Europe you seem to be rather willfully ignoring an immense amount of evidence to the contrary.  Not just the fechtbuchs (some of which went back well into the medieval period, like I33) and all the supporting written evidence, but how do you explain the scores of martial arts traditions which survived into the 19th century and even until this very day, all across Europe?

jR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 22, 2004, 01:58:31 PM
Quote from: contracycle
Hey Drifter Bob, I PM'd you about the cards thing.


Thanks I'll check that and get back to you.

JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Jake Norwood on January 22, 2004, 02:07:36 PM
Quote from: Drifter Bob
I'm glad youre not closing it too, but maybe we could split it up into the three or four different arguments which seem to be taking place here:

Quote
1)The role of courage and fear in combat, and could knights conquer it


Um, I'm waiting for someone to give some kind of historical account. We know that knights rode into battle. What more is there that we're missing?

Quote
2)Were the Fecthtbuchs 'Scientific'


Or, rather, since they called themselves scientific, so is their own definition of science acceptable?

Quote
3)Is there a genuine Western Martial Arts tradition?


The evidence of this is so overwhelming as to be beyond discussion.

Quote
4) Could a knight beat a Samurai


That is probably the most appropriate argument in this thread, and one I want to see grow, I suppose.

Quote
5) Assuming WMA exists, is ARMA a valid organization for teaching it?


Honestly, I don't think this question has much place here. The ARMA is a valid organization on any account that I can think of, though it's not always popular with much of the rest of the community. If it's not, why not? All I see here is "ho, hum, I don't like the ARMA" or "they're all about edge-vs-flat" or whatever...which is really "I don't agree with John Clements," since the ARMA is several hundred people more than JC, and we don't all agree with him. As Salamander wrote, the ARMA is an organization of students gathering together to share rescources and to learn.


Lastly, someone wrote that the knight's sword in the 1400's was under 30 inches. The assumption was a knight in full plate with a weapon that was standard issue for someone in so much armor--a warsword, be in a greatsword (4'6") or a long sword (4'). These were extremely common battlefield and duelling weapons, and make up the overwhelming majority of texts from the 1400s in many nations.

Jake


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 22, 2004, 03:48:03 PM
Quote
, I don't think this question has much place here. The ARMA is a valid organization on any account that I can think of, though it's not always popular with much of the rest of the community.


Just want to point out, I wasn't raising that issue myself, I was just trying to sum up what seemed to be the threads of discussion going on.  

Personally, while I don't agree with ARMA on every matter, as you know I work with them and I believe they are one of the most serious and dedicated WMA groups around.  I think it is a shame that the WMA community has been so fractured, but I don't blame that entirely on ARMA by any means.

JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Valamir on January 22, 2004, 05:16:39 PM
Quote
I accept and agree that the Crusaders were fragmented; I disagree somewhat that this is unrepresentative. Feudalism was inherently fractured, the entire hundred years war is driven by the geographical seperation of various fiefdoms. And consequently, the men who made up the armies were also fragmented in their cultures and allegiances. The very mechanism by which these armies are mustered works against them operating as a unnified whole. And lets not forget, this can have up-sides: it means they were also prone to using their own initiative, which can be a real virtue on the field. An army that exercises initiative can be very unpredictable; you seldom guard against the illogical and the suicidal.

Hence I say again: this argument does NOT claim they were "incompetent bumbling morons"; it does not criticise their COMPETENCE on the field. But I think it is relevant to whether or not they had a real tradition of the martial arts or "just" a group of experienced, self-taught, highly-skilled, well equipped *individuals*. The motto of the english crown is "Dieu et mon droit" - "God and my right". There is no "we" here.


Just to put this in context Gareth, given the number of different issues that have fired off in this thread.

The discussion was broadened to a Western vs Samurai armies instead of just individuals.  And the idea was put forth that the Samurai would have an advantage because of the disorganization and lack of discipline in Western armies, with the Crusades being held out as an example of this.

My point on this issue was to 1) demonstrate that the examples of western disorganization were not a question of capability but of the socio political structure.  When the army was centralized under a strong ruler with solid bounds of fealty to his vassals western armies exhibited great discipline and expected levels of tactical capacity.

 and 2) which I never got around to making, that for most of Samurai history, Japan was a nation of chaos and anarchy with all of the same local questions of loyalty and local fiefdoms as found in the west.  There are plenty of examples of Samurai battles where 1 general simply up and switched sides in the middle of the battle, or just plum decided to go home and let his "lord" get killed.

There is thus no evidence for any extraordinary amount of poor tactical ability intrinsic to western warfare and no evidence that a samurai army would fare any better from issues of command and control.

Quote
I don't think theres a systematic structure of martial knowledge evident in the west. In the castle the small knightly family was largely independant of greater structure. I'm not even that sure that going to a school or a teacher to learn combat skills would even appeal to knights; surely you learned your trade from your father as a blacksmith or a cooper did, and their very survival qualified them to teach.


Two comments.

1) While I largely agree, I think you overstate the case profoundly here.  Knightly families were not nearly so isolated.  If they were we would expect to see a vast dramatic variety in sword designs even within broader regions at a given point in time as each little island crafted weapons suited for their precise style and common opponent.  That sword and armor design had a broader application demonstrates fairly irrefutably that the style of fighting in a given region in a given time was fairly consistant throughout the region.  We have ample evidence of sword design changing to meet new needs and new opponents and would expect to see this on a small scale if everyone was doing their own thing, but instead there is a high degree of commonality in arms and equipment for any given place and time.

While the knights of the 11th and 12th centuries were surely trained locally, they competed in tournaments regionally, regions which overlapped.  The system of fosterage and of serving as squire to knights not of your own family would serve to blend individual lineages of training technique across a much broader area in a process that over time would naturally select for those techniques that proved most effective (because their practitioners survived long enough to teach others).

It would be impossibly naive to assume that professional warriors would be oblivious to the realization that certain techniques led to victory more often than others and that they would not start to actively seek to emulate and recreate those techniques.  

A true martial tradition?  Probably not, but certainly a rudimentary beginning.

2) by the mid 14th century the mercenary companies of Hawkwood and Walter of Montreal had begun a new standard of warfare.  They and the condottiere (English, Italian, French, and German) had a profound advantage over the feudal army.  They did not dispurse after each campaign.  There is evidence that as early as the 1350s these companies commonly had sophisticated, regimented, and organized systems of logistics and judiciary.  It would be unlikely to the extreme if they did not bring similiarly regimented and organized approaches to training also.

By the 1440s Charles VII of France had instituted one of (if not the) first royal standing army in Europe and had restricted his vassals feudal armies to garrisons only.  His ordinances organized the army into fixed and recognizable units, gave instructions on how units were to be raised and paid for,  and institued a system of battle field recognition and communication using colored banners.  While my sources don't indicate how these units were trained, it is not unreasonable to assume that their training took a form just as organized and regimented as their organization.   By the end of the 15th century we see the discipline and training of the Landesknecht.  It is inconcievable to assume that there was not a systematic and organized method of training these men how best to fight.  Any such suggestion is preposterous in the extreme...especially in the face of known period texts which outline in very careful detail exactly what form that training took.

As for the assertion that gunpowder came to dominate soon after organized militaries arose, the dates simply don't support this.  In 1467 Bolognese handgunners were executed enmasse for their use of gunpowder weapons. The fact that the enemy thought it horrible of them to do so, and despite them they still lost, shows that fire weapons had not yet come to dominate the field by 1467.  The first major battle between arquebus armed soldiers was in 1503.

But that didn't eliminate sword traditions from the field of battle.  An infantry training manual from 1616 depicts corslett armored infantry engaging with single handed swords and demonstrates techniques for a gunner to use his gun or its stand to defend himself against a sword wielding opponent.  It would not be unreasonable to pin the final ascendence of gunpowder on the battlefield to Gustalphus Adolphos's New Model Army of about 1630.

So if we look at 1300 as the beginning of organized military structure tactics and training, and 1600 as the end of muscle powered warfare, you have 300 years to develop a Western Martial tradition and art.  If you allow for the retreat of swords from the battlefield to urban areas and the rise of the small sword you can easily add another 100 years to that.  

Thats a length of time comparable to eastern martial arts traditions.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Jake Norwood on January 22, 2004, 07:20:29 PM
Roman textbooks on warfare and fighting (eg. Vegetius), themselves based largely on Greek martial arts, were standard issue in the dark ages through renaissance. How much tradition do you want? Even the term, "martial tradition" is a western idea, "Martial" coming from the Roman god of war, Mars.

Jake


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Sneaky Git on January 22, 2004, 07:49:50 PM
Quote from: Drifter Bob
The problem with comparing 16th century Samurai with 16th Century knigths is that the Samurai had not adopted the same technology, they were more like the 13th century knights.


I'm thinking this is a dangerous oversimplification.

By the end of the 16th century, Japanese armies actually fielded more firearms than comparative European armies.  Check out the Battle of Nagashino (1575) and Oda Nobunaga.

Chris


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 22, 2004, 08:01:20 PM
Quote from: Sneaky Git
Quote from: Drifter Bob
The problem with comparing 16th century Samurai with 16th Century knigths is that the Samurai had not adopted the same technology, they were more like the 13th century knights.


I'm thinking this is a dangerous oversimplification.

By the end of the 16th century, Japanese armies actually fielded more firearms than comparative European armies.  Check out the Battle of Nagashino (1575) and Oda Nobunaga.

Chris



They had firearms in quantity, which is just part of them having generally better organized infantry than pre-renaissance European knightly armies, but they did not have field cannon really at all.  Cannon were only used to defend some of the greatest castles.

JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 22, 2004, 08:10:09 PM
Quote from: Valamir


.

The discussion was broadened to a Western vs Samurai armies instead of just individuals.  And the idea was put forth that the Samurai would have an advantage because of the disorganization and lack of discipline in Western armies, with the Crusades being held out as an example of this.

My point on this issue was to 1) demonstrate that the examples of western disorganization were not a question of capability but of the socio political structure.  When the army was centralized under a strong ruler with solid bounds of fealty to his vassals western armies exhibited great discipline and expected levels of tactical capacity.


I disagree.  Even under some of the greatest leaders knightly armies exhibited many of the same tactical and strategic problems.

You point out to social issues being the reason.  I agree, but not the issues you cite.  Actually, I think Jake gave us the answer to this whole discussion already in TROS.  

In TROS you have soldiers, and you have warriors, and you have fighters.  I think this is a very astute breakdown.

A solider might be considered something like a Swiss pikeman or a Roman Legionaire, or a discplined man-at-arms or knight in a late Renaissance Army.  A fighter might be someone like a professional duelist or a knight who was an expert at the tournaments.  Most pre-renaiassance era knights however were really Warriors first and foremost.

That is why, at the beginning of the first several major battles of the Crusades for example, the knightly armies had very poor siegecraft abilities.  That is why throughout the medieval period and into the early Renaissance, they displayed terrible battlefield discipline (which is one of the major reasons why it became trendy to make them fight dismounted) that is why they had contempt for infantry and marksmen, why they had no real concept of supplies, battlefield intelligence, or basic stategical considerations.

What is just common sense to a soldier, seems like cowardice, or bean counters work to a warrior.  What seems like courage to a warrior, can seem like irresponsibility to a soldier.

Think of how knightly Armies fought: just like the Celts and Romans of the Classical era, with the leader up front demonstrating his courage.  Great for morale, for making good stories for the minstrels to describe.  Not so great for being able to direct the army necessarily.   That is why the knightly armies did not have the feigned retreat, and why they did not understand it: to them, to run away was cowardly.  Plain and simple.  It took a long time for them to make at least a partial transformation into becomming a soldier, before they could understand the tactical value of such a maneuver.

As for the Roman military manuals, that is true but I think those sort of things became much more popular during the Renaissance.  At one point Roman military gear became so popular that some Italian lords actually had painstakingly recreated roman Septerime galleys built (ever notice how similar Renaissanc galleys were to Roman ones... slave rowers and all?)  I think the other aspect of the knights is that they were very ignorant of their own heritage and especially the classical sources from the West, until they regained much of this knowlege from the Arabs during the Crusades and the Reconquista, and als from the isolated monastaries in Ireland who had never gotten the christian message to burn all the books....

By the way, I've been a soldier, and I would prefer to be a warrior.

JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Brian Leybourne on January 23, 2004, 01:47:10 AM
Sweet freaking jesus.

Longest thread on the forge. Ever. By a fair margin too.

And somehow I suspect it's not done yet...

Brian.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Ingenious on January 23, 2004, 02:09:38 AM
Yes, but when you take into account that everything on God's green Earth is being talked about in here.. it is no wonder why.

-Ingenious


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Ben Lehman on January 23, 2004, 02:17:32 AM
Quote from: Ingenious
Yes, but when you take into account that everything on God's green Earth is being talked about in here.. it is no wonder why.


BL>  So, if the Knight and the Samurai were *on Mars...*

(ducks)

yrs--
--Ben


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: contracycle on January 23, 2004, 04:39:15 AM
Quote from: Ben Lehman

BL>  So, if the Knight and the Samurai were *on Mars...*


... they both suffocate and die.

I just want to remark on a few things.

Gunpowder.  I feared that remark might get the above treatment and tampered indecisivley with the original wording.  What I was aiming at was not that gunpowder immediately makes the physical arts redundant, but that it does make them rather less important for what becomes a mass of low-trained soldiers.  In which case, the concentration of really formal, organised training shifts away from a popular, wide-spread one to one that is mostly the porvince of the children of nobility, for whom these techniques are valuable both on the battlefield and in duels.  But this has two consequences, I think: the first that it becomes much more exclusive and secretive, as the techniques are the trade secrets of particular masters, and the second that the type of combat it needs to address steadily becomes more personally oriented and less battlefield oriented.  the apogee of which is exactly the FENCING tradition that ARMA criticises so vigorously.

I think the far eastern societies, with their long-established tradition of central authority, bureacracy, and widespread organisation, did achieve much better buy-in to centralised battle command.  They were more centralised societies and were able to use that to battlefield effect.  I agree with the opinion above that the Western knights only learned this by bumping their heads on the problem repeatedly.

I disagree that Western warfare was meaningfully scientific.  If, as Valamir says it is naive to think that they would have missed a battle-winning strategy, why on Earth did they try to have the crossbow banned from use against fellow Christians?  This does not look like a society that is learning, but one that is stuck in a dogmatic rut.  Please note!  This is not the same as saying they were universally stupid, far from it.

Regarding standardised weapons, I would suggest that this arises due to a different pressure: trade.  that is, the individualk price of a speciliased object is harder to negotiate for than a standard proce for a standard object that both buyer and seller, however remote, can agree on from precedent.

Lastly, we have had several assertions that the West did not display any significant military techniques adopted from the East.  I vigorously disagree: the following all had a pronounced East-West vector: the trebuchet, the crossbow, the armoured horseman, "greek" fire.  Of the top of my head, apparently indiginous Western military inventions would be: the longboat, chain mail, the longbow, and gunpowder.

Drifter Bob wrote:
Quote
In your argument you are confusing warfare, in the larger sense, with a martial arts tradition of personal and small group combat. By assuming that there was no martial arts tradition in Europe you seem to be rather willfully ignoring an immense amount of evidence to the contrary.


When I set out my stall initially was recognising the capacity of people to learn, really learn, from their own experience.  I am arguing only that a "lost martial tradition" does not exist.  This does not imply that there is no knowledge, nor that there is no rigour in the investigation.  But IMO, the only time a real tradition appears is in the fencing studios.  I quote, regarding I33, from the ARMA's own website on the manuscript: "The Royal Armories Fight Interpreters at Leeds, who had been studying the manuscript have expressed views that it contains fairly obvious basic techniques of the weapons as opposed to any complete methodology of fighting."  Evidence of intelligence, investigation, yes.  Evidence of a system, no.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Muggins on January 23, 2004, 04:43:35 AM
Siege warfare (please note, viewers, this is once again a firm left turn in the thread...):

Medieval armies were traditionally bad at siege warfare for several reasons. Firstly, compared to the majesty of Ancient warfare, the armies are miniscule. With even the largest Crusader armies numbering less than 30000 men (Verbrugge's revised and realistic figures), there were never enough men to properly invest a castle or city. Couple with a poor supply train and the fact that most cities were ports, it was never likely that a Crusading army could win except by direct attack. A feat like Masada would simply be impossible- some estimates have the Roman army at over 100000 men, with supplies for 4 years.

The later medieval armies, who used cannon in conjunction with the more massive siege engines, did pull off some impressive feats of siegecraft. But not often- they built and supplied those castles good, and there was never enough time to do the job properly.

Compared to what the samurai faced, well, there's a contrast. Someone else may correct me, but I do not know of any major sieges against castles fortified in the Western style. And those castles that did fall, tended to fall to treachery on the inside...

James


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Salamander on January 23, 2004, 08:21:08 AM
Quote from: Sneaky Git
Quote from: Drifter Bob
The problem with comparing 16th century Samurai with 16th Century knigths is that the Samurai had not adopted the same technology, they were more like the 13th century knights.


I'm thinking this is a dangerous oversimplification.

By the end of the 16th century, Japanese armies actually fielded more firearms than comparative European armies.  Check out the Battle of Nagashino (1575) and Oda Nobunaga.

Chris

And if I am not mistaken the purchased, begged, borrowed or stolen from the Portuguese.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Salamander on January 23, 2004, 08:27:23 AM
Quote from: Jake Norwood
Roman textbooks on warfare and fighting (eg. Vegetius), themselves based largely on Greek martial arts, were standard issue in the dark ages through renaissance. How much tradition do you want? Even the term, "martial tradition" is a western idea, "Martial" coming from the Roman god of war, Mars.

Jake


To expand upon this a little bit...

It is rumored that the Foundation of the Martial Arts in the east was in fact attributable to the conquests of Alexander the Great when his men were seen practicing Pankration (The original Greek wrestling/martial art form) by the locals in India who were so impressed they started to form a martial arts system of their own. And before you start telling me I'm an idiot... Look at the time line. Alexander the Great conquers Asia Minor about 350BCE. Martial styles start springing up in India around 300 BCE and it all works its way east, finally ending up in Japan around 200CE.

Just a theory, but one that makes sense to me.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Salamander on January 23, 2004, 09:08:56 AM
Quote from: contracycle
Quote from: Ben Lehman

BL>  So, if the Knight and the Samurai were *on Mars...*


... they both suffocate and die.


Hehehehe...

Quote

I just want to remark on a few things.


Okies.

Quote

Gunpowder.  I feared that remark might get the above treatment and tampered indecisivley with the original wording.  What I was aiming at was not that gunpowder immediately makes the physical arts redundant, but that it does make them rather less important for what becomes a mass of low-trained soldiers.


If I am not mistaken, Arquebusiers and Musketeers were in fact paid MORE than the Pike Men in the begining. Higher trained means higher paid. Do you know the SIMPLIFIED method to loading a matchlock musket requires a minimum of 26 steps and some break it down to as many a 43 steps? The musket came to popularity at first becasue of the ease of control of the weapon after the war was over. With a long bow or a cross bow you can make more ammunition for it. But to everybody but the gunpowder manufacturer the production of propellant was a deep dark mystery which if screwed up would get you killed (as in BOOM. The weapon only became easier trained and more reliable after a couple hundred years of service.

Quote

In which case, the concentration of really formal, organised training shifts away from a popular, wide-spread one to one that is mostly the porvince of the children of nobility, for whom these techniques are valuable both on the battlefield and in duels.  But this has two consequences, I think: the first that it becomes much more exclusive and secretive, as the techniques are the trade secrets of particular masters, and the second that the type of combat it needs to address steadily becomes more personally oriented and less battlefield oriented.  the apogee of which is exactly the FENCING tradition that ARMA criticises so vigorously.


The reason the art and science of fence was so secretive was due to proprietary knowledge as well as the fact the nobility did not want to have a dangerous (to them) population cruising around. In one fechbuch they actually describe how to rob a peasant without reducing his production potential. In fact this ties in nicely with the point I made above. A riotous population can make thier own ammo for cross bows and long bows to start an uprising, but they would find it much more difficult to start making stores of gunpowder and ball for firearms.

Quote

I think the far eastern societies, with their long-established tradition of central authority, bureacracy, and widespread organisation, did achieve much better buy-in to centralised battle command.  They were more centralised societies and were able to use that to battlefield effect.  I agree with the opinion above that the Western knights only learned this by bumping their heads on the problem repeatedly.


This also led to thier stagnation. Why is it that the east was unable to make any inroads into Europe after the last push by the Ottoman Empire in the 1530's? Yet two hundred and fifty years later the British were ruling China and India and the French had more soldiers in Vietnam than the Vietnamese did?

Quote

I disagree that Western warfare was meaningfully scientific.  If, as Valamir says it is naive to think that they would have missed a battle-winning strategy, why on Earth did they try to have the crossbow banned from use against fellow Christians?  This does not look like a society that is learning, but one that is stuck in a dogmatic rut.  Please note!  This is not the same as saying they were universally stupid, far from it.


Those are the doings of Pope Pious X I believe. So being a good Pontiff he was pretty much obligated to say such a thing. And of course, they were meaningfully scientific about it because it was never banned.

Quote

Regarding standardised weapons, I would suggest that this arises due to a different pressure: trade.  that is, the individualk price of a speciliased object is harder to negotiate for than a standard proce for a standard object that both buyer and seller, however remote, can agree on from precedent.

Lastly, we have had several assertions that the West did not display any significant military techniques adopted from the East.  I vigorously disagree: the following all had a pronounced East-West vector: the trebuchet, the crossbow, the armoured horseman, "greek" fire.  Of the top of my head, apparently indiginous Western military inventions would be: the longboat, chain mail, the longbow, and gunpowder.


These I cannot disagree with. But remember it was a certain crazy Monk (who later blew himself up, if I am not mistaken) in Portugal in the 1200-1300 area that realized you could use gunppowder to project a object from a launch tube and thus invent firearms. The east was still stuck on rockets... after a thousand years.

Quote

I am arguing only that a "lost martial tradition" does not exist.  This does not imply that there is no knowledge, nor that there is no rigour in the investigation.  But IMO, the only time a real tradition appears is in the fencing studios.  I quote, regarding I33, from the ARMA's own website on the manuscript: "The Royal Armories Fight Interpreters at Leeds, who had been studying the manuscript have expressed views that it contains fairly obvious basic techniques of the weapons as opposed to any complete methodology of fighting."  Evidence of intelligence, investigation, yes.  Evidence of a system, no.


This last one is truly a tragedy. I can't believe you can say that merely because we don't have a step by step manual starting with "how to cut" from the 1300's that you believe a system does not exist. The mind is like a parachute, it works better when open. My arguement goes something along the lines of this.

1). The martial arts tradition existed. We just lost it. If there weren't any systems of use why were there whole schools dedicated to it? Why were there meisters? If there were no martial arts, why have there been modern examples of weapon combat (in tournament conditions) where a occidental student has bettered an oriental practitioner? Did these people get lucky often enough to win the tournament? Also, this knowledge was PROPRIETARY. They may not have had that word, but damn... they had the concept.

2). Your comment about there being no real tradition until the concept of "Modern" fencing/sport fencing is telling. It displays the bias many in that community have and the disdain they hold for my studies. It belies the egoism we suffered in the Middle Victorian era of "what we do NOW is the pinnacle of humanity" Its kinda like when the British conquered China. We thought we would bring civilisation to them. Teach them the good British way... Say... who drinks whose traditional drink as a common practice now?

3). If you would like, you can grab your foil and come on up to visit us "barbarians" I would love to see your superior martial art deal with me and my "few simple techniques" sparring longsword.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: toli on January 23, 2004, 09:17:35 AM
I would first like to appologize for taunting Jake with Toshiro Mifume in order to get him to make a prediction...and extend the thread....


I think the best take on medieval armies is that they were highly varied in their organization.  

Strong leaders like William the conquerer, Richard I or Fulk III Nerra understood logistics and organization and had the power to enforce them.  Richard I is famous for the quantity of supplied that he took on crusade down to horse shoes and field ovens for bread.  However, in many cases, it is true that logistics and oganization were not well done.  Generally this was becuase of poor leadership or the adhoc make up of diverse groups in the army.  THis was just as true for the moslems during the crusades as it was for the christians.  Even the romans got their buts kicked when their generals made poor decisions.  

As for leading from the front, many *successful* medieval commanders actually lead the reserve so that they could make successful counter attacks.    

As for feigned retreates, I don't think it is so easy to simple eliminate them from the western tradition.  It may not have been common as a tactic, but there is reasonable evidence that the Normans used feigned retreats at Hastings, possible because of Breton influence which might originally derive from the Alans, a group of nomadic horsemen from the Black Sea area settled by the Romans in western France in the 400's.  Just a thought...


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: contracycle on January 23, 2004, 09:50:48 AM
Quote from: Salamander

2). Your comment about there being no real tradition until the concept of "Modern" fencing/sport fencing is telling. It displays the bias many in that community have and the disdain they hold for my studies. It belies the egoism we suffered in the Middle Victorian era of "what we do NOW is the pinnacle of humanity" Its kinda like when the British conquered China. We thought we would bring civilisation to them. Teach them the good British way...

3). If you would like, you can grab your foil and come on up to visit us "barbarians" I would love to see your superior martial art deal with me and my "few simple techniques" sparring longsword.


See, now this is the stuff I don't like.  Here you are speculating about what goes on in my mind so that you can rationalise my objections.  I didn't mention it earlier when the point was raised, but I'm related to a family that has been career military since 1066 after fighting at Hastings; they achieved Knight Banneret status, have a coat of arms derived from the Crusasades, owned castles in Ireland, and were still in service in WW2.  This does NOT give me any special insight, of course; but trying to excuse my position on the basis that I have some Victorian-worshipping western rejectionist mindset is futile.

When your argument is reduce to "help help we're being repressed" its not very convincing.  It is, as above, an attempt to play the man and not the ball; to slander the source of the argument rather than try to defend against the argument.  Its exactly this sort of hubris, "we're right and everyone who disagrees with us is an ignorant egoist", that bugs me about ARMA.  I'm the first to agree that fencing is NOT real military praxis, it is only a sport praxis, but it is my reading of the record that exists that it was only at this point that it become codified and formalised to the point that it could be meaningfully described as a martial art.  As I have mentioend before, that does NOT mean I think that knights had no skills.  Equally, referring to the centralisation in the East does not parse as "this is better"; it is only meant as "this is different".  Different places have different histories and different forms of social structure, thats all.  There is no suggestion or implication in recognising factual, structural diufferences that one is "better" or "worse."  Those judgements are largely meaningless.  I can easily agree that it was exactly those centralised qualities that lead to their stagnation and eventual supercession (albeit probably only temporary) by the west.

Quote
Say... who drinks whose traditional drink as a common practice now?


The Wests main beverages are coffee (south america), tea (china) and beer (mesopotamia).


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Salamander on January 23, 2004, 11:24:49 AM
I notice you do not want to accept the challenge. ;)

Quote

See, now this is the stuff I don't like.  Here you are speculating about what goes on in my mind so that you can rationalise my objections.  I didn't mention it earlier when the point was raised, but I'm related to a family that has been career military since 1066 after fighting at Hastings; they achieved Knight Banneret status, have a coat of arms derived from the Crusasades, owned castles in Ireland, and were still in service in WW2.  This does NOT give me any special insight, of course; but trying to excuse my position on the basis that I have some Victorian-worshipping western rejectionist mindset is futile.


Same said speculation can be said to be going on in your mind in the same regard. You say that there is documantation required. Very well, provide documentation to the opposite. You are the one accusing the western tradition of not being a martial art. Prove it. All in the same aspect, show me the books written in the ancient orient that prove they actually study a martial art. Or do we simply have to suck up to them as being inherently superior because they happen to have a broader establishment?

Quote

When your argument is reduce to "help help we're being repressed" its not very convincing.  It is, as above, an attempt to play the man and not the ball; to slander the source of the argument rather than try to defend against the argument.  Its exactly this sort of hubris, "we're right and everyone who disagrees with us is an ignorant egoist", that bugs me about ARMA.  I'm the first to agree that fencing is NOT real military praxis, it is only a sport praxis, but it is my reading of the record that exists that it was only at this point that it become codified and formalised to the point that it could be meaningfully described as a martial art.  As I have mentioend before, that does NOT mean I think that knights had no skills.  Equally, referring to the centralisation in the East does not parse as "this is better"; it is only meant as "this is different".  Different places have different histories and different forms of social structure, thats all.  There is no suggestion or implication in recognising factual, structural diufferences that one is "better" or "worse."  Those judgements are largely meaningless.  I can easily agree that it was exactly those centralised qualities that lead to their stagnation and eventual supercession (albeit probably only temporary) by the west.


Odd, I don't remember whinging about being repressed, but merely defending my postion, granted not to your satisfaction, but I am still obligated. In regards to playing the man, not the ball... I apologize for having given you that impression. But it was the impression you put across to me that caused such action. Should you happen to more learned in the fighting arts of the world, provide account, please.

Quote

The Wests main beverages are coffee (south america), tea (china) and beer (mesopotamia).


Well done!


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: tauman on January 23, 2004, 11:46:37 AM
If you want evidence of a complete fighting methodology, read Fiori's Flos Duellatorum. While it isn't every conceivable technique you could ever put into a book, it does cover unarmed vs. unarmed, unarmed vs. dagger, longsword vs. longsword, and also armored fighting and fighting from horseback. It is as complete as many books written by eastern martial artists, and given how effective they are, I'd have a hard time believing someone came up with everything on his own without learning and building on the works of others.

As for evidence of a system of fighting for a particular weapon: read Salvator Fabris' treatise on the rapier: De Lo Schermo overo Scienza d'Arme . It is in every way a complete rapier system. It also has one of the most scientific examinations of swordfighting you'll find in any manual: not just explaining what to do, but why it works, and why not doing it doesn't work using principles of geometry and physics. Now I just can't believe that Fabris just came up with all of this himself. Furthermore, Manuals of succeeding generations refer to Fabris by name in a way that demonstrates a more than superficial understanding of his work (and this is not at all an isolated example of masters of one generation being very familiar with the teachings of a master of a previous generation).

If the fencing studio is a yardstick of measure for any sort of tradition then the reason you haven't seen any earlier one might be because you don't read Italian. If you can read Italian, then read the following authors of manuals in this order:

Fiore dei Liberi
Antonio Manciolino or Achille Marozzo
Camillo Agrippa
Salvator Fabris
Francesco Alfieri
F. A. Marcelli

If you wait a few years, you'll see all of these translated (as the first 5 should be available soon, and I'm translating on the Alfieri myself).

Clearly there was a tradition as you can follow the development of swords and sword use in the works of the above 6 masters (there are several more that extend from this line out of the Renaissance and into the 1800s).

BTW, I'm NOT an ARMA member, this isn't to prove ARMA's point. You may not like ARMA or John Clements, but that doesn't mean that everything they say is incorrect.

Steve Reich

Quote from: contracycle

When I set out my stall initially was recognising the capacity of people to learn, really learn, from their own experience.  I am arguing only that a "lost martial tradition" does not exist.  This does not imply that there is no knowledge, nor that there is no rigour in the investigation.  But IMO, the only time a real tradition appears is in the fencing studios.  I quote, regarding I33, from the ARMA's own website on the manuscript: "The Royal Armories Fight Interpreters at Leeds, who had been studying the manuscript have expressed views that it contains fairly obvious basic techniques of the weapons as opposed to any complete methodology of fighting."  Evidence of intelligence, investigation, yes.  Evidence of a system, no.
[/u]


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Jake Norwood on January 23, 2004, 11:55:12 AM
RE: ARMA and arrogance, etc.

Listen. I'm hearing a lot of "the ARMA does this" or "the ARMA does that." Bullcrap, eh! I'm the number-frickin-two guy in the ARMA and none of the totalitarian views that are being referenced here are mine or that of 95% of the ARMA. THERE IS NO OFFICIAL ARMA DOCTRINE, only official ARMA training methodologies, etc. What I think I'm seeing is "I don't like John Clement's PR skills," which has little to do with what the ARMA studies, practices, endorses, or teaches. The ARMA is the largest organization of its kind in the world, with as many members as all similar organizations added up together. It's not one man--John Clements. He's a member and the director, but not the end-all be-all of the ARMA.

Jake


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Muggins on January 23, 2004, 01:08:01 PM
I agree. Bashing ARMA serves no purpose. Many of the ideas in this thread are generally held by all us sword-swinging people. Check recent threads on www.swordforum.com, or the wealth of information in the books published by Chivalry Bookshelf. Me, I have a rough association with a bunch called AEMMA (www.aemma.org), and I have trained with people from Germany and England (www.hemac.org). ARMA may have a wider profile than some, but there are many of out there, studying many different periods and types of western fighting.

And leave Jake alone!

He only criticises my knowledge of Meyer occassionally!
(Only because he lives on the wrong side of the Atlantic where I can't get to him!)

James


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 23, 2004, 01:19:40 PM
Yeah I want to agree with that.  Through research and my little side business of selling sparring weapons, I have had dealings with most of the Western Martial Arts groups around the world.  As far as ARMA goes, I think I can safely say I'm not one of John Clements favorite people, we have clashed many times.  But on the other hand, ARMA is definately not the monolith some people make it out to be.  You can see that just by checking out their own dicussion forum which is open to the public and full of all kinds of dissent.  One of my favorite pass-times is putting sparring clips on their board for people to criticise me on my allegeldy bad footwork.  Plus individual members of ARMA have quite a free range of opinions on all these subjects.  It's just a large association of people who are trying very seriously to systematically learn about Western Martial Arts.  And once they learn a few other weapons besides the Long Sword they are going to be very good at it!  (just kidding!)
JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: WCarew on January 23, 2004, 01:33:04 PM
Quote from: Drifter Bob
Quote from: Valamir


.



I disagree.  Even under some of the greatest leaders knightly armies exhibited many of the same tactical and strategic problems.

You point out to social issues being the reason.  I agree, but not the issues you cite.  Actually, I think Jake gave us the answer to this whole discussion already in TROS.  

In TROS you have soldiers, and you have warriors, and you have fighters.  I think this is a very astute breakdown.

A solider might be considered something like a Swiss pikeman or a Roman Legionaire, or a discplined man-at-arms or knight in a late Renaissance Army.  A fighter might be someone like a professional duelist or a knight who was an expert at the tournaments.  Most pre-renaiassance era knights however were really Warriors first and foremost.

That is why, at the beginning of the first several major battles of the Crusades for example, the knightly armies had very poor siegecraft abilities.  That is why throughout the medieval period and into the early Renaissance, they displayed terrible battlefield discipline (which is one of the major reasons why it became trendy to make them fight dismounted) that is why they had contempt for infantry and marksmen, why they had no real concept of supplies, battlefield intelligence, or basic stategical considerations.

What is just common sense to a soldier, seems like cowardice, or bean counters work to a warrior.  What seems like courage to a warrior, can seem like irresponsibility to a soldier.

Think of how knightly Armies fought: just like the Celts and Romans of the Classical era, with the leader up front demonstrating his courage.  Great for morale, for making good stories for the minstrels to describe.  Not so great for being able to direct the army necessarily.   That is why the knightly armies did not have the feigned retreat, and why they did not understand it: to them, to run away was cowardly.  Plain and simple.  It took a long time for them to make at least a partial transformation into becomming a soldier, before they could understand the tactical value of such a maneuver.


JR


There's just one problem with this. It's wrong.

The feigned retreat was not only understood, but was used by some of the earliest knights, namely the Normans in the 11thC. They used it at Hastings under William, to draw the Saxon foot out, and the Southern Italian Normans under Robert Guiscard (i.e Robert de Hauteville) used it at earlier battles like Civitate. Your assertion that it was unknown to them is demonstratebly, and factually false.

On the topic of the Normans, they were noted for their excellent discipline and flexible, sophisticated use of both battlefield tactics and broader strategy. The Guiscard was the scourge of the Pope and HR Emperor (especially after Civitate) and of the Byzantines and Muslim Sicilians, none of who lacked discipline, all of whom vastly outnumbered the Normans and all of whom were outwitted or out fought at some stage. And this was possible despite the fact that Robert was forever putting down revolt after revolt led by his own quarrelsome Norman barons.

This pattern only continued under Roger the Great Count of Sicily (you know, that island that used to held by the Muslims, but was conquered in short order by a small number of Normans) and his son, Roger the II, King of Sicily, who reigned over (arguably) the most advanced, intellectual, tolerant, sophisticated court anywhere in Europe or the Middle East in the 12thC.  

As for no understanding of logistics, have you read about Richard I and his preparations for, and conduct of the 3rd Crusade? How he planned every stage of his travel in order to fortify and supply his forces, and how he used the local geography to protect his march along the coastline?

The real point of all this is, you are dangerously oversimplifying a very long, complex and varied segment of history (the Medieval period), and as a result your assertions lack authority, meaning or accuracy. For every example of apparent knightly stupidity, there is at least one more of brilliant tactical and strategic thinking. That's the way it is with real history - it defies simplistic generalisations.

My 2c FWIW.

Cheers,


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 23, 2004, 02:00:21 PM
Quote from: Muggins
Siege warfare (please note, viewers, this is once again a firm left turn in the thread...):

Medieval armies were traditionally bad at siege warfare for several reasons. Firstly, compared to the majesty of Ancient warfare, the armies are miniscule. With even the largest Crusader armies numbering less than 30000 men (Verbrugge's revised and realistic figures), there were never enough men to properly invest a castle or city. Couple with a poor supply train and the fact that most cities were ports, it was never likely that a Crusading army could win except by direct attack. A feat like Masada would simply be impossible- some estimates have the Roman army at over 100000 men, with supplies for 4 years.

The later medieval armies, who used cannon in conjunction with the more massive siege engines, did pull off some impressive feats of siegecraft. But not often- they built and supplied those castles good, and there was never enough time to do the job properly.

James


And yet, the Moslems were quite skilled at siegecraft.  Saladin had an entire sapper corps which was very effective, and by the time of Baibars and the Mamelukes, there wasn't a fortification that could stand up to their sophisticated mining techniques, including such truly mighty fortifications as the Knights Hospitaler's Krak de Chevaliers.  One of the toughtest, not to mention coolest- looking castles ever made anywhere.  

Here is a pic of le Krak, for those who have never seen it...

http://chasm.org/photo/misc/krak.jpg

JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: toli on January 23, 2004, 02:17:42 PM
Quote from: Drifter Bob
including such truly mighty fortifications as the Knights Hospitaler's Krak de Chevaliers.  One of the toughtest, not to mention coolest- looking castles ever made anywhere.  


JR


Great picture.  I put it on my desktop....Krak de Chevaliers is one of my favorite castles.  As I remember (unless I'm mixing it up), it was once taken my tricking to garrison into surrendering it.  I forget how.

NT


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 23, 2004, 02:34:23 PM
Quote from: toli
Quote from: Drifter Bob
including such truly mighty fortifications as the Knights Hospitaler's Krak de Chevaliers.  One of the toughtest, not to mention coolest- looking castles ever made anywhere.  


JR


Great picture.  I put it on my desktop....Krak de Chevaliers is one of my favorite castles.  As I remember (unless I'm mixing it up), it was once taken my tricking to garrison into surrendering it.  I forget how.

NT


That may have been the case at some point, but in the end, I believe baibars got it conventionally, I believe with miners.  I have to go sort through my library of Crusades books since I have been once again challenged, so I'll have that definitively for you shortly...

JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: toli on January 23, 2004, 03:27:41 PM
Quote from: Drifter Bob

That may have been the case at some point, but in the end, I believe baibars got it conventionally, I believe with miners.  I have to go sort through my library of Crusades books since I have been once again challenged, so I'll have that definitively for you shortly...

JR


It certainly could.  I don't remember exactly.  I vaguely remember Baibars taking the outer ring and then tricking the garrison into believing they had permission to surrender the whole castle.  It may be an entirely different episode or castle...I wasn't so much challenging as wondering...I'll have a look through some stuff too...

If you like Crusades era stuff, I highly recommend the autobiography of Usamah ibn Munqudh.  It is an interesting read with lots of action...and some weird stuff...NT


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 24, 2004, 01:04:10 AM
Quote from: WCarew



(you know, that island that used to held by the Muslims, but was conquered in short order by a small number of Normans)


Do tell!  Any other basic geographic lessons you would like to give me while you are at it?

Quote
...and his son, Roger the II, King of Sicily, who reigned over (arguably) the most advanced, intellectual, tolerant, sophisticated court anywhere in Europe or the Middle East in the 12thC.  


Norman petty lords were known for a lot of things.  Tolerance, sophistication, and intellect were not among them.  First of all the knightly class were rarely even literate in the period of which you speak.   Second of all... lets not forget, these were people who didn't wipe their arses properly after taking a dump, (unlike the moslems who always washed)

Sophistication is not a word which comes to mind.

Second of all, Tolerance?  

Tolerance?   Are you insane?  You mean like the tolerance displayed when virtually the entire population of jerusalem was put to the sword in 1099?

Tolerance, like during the depopulation of Southern France during the Albegensien crusade?  

And if the Normans were so tolerant and well liked in southern Italy, how come there were such huge, unviersal uprisings against all French speaking men in the country, at the alleged birth of the Mafia in 1282?

Quote

As for no understanding of logistics, have you read about Richard I and his preparations for, and conduct of the 3rd Crusade? How he planned every stage of his travel in order to fortify and supply his forces, and how he used the local geography to protect his march along the coastline?


If his logistics were so great, how comes none of his drives to Jerusalem got anywhere?

Quote


The real point of all this is, you are dangerously oversimplifying a very long, complex and varied segment of history (the Medieval period), and as a result your assertions lack authority, meaning or accuracy.


It's this kind of way out wish-thinking that gives everybody who studies WMA or medieval history a bad name.  It's like the Americans trying to pretend they actually Won Vietnam by making 50 movies with Sylvester Stalone and Chuck Norriss mowing down Viet Cong by the thousands...

Quote
For every example of apparent knightly stupidity, there is at least one more of brilliant tactical and strategic thinking. That's the way it is with real history - it defies simplistic generalisations.


That is not real history, that is wishful thinking, because you WANT the knights to be clever, so you are selectively reading what you want to read into it.  The next thing you'll be telling me is that there is karma and bad people get what they diserve.   Everything equals out, right?  No sorry pal.  That is wishful thinking.  There may be many anecdotes all over the place, but in the vast majority of wars and battles of the middle ages, the knightly armies proved to be awful at tactics and operational planning.  That is the reality.

Look, I admire the knights.  Just like I admire the Roman Legionaries.  I admire them both for what they were: tough hombres who had adapted well to living in the very harsh times they found themselves, often showing considerable courage and elan on the way.  I don't try to make them into well rounded sensitive intellectuals with good morals, because that is something they were not.  And when it comes to Knights, I don't try to bend history to make it seem like they were brilliant tactitians, because they were not that either.

Thats just the fact.  Try not to take it so personally.

JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Ingenious on January 24, 2004, 01:35:43 AM
.................For the love of GOD, this thread is growing by a page per day now.. Fri Jan 23, 2004 10:09 am was my last post.. and this one was on.. Sat Jan 24, 2004 9:35 am
Nearly a page and one-half in just under a whole day. WHY?!?!?!?!?!?!?!


Could we just for once take a moment to look at how utterly freaking rediculous this is? Stop the egocentric postulation of who is right and who is not. This is just about ego. Take it somewhere else damnit. Like the IRC, or PM. In the chatroom you can yell at each other for all I care.. curse, swear, say anything as often as you want.

Drifter Bob... we're now talking about tolerance. I've tolerated seeing this thread go from something serious, intelligent, and worthwhile.. to its current state of sheer nothingness.

Do I really care that someone is going to say 'Knights were not all that noble or chivalric'? No. Because, like every freaking person in the world... they are individuals. Some might be corrupt.. some might be noble and chivalric, some merciless and stupid.

175 posts at the inception of this reply.. of which the previous FIVE of them have been between just TWO people. More posts to come unless we all come to our senses and 'take it outside'... Aside from addressing the concern of any NEW person to the forum that has to sit here and read the whole entire God damn thing. It's maddening to consider some new person in the TROS community wasting his time like that. I might just time myself on how long it takes to read the entire thread up to this point.

For more info on using IRC, search this forum for it.
-Ingenious


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: WCarew on January 24, 2004, 02:15:44 AM
Quote from: Drifter Bob
Quote from: WCarew



(you know, that island that used to held by the Muslims, but was conquered in short order by a small number of Normans)


Do tell!  Any other basic geographic lessons you would like to give me while you are at it?

Quote
...and his son, Roger the II, King of Sicily, who reigned over (arguably) the most advanced, intellectual, tolerant, sophisticated court anywhere in Europe or the Middle East in the 12thC.  


Norman petty lords were known for a lot of things.  Tolerance, sophistication, and intellect were not among them.  First of all the knightly class were rarely even literate in the period of which you speak.   Second of all... lets not forget, these were people who didn't wipe their arses properly after taking a dump, (unlike the moslems who always washed)

Sophistication is not a word which comes to mind.

Second of all, Tolerance?  

Tolerance?   Are you insane?  You mean like the tolerance displayed when virtually the entire population of jerusalem was put to the sword in 1099?

Tolerance, like during the depopulation of Southern France during the Albegensien crusade?  

And if the Normans were so tolerant and well liked in southern Italy, how come there were such huge, unviersal uprisings against all French speaking men in the country, at the alleged birth of the Mafia in 1282?

Quote

As for no understanding of logistics, have you read about Richard I and his preparations for, and conduct of the 3rd Crusade? How he planned every stage of his travel in order to fortify and supply his forces, and how he used the local geography to protect his march along the coastline?


If his logistics were so great, how comes none of his drives to Jerusalem got anywhere?

Quote


The real point of all this is, you are dangerously oversimplifying a very long, complex and varied segment of history (the Medieval period), and as a result your assertions lack authority, meaning or accuracy.


It's this kind of way out wish-thinking that gives everybody who studies WMA or medieval history a bad name.  It's like the Americans trying to pretend they actually Won Vietnam by making 50 movies with Sylvester Stalone and Chuck Norriss mowing down Viet Cong by the thousands...

Quote
For every example of apparent knightly stupidity, there is at least one more of brilliant tactical and strategic thinking. That's the way it is with real history - it defies simplistic generalisations.


That is not real history, that is wishful thinking, because you WANT the knights to be clever, so you are selectively reading what you want to read into it.  The next thing you'll be telling me is that there is karma and bad people get what they diserve.   Everything equals out, right?  No sorry pal.  That is wishful thinking.  There may be many anecdotes all over the place, but in the vast majority of wars and battles of the middle ages, the knightly armies proved to be awful at tactics and operational planning.  That is the reality.

Look, I admire the knights.  Just like I admire the Roman Legionaries.  I admire them both for what they were: tough hombres who had adapted well to living in the very harsh times they found themselves, often showing considerable courage and elan on the way.  I don't try to make them into well rounded sensitive intellectuals with good morals, because that is something they were not.  And when it comes to Knights, I don't try to bend history to make it seem like they were brilliant tactitians, because they were not that either.

Thats just the fact.  Try not to take it so personally.

JR


Sorry, but this post has made it clear that you haven't the foggiest notion of actual Norman history, especially Siculo-Italian Norman history. Firstly, you should note that Norman rule of Sicily ended in the late 12thC when it was taken over by the HRE, so the events of 1282 have nothing, zip, to do with the Normans. It is well noted that the after Roger II's rein, and especially after Norman rule ended in Sicily, the culture lost much of it's tolerance and brilliance. While the Normans could be brutal and nasty, they were no worse than anyone else in the period, including your enlightened Muslims, who were not above slavery, torture and murder themselves.

So before you spout more misguided vitriol about the illiterate, brutal Normans, perhaps you should do some actual research on the Normans in Sicily - I suggest starting with J J Norwich's excellent "The Normans in Sicily".

If you start actually researching this topic, you will find that Norman Sicily in the later 11th century under Roger I, and especially under his son Roger II in the first half of the 12th century was an incredibly rich, cosmopolitan and tolerant kingdom, the likes of which was not seen again in medieval Europe. Muslims, Greeks (orthodox) and Christians lived in relative harmony under Norman rule, and Roger II attracted many of the foremost artists, mathematicians and intellectuals of the age to his court, many of them Muslims, as well as Greeks. Sicily was a meeting point for Christian, Greek (Byzantine) and Islamic culture, learning and art and architecture, unique in the medieval period. The fact that you are blissfully ignorant of these historical FACTS, and seem to be determined to remain so, doesn't change them.

Not only were both Roger's highly literate, Roger II was known as a keen intellectual himself, and surrounded himself with men of like character. In this he was hardly unique - Richard I was fluent in French and Latin, could out debate cardinals and was a reknowned troubadour of the age. You would of course know this, and know that learning, poetry, dancing, falconry and courtly conduct was highly prized among men and European lords and knights of high station, if you bothered to but look without your readily apparent bias against them. Could they be arrogant to a fault and cruel and brutal? Sure, but that doesn't make them illiterate idiots, and your attempts to present them as such just makes you look silly when confronted with the facts.

FWIW, and it annoys me to have to present this detail to counter your simplistic, one liners denigrating his achievements, on the subject of Richard, he and Saladin ended in somewhat of a stalemate during the 3rd Crusade - Richard had thrashed Saladin in battle at Arsuf, but Saladin had the advantage of numerical superiority and being on home turf, and Richard was sweating to get back to Europe to protect his Angevin lands from Phillip, who was taking the opportunity to stir up trouble in Richard's absence. In the end, Richard didn't capture Jeruselum because he knew he a) didn't have enough men to hold it and b) wanted to get back to his Angevin lands ASAP. The result was an agreement between Saladin and Richard allowing Christians safe passage to Jeruselum for pilgrimage. As I said before, real history is too complex for silly, simplistic one line cause-effect explanations.

Back to Roger II, his good friend, the Muslim Abu Abdullah Mohammed al-Edrisi, wrote a book for his Norman patron, entitled "The Avocation of a Man Desirous of a Full Knowledge of the Different Countries or the World" or more simply known as "The book of Roger". Sadly, much of the book is lost, but on the very first page we read the words:

"The earth is round like a sphere, and the waters adhere to it and are maintained on it through natural equilibrium which suffers no variation..."

In one foul swoop of actual research, we discover that Muslim and by extension, European intellectuals already knew the world was round and that gravity kept the seas in place, centuries before most people credit it. Theories that educated European medieval people thought the world was flat are therefore bunk. Maybe it's time to actually crack open the books (and not just the ones dealing with the crusades, but culture and society back in Europe) and reassess your rather ignorant and ill-informed opinion of all Norman lords...

Really, that is all I have to say on this, as I think it is clear that you hold strong views and do not want to consider alternate viewpoints, even those backed up by historical research and facts. I have better things to do with my time...


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 24, 2004, 02:39:27 AM
Quote from: Ingenious

Drifter Bob... we're now talking about tolerance.


To me it was just a discussion, I raised points which were vigorously rejected, to which I responded as clearly as I could.  Since two people are now starting to insult me, I'll quit posting to the thread.   One "duel" is enough for me this month.

jR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 24, 2004, 02:56:15 AM
I do want to add though, that I learned a lot from this thread and enjoyed reading it.  The origins of Indian martial arts, further insights into the intricasies of the fecthbuchs, the different types of tachi, Russian versus Japanese wrestling... I have a lot to think about now, for that thanks lads, you are an intelligent bunch, even those of you who are wrong! ;)

JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Salamander on January 24, 2004, 05:28:17 AM
Quote from: Drifter Bob
I do want to add though, that I learned a lot from this thread and enjoyed reading it.  The origins of Indian martial arts, further insights into the intricasies of the fecthbuchs, the different types of tachi, Russian versus Japanese wrestling... I have a lot to think about now, for that thanks lads, you are an intelligent bunch, even those of you who are wrong! ;)

JR

Why thank you!....
Err.... waittaminnit...
;)


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Salamander on January 24, 2004, 05:30:19 AM
Quote from: Jake Norwood
RE: ARMA and arrogance, etc.

Listen. I'm hearing a lot of "the ARMA does this" or "the ARMA does that." Bullcrap, eh! I'm the number-frickin-two guy in the ARMA and none of the totalitarian views that are being referenced here are mine or that of 95% of the ARMA. THERE IS NO OFFICIAL ARMA DOCTRINE, only official ARMA training methodologies, etc. What I think I'm seeing is "I don't like John Clement's PR skills," which has little to do with what the ARMA studies, practices, endorses, or teaches. The ARMA is the largest organization of its kind in the world, with as many members as all similar organizations added up together. It's not one man--John Clements. He's a member and the director, but not the end-all be-all of the ARMA.

Jake


I would also like to add that my opinions are those of a non-ARMA member. In regards to the rest of Jake's post, I believe I have made my perception of that organization known.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Jake Norwood on January 24, 2004, 10:03:32 AM
Quote from: Ingenious
.................For the love of GOD, this thread is growing by a page per day now.. Fri Jan 23, 2004 10:09 am was my last post.. and this one was on.. Sat Jan 24, 2004 9:35 am
Nearly a page and one-half in just under a whole day. WHY?!?!?!?!?!?!?!


Why? Because you just posted to it. That's 1/10th of a page longer now.


Quote
Could we just for once take a moment to look at how utterly freaking rediculous this is? Stop the egocentric postulation of who is right and who is not. This is just about ego. Take it somewhere else damnit. Like the IRC, or PM. In the chatroom you can yell at each other for all I care.. curse, swear, say anything as often as you want.


Stay off the thread. I'm not closing it. I'll close other ones, but this one is sooo far out of the ballpark that I think it's cathartic. There's been some good discussion here, and a lot of not-so-good discussion, but it stays in this thread. I'm not splitting it, I'm not closing it. It stays here until it's dead. Then it's closed.

Jake


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Muggins on January 24, 2004, 10:42:00 AM
One thing I must say, is that a lot of medieval historians have recently 'discovered' that Europe was not so backwards in days gone by. Unfortunately, a lot of people look at a small picture and simply assume the big picture is the same. The Normans in Sicily is one example- trading ports based on defensible islands are always likely to be good centres of enlightenment. But in general, Europe was not at all 'enlightened'. Even using the term for the Kingdom of Sicily is misleading- Roger II quite happily plundered and pillaged while on campaign, and intellectual development was eventually discarded for realism. Similarly, despite glowing pictures by some people, Richard I did not fight Saladin to a stand still- he overextended his lines of supply, lost a large number of his noble commanders, and salvaged as much dignity as he could by claiming success.

James


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Jaif on January 25, 2004, 05:34:46 PM
I gotta say I love this thread; thanks Jake for leaving it going.  Like you said, it's cathartic to read, especially after the busy work weeks I've had.  Ingenious, you need to ease-up a bit; this thread isn't the apocalypse you make it sound like. :-)

A few comments, maybe questions.

Quote
I too, love Toshiro Mfune.  He is the Japanese Clint Eastwood TIMES Charles Bronson to the power of Robert Mitchum.


Wow.  Never heard of this guy, but if he's that good then I'm impressed.

Second, to follow-on to Muggin's point, I once read a book called Cathedral, Forge, and Waterwheel which catalogued European technilogical advancement through the 'dark' and 'middle' ages.  I haven't read up on the subject much, but the book seemed pretty complete and hard-to-argue in the large part;  Europe's technology advanced, despite common beliefs to the contrary. I believe there's a parallel here with the current discussion.

Last, a couple thoughts/questions from my dimmest memories.  First, who was the bohemian guy who fought with the armored wagons?  Second, how did the Spanish actually drive out the Moors?  I don't know, but I tend to believe that there was campaign smarts in the Europeans, even if they weren't always on top of their game.

-jeff


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 25, 2004, 06:02:05 PM
Quote from: Jaif

Last, a couple thoughts/questions from my dimmest memories.  First, who was the bohemian guy who fought with the armored wagons?


Ah, I'm going back on my promise here but I couldn't resist ... that would be the Hussites, a sort of heretical christian / socialist / utopian relgious uprising in the Early Renaissance which was kind a precursor to the wars of the Reformation.  The hussites used small cannon, muskets, and crossbows from Wagon laagers, which is actually a variation of a tactic the Goths used against the Romans centuries before.  The Hussites were quite militarily successful, actually invading Germany on a number of occasions, but they were mostly commoners, with relatively few knights in the bunch.

Ok I'm out!
JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Jaif on January 25, 2004, 06:16:59 PM
Thanks, hussites, which let me look up the guy - Jan Zizka.  The point I was making was a small counter to yours, Bob - there were some medeival people who did quite well beyond the level of personal or small unit combat.  This man not only fought intelligent campaigns, he introduced a new fighting system and trained an army of commoners in that system.

I'll have to look up the reconquista one day; I have a hard time believing that a group of wild-eyed incompetant warriors drove off a sophisticated civilization.  Probably a lot of politics in the mix, but still the spanish must have known something.  They certainly learned something, as they went on to form the toughest fighting forces in Europe for a time.

-jeff


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on January 25, 2004, 07:09:49 PM
Quote from: Jaif
Thanks, hussites, which let me look up the guy - Jan Zizka.  The point I was making was a small counter to yours, Bob - there were some medeival people who did quite well beyond the level of personal or small unit combat.  This man not only fought intelligent campaigns, he introduced a new fighting system and trained an army of commoners in that system.


I'm starting to feel like an addict, or like I"m caught in a spider web.

There were actually several leaders of the Hussites and no one guy "taught them" how to fight.  Jan Hus was the leader of the overall movement, Zizka was the leader of what became the purist element.  In any event, I think the point is that the Hussites, like the Swiss or William Wallaces Scotts, were not a knigthly army.

Quote
I'll have to look up the reconquista one day; I have a hard time believing that a group of wild-eyed incompetant warriors drove off a sophisticated civilization.  Probably a lot of politics in the mix, but still the spanish must have known something.  They certainly learned something, as they went on to form the toughest fighting forces in Europe for a time.

-jeff


Please do.  One of the first things you may note is that the union of the Christian Kingdoms and the culmination of the expulsion of Granada, the last Moorish Kingdom (the end of the Reconquista) took place in 1492, at the end of the 15th century, basically at the end of the Medieval period.  I also think that the fact that it took 7 centuries between the Frankish victory of Charles Martel at Poitiers to finally expell the moors does indeed say something about the organizational skills of the kinghtly armies.

Finally, I never said the knights were idiots.   I don't think most knights of the medieval period were literate, or very conscious of sanitation.  I don't think they were very good at strategy or operational level tactics, but they were superb fighters.  I know of very few examples where they had anywhere near equal numbers where they lost in a hand to hand fight against non-european opponents, and their victories on that level demonstrates that they fought like lions and did indeed have considerable martial skills, since their advantages of horse and lance and even armor was not always a factor (The mamelukes and the Turks, for example, had heavy armor).

JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Jaif on January 25, 2004, 07:49:48 PM
Bob,

We honestly agree in most ways; from my reading of history, I too believe that when we talk about armies of knights, they tend to rely more on personal prowess and fall short in the details.  In anything approaching even numbers, the personal prowess was usually supreme and just showed that if a human spent his life training at something, he got good at it. :-)

However, if we move away from knighthood, the crusades, etc, and start looking at Europe in the middle ages I think you'll find mercenary companies, Norman expansions, and other areas where Europe had a thriving military practice.  In fact, the little I've read about military affairs in other areas of Eurasia leads me to believe that there wasn't that much difference across the continent.  People needed to siege castles, fought with hand-to-hand weapons, and slowly integrated gunpowder into the mix.

Last, I'd like to point out the difficulty historians face when a single organization like the church exercised vast control over the written records of the time.  It's quite possible that many details of Europe's military systems were wiped out for reasons having nothing to do with their effectiveness.

-Jeff.

P.S. I have to say that when I discovered RoS, and through it ARMA (and their works) really made my day.  I grew up arguing with people about their silly fixation with Japanese/Chinese martial arts, and said that it's ridiculous to assume that Europe was so vastly far behind in either technology (e.g. metalworking) or technique.  You can't have a group of people devoted to fighting their neighbors for generations upon generations without having some advances.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: contracycle on January 26, 2004, 12:02:56 AM
The Goths had circles of wagons as part of their general armed system, being induced to nomadism.  At Adrianople, IIRC, the Roman army was caught between the laager serving as anvil and the Goth cavalry acting as hammer.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Crusader on January 29, 2004, 04:13:14 AM
I guess part of what annoys me about the crowd that rants about how unenlightened/dirty/backward Western Europe was during the middle ages is that these folks often fail to take into account that Europe did in fact undergo some pretty important cultural and technological evolution over the course of the period.  Too often in this thread, one reads broad, sweeping statements making assumptions of knightly ignorance or lack of culture and hygiene that the poster applies accross the board, as if they were common to all knights, from all European states, for the whole of the time period in question.  I feel this leads to the projection of attitudes and conditions that may have been true for say, a 12th-century knight, but would not have held for a knight of the 15th century.  

As for our sudden recent 'discovery' that medieval Europeans were not really the backward losers that the average modern person often assumes they were, I feel that those who object to this and label it as "historical revision" are also confusing the earlier part of the era with the later.  There is a trend in the study of history that rejects the term "Renaissance" for the more nebulous "Early Modern Period".  I applaud the recognition that later medieval and "renaissance" Europe was not after all such a different world from the one we now live in.  Early modern Europe was, while obviously not a paradise, especially if you happened to fall ill, certainly the most powerful and developed culture on the globe at that point in history.  

Whether Contracycle wants to accept it or not, I do see the beginnings of scientific inquiry into a whole host of topics during this period, with the martial arts being firmly included amongst those.  One need only glance at some of the later manuals, with detailed and precise directions laid out along geometric lines and circles to perceive the scientific turn of mind that produced it.  Surely demonstrable similarities in the techniques displayed in various fechtbucher over the course of a couple of centuries is sufficient evidence of a coherent, master-to-student set of systematic techniques.

What has the degree of 'societal centralization' to do with whether or not a given culture possesses a set of systematic or scientific principals of teaching martial arts?  No offense, Contra, but you still haven't stated concisely, at least not to my satisfaction anyway, just which martial arts you might truly consider as conforming to your high personal standards of hailing from a readily discernable established martial tradition...


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: contracycle on January 29, 2004, 08:37:46 AM
Quote from: Crusader
Too often in this thread, one reads broad, sweeping statements making assumptions of knightly ignorance or lack of culture and hygiene that the poster applies accross the board, as if they were common to all knights, from all European states, for the whole of the time period in question.


Nobody has said this on this thread.  I have repeatedly taken pains NOT to say this, and to make it clear that saying a specific thing is different is a) not a value judgement and b) not a generalisation.  I am well aware that the Medieval period shows substantial technical advance over time, and that these people possessed exactly the same brains we do.

Quote

Whether Contracycle wants to accept it or not, I do see the beginnings of scientific inquiry into a whole host of topics during this period, with the martial arts being firmly included amongst those.


I have never objected to seeing the BEGINNINGS of scientific and systematic inquiry; I have objected to their being a developed such system that is discernable beyond the Fechtbuchs.  And if it is only the Fechtbuchs we are talking about, then there is no lost tradition, just the tradition that we always had and which the fencing studios employed.  I have never said that there was no investigation, I have only cast doubt on ARMA's apparent claim to have knowledge that other people do not.

Quote
Surely demonstrable similarities in the techniques displayed in various fechtbucher over the course of a couple of centuries is sufficient evidence of a coherent, master-to-student set of systematic techniques.


No, precisely because they can be independantly discovered.  Thats how science works; a thing is only safely known if it is independantly verifiable.  Simultaneous independant discovery of something about how the world works happens all the time.

Quote

What has the degree of 'societal centralization' to do with whether or not a given culture possesses a set of systematic or scientific principals of teaching martial arts?


Because non-centralised societies don't need to develop large-scale solutions to problems, only individual, personal, local solutions.  The history of the feudal period is that of the development of centralisation; the whole political project of the French crown is developing the French state as a real entity.  This is also a society that is largely superstitious, too, and I think it is going too far to project a scientific mindset into what is going on except in the latest periods.

Quote

  No offense, Contra, but you still haven't stated concisely, at least not to my satisfaction anyway, just which martial arts you might truly consider as conforming to your high personal standards of hailing from a readily discernable established martial tradition...


IIRC the last time the question was posed, it was what I would consider a SCIENTIFIC martial tradition, and I said, pretty much none.  I tell you what, you tell me what features you would expect to see in a martial tradition, and where you see these in euarope, and then I can give you a clean statement that I agree, or disagree, with your definitions and observationbs and we will all clearly be able to talk about the same thing.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Hereward The Wake on February 01, 2004, 06:59:20 AM
Without blowing our own trumpet too much, it is this idea that the Guild teachings are based upon. The design of the human body has not changed in the intervening centuries and if one combines it with the equipment of the time and the correct Intent, behind what is done you will find what should work and what generally won't. Take this information and then look at the period manuals and see if they appear to cross over. Ultimately all work done on the historical texts is Interpretive, we can not say that what is practice now is definitely what was done then.

Jonathan

Quote from: Bastoche
Quote from: Drifter Bob

JR


  I personnally think that the best way to recreate medieval or renaissance fighting is by creating an entire new style optimized for killing with the knight's tools. That is proper recreation armor and weapon. Then comparing this well controled style with old books, this could give new insight on how these guys fought. I assume that's exactly what ARMA training camp are about. Right?


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Hereward The Wake on February 01, 2004, 07:07:40 AM
But as he said come out with killing moves! As isaid the correct Intent. Modern people who do it in the context of sport are doing just that sport. LARP is just that play, and re-enactors all use rule to govern what that do in a safe way. It is also aimed at trying to something other than actually recreating the proper combat styles.
At the end of the day, we generally can't compare the effectiveness of what we see in many of the manuals. Just because a manual has survuved does not ultimately mean that what it contains was effective.

This is where I am worried by those who work on specific manuals and then present their work as an effective fperiod fighting style. Have they recreated it correctly? and was it effective in the first place?
JW


Quote from: Caz
That would be tough as training data could not be compared to data of its actual effectiveness in real life, likely resulting in an inneffective and artificial style.  That's basically what sport, play, and reenactment type groups do, and it comes out nothing like the old texts.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Hereward The Wake on February 01, 2004, 07:18:05 AM
A science an art, and a craft, take your pick, i think they can all equally apply.
One has to combine several approaches.
Most people agree that the majority of the manuals were not meant to be 'how to' manuals but aid to memory. Hence I find the use of the manuals as the main source/starting point a little problematic. It s one of several contradictory elements in the field,


Bastoche wrote
My point is that sword fighting at the time was a science. That science is so old that it was probably not that far off perfection. If they could do it then, we should be able to do it now. No? Assuming their techniques were as efficient as could be, "new" techniques should converge toward their techniques. Besides, I think studying old books is a good way to go too. Assuming these books contained the best techniques known at the time...


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Hereward The Wake on February 01, 2004, 08:08:44 AM
This just strikes me as reverse assumptions, we suffered from the @asia did it' and then we have the 'it actually came from the west' I've seen this even from Japanese intructors. That assumes that people all ovr theworld can't come to similar solutions to solve similar problems, which seems pretty short sighted.

Jake[/quote]

To expand upon this a little bit...

It is rumored that the Foundation of the Martial Arts in the east was in fact attributable to the conquests of Alexander the Great when his men were seen practicing Pankration (The original Greek wrestling/martial art form) by the locals in India who were so impressed they started to form a martial arts system of their own. And before you start telling me I'm an idiot... Look at the time line. Alexander the Great conquers Asia Minor about 350BCE. Martial styles start springing up in India around 300 BCE and it all works its way east, finally ending up in Japan around 200CE.

Just a theory, but one that makes sense to me.[/quote]


Title: What were knights
Post by: Hereward The Wake on February 01, 2004, 08:19:10 AM
The term knight keeps getting used as if it meant the same thing throughout history. That is not true and what a knight was expected to do changed.
 Recent work has found that there was good and bad tactical knowledge in Europe as much as there was good and bad tactical nowledge during any period/war.
We all have to be  carefull with making definate arguments about things!
8')

JW


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Drifter Bob on February 01, 2004, 09:49:40 AM
Quote
It is rumored that the Foundation of the Martial Arts in the east was in fact attributable to the conquests of Alexander the Great when his men were seen practicing Pankration (The original Greek wrestling/martial art form) by the locals in India who were so impressed they started to form a martial arts system of their own.


I personally believe that martial arts forms existed all over the world, developed more or less independently by every group of people, all of whom went through warlike periods, all of whom developed their own weapons and armor and battle tactics.  I think there is considerable evidence, as (I keep pointing out to contracycle and others dismissive of the idea of WMA) that active remnants of very ancient martial arts traditions still exist in nearly every country in Europe, and Russia as they also do in Africa, Asia (of course) and even central and south America.

No doubt however there are periods when one art influnces another, or even influences all others, as what happened with the worldwide explosion of EMA in the 60's.  There is an interesting correlary to the whole Alexander the Great martial arts theory, in that several distinct weapon types can be traced directly from Alexanders incursion into India, perhaps most notably concave bladed swords and knives derivitive of the Kopis / Falcata, such as the infamous Kurkri knife of the Gurkhas.

JR


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Jake Norwood on February 01, 2004, 02:22:41 PM
Jonathan! Nice to see you here on the TROS forum? Do you play, by any chance?

Jake


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Hereward The Wake on February 02, 2004, 11:58:56 AM
Well not as much as like. I've not had a good group to do any gaming with I am generaly now only getting to do war games when not teaching. I have always follwed the game as I was very interested in the ideas behind the combat system, I have always found the combat the worst bit about games since is stated playing......jez 20 years ago! I'come back to the forum as some interesting discussions come up and it provoke my ideas for the game and my own ideas for the 'ideal' game combat system!
8')

All the best

JW

Quote from: Jake Norwood
Jonathan! Nice to see you here on the TROS forum? Do you play, by any chance?

Jake


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Crusader on February 02, 2004, 03:21:20 PM
That's not John Waller, the Royal Armouries fight interpreter is it?


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Hereward The Wake on February 03, 2004, 04:28:39 PM
No his son! Dad never really got the whole Role playing thing! Do you know Dad?
JW

Quote from: Crusader
That's not John Waller, the Royal Armouries fight interpreter is it?


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Muggins on February 04, 2004, 02:52:31 AM
I ran into him once, very briefly.

As long as swinging a sword runs in the family, we shall forgive your dad for his oversight in not roleplaying enough!

James


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Hereward The Wake on February 04, 2004, 03:06:30 AM
Yes the sword swinging heritage, was there when I was born so, I grew up wth it an it was one of the influences in me getting in to RPGs in the first place.

All the best
JW

Quote from: Muggins
I ran into him once, very briefly.

As long as swinging a sword runs in the family, we shall forgive your dad for his oversight in not roleplaying enough!

James


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Crusader on February 04, 2004, 12:38:43 PM
Alas, I do not know John Waller personally.  I have, however, eagerly watched him on television.  Your father has good taste in armour, too.  His harness

http://www.whiterosearmoury.co.uk/waller.JPG

is almost as cool as mine. ;)

Nice to have you here.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Hereward The Wake on February 04, 2004, 12:56:08 PM
It is a nice armour, with an unusual configuration of tassets front and back. The breast and back, pauldrons and greaves are White Rose. Thats his second string armour, he has an even nicer Gothic harness.
Nice to be here!!

JW
 
Quote from: Crusader
Alas, I do not know John Waller personally.  I have, however, eagerly watched him on television.  Your father has good taste in armour, too.  His harness

http://www.whiterosearmoury.co.uk/waller.JPG

is almost as cool as mine. ;)

Nice to have you here.


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Jake Norwood on February 04, 2004, 04:04:18 PM
Ahhh, so you're Johnny Waller!  I've heard some pretty mythical stories about you and your bow from John Clements...

Jake


Title: a Knight vs a Samurai?
Post by: Hereward The Wake on February 06, 2004, 05:35:26 AM
Yep thats me. I've been shooting for longer than I've been using other weapons!