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Author Topic: a Knight vs a Samurai?  (Read 44816 times)
Brian Leybourne
Member

Posts: 1793


« 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.
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Brian Leybourne
bleybourne@gmail.com

RPG Books: Of Beasts and Men, The Flower of Battle, The TROS Companion
Ingenious
Member

Posts: 352


« Reply #1 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.
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montag
Member

Posts: 172


« Reply #2 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?
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markus
------------------------------------------------------
"The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do."
--B. F. Skinner, Contingencies of Reinforcement (1969)
Brian Leybourne
Member

Posts: 1793


« Reply #3 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.
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Brian Leybourne
bleybourne@gmail.com

RPG Books: Of Beasts and Men, The Flower of Battle, The TROS Companion
montag
Member

Posts: 172


« Reply #4 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."
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markus
------------------------------------------------------
"The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do."
--B. F. Skinner, Contingencies of Reinforcement (1969)
Valamir
Member

Posts: 5574


WWW
« Reply #5 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.
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Ashren Va'Hale
Member

Posts: 427


« Reply #6 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.
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Philosophy: Take whatever is not nailed down, for the rest, well thats what movement is for!
Lance D. Allen
Member

Posts: 1962


WWW
« Reply #7 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.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
Bob Richter
Member

Posts: 324


« Reply #8 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.
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So ye wanna go earnin' yer keep with yer sword, and ye think that it can't be too hard...
Lance D. Allen
Member

Posts: 1962


WWW
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2004, 11:34:01 AM »

Sounds like Jake (or maybe Salamander?) should clarify. They're our resident RMA gurus.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
montag
Member

Posts: 172


« Reply #10 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.
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markus
------------------------------------------------------
"The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do."
--B. F. Skinner, Contingencies of Reinforcement (1969)
Anthony I
Member

Posts: 72


WWW
« Reply #11 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 ), as this has been hashed over more times than I can count.


[[edited out a typo]]
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Anthony I

Las Vegas RPG Club Memeber
found at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lv_rpg_club/
montag
Member

Posts: 172


« Reply #12 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.
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markus
------------------------------------------------------
"The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do."
--B. F. Skinner, Contingencies of Reinforcement (1969)
Bob Richter
Member

Posts: 324


« Reply #13 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.
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So ye wanna go earnin' yer keep with yer sword, and ye think that it can't be too hard...
Ingenious
Member

Posts: 352


« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2004, 03:05:08 PM »

Montag,
Thanks for clearing up my point. Sometimes my points are not clear as glass.

-Ingenious
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