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Author Topic: a Knight vs a Samurai?  (Read 47512 times)
Valamir
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« Reply #150 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.
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #151 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
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Sneaky Git
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Posts: 169


« Reply #152 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
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Drifter Bob
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« Reply #153 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
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John Dillinger
Drifter Bob
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« Reply #154 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
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John Dillinger
Brian Leybourne
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« Reply #155 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.
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Brian Leybourne
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Ingenious
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« Reply #156 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
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #157 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
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contracycle
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Posts: 2807


« Reply #158 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.
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Muggins
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« Reply #159 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
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Salamander
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Posts: 450


« Reply #160 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.
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"Don't fight your opponent's sword, fight your opponent. For as you fight my sword, I shall fight you. My sword shall be nicked, your body shall be peirced through and I shall have a new sword".
Salamander
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« Reply #161 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.
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"Don't fight your opponent's sword, fight your opponent. For as you fight my sword, I shall fight you. My sword shall be nicked, your body shall be peirced through and I shall have a new sword".
Salamander
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« Reply #162 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.
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toli
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Posts: 313


« Reply #163 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...
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contracycle
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Posts: 2807


« Reply #164 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).
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"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
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