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  #1  
Old 04-24-2005, 09:56 PM
Zyke Zyke is offline
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Default Samurai- Greatest Swordsmen in history?

I've been a-thinking lately, and this is purely speculative, based off of true facts. I've been pondering this for some time, and do you guys think that the samurai was the greatest swordsman in history? Personally, I think so. Let's take a look at why:

- Their entire life was spent training and learning martial arts, swordsmanship, and whatever other weapons they used.
- They were completely devote, disciplined, and dedicated to their field. They spent their entire lives practicing and learning.
- They were not afraid to die and never tried to run from battle

Of course these could also be applied to other civilizations, such as the Greeks (most notably the Spartans), and to a lesser extent, the Romans. However, Spartans were only forced to be in the military from the age of 7 (when training began) and could retire by, I believe, 30 or so. The Romans were of a similar way, where soldiering became more of a profession than a lifestyle. If you look at the samurai, it was birth until death. There was no retirement, and no age restriction.

I could probably go more into this, but this is essentially the basis of my thinking and gets the point across well enough (or so I think anyway). What are all of your thoughts?
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Old 04-24-2005, 09:59 PM
Kuraku Hideaki Kuraku Hideaki is offline
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Default Re: Samurai- Greatest Swordsmen in history?

you could say that they were, in fact, the greatest swordsman in history. Because they based their life on bushido, and honor, they pushed themselves to the greater extent that they did. If they were captured they lost honor, and would kill them selves. The greeks and romans did not do this, they just lived in discrace.

I beleive they were great also... but i dont know how they lept on those tatami mats o_0
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Old 04-25-2005, 07:27 AM
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Default Re: Samurai- Greatest Swordsmen in history?

Don't forget the Chinese! They were awesome swordsmen and most likely showed the Japanese the way of the sword.
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Old 04-25-2005, 08:26 AM
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Default Re: Samurai- Greatest Swordsmen in history?

I dont beleave the chinese did. The japanese had some strong ties with the chinese sure but the samuria date back a long way they live by the sword and all. Chinese were all warlords back then fighting eachother for land while the emporer sat back and looked pretty.
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Old 04-25-2005, 08:42 AM
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Default Re: Samurai- Greatest Swordsmen in history?

well i would have to ask a few questions before moving on.

What aspect of swordsmanship are we talking about? The ability to get the job done? or the stylized aspects of sword play?
Are we discussing over all military might and tactics, meeting in melee, or dualing?

In any rate i think that it is a drastic over site to exclude the medievil knights from the discussion. Once you get beyond the modern misconceptions of "they had huge heavy swords" and "thier armor was bulky and slowed them down" you have a fighting force that not only was bred to fight, fought by a code, chivarly, but participated in battle very often not only within their own system of combat, but against other cultures with varying tactics, weapons, etc. Not to mention they had sheilds.

Also we as moderns have very misconstrude visions of what all cultures martial arts meathods were in reality. We have a cinamatic vision of the clunky knight, the noble samurai whose blade can cut through concrete and steel, and the shoalin monk that can regularly catch arrows in his hand. Dont get me wrong i too am enamored with the samurai sword and medieval japanese culture, but history is usually much different then the common modern perception.

All of this is not to say that the swordstyle x would defeat swordstyle y consistently, only to state that there are far more variables to consider and we all combined have far to little actual knowledge to draw any reliable conclusions. Take the old UFC tournaments for example. You would have these guys with multiple blackbelts and with national/world championship in varying disciplines get waxed by some dude who is a bouncer (Tank Abbott). Royce Gracie dominated the first two years, until he fought Kimo(who he still submitted, but took so much damage during the fight that he couldnt continue). The bottom line is that it all comes down to the over all skill of the fighters, the cercumstances they meet under, and a hole lot of luck. Again using the UFC as an example, to my limited knowledge even the most feared, dominant, and experienced fighters have losses on their record because of the unpredictablity of combat. A slip, and over zealous attack, a mis que, bad timing, punch or kick that lands just right and its all over. Now add blades and armor to the situation and you have even more rumor for error.



Sidebar: It is my understanding that while early medievil japanese periods were filled with combat, that during the final development of bushido and its application there after Japan was revalatively peaceful with little to no major millitary involvement other than from with in. Now granded this is being taken from a few discovery/history channel documentaries so i understand the info maybe suspect. Also iirc if it wasnt for a tsunami at the right time most historians believe that japan would have been ransacked by the mongols. Can any of the more well read japanese history buff confirm and deny these things?


Here are a couple articles to read if you have the chance...

http://www.thearma.org/essays/knightvs.htm

http://www.thearma.org/essays/katanavs.htm
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Old 04-25-2005, 08:45 AM
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Default Re: Samurai- Greatest Swordsmen in history?

King wow that post was fast and long *smited*
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Old 04-25-2005, 10:03 AM
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Default Re: Samurai- Greatest Swordsmen in history?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Takashi Masonori
I dont beleave the chinese did. The japanese had some strong ties with the chinese sure but the samuria date back a long way they live by the sword and all. Chinese were all warlords back then fighting eachother for land while the emporer sat back and looked pretty.
I would read a few books on the History of the Samurai. Specifically one that deals with the influences of the Han and Tang dynasties. Even the modern name Japan is from the Chinese spelling/sounding out of the countries real name.

EDIT: This is a decent book to read. Most public libraries will have it.

Heavenly Warriors: The Evolution of Japan's Military, 500-1300
By William W. Farris
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Old 04-25-2005, 11:41 AM
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Default Re: Samurai- Greatest Swordsmen in history?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arrak
I would read a few books on the History of the Samurai. Specifically one that deals with the influences of the Han and Tang dynasty. Even the modern name Japan is from the Chinese spelling/sounding out of the countries real name.
right, the chinese culture had many infulences on japanese culture. For instance, Buddism made its way into china and evolved into chan budism, picking up some influences from native culture including religion and philosophy. it then moved into japan and became zen buddism ater it was meshed with shintoism and other Native cultural and philosophical ideas. I am sure that with buddism came many other things...
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Old 04-25-2005, 11:44 AM
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Default Re: Samurai- Greatest Swordsmen in history?

Just wondering, Between Japan and China, there is Korea
Did Korea have some kind of thing like Samurai because I many think only Japan when they think Samurai.
I mean Korea was inbetween both of the two countries and there has to be some contact between them.

Unless this never happened because of the closing of borders from the European traders. (Firearms are evil )
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Old 04-25-2005, 02:15 PM
Zyke Zyke is offline
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Default Re: Samurai- Greatest Swordsmen in history?

I have to agree with your points there King. However consider that while some of those facts about the Knight were true, their armor really was heavy and constricting. A knight in full plate armor was pretty much constricted to a horse- once knocked down, they would have a difficult time getting up, and if they could, they did move much slowly than someone wearing lighter armor (such as leather). The medium here would be chain mail then, but then the Knight loses protection and becomes more vulnerable.

Also, while the shield of course means more protection, it also means the Knight is limited to a lighter, one handed sword, as opposed to a two handed sword, or a sword that can be used with two hands at least, ala the samurai. Lighter armor also means faster movement, and plate armor is anything but light and maneuverable.

As for more large scale conflict as opposed to one on one, the normal Knight was not an archer, while samurai were trained in archery as well. A medieval archer was usually a "normal" soldier, not a knight. In a large conflict, the side with archers and swordsman will most likely beat the side without archers. It's like 500 infantrymen of today taking on 500 other infantrymen with artillery and mortars. While victory is possible, the chances of it are greatly reduced because of the lack of a variety of weapons needed in different situations. In this case, that would be ranged and melee.
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