# Poll: Katana and Rapier: An Objective Comparison

#### demoman_chaos

##### New member
Wyes said:
I disagree. If you want I can show you the equations, but angular velocity is directly proportional to the torque applied. Simply put, two hands => more torque (strength of two arms instead of one) => more angular velocity. This is just simple physics. This has also been my experience, having done several one handed and two handed systems. Having two hands allows you to cut, recover, and transition faster. The only thing you can't do faster is a thrust or change the direction of a thrust.
This comes down to the fact that the sword doesn't cut through the motion of the arms directly, it by using the motion of a lever, with your arms applying the torque to the lever. Two arms => (not quite) twice as much torque.
I've got two videos for you mate, the first being a test showing cutting power and speed with 1 and 2 handed grip as part of testing curved vs straight swords.

The 2nd is a great demonstration of katana vs longsword.

There was one that was much better I think, but it was set to private for some reason. Makes me a very sad person.

#### Tuxedoman

##### New member
demoman_chaos said:
The 2nd is a great demonstration of katana vs longsword.
I was never a fan of Nylon wasters, they have absolutely no weight to them.

I have to say, the dude with the Shinai doesn't seem to know what to do when the Longsworder gets within his striking range. Could he have only done Kendo?
He just seems very static and unresponsive. Not meaning to bash Kendo, but from what I've seen of the sport you don't do a whole lot of actual fighting in it.

#### wulfy42

##### New member
To make any comparison fair, we must first say that both weapons are made of the same material, and are created to be the appropriate length for the size of the person wielding it. Basically both weapons are custom made for the wielder, of the same material.

In such a case the Rapier would have a length advantage....and weight less....allowing for faster attacks.

The Katana could be used with one or two hands, be slower, but have a higher weight....and much a much superior slash. It's length disadvantage would be made up somewhat by it's effectiveness at very close range (a rapier needs some distance between the targets so if you get in close, the katana becomes far more effective).

Two fencers fighting with rapiers both needs to keep a respective distance to attack and thrust. A rapier user fighting a katana user HAS to keep distance to have any chance at all. If the katana user can parry and get within range of the rapier user....he is dead.

So then the question becomes.....can the Katana user either get within his optimal range, or parry an attack from the rapier user (would the rapier attack just be too fast for the katana user to parry at all?)

This is saying neither combatant is wearing any armor etc...and both are equally skilled.

Well....a rapier is faster, but the katana is still quite light...and has a broader blade to block with....and a significantly stronger force on the block. Made out of the same material the katana certainly would not damage the rapier, but...the impact might be enough to throw off the rapier users defense/retreat etc, long enough for the katana user to take advantage.

I think, over all, the battle would be over FAST. With the rapier user only having a few (possibly only one) chances to strike before the katana user could get inside the effective range of the rapier.

Rapiers are very fast and deadly, but if you are chest to chest (or a foot away) from your opponent...they are not that effective.

Katana's slashing abilities, light weight, ability to be used either with one hand or two, and the ability to both thrust or slash as needed....would give the advantage to the katana in most cases of both parties being as skilled and having experience with fighting the other kind of weapon.

The katana user needs practice against the rapier user. The reverse while still true, does not give the rapier user that much to improve on. In an initial fight between two combatants who had never fought the other type of weapon before, I think it would be a close fight and could go either way.

If both had experience versus the other type of weapon, I suspect that the Katana user would win more often then not...especially in modern days (where a rapier hit through the torso might cause serious damage that you can live through, but a katana chop through your neck won't.)

Both lose to a good knife thrower though

#### Alex Lai

##### New member
demoman_chaos said:
I've got two videos for you mate, the first being a test showing cutting power and speed with 1 and 2 handed grip as part of testing curved vs straight swords.

The 2nd is a great demonstration of katana vs longsword.
Wow I registered just for this ><

I think that the guy test cutting in the first video has poor technique for using a curved blade, especially with both hands. He is essentially 'hacking' at the target as if he is using an axe, which is not the 'slicing' motion you are meant to use to cut with a nihonto. I think a fairer comparison of one-hand vs two-hand cutting power would be to search 'tameshigiri' videos on youtube. Some videos show the same person taking down several targets with either one-hand or two-hand cuts. It should be very obvious which one provides more cutting power, even from the same individual using the same weapon.

The second video is not a great demonstration of 'katana vs longsword' at all... I can't speak for the longsword, but as a long time kendo player, the kenshi in the video had pretty poor form and footwork overall. As Tuxedoman noted, he is rather passive and does not utilise opportunities presented to him, particularly when the longsword user is within strike distance for a large amount of time...

#### Tuxedoman

##### New member
wulfy42 said:
I don't have any experience fighting with a Katana, but from my bouts of longsword vs rapier I have found that Rapierist can recover from strikes to attempt to knock their blade offline very VERY quickly. In skilled hands, the rapier should be moving around the opposing blade rather than stopping it outright, utilizing leverage to make up for the low mass of its blade.
The Katana could cut in with more force than a rapier, for sure. But not enough to blow through any guard. If it were some form of polearm vs a rapier, that would be an entirely different story...

But yeah. As with any weapon of similar length it can go either way, and it really comes down to the user. As seen in the video linked, if one person is super aggressive then that could put their opponent off for the entire fight, or they may just get stabbed and die.

Alex Lai said:
From a longsworder perspective, the longsworder has a good stance and lots of aggression, which is good. However if he was using steel, I doubt he would be hitting quite as fast as he was, nor would he be throwing his sword around like that while waiting.
A good example of Longsword technique for sure, but certainly not a fair representation of the Katana

#### Alex Lai

##### New member
Tuxedoman said:
What do you think of the longsword in this video?

Obviously it was a friendly spar but I felt both were decent and in control of their weapon. I think the technique utilised by the bokken user at 1:24 and 2:05 would be pretty indicative of what would happen if a nihonto were able to parry the initial thrust of a rapier. Certainly it's a technique we drill a lot in kendo. Note the immediate carry-through with the killing blow after the deflection/parry. The idea is that this is one "beat" as opposed to two (parry THEN counter). Obviously this is do-able without the initial attack by the rapier user, when the kenshi steps forward and takes initiative.

#### Tuxedoman

##### New member
Alex Lai said:
Tuxedoman said:
Snip Snip
I remember seeing this one actually. The idea of Parry and Riposte being the same movement is something that is true in Longsword fencing too, its just not always done as you tend to forget things while bouting. A big principle in German styles is the idea that when you strike, you are both attacking the enemy and defending yourself from their blow with a single movement.

As for the two strikes you mentioned, it would be a little different if it had been against a thrust, as you wouldn't have that same 'snapback' effect you get when you strike into an oncoming blow, but yeah. I think thats a good example of how to get around a rapier guard.

Theory and practice are very different though. I can think of a number of ways to get around an opponents guard, doesn't mean I will be able to pull it off. I remember one fine moment I had where I tried to knock my master's blade out of the way, he simply moved his sword down a bit and stabbed up under my blade. Unexpected stuff happens allllll the time

All up, this is one of the better examples of cross discipline combat I've seen though. Longsword vs Katana is good, as its similar enough that their respective techniques usually work, but different enough to keep both fighters on their toes.

#### Wyes

##### New member
demoman_chaos said:
As for the first video;

This is hardly a conclusive video for a number of reasons;

Firstly, the technique of the swordsman is sloppy (even discounting his two intentionally not great cuts). The cuts are not consistent at all, and he's doing much more of a hack than a slice with most of the cuts.

Secondly, the one cut where he manages his best speed (we'll have to take his word for this, from the video it's not clear) he's attacking from right shoulder, and he uses his shoulder as the fulcrum in the lever. This is more or less what the second hand does. I'm not saying one handed weapons are necessarily always slower, but in general the two handed weapon is quicker in most respects.

Thirdly, while I never said the two handed weapon cuts more effectively (I merely said faster, which is not necessarily equivalent), the truth is that it does - I have done test cutting with tatami mats, with both a single handed and two handed sword. I can tell you I managed clean, consistent cuts with both. I can also tell you that it was still easier to cut with the two handed weapon (that is, I felt less resistance). Regardless, even if the cut were not more effective, a two handed weapon is far more responsive because of the sheer amount of extra leverage you have.

Fourthly, I also never made the claim that curved swords cut better. However, now I will make that claim... for properly curved swords (see the shamshir, tulwar, kilij, etc.), rather than for something with the kind of curve the katana has, or say an infantry sabre. In fact, you can find historical sources that support the claim that a slight curve does not increase the cutting ability significantly, but that the tulwar for example was renowned for its cutting prowess.

Look, I'm not saying that two handed weapons are better than one handed weapons. Each have their respective advantages and disadvantages. One thing that's important to note is that speed is not the be all and end all of sword fighting. Good technique defeats speed any day of the week.

As for the second video... I'm actually not sure what point you're trying to make?
Regardless, they're not using steel (shinai and nylon wasters do not handle like steel), the kendo guy doesn't seem to be very good, and longsword guy is pretty decent but likes to wander into distance and spends too much time cycling through guards.
You'll discover that the trend with most of these HEMA/WMA vs EMA videos is usually that one side is far more skilled than the other, and it happens both ways - I've seen HEMA guys destroyed by kenjutsu guys, and vice versa.
The other video posted above to similar effect is one of the slightly better ones, but both combatants are severely limited by the lack of safety gear.

EDIT: The video I posted from my instructor is no different, I should mention.

#### Suncatcher

##### New member
What are the skill levels involved? What tactics are used? What armor are they wearing? What's the terrain like, and what are the starting positions? What's the goal of the confrontation?
There is never an "objectively better" weapon. Everything depends on how, when, where, and why it is used. A pocket knife can beat a nuclear bomb under kind of a lot of circumstances. A railgun is better than a musket, usually, but not in a month-long battle in a place where black powder is plentiful and electricity is scarce.
That's the fundamental problem with all these "deadliest warrior" style arguments. A ninja would almost certainly win against a sleeping opponent in the night regardless of target even if they didn't skip the fight and kill by poison or "accident", but on an open field at noon against a wary target they're fucked (particularly against anyone with firearms).

#### Lightknight

##### Mugwamp Supreme
Major Tom said:
I have the episode labeled as season 4 episode 19, but otherwise it's Special 9: Mega Movie Myths. I couldn't find stills of the actual rapier in question, but the sword they used was quite similar in style to these 17th century types [http://www.medieval-weaponry.co.uk/acatalog/torino-rapier.html], I suppose the more common image that would be conjured up when the word rapier is used. The experiment was set up to strike at around 1/3 of the way down from the tip, as I think they calculated that as being the spot mostly to achieve a cut through a blade.
A double bladed rapier? I mean, that is indeed a type of rapier. It's just not solely for stabbing. They appear to have tested a heavy rapier or sword rapier then. Tsk tsk tsk.

Wyes said:
Abomination said:
Nieroshai said:
This situation is not just limited to katanas versus rapiers. Watch Rob Roy to understand better: Rob wielded a broadsword and his opponent had a rapier. Rob took several jabs and tiny slices from the light piercing weapon. However, the battle ended when the broadsword finally split the fencer through the collarbone and several ribs. While only a movie, the situation is accurate in how the weapons work and fail.
Didn't Rob also just grab the fencer's weapon by the blade to nullify it, then deliver his coup de grâce? Don't get me wrong, total badass moment, but somewhat unlikely and unorthodox.
Gripping the blade is quite common in historical fencing systems.
Yes, particularly as many rapiers had no cutting blade at all and were solely intended for thrusting.

Wyes said:
Seeing as how so many people seem to be confused as to the cutting power of katanas compared to other weapons, guess what?! I have another fine video;
Katanas cut much better in their era than other blades because of the high carbon steel it was made out of and the heat treat/tempering of the steel that the Japanese figured out relatively early on. So that's perhaps why the lore of their blades persists so strongly to this day. Their sharpening techniques were also superb, far more refined than Europe ever became. People today see all these machined blade edges and think all blades had the perfect edge angle and all cut evenly. But back before machining was an option, sharpening styles made a huge difference from the angle of the edge to getting the edge to a point where it will cut but not warp. I remember the first time I sharpened a chisel and got it to a razor edge that would cut you if you touched it. But it sucked as a chisel because the angle was too narrow which left too little mass in the blade for durability.

I'd just like to point out that the foil and the rapier are very, very different weapons. Rapiers actually have quite substantial blades, and it is unlikely the katana would break the rapier (short of bracing the rapier against something).
Actually, I'm going to have to disagree a little here. A foil isn't really any specific weapon, it is just a type of practice weapon and a foil rapier/longsword/saber/whatever can be made. It has a blunted tip, no blade and low carbon steel to let it bend on impact. There have been many different types of foils throughout history. The type of foil we see nowadays is supposed to be a descendent of the training swords for a small-sword (common in the 18th century) which is a stab-only blade rather than a rapier foil which has a wider blade and is stiffer. The flexibility of the small-sword foil is probably what makes its form synonymous with the word foil nowadays as practicing with it has much less impact/exertion. Basically the perfect practicing tool.

The point of yours I'm going to disagree with the strongest is the statement that rapiers had substantial blades. Rapier is a slightly ambiguous term that comes in many forms. The general requirement is that it have a slender blade (not necessarily any edge)with a sharp tip that is specifically designed for thrusting. So some rapiers have no edges whatsoever and the blade is narrow (not substantial) even on the ones with sharpened edges. They have complex hilts almost universally as a primary deflection requires blocking nearest the hilt which is the stronges part of the blade but many swords had complex hilts and have often been incorrectly grouped with rapiers which only exacerbates the layman's confusion over what a traditional rapier is.

Ridolfo Capoferro, a fencing master who actually published a rapier fencing manual in 1610 explains that a rapier may be sharpened along the entire edge of the blade or just at the tip.

But the term is so ambiguous that asking for a rapier in Germany gets you a long sword.

But this is why the small sword actually evolved from the traditional rapier (and bayonettes evolved out of small swords). It is actually a lighter version of the already light rapier.

So to say that rapiers had substantial blades is universally wrong. To say they had cutting blades along the entire edge is only wrong some of the time or all of the time according to country of origin. They weren't hacking blades. The sword blade was always too narrow to do that effectively and any attempts ot combing a hackings/cutting blade with a rapier resulted in what's known as a heavy rapier or sword rapier. The problem with those is they have neither the cutting capacity of a sword nor the agility/lightness of a rapier and so didn't catch on. So that's why the standard rapier is generally nearly edgeless with the sharpened edge moreso intended to assist in the thrust puncture rather than for hacking. Rapiers started as cut and thrust (heavy rapiers) and became thrust weapons once they matured as a weapon.

This is perhaps one of the most detailed explanations of the Rapier I've found: Great Rapier Resource [http://www.thearma.org/Youth/rapieroutline.htm]

#### demoman_chaos

##### New member
Tuxedoman said:
demoman_chaos said:
The 2nd is a great demonstration of katana vs longsword.
I was never a fan of Nylon wasters, they have absolutely no weight to them.

I have to say, the dude with the Shinai doesn't seem to know what to do when the Longsworder gets within his striking range. Could he have only done Kendo?
He just seems very static and unresponsive. Not meaning to bash Kendo, but from what I've seen of the sport you don't do a whole lot of actual fighting in it.
Neither do shinai really.
Most people who take up the challenge against the longsword aren't the type who use what the longsword is capable of and aren't prepared for it. They are most often sportsmen, not really martial artists. This isn't the best one out there I admit, but it is one of the few that show the longsword being used as something other than a differently shaped katana.

wulfy42 said:
So then the question becomes.....can the Katana user either get within his optimal range, or parry an attack from the rapier user (would the rapier attack just be too fast for the katana user to parry at all?)

Well....a rapier is faster, but the katana is still quite light...and has a broader blade to block with....and a significantly stronger force on the block. Made out of the same material the katana certainly would not damage the rapier, but...the impact might be enough to throw off the rapier users defense/retreat etc, long enough for the katana user to take advantage.

Katana's slashing abilities, light weight, ability to be used either with one hand or two, and the ability to both thrust or slash as needed....would give the advantage to the katana in most cases of both parties being as skilled and having experience with fighting the other kind of weapon.

The katana user needs practice against the rapier user. The reverse while still true, does not give the rapier user that much to improve on. In an initial fight between two combatants who had never fought the other type of weapon before, I think it would be a close fight and could go either way.

If both had experience versus the other type of weapon, I suspect that the Katana user would win more often then not...especially in modern days (where a rapier hit through the torso might cause serious damage that you can live through, but a katana chop through your neck won't.)
The katana is a very heavy blade for its size, being the same weight of much longer hand-and-a-half swords (3-4 lbs) while similar length European blades would be around 2 lbs (some a bit less). It is far from light.

It is also very very short, 27 inches vs the average rapier length of 40. This is compounded by the 1 vs 2 handed stance. With my 34" bladed wooden rapier mock-up I can get roughly 60 inches of reach from my front foot. My 27" katana can muster around 40. With a longer rapier, that is about 2 ft of distance to cover. Not to mention that the "musketeer" can step back as the "samurai" steps forward, making it that much more difficult to close the distance.

Alex Lai said:
Wow I registered just for this ><

I think that the guy test cutting in the first video has poor technique for using a curved blade, especially with both hands. He is essentially 'hacking' at the target as if he is using an axe, which is not the 'slicing' motion you are meant to use to cut with a nihonto. I think a fairer comparison of one-hand vs two-hand cutting power would be to search 'tameshigiri' videos on youtube. Some videos show the same person taking down several targets with either one-hand or two-hand cuts. It should be very obvious which one provides more cutting power, even from the same individual using the same weapon.

The second video is not a great demonstration of 'katana vs longsword' at all... I can't speak for the longsword, but as a long time kendo player, the kenshi in the video had pretty poor form and footwork overall. As Tuxedoman noted, he is rather passive and does not utilise opportunities presented to him, particularly when the longsword user is within strike distance for a large amount of time...
Welcome to the Escapist mate.

Watch his technique before the actual cut, you can see the slicing. The main reason I linked that was the speed debate, as many claim that 2 handed cuts are faster than 1 handed. That video is one of the better ones I know of showing that that is not the case.

The issue is very likely that he was an experienced kendo player, and is only used to people using his sport regulations. The first grapple likely spooked him, and that fall wasn't exactly a great confidence boost. I WISH the one I want to link wasn't set to private, it really upsets me that it is but it is a much better showing of the two styles.

As for that video, it shows the main reason most of those comparisons are rather poo. The "longsword" is used like a katana. The guy doesn't use the 2nd edge, the guard, or any of the features of the longsword. In my video (linked below), I didn't show off the 2nd edge much but I at least displayed how helpful that large guard really is (it was made before I learned how to fully utilize the 2nd edge though).

Wyes said:
demoman_chaos said:
As for the first video;

This is hardly a conclusive video for a number of reasons;

Firstly, the technique of the swordsman is sloppy (even discounting his two intentionally not great cuts). The cuts are not consistent at all, and he's doing much more of a hack than a slice with most of the cuts.

Secondly, the one cut where he manages his best speed (we'll have to take his word for this, from the video it's not clear) he's attacking from right shoulder, and he uses his shoulder as the fulcrum in the lever. This is more or less what the second hand does. I'm not saying one handed weapons are necessarily always slower, but in general the two handed weapon is quicker in most respects.

Thirdly, while I never said the two handed weapon cuts more effectively (I merely said faster, which is not necessarily equivalent), the truth is that it does - I have done test cutting with tatami mats, with both a single handed and two handed sword. I can tell you I managed clean, consistent cuts with both. I can also tell you that it was still easier to cut with the two handed weapon (that is, I felt less resistance). Regardless, even if the cut were not more effective, a two handed weapon is far more responsive because of the sheer amount of extra leverage you have.

Fourthly, I also never made the claim that curved swords cut better. However, now I will make that claim... for properly curved swords (see the shamshir, tulwar, kilij, etc.), rather than for something with the kind of curve the katana has, or say an infantry sabre. In fact, you can find historical sources that support the claim that a slight curve does not increase the cutting ability significantly, but that the tulwar for example was renowned for its cutting prowess.

Look, I'm not saying that two handed weapons are better than one handed weapons. Each have their respective advantages and disadvantages. One thing that's important to note is that speed is not the be all and end all of sword fighting. Good technique defeats speed any day of the week.

As for the second video... I'm actually not sure what point you're trying to make?
Regardless, they're not using steel (shinai and nylon wasters do not handle like steel), the kendo guy doesn't seem to be very good, and longsword guy is pretty decent but likes to wander into distance and spends too much time cycling through guards.
You'll discover that the trend with most of these HEMA/WMA vs EMA videos is usually that one side is far more skilled than the other, and it happens both ways - I've seen HEMA guys destroyed by kenjutsu guys, and vice versa.
The other video posted above to similar effect is one of the slightly better ones, but both combatants are severely limited by the lack of safety gear.

EDIT: The video I posted from my instructor is no different, I should mention.
1st point- I suspect the target had a lot to do with the technique, though I can't say either way.

2nd- That is fairly relevant to the debate. If you try to cut one handed using a cut similar to a 2 handed one, it isn't going to work out so well. Adjusting the pivot point accordingly will give a similar swing speed. I will say heavier weapons will be faster in 2 hands, but lighter ones don't really benefit from the 2nd hand.

3rd- The difference would be due to the grip, using the 2nd hand to limit the twist of the wrist on impact (for lack of a better term). That might give an advantage to 2-handing, and the lack of grip to resist that when using a reverse grip (like you often see ninjas and the like use in Hollywood) makes those cuts highly ineffective.

4th- No disagreement there. Highly curved swords gain an advantage but they also become less effective against armor as the blade will want to glide along the armor rather than bite in to deliver blunt force into it. Personal experiments have shown that forward curves bite best, rear curves glide most, straight edges are a happy medium.

I have seen only 3 types of East vs West swordsmanship videos. Either the western guy uses the weapon in a manner no different than the Eastern one, the two are sportsmen and not martial artists and don't use their weapons in a historical manner, or one of the two are sportmen and have no idea how to counter the behavior of the martial artist. #3 is most seen in longsword vs katana videos depicted someone trained in HEMA most often against someone who does kendo.

This is the fight I did with a friend for longsword vs katana. This was before I really learned how to use the 2nd edge effectively. At the very least, you can see how the large guard of the longsword does wonders. Hopefully sometime soonish I can do a bout using the mock up rapier I made against him and the bokken.

#### demoman_chaos

##### New member
Lightknight said:
Katanas cut much better in their era than other blades because of the high carbon steel it was made out of and the heat treat/tempering of the steel that the Japanese figured out relatively early on.
Is that why the very same techniques they used were outdated by the Roman era? The Pre-Roman Celts folded their steel exactly as the Japanese did about two THOUSAND years after them. By the time the Japanese were folding their steel, Europeans had moved on to pattern welding. Pattern welding allows swords to be very flexible and recover their shape after they bend. This is something the katana doesn't do very well due to the high iron conent.

Their sharpening techniques were also superb, far more refined than Europe ever became. People today see all these machined blade edges and think all blades had the perfect edge angle and all cut evenly. But back before machining was an option, sharpening styles made a huge difference from the angle of the edge to getting the edge to a point where it will cut but not warp. I remember the first time I sharpened a chisel and got it to a razor edge that would cut you if you touched it. But it sucked as a chisel because the angle was too narrow which left too little mass in the blade for durability.
No matter how sharp something is, just touching it won't lead you being cut. Edges do not work that way. As for Japan having better sharpening techniques, that is just plain ridiculous. The katanas you see cutting things today have edges very different than historical ones. You can't have a "razor" sharp edge and expect to keep it. Katanas did have harder edges, so in theory they could take a sharper edge. In practice, that edge is very brittle and would chip very easily.

#### Hagi

##### New member
Just out of curiosity for any history buffs out there,

when it comes to actual historical combat and killing how much did actually involve the kind of fights described here in this thread, you know with fairness and all that stuff, and how many were rather about you know... stabbing them in the back?

Seems to me that with either of these weapons that if you're in an actual combat scenario you don't want to be facing your enemy head-on, because no matter what you're putting yourself in serious risk. Rather you'd probably want to ambush them or some such. Run away if you're in any scenario with serious risks. Stuff like that.

Am I wrong in thinking that in actual reality you'd want the longer and lighter blade, the rapier, and just you know... don't do the whole fairness thing?

##### New member
Hagi said:
Am I wrong in thinking that in actual reality you'd want the longer and lighter blade, the rapier, and just you know... don't do the whole fairness thing?
Well if you're just gonna do that, might as well just use a knife. No sense lugging a sword around.

But when you have, say, a big ass army of guys marching with you I don't know how you're going to get the drop on them.

#### Hagi

##### New member
Hagi said:
Am I wrong in thinking that in actual reality you'd want the longer and lighter blade, the rapier, and just you know... don't do the whole fairness thing?
Well if you're just gonna do that, might as well just use a knife. No sense lugging a sword around.

But when you have, say, a big ass army of guys marching with you I don't know how you're going to get the drop on them.
Some extra reach over a knife is nice I'd say.

Plus if you have a big ass army of guys marching with you then it's kinda irrelevant what weapon you're using since there's the whole big ass army of guys. Both would make pretty crappy army weapons anyway, but even there I'd say you'd be better off with the rapier as stabbing is much easier when surrounded by a big ass army of guys compared to swinging and the extra distance is also a plus since I'm assuming you'd be facing another big ass army of guys. You just have to hope that other big ass army of guys isn't using an actual army weapon like the poleaxe, spear, lance or bow.

#### McKitten

##### New member
Hagi said:
Just out of curiosity for any history buffs out there,

when it comes to actual historical combat and killing how much did actually involve the kind of fights described here in this thread, you know with fairness and all that stuff, and how many were rather about you know... stabbing them in the back?
None of the weapons discussed here were actually primary combat weapons, so, not a whole lot. Rapiers were backup weapons for people armed with arquebuses or muskets (although they were also popular civilian self-defence weapons until reliable pistols came around) and katanas were the backup weapon of primarily mounted archers. When they actually were used for duels, odds are that the combat went fairly honourably, but the number of duels to the death is necessarily low in any society. (think about it, you'd have to kill half the population for everyone to be in only one duel to the death during their whole lifetime)

##### New member
Hagi said:
Hagi said:
Am I wrong in thinking that in actual reality you'd want the longer and lighter blade, the rapier, and just you know... don't do the whole fairness thing?
Well if you're just gonna do that, might as well just use a knife. No sense lugging a sword around.

But when you have, say, a big ass army of guys marching with you I don't know how you're going to get the drop on them.
Some extra reach over a knife is nice I'd say.

Plus if you have a big ass army of guys marching with you then it's kinda irrelevant what weapon you're using since there's the whole big ass army of guys. Both would make pretty crappy army weapons anyway, but even there I'd say you'd be better off with the rapier as stabbing is much easier when surrounded by a big ass army of guys compared to swinging and the extra distance is also a plus since I'm assuming you'd be facing another big ass army of guys. You just have to hope that other big ass army of guys isn't using an actual army weapon like the poleaxe, spear, lance or bow.
In other words, when it comes to what weapon works best, it's contextual. These sword vs sword debates cut out how battles actually work for a legit duel scenario. When you do that it really just becomes about preference.

#### TwiZtah

##### New member
Rapier would win, fuck, everything wins against Katanas, even in the prime age of Katanas. Contrary to popular belief, they were extremely bad. The katana was only used as a last resort weapon, if your Naginata or other weapon had failed. They were extremely brittle and would often get destroyed if they were dueled with, unlike the other medieval swords. At anything other than cutting peasants, it was really bad at.

#### Lightknight

##### Mugwamp Supreme
demoman_chaos said:
Is that why the very same techniques they used were outdated by the Roman era? The Pre-Roman Celts folded their steel exactly as the Japanese did about two THOUSAND years after them. By the time the Japanese were folding their steel, Europeans had moved on to pattern welding. Pattern welding allows swords to be very flexible and recover their shape after they bend. This is something the katana doesn't do very well due to the high iron conent.
What has folding steel got to do with anything? Any movie that ever says the blade was folded "a thousand times" is full of shit. You MAY see a sword whose original billet was folded 16 or so times. What people probably confused with folding is the number of layers. Each fold created a geometrically higher amount of layers (15 folds = 1->2->4->8->16->32->64->128->256->512->1,024->2,048->4,096->8,192->16,384 layers). All folding does is make the metal more uniform in its microstructure. If you've ever smelted iron and then tried to work with it (as I have), you'll note that the first billet form you get is really rough with large grain structure that practically screams crap. But as you fold it, that structure gets more and more refined and quickly becomes useable. Every time you fold the billet, you are essentially forge welding it to itself. Each time it's folded, the billet loses material as well. So for someone to be able to fold it a 1,000 times you'd have to start with some kind of mile long (exaggerated guess that may be underestimated) billet to end up with enough material to forge a sword.

So their folding technique is a necessary technique, but it isn't all that special. What was special was the carbon content of the steel and their heat treat/tempering techniques. The reason why the blade curves (they are forged straight) is because they are rapidly cooled from a high temperature and the spine of the blade is thicker and cools slower than the edge of the blade. That rapid cooling changes the structure of the grain in such a way as to make the blade a LOT harder. Then oven heat treating can bring the structure to a level that maximizes the blades strength and brings the hardness (martensite) down to a level that is no longer as brittle. Hardness here is the same kind of term as you'd use for a diamond or another rock. Resistence to abrasion. It literally changes the structure of the metal to be crystaline and then the further tempering brings the amoutn of martensite down to appropriate levels for the tool.

The Romans did not have tempering which makes all the difference. The reason for that is because Romans didn't have Steel. At least, not high quality high carbon steel. As such, they also didn't know how to temper steel as that only works with high-carbon steel. That the Japanese did was figure out how to make a high quality blade using the right amount of carbon and combining that with cutting edge (haha) tempering technology.

If you want to look at higher quality steel production even earlier, you'll have to look at India for their Wootz steel production. But the Romans never figured it out.

So, crappy steel if steel was ever accidentally produced, no good tempering as tempering requires higher carbon contents of steel. So the Romans are a piss-poor route to go. India would be much better

Oh, and the Japanese seem to have actually understood the properties of high-carbon vs low-carbon steel. The blades weren't just one type. For example, they'd use lower carbon steel as a core. The Japanese understood steel carbon content in a way the western world wouldn't figure out for some time afterwards and even then western smithing didn't commonly use different types of steel within the same blade to make it better.

Having forged tanto blades and damascus blades (high ticket items for us to sell as quick as we could make them) I can tell you that understanding the properties of different metal types and how they can benefit the finished product differently can do wonders. For example, I'd often make a tomahawk with a wrought iron outside/jacket and a high carbon core (52/100 steel). This meant a very strong bit that could hold an edge like few other types of steel while having a jacket that can be etched to have a wood-like pattern and is resistent to corrosion like rust.

I'm not saying that Japanese blades are some mythical superhuman feat. Just that they were a very advanced technology in their era.

No matter how sharp something is, just touching it won't lead you being cut. Edges do not work that way. As for Japan having better sharpening techniques, that is just plain ridiculous. The katanas you see cutting things today have edges very different than historical ones. You can't have a "razor" sharp edge and expect to keep it. Katanas did have harder edges, so in theory they could take a sharper edge. In practice, that edge is very brittle and would chip very easily.
Depends on the amount of pressure you apply. But yes, edges generally require some motion to slice.

What I created with my chisel was a paper thin edge. That will break and warp easily. I actually made it curl the first time I tried to use it.

But harder does not always make something brittle. Not when the sword recieves further tempering to reduce the martensite. I'm not familiar with how the Japanese temper their blades after the initial rapid cooling or if they did that at all. From what I've seen, their work was no more brittle than other high carbon blades.

#### ___________________

##### New member
If you practiced iaido you'd know the length of the shinken depends on your height and arm length. And you wouldn't worry about the other two aspects you considered either. Besides, it depends on who is using each of the weapons. They are both equally fit for killing well, it's how you use the tools that matters. Oh and if you pull out the "a fencer would have a dagger too" thing, then I sugest you take up kenjutsu (not kendo) aswell. And the weight varies aswell. Women usually go for the lighter ones, for example.

This reminds me of the pointlessness of "martial art a" vs "martial art b" matches.