Poll: Katana and Rapier: An Objective Comparison

Kukakkau

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I'd say it'd be a toss up dependent on each wielder's speed, skill etc.

Thinking of a kendo-like stance with the katana it could be pretty difficult to land a solid thrust without it being parried. Then it's a case of if the katana user can get into close enough range to force the rapier to use cuts without giving them the opportunity to re-establish that reach.

But then again if the fight drags out the katana would probably break after a while.
 

Shock and Awe

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As someone with no real sword fighting experience, I'd call it for rapier. Its more flexible in its usage and allows the user more avenues of effective attack. The katana can slash very well, but cannot be used well to thrust which limits it.
 

loc978

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As someone trained in the use of both (and who owns two of each)... it's a tossup, armored or not. A rapier isn't generally faster to employ than a kanana... an epee or a foil can be (sport fencing blades are practically a wire compared to a real rapier), but my rapiers are actually heavier (if better balanced) than my traditional length katana (my o-katana is a monster, though. more reach than the rapiers as well).

In short, a katana is better at slicing and at deflecting another blade (especially a thin, one-handed blade like a rapier), while a rapier is better at thrusting and has more reach. The duelist with better footwork and luck wins.

**edit**
Also, between your wooden practice blades, I'd bet on the katana. A rapier that lacks a good distal taper (reducing thickness gradually toward the tip to put the center of mass back toward the hilt... without increasing weight) will be an unbalanced mess to wield. A practice katana needs no such consideration.
 

ZZoMBiE13

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A Scottish Claymore for me, thanks. I'm a taller person so I like a sword to match. They can be difficult to control, but that's part of the appeal. Like a wild horse to be broken, learning to wield a Claymore takes a bit of dedication.

But of the two, I'd probably still go with a Katana. I don't have a bunch of facts to back it up. No "DEADLIEST WARRIOR" style breakdown of the merits it has over the other. It's just a gut reaction to Katana's being the go-to "cool" sword.

As with any weapon though, it's less about the weapon itself, and more about the hand that wields it.
 

Jordi

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Honestly I'm not sure the length of the rapier is the unmitigated advantage that it's made out to be. Yes, having reach is nice, but so is being useful in close proximity. If an opponent does manage to close the distance, the rapier may become unwieldy especially since the tip is basically the only dangerous part.

Frankly, I think I'd prefer a katana. It doesn't seem super hard to block a single rapier thrust and doing so will will put the rapier out of position and allow you to close the distance and finish the job with your katana.

I'm guessing rapier wielders often carried a dagger to counter this short range problem.
 

Abomination

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Phrozenflame500 said:
Abomination said:
Cecilo said:
I don't really believe this is a fair comparison, the age in which Rapiers were used was an era dominated by the introduction of firearms.
Rapier wielder waits for Katana wielder to be within acceptable range of his pistol... draws and fires.
[snip]

OT: From the way you describe it the rapier sounds superior. Either they rapier wielder wins or they both die, there doesn't seem to be much hope for the katana wielder unless the rapier fucks up.
Even if the rapier wielder is suffering from food poisoning he wins :)
 

Lyri

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Jasper van Heycop said:
You seem to be leaving my favored blade out of the equation. The European Broadsword which is quite literally a double edged sword. A skilled user (there are still a few left in the world) can use the blade to cut, stab, chop and can even use the pommel and crossguard to bludgeon. There are also techniques like the zwerkhau (don't know the spelling) which are impossible to replicate or even block with a katana. And don't say the samurai has an edge in martial arts or training as the wielder would have been a knight trained from the age of 7, utilising techniques that were just as advanced as bushido-arts. And no a katana is not sharper or lighter, forging techniques were more advanced in medieval Europe than they were in feudal Japan. But to answer your OP the rapier wins hands down even if we use the far superior hacking weapon as IRL the rapier replaced the broadsword in every country, those duelist couldn't all have been crazy
He is leaving out that sword because it isn't interesting to him, why would you bring it up? There is no option C here.

Also Knights would mostly use bludgeoning weapons, fights on battle fields between knights were short and had the intent to wound each other.
Knights are valuable people, killing one was a loss as you could ransom them back to their family for coin.
Should a Samurai actually bring a Katana out against a knight, he would be two things.

- Dead.
- An idiot.

Rapiers replaced other swords because duels became about honour, they are simpler and easier for nobles and well to dos to carry around.
They did not replace broadswords because they were murderous tools fit for a rampage.
 

SerithVC

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The katana could snap a rapier rather easily, hence why rapiers were made as dueling weapons instead of combat weapons. A rapier will be wrecked by almost any type of sword. Yes it has the reach at first, but once it bends or breaks it becomes significantly less useful. Another huge factor is the skill of the wielders.
 

EvilRoy

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Zachary Amaranth said:
Deshara said:
Whereas the spaniards, and southern europeans in general, had excellent metal (the Danes used to pilgrim down to Venice to buy venician steel to make armor and weapons for their knights, I recall learning), and could make better weaponry.
But we're not really talking about weaponry in general, but two specific swords. The rapier is still going to be relatively light, negating many of the benefits specific to superior steel, and the katana wielder will take steps to mimimise blade contact.

The katana isn't a good weapon, it's just better than the rest of japanese weapons at the time.
I'm going to assume from the context of the rest of your post you mean other swords.

alexmillard said:
Due to it's construction it will stay sharp and function through-out a whole day of killing people
lolwot? The katana's edge was notoriously brittle as a tradeoff to its sharpness (more reslient blades were less sharp) and the sword often wasn't used as a primary weapon within battlefield conditions.
The benefit of superior steel is usually weight and flexibility, neither of which you would really lose with a reduction in weapon size. Something I would be particularly interested in seeing is the rapier weilder stopping the katana blade-to-blade, because of this fact.

As I recall rapiers were typically uniform steel of superior quality (increasing quality with the wealth of the owner of course), but katanas are made of at least two distinct types of metal one at the core and one to be sharpened for the edge. The trademark curve of a well made katana came from the interior core metal shrinking more than the exterior metal during the cooling process. The two metals would be well bonded, so as the core metal shrank it would pull the entire blade 'back' giving it a crescent shape.

Although this sounds spiffy, it means that the blade has effectively been post-tensioned by the cooling process, which means there is a very high tension stress along the cutting edge of the weapon. Therefore the katana would be very stiff along its cutting direction, and have limited flexibility laterally. Lateral-torsional buckling would likely be a concern.

Now I know that you're never supposed to block an attack edge to edge with a sword, but while the katana would sustain substantial damage, the rapier (after the initial impact shock) should simply bend and twist away avoiding the full extent of the damage. Being of a more ductile material the rapier would likely 'dent', but the katana may actually chip or nick extensively. Once that discontinuity has been introduced into the katana (the chip) there is less material resisting the post tensioned stress introduced into the blade by design, meaning that it is highly likely that the chip develops into a crack quickly. With the discontinuity in place it should be a simple matter of attacking the blade itself rather than the wielder, as it should be primed to crack and splinter.
 

gagagaga

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If the rapier is unsharpened, the our hypothetical katana user could grab it - something rapier man definitely isn't going to be do with the katana - and stab the other guy. Bam.

Also re: sword breakages, I think that really depends on the individual sword.
 

Therarchos

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In a Duel? Definitely the rapier. the reach and the speed is unequaled and the katana would (literally) not come close. In a battlefield situation with multiple opponents and armour the katana has the advantage due to the slashing ability and pure strength of the hit. short version one on one the rapier has the advantage since it requires focus and precision. In a chatic situation the katana is superior since it doesn't require the same precision... of course that is only if both users has the same (if you can even compare) skill "level". A good katana user would probably beat an experienced rapier user and the other way around.
 

Ieyke

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As someone actually trained in the proper use and techniques of the katana, and familiar with the techniques and design of rapiers, I can tell you the katana wins this EASILY.

The katana is essentially a peerless melee weapon just in general, but the rapier also suffers from numerous glaring weaknesses.

Assuming two opponents of equal skill, the katana's wielder has a massive advantage of speed, control, power, versatility, and even quality, essentially leaving only reach as an advantage to the rapier. ...an advantage which exacerbates the rapier's disadvantage in control.

 

Fox12

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It really depends. The fencing rapier is meant to be a lighter, more maneuverable weapon that emphasizes swift movement and sudden stabbing lunges. It grew in popularity during the advent of firearms. As a fencer, I can say it has the obvious reach advantage. It was often popular on ships and with light soldiers. However, it doesn't have a lot of weight behind it, and it can't really slash. It's meant to quickly pierce weaknesses in your opponents defense. If you're fighting a massively armored opponent it's effectively useless, since armor was becoming less useful, since gun technology was obviously making heavy armor more of a liability than an asset. As a fencer your priority isn't really pushing your way through their defense, it's getting around it entirely in order to deliver a killing blow. That's why a lot of fighting is done mentally before anyone even moves. You rely on your own movement to avoid their attacks as your main defense.

A Katana was more of a legitimate war weapon used in heavy hand to hand fighting. It's primarily a slashing weapon. I haven't used one, so in this case my knowledge is purely academic. My friend described it as death by a thousand cuts. However, a shorter blade is not necessarily a disadvantage. Most people don't realize this. If a katana user can get close enough to a fencer, past the point of their blade, then the fencer has no defense other than to try and desperately retreat. In that case the Katana, which is shorter, putting the fencer in range, and which is also a slashing weapon, would probably have the obvious advantage. The Katana will have more power behind it as well, relying on large broad strikes to deliver killing stroaks.

Neither weapon was better than the other, they were both perfect for what they were meant to do. You don't want heavy armor and a katana if you're going to fight musket wielding opponents at sea, and you don't want to charge armored Samurai with nothing but a rapier. I would give a slight advantage to the rapier, assuming no one is wearing armor, but it mostly relies on skill. Of course, there is this:

 

Ieyke

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Fox12 said:
It really depends. The fencing rapier is meant to be a lighter, more maneuverable weapon that emphasizes swift movement and sudden stabbing lunges. It grew in popularity during the advent of firearms. As a fencer, I can say it has the obvious reach advantage. It was often popular on ships and with light soldiers. However, it doesn't have a lot of weight behind it, and it can't really slash. It's meant to quickly pierce weaknesses in your opponents defense. If you're fighting a massively armored opponent it's effectively useless, since armor was becoming less useful, since gun technology was obviously making heavy armor more of a liability than an asset. As a fencer your priority isn't really pushing your way through their defense, it's getting around it entirely in order to deliver a killing blow. That's why a lot of fighting is done mentally before anyone even moves. You rely on your own movement to avoid their attacks as your main defense.

A Katana was more of a legitimate war weapon used in heavy hand to hand fighting. It's primarily a slashing weapon. I haven't used one, so in this case my knowledge is purely academic. My friend described it as death by a thousand cuts. However, a shorter blade is not necessarily a disadvantage. Most people don't realize this. If a katana user can get close enough to a fencer, past the point of their blade, then the fencer has no defense other than to try and desperately retreat. In that case the Katana, which is shorter, putting the fencer in range, and which is also a slashing weapon, would probably have the obvious advantage. The Katana will have more power behind it as well, relying on large broad strikes to deliver killing stroaks.

Neither weapon was better than the other, they were both perfect for what they were meant to do.
Exactly. Weapons should not be assumed to be so directly comparable. This is like comparing a rubber mallet, a sledge hammer and a claw hammer. They're all hammers, but they're specialized to be super effective at drastically different things.
That said, in a fight between hammers, a claw hammer would win.
But you see how nonsensical it is to actually make the comparison in the first place, right?

You've hit the problem for the rapier on the head. A katana has the power, speed, and control to break the defence of a rapier wielder with ease, and then it's just a flash 'til the katana wielder is inside the rapier's bubble and too close for the rapier to effectively attack.
It -would- purely be a fight of the rapier user desperately attempting to stay out of the katana's reach.

Of course, there is this:
Unfortunately, that actually fairly irrelevant to the question at hand.
As you must know, a rapier has a SIGNIFICANT weight to it that makes it far harder to control/recover than a foil.
A shinai vs a katana presents a similar problem.
The difference, however, is that a katana and shinai are two-handed weapons, meaning the weight difference really doesn't have much impact on control and speed between the two.
The same is not remotely true for a rapier compared to a foil. One-handed a foil is absolutely simple to control and lightning fast to swing. The huge weight difference of a rapier without the benefit of a second hand means the increased angular momentum of a rapier will cause the rapier to be DRASTICALLY slower and harder to recover with than a foil.

If you were to imagine katana user as the video's Kendo practitioner, and then pit him against an opponent who fights similarly to the fencer....except much slower and with less control....it's pretty simple to see who'd win.
 

fix-the-spade

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demoman_chaos said:
These factors considered, which one has the advantage in a duel? Tell me what you guys think given the information I have provided. Personally, the reach advantage is going to play a major role and that and the rapier can tag the enemy around his defense makes me lean towards the rapier. Before anyone makes the claim, the rapier won't simply break. The rapier had to take on the 2 handed bastard swords in duels and held up to their strikes well.
Historically the Rapier has an advantage, largely because of the steel used in Japan.

The Steel available to Japan pre-industrial age has always been very poor, it had a high carbon/oxide content that results in a soft blade (hence the triangular blade, there was never the Steel available to make a double edged sword), folding the steel during manufacture helped to a degree, but still results in a brittle sword.

Rapiers (good ones at least) were made of Wootz or Damascus steel, so the blade is much harder, it would survive a blade to blade parry much better than the unfortunate Katana wielder, who might find himself sans cutting edge, or with two mini katanas.

If it's modern steel still the rapier, more reach and it leaves a hand free for either a second weapon or straight up punching the other guy.

Of course a cavalry sword would smash both of them to little pieces, but apparently that would be OP
 

Mycroft Holmes

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Historically, katana's are garbage weapons made from pig iron. They are no sharper than a blade made with better steel, and are prone to breaking easily. A katana would break pretty easily against a rapier, especially one made from Damascus Steel. If we are going to assume that the katana isn't really made like a katana(ie steel folding) and is just shaped like a katana(and thus not brittle) then the rapier still has the advantage from it's length.