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  1. Antisocrates is offline

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    Posted On:
    3/01/2006 2:34pm


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    Documented encounters between Asian and Western swordsmen?

    know there are supposed to be a few encounters between Japanese and Western swordsmen, but I've not been able to verify their veracity or worth: Either they are apocryphal, without any documentary evidence, or else impossible to separate swordsmanship from other weapons and group tactics. In the first lies the oft-told story of a duel between Portugese nobleman and a samurai, in which the samurai loses, confused by the nobleman's rapier/dagger combination. In the second lies the historic skirmish on the sea between Japanese pirates and Spanish soldiers; the problem here is that it's unclear how many of the pirates were actually Japanese, how did the greater cohesion of regular soldiers affect the battle against the more ad hoc Japanese host, who were the Japanese (sailors with swords or actual bushi with combat experience), etc.

    Does anyone have anything concrete ore relevant? I would be especially interested in the Japanese POV. All the encounters all seem to come from the Western sources only, so it would be a good counterweight to hear what the Japanese had to say.

    Also, why is it that I've not heard of any reported encounters between Chinese and Western swordsmen? The contact between the two sides have been far longer and far more sustained than the rather short-lived contact between the Westerners and the Japanese. There have been Westerners in China consistently ever since 15th or 16th century or so. Macao has been Portugese for 400 years or so. Given this level of interaction, shouldn't there have been some fights between the two, and some documentation regarding such fights?

    All kidding aside about how anachronistic CMA is today, people back then knew how to fight. It was necessary for survival. There were no schools in the 15th or 16th century, where a wizened old master refuses to fight because he was too enlightened or too good for the opposition. Bandits roamed the countryside, soldiers frequently turned to banditry themselves, pirates plagued the coast, in short, the Ming Dynasty fostered an atmosphere of violence at the local level, regardless of what the perfumed, long-fingernailed mandarins thought of martial arts or war or arms in the soft, courtesan's quarters in Beijing.

    Considering the martial culture of the Spanish, and the local conditions in coastal China, I would not be surprised if there were clashes between haughty Spaniards and some local Chinese thugs/bandit leaders/village chiefs.

    So, are there any records to speak of?
  2. Darkpaladin is offline
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    Posted On:
    3/01/2006 3:16pm

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    The western vs. eastern swordsman is a huge MA theorycraft wetdream. Western and Eastern swordsmen were far too isolated by distance to ever really meet on the battlefield during the sword era. The most you'll ever get is word of mouth, and even then it's of the pirate vs. soldier variety. There is probably no recorded (or even factual) battle between a fencer and a samurai.
    :google:

    Number of bottles of beer downed by me and my girlfriend within a half hour while playing the Channel 7 "how many times will they say 'snow' game" during the "Blizzard of '06": 3.5 each.
  3. babo78 is offline

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    Posted On:
    3/01/2006 3:39pm


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    Quote Originally Posted by Darkpaladin
    There is probably no recorded (or even factual) battle between a fencer and a samurai.
    Dark paladin, oh no?! What do you call Highlander I. Ok wasn't exactly fencer vs. samurai but it's western vs. asian damn it. There can be only one.

    Antisocrates, by the time Japan really opened up to Western cultures. Westerners mostly abandoned swords for guns, so what are the odds such encounter happened, documented, and it survived to this date.

    And once Japan did open up (Meiji era), they basically outlawed swords too.
  4. Antisocrates is offline

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    Posted On:
    3/01/2006 3:40pm


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    Quote Originally Posted by Darkpaladin
    The western vs. eastern swordsman is a huge MA theorycraft wetdream. Western and Eastern swordsmen were far too isolated by distance to ever really meet on the battlefield during the sword era. The most you'll ever get is word of mouth, and even then it's of the pirate vs. soldier variety. There is probably no recorded (or even factual) battle between a fencer and a samurai.
    Not necessarily. You're discounting the sheer volume of contact between the West and the Orient since, oh, late 16th century or so. In Japan, it was rather brief, though still long enough, but in China, it was long and consistent. So too was the fact that most Iberian aristocrats knew swordsmanship and were competent swordsmen, and many were involved as soldiers or vanguards of Christ in the Orient. Given the about 200 years in which swordsmanship was still prized in Iberia, there should have been some fights in China during that time.

    I have heard that Japanese mercenaries in Thailand fought Dutch soldiers in some sort of skirmish but have been unable to get any details on this alleged event.
  5. Thaiboxerken is offline
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    Posted On:
    3/01/2006 3:43pm

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    The Spanish had quite a few skirmishes with Philipinnos on the island.
    "Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities." Voltaire.
  6. Antisocrates is offline

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    Posted On:
    3/01/2006 3:46pm


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    Quote Originally Posted by babo78
    Dark paladin, oh no?! What do you call Highlander I. Ok wasn't exactly fencer vs. samurai but it's western vs. asian damn it. There can be only one.

    Antisocrates, by the time Japan really opened up to Western cultures. Westerners mostly abandoned swords for guns, so what are the odds such encounter happened, documented, and it survived to this date.

    And once Japan did open up (Meiji era), they basically outlawed swords too.
    That isn't true, though a common misconception. European Swordsmanship survived well into the 19th century. What was abandoned in the West were large scale use of infantry war swords on the battlefield. 16th and 17th century saw flowering of systematic rapier use and their documentation in classic teaching texts from Italian, French and Spanish masters. Even in the 18th century, French and Spanish masters wrote fencing treatises for personal protection and dueling.

    Everyone carried swords during this time, especially overseas. No self-respecting Spaniard would be caught dead without his sword in Manilla, Canton or Nagasaki.

    Even in the 19th century, dueling with swords was an accepted rite of passage for aristocratic central and eastern European youths.
  7. DdlR is offline
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    Posted On:
    3/01/2006 3:56pm

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    There are documented accounts of Japanese jukendo (bayonet fencing) teams defeating Royal Marines in "friendly" competition during the early years of the 1900s. I've also seen pictures of officer cadets at a Japenese military academy, at about the same time, being trained in what looks like European style sabre fencing. There was a Japanese self defense art called tanjojutsu, based on the use of the European-style walking stick, introduced into the curricula of several ryu during the late 1800s; it doesn't bear much similarity to the French and English systems of walking stick fighting being taught at that time. And then there were also many instances of mixed jiujitsu vs. boxing fights before WW1.

    It's a very interesting topic and I'm not sure that it's ever been studied in depth; anyway, I'd suggest looking later in history, towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, for documented accounts of Japanese vs. European martial arts.
  8. Antisocrates is offline

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    Posted On:
    3/01/2006 4:12pm


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    Quote Originally Posted by DdlR
    There are documented accounts of Japanese jukendo (bayonet fencing) teams defeating Royal Marines in "friendly" competition during the early years of the 1900s. I've also seen pictures of officer cadets at a Japenese military academy, at about the same time, being trained in what looks like European style sabre fencing. There was a Japanese self defense art called tanjojutsu, based on the use of the European-style walking stick, introduced into the curricula of several ryu during the late 1800s; it doesn't bear much similarity to the French and English systems of walking stick fighting being taught at that time. And then there were also many instances of mixed jiujitsu vs. boxing fights before WW1.

    It's a very interesting topic and I'm not sure that it's ever been studied in depth; anyway, I'd suggest looking later in history, towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, for documented accounts of Japanese vs. European martial arts.
    There are indeed documented cases of combat between the Japanese, Russians and Germans during the Russo-Japanese War and WWI, respectively. But I'm somewhat leery of using them as examples, because they weren't orthodox contests between JSA and WSA; for one thing, the Japanese officers used Western sabers during those conflicts; in the second, IIRC, the japanese used either a hybrid of European military saber techniques and JSA, or simply used copied German saber techniques.

    FYI, the Japanese were said to have bested Russian officers in saber duels, whereas the Germans usually bested the Japanese officers.

    EDIT: One supposedly very good source that I've not been able access is the German General Staff's account of the Russo-Japanese War, which is supposed to include detailed accounts of sword duels between Japanese and Russian officers.
    Last edited by Antisocrates; 3/01/2006 4:16pm at .
  9. DdlR is offline
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    Posted On:
    3/01/2006 7:27pm

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    Are you specifically looking for encounters between Japanese and European swordplay in mortal combat? My intuition is that the best documentable evidence will come from friendly contests between experts in their respective styles, rather than battlefield situations.
  10. Cdnronin is offline

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    Posted On:
    3/03/2006 7:47pm


     Style: judo, parenting

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    Advancing through the hole in the German center, Japanese forces fanned out. One infantry company charged up Iltis Hill. A searchlight lit up a German lieutenant rallying his men with drawn sword as a Japanese captain ran up, leading his men with sword out. Blinking, the 2 men stared at each other. Then, in an incredible parody of feudal combat, the 2 officers fought a fencing duel between their deployed troops. Samurai sword proved much superior to ceremonial dress sword; the Japanese commander cut his opponent down. The Germans surrendered.

    http://www.gwpda.org/naval/tsingtao.htm

    There you go. Found it on another forum.
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