Tag Archives: samurai

Sexism and Racism in Living History?

13 Jan

This is a very touchy topic, and I honestly haven’t seen it come up much in living history, although the thought has always been there.

If your group is trying to portray a time period / group of people as accurately as possible, what do you do about people who want to join who are of historically inaccurate sex/race? I mean, lets face it, women and people of color did not have all the opportunities back then that they do today. It was not normal to have female knights, there were no black archers at Agincourt.

So what do you do about this? I don’t know of any woman who’s tried to be a knight in one of the more accurate medieval living history groups. There are a handful in the SCA and larp, and that’s cool, but those groups aren’t going for accuracy of portrayals.

I know of one WWI combat group that says right on their website “Sorry, but this group is exclusive to males, not trying to be sexist, but that’s how it was” (I can’t find their page in my bookmarks for the life of me)

But this brings up another question, should even white males not portray another ethnicity? I’m 5’6 white male with English/German decent, I’d look off if I tried to play a viking, Italian, or Saracen.  I think the one thing that sticks out the most is when a white guy, especially a fat white guy tries to portray a samurai. The result just makes me cringe every time I see it. I know people are obsessed with samurai, but if you’re a western male it just doesn’t work!



No, anime swordsmanship stuff is bull….

10 Jan

After watching some anime stuff with my friends, I just couldn’t stand listening to all the Japanese swordsmanship bull that gets spewed….Allow me to let of some medieval European steam…All this “well I use (insert obscure important sounding fighting style here)!” and “This sword has special powers!” crap is driving me nuts. People are absolutely crazy for samurai stuff. This brings up the age old geek debate “Which is better? A knight or a Samurai?” Let me preface this by saying that this debate is fundamentally absurd; a knight of the 15th century would never run into a Samurai of the 14th. And then there is the fact that in hand to hand combat, it’s not the weapons or the armor, it’s the skill of the fighter.

That noted, assume in some nonexistent plane a knight at the peak of medieval weapon and armor development (right before gunpowder made them obsolete) meet at samurai at their peak, and that they were both equally good fighters. Contrary to what many of my Japanese obsessed friends think, the knight would totally kick the Samurai’s ass.

Look at the equipment. The knight, in full plate armor, would be covered head to toe in steel, with chainmaile covering any gaps, and then an arming doublet of some kind under it. The samurai would have on his bamboo and cloth armor with little bits of metal here and there. Bamboo and cloth…. Many people who have no experience with plate armor try to make the claim “well, the knight is slower and can’t move as well as the samurai.” Bullshit. You can move very well in full plate. I KNOW. And yes, if you get pushed over you can hop right back up. (Well, maybe not some of my older living history friends ~_^)

As for the swords, the longsword is far superior to the katana. The knight has a better striking range than the samurai, and the big advantage of TWO edges to the sword. The katana only has one edge. With the two edges, the knight has a whole range of cuts he can preform that the samurai cannot. After a swing in one direction, to cut back the same way, the samurai must rotate his sword around and swing again, the knight can just cut straight back, no rotating required.

The katana also doesn’t have a substantial guard (the cross piece where the blade meets the hilt). There is almost nothing to keep the knight’s sword from sliding down the blade onto the samurai’s hands. The knight however has a nice big guard which he can use to catch and block the samurai’s cuts. The samurai also doesn’t have a pommel with witch to utilize the back of the sword, the knight does, which means he can whip the sword around and bash the samurai in the face if they closed.

The katana also has no chance of cutting through the knight’s armor. I don’t care how sharp it is, in real life it can’t cut through steel. The thrusting point is also inferior to that of a longsword’s, which could easily pierce through bamboo and cloth. Again, this whole debate is absurd however since the two developed in different cultures and the samurai’s weapons were not designed to come up against something like a knight in full plate.

Furthermore, it drives me nuts how they practically worship the sword. It’s a piece of steel. Hunks of atoms assembled (assembled masterfully albeit) , and there is nothing “magical” about it. There is also no magical ancient spirit that protects the fighters or enhances their attacks. (WWII proved that)  It just drives me nuts how my friends just gobbled down this BS. Maybe they are just better at suspending disbelief….