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Thread: 'Samurai' a good film maybe, but good history unlikely

  1. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    San Diego
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    I haven't seen an advertisement calling this a documentary or of being based on any real occurrences. Granted most big budget movies like to make movies like this as real as possible by bringing in experts, but reality doesn't sell as well as fantasy. Maybe it was just made to entertain? I know this sounds hard to believe but it does happen. This is just my view; I try not to take movies that seriously.

    Lane ferguson
    Lane Ferguson

  2. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Ft. Laud., Fl.
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    Originally posted by Nathan Scott
    What the hell does 14th C. history have to do with 19th C. history? TLS takes place in the Meiji period, and warfare and swordsmanship were much different than that of 14th C. Japan. While swords may not have seen much action on the battlefields, swords were used by the Satsuma, Tosa and Choshu forces during the Meiji Restoration period.

    Much of what the Professor says (whom I've never heard of) sounds reasonable, but his tone sounds as if this is all new information to him. I'd be much more interested in hearing the opinions of our own Professor Friday or someone else like Professor Bodiford, Varley of Hurst.

    Date: Tue, 21 Jan 2003 10:48:24 -0500
    Reply-To: Japanese Sword Art Mailing List <IAIDO-L@LISTSERV.UOGUELPH.CA>
    Sender: Japanese Sword Art Mailing List <IAIDO-L@LISTSERV.UOGUELPH.CA>
    From: Karl Friday <kfriday@ARCHES.UGA.EDU>
    Subject: Re: Battlefield injuries
    In-Reply-To: <>
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"; format=flowed

    At PM 09:02 01/20/03 -0500, Peter Boylan wrote:

    >It was already requested. Turns out it's someone else's research, so
    >Karl's not doing anything with it until that guy publishes and gets
    >credit for it.
    >Say Karl, has it been published yet? We got some great online journals
    >that would love to publish your friends work.

    The statistics I reported in that particular post came from Suzuki
    Shin'ya's *Teppo to Nihonjin* (Yosensha, 1997) and *Katana to kubitori*
    (Heibonsha, 2000). Tom Conlan (at Bowden U) has also been doing some
    interesting stuff with analysis of wound records. I'm not sure what state
    his book manuscript is in at the moment--I think he has it coming out from
    Hawaii. He also has an article on adoption of the gun coming out in
    *Monumenta Nipponica* sometime soon. Watch for it!

    Karl Friday
    Professor of Japanese History
    Dept. of History
    University of Georgia
    Athens, GA 30602

    ...and, FWIW--

    Date: Mon, 8 Nov 1999 12:46:41 +0900
    Reply-To: Japanese Sword Art Mailing List <IAIDO-L@LISTSERV.UOGUELPH.CA>
    Sender: Japanese Sword Art Mailing List <IAIDO-L@LISTSERV.UOGUELPH.CA>
    From: Karl Friday <fguest10@HI.U-TOKYO.AC.JP>
    Subject: Re: Battlefield Realizm
    In-Reply-To: <>
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

    At 01:04 PM 11/05/1999 -0500, Ulf Undmark wrote:

    >On Fri, 5 Nov 1999 11:39:33 +0900, Karl Friday <fguest10@HI.U-TOKYO.AC.JP>

    >>They lost in part
    >>because the gov't army outnumbered them, and in part because they
    >>approached the fighting with a largely traditional samurai mindset and
    >>tactics. The main drama of the rebellion, and the principal military
    >>history lesson to come out of it, wasn't so much that machine guns can
    >>defeat swordsmen, but that the era of the hereditary, professional warrior
    >>was over--peasant troops could easily be more than a match for samurai.

    >Was this plain stupidity or was it "makin' a statement"?
    >Not the knowledge of the fact that they would be heavily outnumbered, this
    >was not much to be done about...But fighting in a "traditional" way?
    >Hadn't it been proved several times earlier in history that matchlock-men
    >easily could wipe out Samurai cavalry? Hadn't they learnt the lesson,
    >didn't they have the knowledge, or was this a mass-suicide?

    I think you could call it a little of both plain stupidity and "makin' a
    statement." As far as matchlocks vs. cavalry providing lessons, there
    really isn't much relevance.

    First, this whole picture of Light Brigade style charges against gunners is
    dramatically overblown; there's a ton of new research coming out that shows
    that guns didn't dramatically alter the shape of Japanese warfare, they
    simply replaced the bow and arrow. An analysis that I was just looking at
    this morning, of documents reporting battlewounds, for example, shows that
    between 1500 and 1560, out of some 620 casualties described, 368 were arrow
    wounds, 124 were spear wounds, 96 were injuries from rocks (thrown by
    slings or by hand), 18 were sword wounds, 7 were combined arrow and spear
    wounds, 3 were combined arrow and sword wounds, 2 were combined rock and
    spear wounds, and 2 were combined rock and arrow wounds. Between 1563
    and 1600 (after the adoption of the gun) some 584 reported casualties break
    down as follows: there were 263 gunshot victims, 126 arrow victims, 99
    spear victims, 40 sword victims, 30 injured by rocks, and 26 injured by
    combinations of the above (including one poor SOB who was shot by both guns
    and arrows and stabbed by spears, and one who was speared, naginata-ed, and
    cut with a sword). In other words, long distance weapons (arrows and
    rocks) accounted for about 75% of the wounds received in the pre-gun era,
    and about 72 % (arrows + guns + rocks) during the gunpowder era. Which is
    to say that "traditional fighting" does not appear to have been heavily
    centered on close-quarters clashes of swords or even of spears, except in
    literary sources.

    Second, and more to the point, what matchlocks could do to and for 16th
    century armies is pretty much irrelevant to the issue in 1877. As I said
    earlier, even Saigo's rebel army made some use of modern firearms--and of
    course they also had matchlocks, as well as swords and such. They even had
    some experience in modern Western tactics and drill, although they weren't
    committed to this new paradigm to the extent that the gov't army was. The
    big shock/drama/lesson though, was not so much tactics and/or hardware per
    se, as the fact that an army of samurai--hereditary, professional
    fighters--could be beaten by one composed of conscripts.

    The whole episode was, in fact, essentially suicidal from the outset, and
    Saigo knew it. It began when some of his followers took it onto themselves
    to raid a gov't army, and Saigo fatalistically decided that the die had
    been cast. He had already decided that he was something of an anachronism
    anyway (which is why he had retired to Kyushu in the first place) and seems
    to have looked on this as an opportunity for a glorious death.

    Karl Friday

    ph. 706-542-2537
    Don J. Modesto
    Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

  3. #18
    dopefish Guest


    [QUOTE]Originally posted by Zartosht
    [B]Its about time somebody wrote a TRUTHFUL account of WHO the Samurai were. I'd like to see the same done for the ninja. The results of that would surprise MANY people.

    Really? why would you want such a thing? People dont need to know about ninjutsu. those that wish to learn seek out teachers. those that should know seek the right teachers. ninjutsu has always been kept mysterious for a reason, it makes it more effective. i say let them think we are training to be uber secret black clad night warrior assassins. we know the real truth, and thats the way i like it. everytime i try to explain it anyways, people dont understand, and i doubt any movie would have an impact to change this view. I once thought like you, thinking it would be great to have a true account of the ninja on the big screen, but its better the way it is now. im sure someday it will be done, but the real essence of ninjutsu is just starting to cross the ocean, so it needs some time to settle in before the movie would even be marketable. not to mention i dont want a buncha kids who just saw a movie coming into our training hall trying to re-enact what they just saw. my only reccomendations for a true account of ninjutsu would be the takamatsu dvd. train on!

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