Likes Likes:  0
Page 2 of 4 FirstFirst 1 2 3 4 LastLast
Results 16 to 30 of 48

Thread: Group training and the battlefield

  1. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Posts
    161
    Likes (received)
    3

    Default

    Originally posted by Earl Hartman
    1) What did the horses used by the Japanese look like if they do not resemble modern horses that one sees in movies? Should I assume that they were smaller, like Mongolian ponies?
    Japanese horses (until Arabians and other thoroughbreds were imported after the late 19th century) were short, stubby ponies--a lot like the Mongolian ponies Earl mentions. The only place I know of in Japan where you can still see Japanese horses of the sort the samurai rode is the island of Oshima.

    An analysis by Hayashida Shigeyuki of areport on an excavation of the bodies of men and horses involved in Nitta Yoshisada's attack on Kamakura in 1333 shows that the 128 horse skeletons found ranged in height from 109 to 140 cm at the shoulder, with the average height being 129.5 and the most common height being 126-136 cms. The 8 horses described in the Gempei josuiki as "famous" range from 139 to 145 cm. Modern Japanese ponies of about the same size as the Kamakura skeletons average around 280 kg. Modern thoroughbreds, by contrast, average around 160-65 cms and about 450-550 kg in weight.

    Japanese ponies were also relatively weak animals, incapable of carrying more than about 90 kilograms--including rider, saddle and weapons--and unshod, so that their hooves could not take heavy pounding and they could have galloped long distances only with great difficulty. They were also unruly and difficult to control--especially when both hands are occupied with a task like archery.

    In general a horse can carry about one third of his own weight; more than this and his running power decreases by 30% or more. Horses today of roughly the same breed as traditional Japanese ponies weigh around 350 kg. Armor during the early Kamakura period weighed between 22 and 32 kg.

    Modern thoroughbreds have a maximum speed of about 60 kph; Modern Japanese ponies top out at 40 kph, even without the weight of a saddle, rider, armor, and weapons, which would weigh in at around 90 kg. In an experiment conducted by NHK in 1980 for an episode of the series "Rekishi e no shotai" titled "Yoshitsune kiba gundan," the speed of such ponies so laden was tested. A 130 cm., 350 kg horse was timed with a rider and 45 kg in sacks of sand (the equivalent of the armor and weapons). The horse dropped from a gallop to a trot almost immediately. A horse at gallop normally travels about 300 meters per minute, but this one never exceeded 150 meters per minute.

    Even modern racing horses can only run full out for 200-300 yards. And medieval ponies were unshod. A horse running at full speed places nearly 8 times his normal weight on his hooves, which makes it very difficult for a horse to run fast for very long.

    Moreover, Japanese stirrups were not well-suited to high-speed riding. They are long and high up, to facilitate standing in the saddle. Mounted troops probably did not, therefore, gallop about except in special situations; the movements of an army on a battlefield were determined by the speed of foot soldiers marching or running.

    Thus the purpose and utility of the horse on medieval battlefields was less exploitation of its superior speed, than to distinguish the class of the riders from the foot soldiers, and to bear the weight of the armor.

    What did medieval Japanese cavalry actually look like, then, if the depiction of it in modern films is inaccurate?
    The sort of cavalry units depicted in the movies never existed in medieval Japan. Clear tactical division of cavalry from infantry troops disappeared with the ritsuryo (imperial state) military apparatus, in the 8th century, and wasn't revived until the introduction of modern (European-style) cavalry, in the late 19th century. Medieval military units mixed mounted with unmounted troops, with warriors of a given status and rank fighting mounted, and everyone else fighting on foot.

    Moreover, even the mounted troops appear to have dismounted to do their real fighting: Luis Frois, a Jesuit missionary in 16th century Japan, noted, in his extensive commentary on things Japanese that, "We [Europeans] fight on horseback, but when the Japanese must fight, they get down from their mounts."

    Also, I suppose that there is probably no good answer for this, but would you care to speculate why the Japanese apparently never developed fighting methods employing a shield and a single-handed weapon used in conjunction with a shield, and why they never developed the couched lance as was used in Europe?
    As Earl says, there's probably no good answer for this, but my guess is that it's simply a matter of trajectory of technological and tactical development.

    Early samurai military forces were defined by and created around the skill of mounted archery, and early samurai armor was developed for use in this style of fighting. Using a bow from horseback pretty much precludes the use of a shield, but the style of armor (oyoroi) that evolved compensated for this with the two big plates (osode) that hang from the wearer's shoulders. At the same time, the heavy armor was probably a major factor in prompting the development of long, heavy polearms (like the naginata, and later the yari), which required both hands to wield effectively, to augment the missile weapons. (In point of fact, polearms--such as the hoko--had been long, two-handed weapons, even during the ritsuryo era.)

    By the 15th century, Japanese were doing a lot more of their fighting on foot, using bigger armies, but tactically the essence of battles didn't change all that much. The Japanese simply never developed a tactical tradition of marching closely-ordered infantry head-on into a waiting enemy host--ala the Greeks or the Romans--which is the style of fighting best-suited to using shields and one-handed weapons (medieval European knightly cavalry is simply a mounted version of the same thing). Japanese battles, from the ritsuryo era onward, always centered on missile exchanges of one sort or another; hand-to-hand fighting occurred mainly in special circumstances or in the closing phases of battles, after one side or the other had begun to break. Standing shields, which the Japanese did use, were more useful for covering archers or gunners than hand-held shields would have been; and the length and power of heavy, two-handed polearms was probably of more value when mopping up troops who were breaking and scattering than whatever protection warriors might have gotten from hand-held shields would have been--especially given the heavy armor they wore.

    In other words: the Japanese had never had a tradition of using hand-held shields (although there are one or two depictions of this sort of shield in medieval picture scrolls) and never had any particular reason to develop one. So they didn't!
    Karl Friday
    Dept. of History
    University of Georgia
    Athens, GA 30602

  2. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Palo Alto, Ca, USA
    Posts
    1,324
    Likes (received)
    1

    Default

    Dr. Friday:

    Thanks. I suspected that since the aristocratic warrior in Japan had long defined himself as a member of the class which fought on horseback with a bow (kyuba no ie) and so concentrated on his main skill, mounted archery (kyuba no michi) that this would have been one of the main reasons that shields were not employed. In Europe, archery, even in England where it reached its zenith with the longbow (originally Welsh, not English), was considered to be the domain of the common foot soldier. That was one of the reasons the French so depised it, and one of the reasons they were so stupid as to launch frontal cavalry charges against massed longbowmen stationed behind a hedge of sharpened stakes at places like Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt.

    I am sure there are various considerations, environmental and historical, that accounted for the lack of the use of massed, close-order infantry units a la the Romans and Greeks. Can you recommend any books (including your own, of course) that discuss this in more detail?

    Also, as a kyudo practitoner, I am curious if there is any information regarding the range and power of the Japanese bow during its heyday as a weapon. (I am quite aware that the modern laminated bow was developed later and that Japanese bows, especially during the Kamakura period, were most likely wooden self-bows or less-developed bamboo-wood laminates.) I would like to see how it compares to the bows of other nations. Are there any sources that discuss its performance against the Mongols during the invasions, for instance? (I have a sneaking suspicion that the Mongol bows were probably better.)
    Last edited by Earl Hartman; 24th August 2001 at 21:08.
    Earl Hartman

  3. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Palo Alto, Ca, USA
    Posts
    1,324
    Likes (received)
    1

    Default

    Dr. Friday:

    The speed and size of the horses you mention is pretty pathetic. I could jog 150 yards in a minute, I would think, without much problem. Hell, it sounds like the "horses" were not much bigger than an Irish wolfhound (OK, a really, really big one). No wonder a foot soldier could keep up.

    Do you have any comparisons of the weight of Japanese vs. European armor? A 15th century European battle harness (not special tournament armor which was especially heavy for extra protection) of Italian make (full articulated plate) apparently weighed about 45 kg. I'm not sure if this included the arming jacket with mail inserts and the helmet, probably a barbute type.

    Also, I have always been intrigued by the "gap-osis" of old Japanese armor. The kote usually have no defense for the inner arms, and the armpit area is often completely undefended. And why is Japanese mail so useless? Thin links in weird, open patterns which leave great gaps in protection. I have a book on Japanese armor, and the typical 4-to-1 link pattern used in almost all European mail is referred to as "nanban kusari", or "Southern Barbarian chain", indicating that it was unkown in Japan until introduced by Europeans. Care to speculate?
    Earl Hartman

  4. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Posts
    318
    Likes (received)
    3

    Default horses, etc.

    Hiya Earl,

    Saw you on some martial arts documentary, along with Joseph Svinth and some really bad budo, some really good budo.

    Anyway, Otake Risuke sensei of the TSKR came to Hawaii once with Donn Draeger and he was talking story. Otake sensei raises horses, I guess, so he got around to talking about the strategies of fighting from horseback, and he said that the horses once used in pre-Tokugawa wars were much smaller, like the Mongolian horses. He didn't get around to saying why European horses now are primarily used in Japan, but he did say that the Mongol type horses were very well trained, very responsive, and could be directed by varying the pressure of the warrior's legs, thereby freeing up both hands to use the yari or sword in combat when necessary. Their compact size added to the melding of mounted warrior and horse as a fighting unit, and the horses could bite and kick while the warriors used their weapon. Then he told us how to approach a mounted soldier; depending on his weapon, he had some weak spots.

    I'm thinking, geez, when am I every going to try to attack someone on a horse who's got a sword in his hands? But it WAS interesting, considering that such tactical considerations continued in his ryu from way back.

    Per the comment that many bugei ryuha were developed by the ashigaru, that's generally true, although upper class bushi still enlisted the teachers as their fencing and martial arts masters, as well as strategists. Like other military systems, Japanese generals didn't really need to learn much hand to hand per se, but it didn't look very good if you were a total klutz. Being capable of handling a sword properly was considered a way to impress the troops and lead them by example, even if they didn't always lead in the front. It's sort of like the disdain many American troops had for green officers in Vietnam unless they proved themselves capable of combat abilities or they had combat experience to impress the troops with.

    In observing other ryuha, some of our own ryu members would try to figure out whether or not that ryu was an ashigaru bugei or not from their emphasis and stylistic characteristics. The Yagyu Shingan-ryu, for example, we thought was an ashigaru bugei, while the Yagyu Shinkage-ryu kenjutsu, as we know from the historical documents and from observing their kata, looked more like a mid-level bushi school that, of course, became more "karei-na" or "hinkaku-na" because the Edo branch members became one of the hyoho shinanyaku for the Tokugawa shoguns, and their social status got more and more elevated, from goshi to sohmetsuke.

    In the case of the Takeuchi-ryu, research by my sensei appears to suggest that the founder of the ryu was descended from a family of nobles (the Takeuchi), as were many buke families, and not being the first son of the first son, was split off as a bunke, and ended up a castle lord of buke status. He joined the losing side and got his ass kicked by Oda Nobunaga and Hashiba Hideyoshi, but he still ended up a landholding goshi, and his son and grandson had enough upper class blood in them to perform their art before two emperors. The family never attained daimyo status due to siding with the Ukita/Mori against Nobunaga; so no, I doubt that many bugei ryu were developed by daimyo; if at all, they were more interested in chanoyu and the like. But there WERE ryuha that were developed by mid-level landholding warriors, such as the Yagyu, the Takeuchi, even the Iizasa, who were a cut above the ashigaru footsoldiers in status, although, if they engaged in battle, they still had to engage in combat, unlike the daimyo leaders.

    Formulation of a ryuha also implied some level of education, and the ashigaru were composed, as Dr. Friday says, of a mixed bag up to the Pax Tokugawa. There is doubt, for example, that Toyotomi Hideyoshi came from a samurai family at all, or that he came from a very low ranking farming/warrior family, and that he fabricated his lineage after the fact. One or two of his higher ranking followers (I don't have the history books in front of me) were actually merchants before they got buke status, and in those days merchants were considered as low as you could go before you got to the "non-humans." So there was a flow of movement up and down before the Tokugawa Period, but in many pre-Tokugawa ryuha documents, there is evidence of a high degee of literacy and education. So my assumption is the founders of many ryu weren't from the lowest of the low ranks, although they weren't daimyo class, either.

    Damn. Now I have to go make posters and post them around campus to get students to fill up my design classes. Ah, the joys of being a newly minted college instructor.

    Wayne Muromoto

  5. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Palo Alto, Ca, USA
    Posts
    1,324
    Likes (received)
    1

    Default

    Hey, Wayne.

    Jesus, is that thing still playing? I met an Israeli guy in Tokyo who does Yoshinkan aikido, and he said: Hey! I know you! I saw you onTV!" Pretty funny.

    Yeah, the level of budosity of that particular documentary was kind of iffy in places.

    Re: horses, any mounted warrior had to know how to control his mount with just his legs. In Europe, you had a shield in one hand and either a lance or a sword, etc., in the other. No way to use the reins in such a situation, so the same thing applies. The Europeans developed the heavy cavalry charge, made up of heavily armored troops with couched lances, who were used, as Dr. Friday sggests, as shock troops. Interstingly, the Bayeaux Tapestry shows the Normans using their spears not in the couched way but as javelins. Of course, these tactics didn't work against foes who were trained differently: the Mongols just shot them to pieces from a distance, and the Muslims used the same tactics during the Crusades, apparently. However, it appears that in a head-to-head confrontation, the European heavy cavalry charge was a fearsome thing. I guess it's all what you're used to. In kendo, I always see guys get beat up because the other guy starts doing weird stuff that's "against the rules".
    Earl Hartman

  6. #21
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Palo Alto, Ca, USA
    Posts
    1,324
    Likes (received)
    1

    Default

    Whoa, big, BIG mistake upthread. The 15th cent. Italian battle harness I mentioned weighed 45 POUNDS, not 45 KILOGRAMS.

    Oops.

    Also, I have heard that it was expected of a well-trained knight that he be able, fully armed, to climb a scaling ladder propped against a castle wall from the underside using only his arms, vault into the saddle without using his hands, and, if needs be, swim in his armor. This argues for a couple of things: 1) well-trained knights were pretty strong, and 2) their armor wasn't as heavy as we think.

    Anybody know of any historical records to back this up?
    Earl Hartman

  7. #22
    ben johanson Guest

    Default

    On the other hand, I just recently read in Medieval Warfare: A History (which I would consider to be quite a reputable source) that after the widespread adoption in Europe of extremely heavy plate armor in the later medieval period, knights had to actually be hoisted up onto their mounts with cranes! That sounds pretty heavy to me.

  8. #23
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Washington State, USA
    Posts
    3,324
    Likes (received)
    48

    Default

    Wayne --

    I think you have two different documentaries in mind -- to my knowledge, Earl appears on one, I appear on another. In both cases, as you say, some folks sadly were not up to their advance billing. But the joy of video is that you can fast-forward past the silly stuff, and enjoy the good stuff multiple times.

    BTW, based on reactions I got from the show I worked on, it is possible that what you and I think good, other people think silly, and vice-versa.

    Earl --

    Forty-five pounds sounds about right for late medieval tactical armor. That weight is less than worn by modern combat infantry by at least 50% (they do sometimes carry 45 kg), and is better distributed across the body. To get the armor so light, the fourteenth century Italians worked the angles, as a 60-degree slope effectively doubles thickness. For modern examples, look at a Tiger I and a T-34 -- the Tiger's armor is flat, and so had to be enormously thick to achieve what the T-34 got through the use of angles. That said, the advantage of the box is that it maximizes interior space, thus you still see box designs on personnel carriers.

    (Aside to Ben -- The knights being hoisted by cranes were often kings and dukes, who due to their status presumably had the Henry VIII girth and didn't exercise as regularly as they had when younger.)

    Tactically, you're also looking at ideas of how confrontation should proceed. Germanic tradition is for force-on-force, at a Schwerpunkt, as Clausewitz put it. Decisive battle, cast one's lot to the gods, etc. The Muslims and Asians, on the other hand, generally preferred to swirl about looking for weaknesses. The general's art in that case wasn't so much convincing everybody that today was the day, but instead figuring out whether the apparent weakness was real or Memorex. The Romans, for instance, were notorious for letting their center collapse intentionally, thereby taking the exploiting force from the flanks.

    Finally, keep in mind that despite all the drama, most medieval warfare ended up being won or lost by siegecraft. Spies, engineers, and artillery may not be as glamorous as man on horseback with sword, but they do win campaigns.

    For comparative armor, try these links:

    * http://www.geocities.com/sengokudaim...hu/0.Home.html (Japanese)
    * http://therionarms.com/resources.html
    Last edited by Joseph Svinth; 25th August 2001 at 06:32.

  9. #24
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Washington State, USA
    Posts
    3,324
    Likes (received)
    48

    Default

    Earl --

    On the horses, the Vikings used to use Shetland ponies. In their environment, this was quite practical. First, ponies could be transported in standard merchant vessels, and second, they survived living outside in the North Atlantic winter. Generally they were used as pack animals, much the same way Mexicans used burros.

    Still, it's an image I've always had: Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis in "The Vikings," astride Shetland ponies...

  10. #25
    Aaron Fields Guest

    Thumbs up

    If anyone is interested, Mongolia being my area of history I have done considerable research into the steppe horse, and horse technology. I would be happy to forward my research to anyone interested who contacts me directly. There is some very interesting material on horse breeding and stirrup development.

  11. #26
    Aaron Fields Guest

    Smile

    Earl

    Regarding the Mongol bow

    In English Joseph Needham's "Science and Civilization in CHina" Volume 5 part 6. Keeping in mind that Needham was Han-centric.

    There was quit a variety of size regarding the Mongol bow, but the construction was all the same. The average military bow had a draw of 100-140 lb. and killing reach of 400- 500 (extreme range of larger bows) yards. The average archer could get off 6-12 shots per minute (mind you from horseback.)

  12. #27
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Palo Alto, Ca, USA
    Posts
    1,324
    Likes (received)
    1

    Default

    Aaron:

    Is the 400-500 range you quote accomplished with a flight arrow or with an arrow designed for the maximum armor-piercing impact?

    For example, as far as I know, the record for distance is around >800 yards, set using a Turkish bow and a special flight arrow with a barrelled shaft and narrow fletching. I doubt if this arrow was designed to be able to penetrate anything once it reached the end of its flight. The Japanese also had these arrows, which were called "muginari", or "barley shaped", since they resembled the ovoid shape of a grain of barley. Straight arrows were called "ichimonji", and armor-piercing war arrows with extremely heavy points were called "suginari" because the shape resembled that of a cedar tree, thick at the base (the point) and tapering towards the top (the fletching). These arrows obviously could not fly as far as the aerodynamic muginari arrows, but they had a devestating impact at close range. (I saw a photograph of such an arrow shot through a kabuto by Urakami Sakae Hanshi, my kyudo teacher's father-in-law. It looked like a small yari with feathers. The point was huge.) It appears from my (minimal) research that the optimum killing range for the Japanese bow using this sort of arrow was <50 yards, where the archer was expected to be able to take aim at a specific target and deliver a shot with sufficient force to penetrate armor.

    Any reliable comparitive data on the optimum killing range under battlefield conditions (NOT the maximum distance achievable with special arrows) of various bows would be appreciated.

    Joe, this should be right up your alley.
    Last edited by Earl Hartman; 27th August 2001 at 21:20.
    Earl Hartman

  13. #28
    Aaron Fields Guest

    Smile

    Earl,

    That is killing range. The Mongols had "long flight" arrows as well used for hunting and play. There are accounts of taking armored opponents down at further distances, but as they are few and far between they are not the most reliable. Keep in mind the tactics employed by the Mongols, this was no pick a target and shoot, this was all 1000 of us let go, and as the Russians are cited as saying, "the sun was blocked out by a blanket of anguish."

    The Mongols also used their bows at close range during combat; I have seen some unbelievable shots first hand. I have read accounts of 100-150 yard picking the shot in battle conditions as well.

  14. #29
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Palo Alto, Ca, USA
    Posts
    1,324
    Likes (received)
    1

    Default

    Well, then, would you mind speculating as to how the Japanese were able to resist them at all if they could be so outranged? I have never heard of a Japanese bow being able to shoot that far. If this is normal Mopngol archery, the Japanese should all have been shot down before they got anywhere near the Mongols at all.

    I know the typhoons supposedly played a part, but either the Japanese bows/archers of the Kamakura period were far better than they later were, the majority of soldires sent in the invasion force were not Mongols at all but Koreans and Chinese who didn't shoot as well, the terrain did not allow the Mongols to use their massed tactics, etc., etc., or something else is going on.
    Earl Hartman

  15. #30
    Aaron Fields Guest

    Smile



    Earl,

    I will summarize ( I alwasy look forward to talking Central Asian history),

    The majority of the invasion force was not Mongol. Mongols are not sailors, so the weather was a bit of a problem, as was the use of boats in general. Mongol military tactics rely on horses to operate as per designed. Lastly, Japan was not important as it was not part of the continent, (they had bigger fish to fry.)

    The key is that Mongols are pastoral nomadic types.

    "Farmers are slaves chained to the earth." (Mongol proverb)
    “When my people quit living under Tengri and ger and begin to live in stone houses, they will cease to be Mongol.” (Temujin)

    Anything you can't reach on horseback doesn't really matter.

Page 2 of 4 FirstFirst 1 2 3 4 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •