The Instigator
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3 Points
The Contender
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0 Points

Knight would win against a Samurai

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/25/2015 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 852 times Debate No: 68905
Debate Rounds (3)
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Votes (1)




I would like a serious debate on who would win in a one-on-one duel between a late-period medieval knight, and a late-period Japanese Samurai. I would strongly argue that a knight's superior mentality, skill, and equipment would win over that of a samurai's, but I encourage anybody to debate that.


I humbly accept your challenge O humble knight of England.
I believe that a samurai would easily destroy the slow witted beast of a knight. For samurai a are quick, intelligent and powerful. Knights are slow, cumbersome and restricted.
May the best warrior win.
Debate Round No. 1


I think one thing we can agree on is the fact that both the knight and the samurai were the warrior elite of their lands. There is a common myth that samurai were light and quick, and knights were not. Samurai armor weighed around 50-60 pounds, so close to the same weight as knight's armor, though samurai tended to have exposed arms and legs, making it easier to land dismembering blows. Plate armor and chain mail were intricately designed to keep the knight fully flexible and mobile, and the weight would be evenly distributed across the body of the knight. The samurai may have been slightly more mobile, but would not have been nearly as protected as the knight, who would wear several layers of mail, plates, and doublets. The only way the samurai would have a chance would be if he got extremely lucky and hit a crevice, but this is almost certainly not going to happen as the samurai would have no knowledge of these weak spots.

The knight would also have a vastly superior armory of weapons. Another common myth I would like to bust is the superiority of the katana. Many seem to think that the katana could cut through anything, as it is often portrayed that way in movies. However, the sharpness of a sword is really just a matter of effort put towards sharpening it, so a knight's long sword could easily go head to head with the katana. In all honesty, sharpness will not do much when put up against metal plates. A medieval long sword was heavier, thus carrying more momentum, so even if it didn't penetrate the opponent's armor the sheer mass of the weapon could break bones. The knight's armory was designed for fighting armored opponents, with weapons such as maces, poleaxes, and billhooks, so the samurai may have had awesome weapons, but they simply are not effective in this particular scenario. A knight also almost always carried a shield, whereas samurai never did, giving the knight yet another advantage.

Samurai acted as more of a police force in Feudal Japan. Knights lived in war-torn Europe, and were constantly at war, giving them much greater experience. Knights often had their own sections of kingdoms to preside over, so they were always busy, fighting invaders and each other. Japan was very isolated in its location, so the samurai would not have been able to ever adapt to different opponents. The knight however, would have fought a very different array of enemies, so there is a good chance the knight would be prepared for this fight, whereas the samurai would have no idea what he's dealing with.


I am aware of the fact that knights were indeed heavily armoured. But first, I would like to focus on how war is really won.
The art of warfare is a complicated one and ultimately comes down to the mental approach of the subject.
Samurais were often trained from as young as 4. One of the first stages of training was to be hit by their master at random times throughout the day until the students learnt to never let their guard down, making them very aware at all times, a important factor in battle. Students of samurais were taught not only in the art of killing, but in other important areas such as literature and science which improved their overall intellectual capacity by connecting new neural pathways. These pathways will prove deadly in critical thinking and acting fast. Before the knight could respond to any attack, the samurai is already striking the deadly blow. Before the knight raises his sword, he has lost his head.
Strict discipline of course is a key aspect, samurai so were taught to endure pain by sleeping on beds of nails or by performing gruelling hard labour throughout the day and the night.
Too, samurai a weren't paid. They did however, have the right to demand food off civilians. Their lack of money thus drove away any thoughts of desires such as whores or drink.
So without a doubt, samurais were quicker in thinking and vastly more intelligent.

The first samurais were originally horse back archers. They would shoot live dogs as target practise. The lack of hefty gauntlets allowed them to use bows and manoeuvre weapons with greater accuracy and precision. So they have eh advantage of using a wider range of weapons than the knight.

The knights weapons were generally big, heavy and long. This meant they were slower moving and found it harder to strike blows successively. The katana, a far smaller and sharper sword could strike the knight at lease 3-4 times before the knight strikes once.
The knights armour, though strong, cannot withstand all. Swords can penetrate the armour, especially with the strength and power of the samurai. The samurai armour offered some protection but is designed to allow maximum movement so that the armour would never even be hit.

And in an unarmoured duel, we both know that the samurai is superior in speed, intellect and agility and thus would easily defeat the knight.
But on the whole, knights may have good protection but are no match for the discipline, agility, intellect and swiftness of the powerful samurai.
Debate Round No. 2


Both warriors were definitely extremely fit. Training for knighthood also started around the age of five, fighting with wooden weapons until they were ready for real ones. They would become squires to experienced knights, so they learned a lot about what it takes before they were old enough to fight themselves. The personal lessons gained from being a squire to a knight trump any sort of fighting school, as it is almost like private tutoring for several years.

Many also don't realize just how fitness-oriented knights were off the battlefield. Many of the most popular sports in medieval times were involving martial art-type skills. Mock-battles and duels were very common forms of entertainment, so knights were constantly training and fighting, on and off the battlefield. Also, considering the knights always trained with heavier weapons, they would have been used to it and would have had more developed muscles for fighting than the samurai. This in mind, the knight would hold an advantage if the fight went into the tenth round, as knights required great endurance to be effective.

I would also like to go back and emphasize my point I made earlier about the warriors' experience. Feudal Japan was arguably much less war-torn than Europe, and samurai were not engaged in real combat nearly as much as knights were. Samurai really only fought other Japanese warriors, so the concept of fighting the knight would be completely alien. Knights fought all different types of warriors throughout Europe, and were much more educated about varying opponents.

I would like to challenge your argument regarding the weapons of the samurai/knights. Samurai used the katana/wakisashi almost exclusively, with the exception of archers. Spear type weapons such as naginatas were employed, but they fail in comparison to the knight's halberds, billhooks, pikes, and glaives when it comes to anti-armor. Weapons such as the billhook was designed specifically for taking down armored opponents, so it would be perfect for use in this scenario. A samurai's bow would be rendered virtually useless when taking into account the knight's shield. Even if the samurai managed to get past this, the bow would simply deflect off the plate armor. Knights were also known to carry crossbows, which could punch through a centimeter of steel ,so much more powerful than they needed to be to stop the samurai in his tracks.

The intellectualism of the knight is often glossed over. Knights were required to memorize different coats-of-arms belonging to their allies and opponents, as well as their fighting techniques. Almost all knights were literate, which was quite an achievement back then. Knights were the elite in categories of both intellect, fitness, and combat, and could easily overpower a samurai.


I beg to differ about your point with the arrow deflecting off the plate armour. I am an archer myself, currently training with Totnes Archers in Devon, England. There I have used many different types of bows from slapable bows to compounds. But by far the most powerful, even more than the compound was the English Longbow. The Japanese bows used circa 0BC, weren't far off the English version of the longbow. They require extremely muscly men to fire. My instructor can barely hold a shot for 5 seconds before he has to release. These bows can often go through the targets and out the other side. So it would probably slip right through the armour, loose it's tip inside the knight and hit the inside of the back. This would make death pretty much inevitable due to the head inside him and the exit wound too. So it is extremely unlikely that an arrow would simply ricochet off.
On the subject of being learned, the Japanese and Chinese were unbelievably more advanced than the English. The printing press was invented in circa 600 AD in China (which did have Samurais). Not to mention the firework being invented far before even that. Samurais existed before feudal Japan too, so they have spent many many years preparing theirselves for fighting.
As for being experienced, Japan did experience civil wars during the 1400s, the most famous being the Odin war. Here they would fight against other Samurais and powerful opponents to give them good training. Knights however, when on Crusade, encountered few strong opponents. They fought mostly untrained men with little or no armour or weapons, desperately trying to protect their land. Knights only got real experience through duels, in which one dies and the other probably gets quite badly injured. Knights are no good injured or dead. Samurais however are well experienced and healthy, living on a richer starch diet than the bread and cheese of the knights,.
With samurais training specifically to one weapon or weapon type, they spent their entire lives perfecting how to use only that sword. As a result, they became extremely well practised when it came to using those swords in real battle. The knights however, spoilt for choice of weapons, would find it hard to master just one weapon.
And by no means did knights have bigger muscles! If anyone, samurais would have bigger muscles! Samurais before they become full samurais are subject to working the lands for the people (a bit like extreme community service) and training intensely. And samurais in the 1000s+ rarely used horse to move. They often had to walk-run to their battle and then fight.
From extensive research, I can gather that Samurais were stronger, healthier, well focused in swords and bows with might, better experienced and trained and quicker people in combat.
This is why I believe them to better the knight if it came to one on one combat.
Debate Round No. 3
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Vote Placed by Philocat 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Although this was a close debate, Pro ultimately made the more convincing case. The fact that a knight's armour was virtually impenetrable to sword cuts is arguably the largest factor, as even if a samurai is more skilled at arms (which is not necessarily the case) a samurai could be wounded a lot easier than a knight due to the lesser-protection offered by samurai armour. Con is correct in saying that powerful bows can pierce plate armour (if they used bodkins), but a shield + armour could still stop an arrow. Considering all the arguments on the other points, it is reasonable to assert that a samurai's strength or intelligence was no greater or lesser than a knight's.