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Thread: Hoplite vs Samurai Part II

  1. #1

    Default Hoplite vs Samurai Part II

    OK I know this topic have been here before, but i'd liked to discuss different factors, just because i find it very interesting:

    1. Terrain, Ancient Greece and Medieval Japan how much does it differ? I think Japan had a lot of snow on one side and on the other it had a big forest, as for Ancient Greece being a bit Open landscape. Automatically the question comes: How effective does a Hoplite Phalanx work in a forest of Medieval Japan?

    2. Why did the Japanese drop the shield?


    As you can see the proto Japanese Soldiers had Shields (common Soldier, Right in the back). Now the main argument I've heard for Hoplites to win against a Samurai is that the Samurai Lacked a shield, but early day japan soldier had shields, so Why did they ever think of dropping them.

    3. Hoplite Armor was heavy, the Corinthian Helmet (correct me if I'm wrong) made them vissually see less, cut off sound because the helmets covered the ears.
    So now comes the question how is the samurai armor, I heard it's lighter, but does the helmet also come with the same faults as the Corinthian? I've seen Samurai Helmets wearing Masks (wich makes the samurai vissually handicapped in my eyes), or is the mask only like ceremonial and they don't wear it in combat?

    4.How where the tools for both (i'm talking something like a Catapult, Storm Ram, Cannon etc etc) Greece and Japan at the appointed time if they used any.

    5. So Tactis huh, Phalanx is overall used but did they used more? And how about japanese? I heard something off a Wheel?

    6. CQC (or Close Quarter Combat) what did the Hoplite knew, wnad where did it Consist off, i read they wrestle for olympics (I think that's quite effective). How about Samurai I read Jiu Jitsu, BJJ is regarded among UFC fanboys as one of the more effective 1on1 styles, What more did the samurai knew?

    7. I've seen some records of Samurai storming with there horse on a group off Pikeman's and win, how did that work? Isn't that like storming on a Hoplite Phalanx? Or is the Phalanx more complexer?

    (Please use logics please, this isn't Half god Greek people against Half Ogre Japanese People. Or this topic would turn into a Ninja vs Pirate topic. Both soldiers aren't from the Superman planet)

    Interesting? Or do I come up with question already awnsered before?
    Last edited by loempiavreter; March 11, 2007 at 01:05 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Hoplite vs Samurai Part II

    well first of all the japanese swords in the midieval period would most certainly be able to slice right thru any lame corinthian armor. The match up does not work. Also if you use the early japanese stuff, most of the martial arts training that fills the samurai training has not yet been developed, so they wont kick ass

    Also they got rid of the shield coz it interfered with wielding that powerful double edged sword they had, also the katana could cut through most known armor, swords, and shields, so they basically negated the effectiveness of defensive armaments.

    lastly samurai were more versatile, they could mount horses and run around the battlefield doing whatever. The hoplites were in a pretty much static formation if they formed phalanx. The only phalanx that could beat the samurai might have been the spartans, or alexanders pikes if they had support from the companions.

  3. #3
    Phoebus's Avatar εις οιωνος αριστος...
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    Default Re: Hoplite vs Samurai Part II

    Quote Originally Posted by Xihu XiangLong View Post
    well first of all the japanese swords in the midieval period would most certainly be able to slice right thru any lame corinthian armor.
    It's a little counter-intuitive to put up Japanese sword-making techniques that began flourishing more than 1500 years after the pinnacle of the hoplite.

    The match up does not work. Also if you use the early japanese stuff, most of the martial arts training that fills the samurai training has not yet been developed, so they wont kick ass
    Martial arts training as we think of it was far from ubiquitous among the Samurai class--for whom their school of swordsmanship often was their "martial arts training."

    Also they got rid of the shield coz it interfered with wielding that powerful double edged sword they had, also the katana could cut through most known armor, swords, and shields, so they basically negated the effectiveness of defensive armaments.
    Unfortunately, the katana (more accurately the daisho set) was the province of a specific warrior caste--not of the Japanese military as a whole, most of whose members were prohibited from even wielding said swords.

    ... lastly samurai were more versatile, they could mount horses and run around the battlefield doing whatever.
    Cavalry, of course, has consistently shown throughout history how able it is to affect heavy infantry by itself. I'm being sarcastic, by the way.

    The hoplites were in a pretty much static formation if they formed phalanx. The only phalanx that could beat the samurai might have been the spartans, ...
    Who, oddly enough, would really have done nothing differently from other hoplites.

    or alexanders pikes if they had support from the companions.
    Well, yeah. Alexander's army would have mopped the floor with them assuming you give Alexander the benefit of several centuries' worth of metallurgical advancements and similar technological "upgrades."



  4. #4
    Elric von Rabenfels's Avatar The Devil Inside
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    Default Re: Hoplite vs Samurai Part II

    It depends on the individual soldiers most of the time. Is the Samurai whos fighting a hoplite better than a hoplite? Does he got more skill and natural talent, more "rage" when in danger? We should stop considering that all of the samurais and hoplites had exactly the same skill.
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  5. #5

    Default Re: Hoplite vs Samurai Part II

    Japanese military in the 16th century is far too advanced to be faced by any Hoplite army.
    In fact, Japanese military in the 16th century was one of the best military force in the world at that time.
    It was high disciplined, highly trained and highly organized.
    By 1600 Japan, a island not so different then Britain in size, had more then 100000 guns, compared to six thousand of England.
    It had a sophisticated logistical system allowing to send a army of more then 100000 men overseas and fight there for nearly a decade, which no European nation could even dream at that time(just look at the invasion of tunis).
    Japanese military system and population allowed 1 man in every 20 men to be mobilized, while at the same time England could only mobilize 1 out of 100.

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    Default Re: Hoplite vs Samurai Part II

    As mentioned, there's over a millenium seperating the two subjects.

    As for the Hoplites' constrictive armour, that depends what era hoplites you're looking at. There was a time when many didn't wear body armour (except perhaps greaves), and many wore hat-like helmets (I mean they didn't cover the face or ears, such as the Psiloi helmet or the Boeatian helmet).


    If you're talking strictly samurai as well, you have to discount the guns. I'm not saying some poor samurai didn't use them, but the intention was for teppo-tai (musketeers) to be ashigaru.

    In a one-on-one fight you'd give the edge to the Samuria though. I'd take their ability with the sword, naginata or yari over a typical hoplite with his spear or sword..

    But really it's impossible to compare the two.
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    Default Re: Hoplite vs Samurai Part II

    I'd point out to Phoebus that the Japanese military training revolved largely around horsemanship and mounted archery. The sword was something of a secondary weapon in many cases. Things like this can never be resolved. Samurai from which period, from which part of the island, wearing what, wielding what? Hoplite from Athens, Sparta? Levy or Mercenary? Then think about the psychology. If I took an early Samurai, dismounted him and gave him a katana and pitted him against a mercenary Hoplite there are going to be some serious factors involved. The Samurai can fight far better individually and while I find it difficult to imagine a light sword (no matter how sharp it is) slicing through sheet bronze, he has something of an advantage. Then consider our poor hoplite. He is trained to fight with his mates, shield on shield vs another phalanx in what is essentially an enormous scrum. He has well developed thighs from a career pushing against the man in front, he is a capable fighter and used to a different kind of horror of battle different to that of the samurai whose experience of combat was more towards fluid skirmishes. But without his phalanx, that weight behind him he is no longer a hoplite in any real sense but a greek with a spear in very heavy kit.

    But what does that matter? I mean who is this Hoplite, some Athenian? It could be Leonidas which might tip the balance while the samurai could be really worried that he has to fight on foot when he would much rather be running about on horseback.
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    mocker's Avatar Vicarius
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    Default Re: Hoplite vs Samurai Part II

    Jomsviking vs. Samurai...?


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    Default Re: Hoplite vs Samurai Part II

    Ah el Mocker! Well sure, Jomsvikings anyday! But if it is going to be fictional, Harry Potter vs Samurai? No I go off-topic...sorry, someone redeem the thread...
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    Default Re: Hoplite vs Samurai Part II

    Quote Originally Posted by Nibs View Post
    I'd point out to Phoebus that the Japanese military training revolved largely around horsemanship and mounted archery.
    I know this. The point of that long-ago post was to indicate the absurdity of comparing a military system that saw its peak some 5 centuries before the birth of Christ with a warrior tradition (Samurai) whose pioneers date back to, what, the sixth century AFTER Christ?

    Never mind, again, the technological disparity.



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    Default Re: Hoplite vs Samurai Part II

    Fair, well Redeemed and apologies for the misunderstanding
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    Default Re: Hoplite vs Samurai Part II

    It's all good! Back to the vino for me.



  13. #13

    Default Re: Hoplite vs Samurai Part II

    Samurai, no chances against Spartans. If given samelike equipment. I say, but comparing these two is impossible. Something like 1000 years between them.
    I like hoplites more.


  14. #14
    Sebdeas's Avatar Senator
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    Default Re: Hoplite vs Samurai Part II

    Didn't the Japanese view shields(and for instance, armor on a fighter plane) as being dishonourable?

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    Lawrence of Arabia's Avatar Citizen
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    Default Re: Hoplite vs Samurai Part II

    Quote Originally Posted by loempiavreter View Post
    OK I know this topic have been here before, but i'd liked to discuss different factors, just because i find it very interesting:

    1. Terrain, Ancient Greece and Medieval Japan how much does it differ? I think Japan had a lot of snow on one side and on the other it had a big forest, as for Ancient Greece being a bit Open landscape. Automatically the question comes: How effective does a Hoplite Phalanx work in a forest of Medieval Japan?
    The topography of Japan includes many forests and mountains, but it also has several plains. A phalanx surely wouldn't have kept its formation in any forest, whether it be on Honshu or the Grecian peninsula. However, I doubt any commander would march his army through a forest during a battle.

    2. Why did the Japanese drop the shield?


    As you can see the proto Japanese Soldiers had Shields (common Soldier, Right in the back). Now the main argument I've heard for Hoplites to win against a Samurai is that the Samurai Lacked a shield, but early day japan soldier had shields, so Why did they ever think of dropping them.
    Shields could have been seen as a more cowardly thing to use by the bushi -- the warriors of the samurai class. That is probably not the only reason why they did not use them. Many of the weapons used by bushi were two-handed ones such as the yari, tachi, naginata, and yumi. They did have ways to protect themselves however. They did use what we would identify as pavises during sieges.

    One should also note that the warriors in that picture are all carrying spears, and no large swords.

    In battle, they did have sode (shoulder pads) that were very large, and could be used to protect the head from strikes. How effective that would be, I can't say.

    ere is what one person from the Taleworld.com forums had to say on the subject:

    "If my supposition of the Japanese preferring cutting to thrusting or crushing weapons is correct, using a shield hampers you from wielding weapons two-handed in order to produce the strength required to cut through the straw or leather armour. Also, when your opponent has less protective armour, striking first and hard is often a more effective strategy. Only when his armour becomes strong enough that you can't trust your first blow to neutralize him do you start to consider bringing extra protective gear to help you survive long enough to inflict lethal damage.

    Also, the physiology and tactics of the Japanese were not as conducive to shield-wielding as with the Romans and Norse. The Romans used shields in formation, which increases their effectiveness many fold, and the Norse' bulky physiology allowed them to wield large, heavy shields as offensively as they did defensively. Also, since the Norse were sea-faring warriors and the ship-to-ship weapon of choice was the bow, having a large shield was a very wise move. The Norse penchance for axes can also be attributed to their shields, since a heavy, hooking weapon is the kind of think you need to get past a large center-boss shield.

    The Japanese, on the other hand, are naturally small and lithe and were perhaps better off emphasizing speed and agility rather than size and brute force. These two assets, speed and agility, seem to be the driving factors of the Japanese arms and armour that I've seen."
    3. Hoplite Armor was heavy, the Corinthian Helmet (correct me if I'm wrong) made them vissually see less, cut off sound because the helmets covered the ears.
    So now comes the question how is the samurai armor, I heard it's lighter, but does the helmet also come with the same faults as the Corinthian? I've seen Samurai Helmets wearing Masks (wich makes the samurai vissually handicapped in my eyes), or is the mask only like ceremonial and they don't wear it in combat?
    The Japanese mempo kabuto, face-mask and helmet, was usually reserved for the higher ranked bushi samurai Usually, the average bushi did not possess a mempo, as that was a more expensive and ornate feature to possess. Also, your assertion that it could affect their perception of the environment, but it is nearly a moot point. Here are two examples of mempo



    That mempo only covers the bottom of the face, and the effect on eyesight would be minimal.



    This mempo, called a somen -- full face mask, would affect the perception of the bushi more profoundly than the half-face mask mempo would. One should also note that the somen was a more rare mask to use over the half-face mask would, perhaps for the exact reasoning that it could hinder their abilities in battle.

    Even if it would hinder their abilities in battle, the generals of the armies, contrary to what video games, manga, and anime would suggest, usually didn't do all that much fighting. They were usually more devoted to assessing the battlefield and issuing orders.

    4.How where the tools for both (i'm talking something like a Catapult, Storm Ram, Cannon etc etc) Greece and Japan at the appointed time if they used any.
    Siege weapons by both were hardly used. The Japanese did possess trebuchets of the Chinese type that did not possess a counter-weight like the western trebuchets did. The Japanese relied more-so on ladders or starving out the inhabitants.

    The Ancient Greeks probably relied on nothing more than ballista and onagers, however my knowledge on siege weapons used by Grecians is very limited.

    The samurai eventually started using teppo -- arquebusier that could definitely due some damage to a Hoplite's shield, and would certainly frighten them. However, let's assume, for this showdown, that the samurai did not use gunpowder.

    5. So Tactis huh, Phalanx is overall used but did they used more? And how about japanese? I heard something off a Wheel?
    I don't know of many other profound tactics or formations that hoplites used other than the phalanx.

    The Japanese formation you are referring to is called the "winding wheel" formation in which units attacked in rounds and as one unit tired it was quickly replaced by another. Nothing particularly astounding, but it was a good tactic.

    An extremely important thing to know, however, is that the Japanese moved from the soldiers carrying spears to the bushi being predominantly mounted archers.

    This is a tactic that would have been much easier to defeat enemies that used formations such as the phalanx as the cavalry archers could maneuver behind the rear of the phalanx and attack them from there.

    The bushi then switched to infantry equipped with the yumi, or the Japanese longbow, supported by spearmen.

    Then during the Sengoku Jidai, the common practice was for the bushi samurai to engage in one-on-one combat with an opponent of equal or similar skill or rank. After one of the samurai killed his opponent, he'd take his head, and later present it to his daimyo -- lord.

    6. CQC (or Close Quarter Combat) what did the Hoplite knew, wnad where did it Consist off, i read they wrestle for olympics (I think that's quite effective). How about Samurai I read Jiu Jitsu, BJJ is regarded among UFC fanboys as one of the more effective 1on1 styles, What more did the samurai knew?
    The Greeks did wrestle, that is fact. However, many of the moves used by the Japanese were also used by the Greeks. Submission moves such as the arm bar can be traced to the time of the Ancient Greeks.

    No one can really say that the samurai used any specific martial arts, but that the martial arts were comprised of moves used by samurai.

    7. I've seen some records of Samurai storming with there horse on a group off Pikeman's and win, how did that work? Isn't that like storming on a Hoplite Phalanx? Or is the Phalanx more complexer?
    That definitely wasn't a common occurance. The Japanese historically fielded mostly yari-armed ashigaru as their choice of mle soldier, contrary to popular belief. These were akin to the pikemen you would see in Europe in that they used two hands to grasp the spear.

    Charging cavalry into a spear formation is a great way to get yourself killed, and it wouldn't stun me to hear that the occurrence you're referring to has been exaggerated to make the warrior sound particularly legendary.



    For the record: This battle would be immensely unfair due to the difference in technology. Even without the arquebusiers, the Greeks would likely lose a battle against a similarly numbered Japanese force, if we use the Japanese soldiers that were used during most of Japan's history.

    Secondly, being a samurai does not make them a warrior. The samurai were divided into two classes, the kuge -- nobles, and bushi -- warriors. That is the reasoning for me using bushi so often in this reply.
    Last edited by Lawrence of Arabia; October 19, 2007 at 12:57 AM.
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  16. #16
    The Good's Avatar the Bad and the Ugly
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    Default Re: Hoplite vs Samurai Part II

    This would be a difficult battle, with many casualties for both the Greeks and the Japanese, but if the Hoplites stay in a discilplined formation throughout the whole battle, then they would win. By the way, are the Hoplites Spartans, or are they all from different cities? Because Spartan training would make the Greek army even more victorious. The Samurai units especially would be at a disadvantage due to the lack of shields, although some other Japanese units, such as Spearmen, may have carried them.

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    Lawrence of Arabia's Avatar Citizen
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    Default Re: Hoplite vs Samurai Part II

    I disagree, because if mounted samurai maneuver around to the flanks of the hoplite, they would be in trouble.
    Quote Originally Posted by Empi Rapper View Post
    Go on Farnan, go and help those despicable thugs you call our soldiers to kill some of the poorest people on the planet.
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  18. #18
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    Default Re: Hoplite vs Samurai Part II

    In massed formation, the hoplites have greater reach and the samurais have no room to dogde, and no shields. They wouldn't stand a chance. Or, at least, they'd be better of using spears. There is a reason why almost every soldier, at least in Europe, north africa and the middle east, have carried shields, unless they wielded a two handed weapon. Even people who fought naked still carried a shield.
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    Lawrence of Arabia's Avatar Citizen
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    Default Re: Hoplite vs Samurai Part II

    You don't honestly think the bushi would do a head-on charge against the hoplites, do you?
    Quote Originally Posted by Empi Rapper View Post
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    Default Re: Hoplite vs Samurai Part II

    Er, I still don't see how it's a valid scenario. We're talking about at least 11 centuries' worth of not just technological differences, but warfighting innovation as well.

    Basically, it's unfair to the hoplites to set them up with a warfighting tradition that started a milennium later. Comparing the two assumes that a society would just to fight as predominately hoplites for that long. History, however, shows that this was not the case.

    Beyond that, there's other considerations as well. A hoplite is a hoplite. A samurai, however, could be any number of different animals. Samurai fought as infantry, cavalry, missile cavalry, etc. As early as the beginning of the 4th century BCE, lightly-armed skirmishers proved that they could annihilate comparable numbers of unsupported hoplites--and Lacedaemonian Peers at that. Given this, why would anyone think that a rectangular block of infantry, weighed down by 50lbs or more on the average, could take on an equal number of opponents who also enjoyed horses, missile weapons, superior metallurgy for their weapons, etc.?
    Last edited by Phoebus; October 21, 2007 at 12:50 PM.



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