Myths of the Samurai Sword v.s. the M1 rifle in WWII?

Discussion in 'Weapons' started by slipthejab, Jul 24, 2005.

  1. Mitsurigi

    Mitsurigi New Member

    You are correct, the swords used in WWII were of budget quality mass produced for almost every Japanese military personnel, beside those who had bought family nihonto. I am fully aware of their names and reference, as my Kendo instructor was a Japanese NCO in WWII.

    What i referred to is what they are generally known as. and especially in the martial world a "japanese Sword", is usually refered to as a Samurai Katana or Samurai Sword.

    And for a little interesting fact; all Japanese Military personnel in WWII were adopted into the Samurai class to promote honour and service to the Country and cause, it was also the reason why they were all issued "Samurai Swords".

    So i mean no disrespect but i was merely trying to state fact, and as i said i agree with you, i doubt that a WWII Gunto would cut through a rifle barrell and stock. :)
  2. Dave Humm

    Dave Humm Serving Queen and Country

    As are nunchaku, known to some people as "nunchuks", that doen't mean it's the correct way to refer to these items.

    As a person within the "martial world" you refer too, as a sword user, and member of the British Kendo Association, I have never EVER once heard anyone refer to their Japanese sword as a "samurai" sword. So I disagree with your statement however, there is a difference between people who don't actually know what their talking about (when it comes to swords and sword arts) and those that do. It is my experience that those who don't refer to a Japanese Sword in the manor you describe.
    Only Officers and NCO's carried (or were officially issued) Swords regardless of their adopted class.

    Last edited: Aug 3, 2005
  3. TheCount

    TheCount Happiness is a mindset

    Or at 400m where it can be a bit challenging.

    I've done advanced engagement of moving targets or targets flitting in an out of sight. The samurai would still get shot.

    No they'd shoot at the moving targets (probably hit some) and use grenades mate. Also being on an elevated position the rifleman would have an advantage. On top of the japanese being tired after running uphill they can see more etc. If you see how fast a skilled infantryman reloads your whole no time to reload justification for swordsman winning goes out the window.
    Also don't forget any squad based support weapons, artillery support, grenades, mortars, SMGs and the GIs generally being able to shoot quite well. But then ofc the rifleman just run away so the japs get there, there is nobody there and they are all standing there like woot when an MG mows them down.

    And you evidently have a lot of combat experience to back this up yeh. Have you even used a rifle or sword ... ? Probably not. Realistically someone having 300 times greater killing range then you is not good ok ?

    Yes, hence the japanese would have to be in clear line of fire to open fire on the GIs, so they would have even more chance of being shot.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 3, 2005
  4. dtrip

    dtrip New Member

    You have done advanced what ?

    Read this:
    (particularly notice the keywords "massive assault" and
    "close quarters combat").

    You can also Google for "infantry tactics" and find the
    same scenario in all related articles in the internet. Its
    standard procedure.

    You know army service is compulsory in Greece, I was there
    for 18 months, "mate". I have first hand experience of the
    whole procedure, because I was there in 9 (nine) drills with
    blanks, each lasting 8 days, each day there was an assault,
    we either got to be the attackers or the defenders.

    Your "advanced" training looks more like shooting pictures
    of Osama inside a shooting range ?

    And no you cant shoot a running covering man at 100m easily,
    maybe today you stand more chances with 3-shot bursts from an
    M-16, but the M-1 was semi with a cartridge of what, 7 - 8 bullets...
    You have probably fired the M-16 which is much lighter, fully automatic,
    with a cartridge of 25-30 bullets. Well the M-1 was semi automatic
    with a cartridge of what, 7-8 bullets. (BTW, I have actually fired both)

    I just cant believe some people !
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2005
  5. mai tai

    mai tai Valued Member

    the last time i mentioned sword on this forum i got ripped a new one. so im not going to say the s word again :)

    however i dont think a s#$% could cut threw the stock ether.most stocks are made of hard wood (ash, maple, walnut, or oak..i think the mi is walnut)

    when i cut wood with an axe i can maybe only get an inch or so into hard wood . and an axe is a much better cutting tool.

    i also dont think too many japanese used the sword as a main weapon. sure im sure it was used in an emergency. (real close...and out of bullets). but the sword were mainly to look cool.

    that being said i doubt the military would really care to much about "changing tacticic" for something that happend so infequently. i would be much more worried about how to did them out of bunkers, proximity fuses, and how they fought with rifles.

    however the military is know todo strange things
  6. mai tai

    mai tai Valued Member

    oh yeah. i was thinking. if you over hand blocked with a rifle. your arms would give and both would go into you long before the rifle was chopped in half.(like puching through a block)
  7. El Tejon

    El Tejon MAP'scrazyuncle

    My grandfather was on Saipan. He did not think the use of a sword was a wise move against a platoon of Marines that can shoot straight. :D However, grandpa always said that he would rather have a sword than any Japanese pistol (WWII Japanese pistols were not the best).

    The story that was referenced is nonsense. It comes from a Japanese movie wherein an officer cuts the barrel of a machine gun. This movie scene has been transposed on reality to the point of silliness.
  8. TheCount

    TheCount Happiness is a mindset

    Has ANYONE here stopped to consider what your babbling about ? The edge of the blade is less than half an mm in width, all that would happen is you get a big dent in your sword blade if it doesn't break. Your talking about something less than half a mm against a solid lump of metal of similar hardness.

    And yes even with a garand you could hit a moving target. You judge the speed and the aiming offset and you fire. If your reasonable it can be done.
  9. Kagebushi

    Kagebushi New Member

    what? then how is it possible to block with a sword, especially with the reduced leverage compared to the method described with the garand?
  10. Kagebushi

    Kagebushi New Member

    nope. samurai were allowed to wear 2 swords.... anyone could carry a single blade.

    the samurai class was abolished in the Meiji era. hence no WW2 samurai.

    no... just no.

    done both. anyone with half a brain could easily not just win but smite beyond recognition using either side if he could pick where the confrontation occured.
  11. Dave Humm

    Dave Humm Serving Queen and Country

    Well actually... although I know little of the ground the Pacific theatre was conducted over, I do know a fair amount about the dynamics of infantry tactics.

    In respect of effectively hitting targets (people) with small arms fire at ranges of 200, 300 and 400mtrs.

    I served in 2 Squadron RAF Regiment, a parachute capable "field" squadron responsible for the protection of Air Force assets; most of my 'active' time was spent in Northern Ireland or on UN theatre or operations.

    My primary 'Skill at Arms' was with two rifles, firstly the Fabrique National (FN) 7.62mm SLR (Self Loading Rifle) A 20 round magazine semi automatic 'solider proof' bit of kit which, you really had to know how to 'group' your shots to be effective. No optical sight unless you were lucky enough to have the Trilux Sight (which most did not) See picture below


    Secondly, with the introduction of the "SA80" the L85A1 a 'Bullpup' design which believe it or not has it origins in a 1950's design !! A 5.56mm 30 round semi/fully automatic weapon. Fitted with a x4 mag S.U.S.A.T


    Now with either weapon it is particularly hard to hit anything effectively at 300 or 400 mtrs (even with the optical sights) Indeed contacts at these ranges are known as "long Contacts" and the tactic used to bring the fight into reasonable distances (100/200mrts and below) is known as the "advance to contact" (Section Battle Drills)

    So the point I wish to make in this slightly off topic ramble, is that when one is in contact with the enemy and you are advancing to close the distance, the amount of rounds you fire is proportional to how effective you can be at killing the enemy (basing this on very simple ground tactics where 'support' from armour and the air are limited) IE Small amounts at longer distances and higher amounts at closer distances

    As the distances close, an organised platoon/section/fire team should have its own "close fire support" (machine guns) these provide 80/90% of the weight of firepower being used to suppress the enemy as the remainder of the assault advances.

    I've served with American Army and Airforce units and I can say unreservedly, they have ALWAYS had the attitude of "when in doubt empty the magazine" this attitude stems from the fact their military infrastructure is so bloody huge, wasting ammunition isn't a particular problem however, what that does is create a situation when within a relatively short period of time you can have a large number of people on the ground with limited amounts of ammunition. If one spends your allocation of ammunition at the long and medium range contacts, it is quite, likely you will have hit very little, leaving you with only a limited amount of rounds to spend at the distance where you actually need MORE. Hence CQB, bayonet drills and hand-to-hand.

    Additionally and quite importantly, was the skills of the grunts on the ground. Many US and UK forces were reasonably inexperienced combatants, conscripts of the Draft which occured throughout the war. Yes there were very experienced people/units however, those people were often out numbered by the less experienced, people who had minimal time in all aspects of field combat operations.

    As a member of the British Armed Forces I fired different generations of infantry weapons, .303 Lee Enfield right through to the current Armalite. As a Skilled shot (and skill at arms instructor) I thought I knew how to shoot, not so with the older weapons such as the .303 and the M1. Although the same marksmanship principles apply, the 'quality' of the shot has to be much higher to acheive the same level of grouping at the respective ranges with modern weapons. Does this mean the grunts of WWII were better shots ? Possibly (but I doubt it) however, I spent several years learning to shoot to the standard where I was very confident in my ability to hit consistantly under various situations and circumstances, time I might remind people, the soldiers of WWII didn't have the luxury of.


    Over the last 60 years, advances in military technology has leaped forward a loooong way, the accuracy of weapons 'by default' has improved. By accuracy I mean how easy they are to "point, shoot and hit" I know how hard it is to hit moving targets at various ranges, and this is with modern small arms with optical sights fitted as standard, I dread to think about this using older generation weapons.

    ...on October 22, 1945, the Supreme Commander Allied Powers (SCAP) notified the Ministry of Education that "dissemination of militaristic and ultranationalistic ideology will be prohibited and all military education and drill will be discontinued." Two months later, on January 4, 1946, SCAP issued Directive 550, which, with its companion Directive 548, required "the removal and exclusion from public life of militaristic and ultra nationalistic persons." One result of these orders was that the Ministry of Education eliminated martial arts from school curricula and another was that the Dai Nippon Butokukai was closed.

    Last edited: Aug 4, 2005
  12. Stolenbjorn

    Stolenbjorn Valued Member


    The axe cutting lousier than a blade (a curved one) is true when it comes to flesh and bone, but if you seriously mean that a blade is better at chopping wood than an axe; then why don't lumberjacks all around the world use axes and not swords?

    To quote the swordsmith that made my sword and who allso happens to be a katana-collector: "Swords are not meant to cut wood"
  13. mai tai

    mai tai Valued Member

    i am not saying it would always happen. just like you cant always kick through a block.

    i just think that in the arms over the head block with a m1. that the arms would be the weak link in the system and would fail long before a gun was chopped in half.
  14. Stolenbjorn

    Stolenbjorn Valued Member

    "Both hand raised -wide grip on an impliment -blocks" are the strongest blocks you can perform in european longswordfighting, and I seriously doubt that anybody can swing somthing the weight of a katana sufficiantly hard to break a proper block like this. It's of course possible for an abnormally weak/sick soldier to cave in vs. a very strong katanawielder, and it's possible to make mistakes; either having elbows straight and somthing goes wrong in the joint(s), or having too bent elbows, resulting in the block giving in.

    But in a scenario like this, I think the most dangerous thing that could happen to the defender (that would be the GI with the rifle) in this situation would be the katana snapping on impact and coming towards his face like a projectile, or if the Katanawielder feints and stabs his abdomen instead. (-it's a popular technique with european longsword; to feint a very powerful cut downwards towards the head, then changing angle, and stabbing to the torso.)
  15. Dave Humm

    Dave Humm Serving Queen and Country

    I have a 1944 Shin Gunto weighing in at 1000 grams (blade alone) Just picking this sword up give you a clear indication of its cutting potential.

    I'm by no means an authority on tameshigiri however I do perform test cutting when the mood takes. One of my shinken (a 900gram) shinogi easily cuts through bamboo and rolled tatami, I'm in no doubt that an adrenalin filled overly determined individual would be quite capable of cutting somewhat thicker wooden objects.

    Now, cutting a rifle in two is entirely different however, Google "Kabuto Wari" and see the images of Obata Shihan smashing a Gendaito Shinken into an Iron helmet - Which was significantly damaged, then re-evaluate one's thinking on what a Japanese sword and a skilled user is capable of doing.


    I'll save people the effort of Google - Here's a conclusive image of the cutting potential of a quality Shinken.

    Last edited: Aug 8, 2005
  16. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Valued Member


    You beat me to it Mr Humm, I was just going to put this event forward as an example myself :).

    I'm thankful I read through the whole thread before posting too, as I was tempted to jump in with a few 'misconception corrections' on the JSA and Japanese history fronts but they all seem to have been dealt with one way of the other :O.
  17. slipthejab

    slipthejab Hark, a vagrant! Supporter

    errmm... did you bother to read the original post? It doesn't sound like it. :eek:

    Obviously the drift of the thread had nothing to do with a confrontation where an American solider had sufficient range to shoot a sword wielding Japanese soldier. :bang:

    It'd help if you understood that before posting. What you've posted only serves to drag the thread off on a tangent that has little to do with the original theme of the thread.

    errmm... no one was suggesting that this was sword wielder v.s. a rifleman with sufficient range. (it seems many read only the title of the thread and responded) The original post is in regards to hand to hand combat where one soldier has a rifle as weapon (eg. to bash or block with not to fire with) and one soldier has a sword.

    Again... it'd help if you read the original post. The story does NOT come from a movie. Go back and read the original post ... it has nothing to do with a movie.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2005
  18. slipthejab

    slipthejab Hark, a vagrant! Supporter

    Thanks for taking the time to post the relevant info and keeping the thread on track. :D

    The photo that you've posted pretty much sums up what I expected.
  19. mai tai

    mai tai Valued Member

    i have never touched an m1, nore have i swung a katana. i am merely talking out my ass.

    that being said IF the force was applyed great enough (therretically) i just think that the arms would give long before the rifle.

    but i think you correct in that the real danger would be the sword breaking and hitting you
  20. mai tai

    mai tai Valued Member

    you are a <minor personal attack removed>, but you sure are funny.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 10, 2005

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