Culture clash in martial history: Africa, Russia, Japan..

Open to public view.

Culture clash in martial history: Africa, Russia, Japan..

Postby Gordon H » 21 Dec 2012 20:20

ADMIN POSTING:
This thread is made from extracts of a longer thread in the pub. That thread ended up containing many interesting and useful historical details, so I have extracted them and moved them here for general consumption.
"You is filth, you is scum, but I will make you soldiers"

-Sharpe's Regiment

Ego ridebo sicut mundus urit
User avatar
Gordon H
Staff Sergeant
 
Posts: 168
Joined: 12 Apr 2012 17:34
Location: The Peoples Republic

Re: Aw! nobody wanted to play with JC?

Postby Michael Chidester » 24 Dec 2012 00:47

Gordon H wrote:I'm from a very strong JSA background and give me a choice between European harness and Japanese Harness, I would take the European harness everyday.

From what I'm told, the Japanese agreed with you in period, and there was quite a trade in European armor, which they'd lacquer and incorporate into their kit.

Gordon H wrote:There is a documented account in Japan of 10 Portuguese rapier fighters who fought 10 Japanese swordsmen, if my memory serves me well in the 17th century. The fight was declared a draw despite the fact more Portuguese died of their wounds.

I've heard many versions of this story, but no references for any of it. If you have the actual source, I'd love to read it.
User avatar
Michael Chidester
Colonel
 
Posts: 1426
Joined: 28 Sep 2008 00:20
Location: Brighton, MA

Re: Aw! nobody wanted to play with JC?

Postby Piermarco » 24 Dec 2012 00:54

Likewise I've heard that the Spanish hired Samurai(/Ronin?) in the Philippines and new world, without having any hard references to check.
Piermarco
2nd Lieutenant
 
Posts: 325
Joined: 09 May 2011 20:47

Re: Aw! nobody wanted to play with JC?

Postby Gordon H » 24 Dec 2012 00:55

Michael Chidester wrote:I've heard many versions of this story, but no references for any of it. If you have the actual source, I'd love to read it.


My father has seen the documents, it is on a set of scrolls in Japan itself, I could maybe try and find out the name of it and see if there is any reference to it online.
"You is filth, you is scum, but I will make you soldiers"

-Sharpe's Regiment

Ego ridebo sicut mundus urit
User avatar
Gordon H
Staff Sergeant
 
Posts: 168
Joined: 12 Apr 2012 17:34
Location: The Peoples Republic

Re: Aw! nobody wanted to play with JC?

Postby Colin F. » 24 Dec 2012 14:41

The only confirmed sources that I know of talking about Japanese/Euro engagements are to be found on this old SFI thread.

http://www.swordforum.com/forums/showthread.php?15461-Western-Maisters-Japanese-link&s=
SG6 - Bradford - Instructor

Those old masters taught fighting, we teach nothing but fencing nowadays. - Alfred Hutton, The Swordsman
Colin F.
Lieutenant Colonel
 
Posts: 1105
Joined: 02 Jun 2008 14:04
Location: Bradford

Re: Aw! nobody wanted to play with JC?

Postby Piermarco » 24 Dec 2012 15:56

Colin F. wrote:The only confirmed sources that I know of talking about Japanese/Euro engagements are to be found on this old SFI thread.

http://www.swordforum.com/forums/showthread.php?15461-Western-Maisters-Japanese-link&s=


Interesting! There were around 3,000 Japanese in Spanish Manila by the early 17th century, so there could easily have been other encounters and cultural interchange.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dom_Justo_Takayama

Not to mention Japanese emissaries to Europe by 1585.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tensh%C5%8D_embassy

Image

There also certainly Filipinos in the new world by at least the 1570/1580s, and I read somewhere that the Spanish brought some Samurai too as they found their service in Manila to be reliable, but this was in a popular history work with no citation given. But in any case we already had a melting pot of people from the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia in one place.
Piermarco
2nd Lieutenant
 
Posts: 325
Joined: 09 May 2011 20:47

Re: Aw! nobody wanted to play with JC?

Postby admin » 24 Dec 2012 16:07

Something that I find amazing about such melting pots, such as the British in India, is how remarkably little interchange there was in some regards.

I am specifically looking at the moment for martial art/weapon cross-polination between the Indian peoples and the British in the 19thC and the overwhelming result is that hardly any of one culture adopted the martial practices or weapons of the other unless they were somehow forced to (eg. a British officer travelling in disguise or an Indian solider forced by regulation to carry a British sword). Or that it happened over a long period of time very gradually (eg. the introduction of polo and tent pegging).

It sounds to me like this was largely the case with the Japanese as well - they bought European helmet bowls and breastplates but then built them into a Japanese style armour and basically disguised them - same with gun barrels. The Japanese seem to have been very conservative and hostile to change and the Spanish and Portugese were convinced of their own cultural and religious superiority. And the only examples I have found of Europeans carrying Japanese swords was when they 'went native' to blend into Japanese court/political life better. I have never even heard of one example of a Japanese man carrying a rapier or a Spanish/Portugese man using a banana.

Looking back on history I think we forget his sometimes, because today we are so culturally flexible and open to change, but many of these cultures were very proud of what they were, their fashion, their religion, weapons and language were all rolled together into a package that they would defend to the death and they often believed their way was better than everyone else's.
http://www.antique-swords.co.uk/

I like swords more than you.
User avatar
admin
Emperor
 
Posts: 35081
Joined: 13 Mar 2006 17:28
Location: Guildford, Surrey, England.

Re: Aw! nobody wanted to play with JC?

Postby Piermarco » 24 Dec 2012 16:29

I get that, and can see that happening in some cases.

Reading about people of African origin in the Renaissance though they seemed to have readily adopted European weapons and fighting systems. As well as the well known pictures of black fencers in Mair and Talhoffer there are numerous accounts of black guards, soldiers, captains, with a handful achieving high rank and/or knighthood.

As early as the 1580s there is a reference to a black African with his own fencing school in the Azores, known only as "Master Pedro".

Probably their case is different as often they had been transported as slaves with little chance to go back to their old culture (and their children brought up in European culture).
Piermarco
2nd Lieutenant
 
Posts: 325
Joined: 09 May 2011 20:47

Re: Aw! nobody wanted to play with JC?

Postby Piermarco » 24 Dec 2012 17:09

admin wrote:the introduction of polo


As a complete aside, according to Carlo Bascetta a game of polo was played in Rome in 1626, at the suggestion of Pietro della Valle on his return from travelling in the east. This seems to have been a false dawn for polo in Europe, but it does speak of European curiosity of other cultures at the time.
Piermarco
2nd Lieutenant
 
Posts: 325
Joined: 09 May 2011 20:47

Re: Aw! nobody wanted to play with JC?

Postby Piermarco » 24 Dec 2012 20:03

Just because I like these examples of these cultural exchanges:

Filipino warrior with a rifle and banana, from the Boxer Codex (c.1595, plenty of other examples show warriors with native weapons)

Image

And Japanese residents of the Philippines from the same codex.

Image

There are lots of renaissance accounts and images of Africans or people of African origin with European weapons and swords, but I like this one because it is fairly early (ignoring Muslim Andalusia, significant African migration into Europe didn't start until the first slave ships into Lisbon in the 1440s).

Woodcut of the assassination of Galeazzo Maria Sforza in 1476, note the black footman to the left, who is in the act of killing one of the assassins, Giovanni Andrea Lampugnani.

Image

Much later the Englishman Richard Ligon gives a surprising account of African slaves in Barbados practicing rapier fencing in the 1640s, not something I had associated with plantation slavery:

I have seen some of these Portugal negroes at Colonel James Drax's play at rapier and dagger very skilfully with their stockadoes and imbrocadoes and their passes and at single rapier too after the manner of the Charanza, with such comeliness as if the skill had been wanting the motions would have pleased you but they were skilful too which I perceived by their binding with their points and nimble and subtle avoidings with their bodies and the advantages the strongest man had in the close which the other avoided by the nimbleness and skilfulness of his motion.

For in this science I had been so well versed in my youth as I was now able to be a competent judge. Upon their first appearance upon the stage they march towards one another with a slow majestic pace and a bold commanding look as if they meant both to conquer and coming near together they shake hands and embrace one another with a cheerful look. But their retreat is much quicker than their advance and being at first distance change their countenance and put themselves into their posture and so after a pass or two retire and then to it again and when they have done their play they embrace, shake hands and putting on their smoother countenances give their respects to their master and so go off.
Piermarco
2nd Lieutenant
 
Posts: 325
Joined: 09 May 2011 20:47

Re: Aw! nobody wanted to play with JC?

Postby admin » 24 Dec 2012 22:29

Piermarco wrote:Filipino warrior with a rifle and banana, from the Boxer Codex (c.1595, plenty of other examples show warriors with native weapons)


Wow, cool find! 8)
Lots of good examples of cultural exchange there Pim. I'm really interested in that stuff and as you show it did happen a lot.
http://www.antique-swords.co.uk/

I like swords more than you.
User avatar
admin
Emperor
 
Posts: 35081
Joined: 13 Mar 2006 17:28
Location: Guildford, Surrey, England.

Re: Aw! nobody wanted to play with JC?

Postby Piermarco » 24 Dec 2012 23:38

Yeah it did happen a fair a bit, and it went both ways, a few notorious barbary pirates who ended up in North Africa and converted to Islam were English, Italian or Dutch.

In terms of Africans in Europe as I mentioned above from the mid-15th century onwards a sizeable number of African slaves were brought into Europe, primarily via Portugal, being manumitted frequently and on average after short periods of servitude compared to later plantation slavery (on top of much smaller numbers of African royalty and dignitaries, Ethiopian pilgrims etc).

View of a Square with the Kings Fountain in Lisbon c.1580, note the black horseman in the livery of a knight of the Order of Santiago at the bottom right.

Image

Anonymous black courtier (with sidesword, Dutch, circa 1525).

Image

Although culturally fully European, the most famous person of African descent in Renaissance Europe was Alessandro de' Medici, the first Duke of Florence, who was assassinated by his cousin in 1537. Scholarly consensus is that his mother was a former African or mulatta slave (named Simonetta da Collevecchio).

Image
Last edited by Piermarco on 25 Dec 2012 01:09, edited 1 time in total.
Piermarco
2nd Lieutenant
 
Posts: 325
Joined: 09 May 2011 20:47

Re: Aw! nobody wanted to play with JC?

Postby Lyceum » 24 Dec 2012 23:42

Fascinating, for some reason this brings Shakespeare's Othello to mind. Wondering about the context etc.
No language is justly studied merely as an aid to other purposes. It will in fact better serve other purposes, philological or historical, when it is studied for love, for itself"

Mind now changed...
User avatar
Lyceum
Field Marshal
 
Posts: 4208
Joined: 16 Nov 2007 00:02

Re: Aw! nobody wanted to play with JC?

Postby Dave B » 24 Dec 2012 23:59

Piermarco wrote:Yeah it did happen a fair a bit, and it went both ways, a few notorious barbary pirates who ended up in North Africa and converted to Islam were English, Italian or Dutch.


Did you know that the Isle of Lundy in the bristol channel was colonised by barbary pirates for a while in the 1600's?
Dave B
Major
 
Posts: 773
Joined: 07 May 2010 16:56

Re: Aw! nobody wanted to play with JC?

Postby Piermarco » 25 Dec 2012 00:04

Didn't know that, how bizarre! I know they were major concern throughout the 16th century and captured a load of people from Italy and Spain.
Piermarco
2nd Lieutenant
 
Posts: 325
Joined: 09 May 2011 20:47

Re: Aw! nobody wanted to play with JC?

Postby Piermarco » 25 Dec 2012 00:05

Lyceum wrote:Fascinating, for some reason this brings Shakespeare's Othello to mind. Wondering about the context etc.


Indeed! Some scholar speculate that Shakespeare's "dark lady" was a black courtesan known as Lucy Negro.

c.f. also Claramonte's El valiente negro en Flandes, which is a bit like Othello but with a happy ending: slave is freed, moves to Flanders, overcomes prejudice, becomes a general and a knight, marries his former master's daughter.
Last edited by Piermarco on 25 Dec 2012 00:41, edited 1 time in total.
Piermarco
2nd Lieutenant
 
Posts: 325
Joined: 09 May 2011 20:47

Re: Aw! nobody wanted to play with JC?

Postby Gordon H » 25 Dec 2012 00:28

Image

]

This is a 17th century picture of Kirishitan/Japanese Christians, notice how they have adopted Portuguese dress standards.
Last edited by Gordon H on 25 Dec 2012 13:10, edited 1 time in total.
"You is filth, you is scum, but I will make you soldiers"

-Sharpe's Regiment

Ego ridebo sicut mundus urit
User avatar
Gordon H
Staff Sergeant
 
Posts: 168
Joined: 12 Apr 2012 17:34
Location: The Peoples Republic

Re: Aw! nobody wanted to play with JC?

Postby Piermarco » 25 Dec 2012 00:43

Nice!
Piermarco
2nd Lieutenant
 
Posts: 325
Joined: 09 May 2011 20:47

Re: Aw! nobody wanted to play with JC?

Postby George S. » 26 Dec 2012 17:45

Hello,
In regard to those who would like to know something about real European vs Japanese system/weapon,I think we have something on that question.
There was a certain event during Russo-Jap war,in fact it was single combat duel,between two officers of opposing sides in front of the eyes of two opposing armies.The duel was actual and real event,but not commonly known.
During that war there was a certain Japanese officer who become famous by provoking Russian officers in single combat duel in front of the eyes of Russian and Japanese,usually before some major battle in purpose of boosting moral of Japanese soldiers.That Japanese officer was not samurai per se,but ordinary people in Serbia and Montenegro like to regard him as samurai,of course,after Emperor Meiji reform there no more classical samurai. :D

It was the year 1905.Russo-Japanese war was at full steam.That wet morning two opposing armies watched each other after countless Japanese wasted charges on Russian positions somewhere near Vladivostok front.That situation resulted with Japanese standstill witch could not be tolerate by generals.Regarding to that situation Japanese admiral Togo sent letter to Russian admiral Roženstvenko.He asked for one Russian officer to come for a duel vs Japanese already famous duelist.

Well,if you are interested for more I could continue.....? Maybe in new topic?

(sorry for my Bad English)
User avatar
George S.
Corporal
 
Posts: 38
Joined: 27 Mar 2011 18:22

Re: Aw! nobody wanted to play with JC?

Postby admin » 26 Dec 2012 17:54

Please do! Either this thread or a new one - their names would be very useful as well. Cheers!
http://www.antique-swords.co.uk/

I like swords more than you.
User avatar
admin
Emperor
 
Posts: 35081
Joined: 13 Mar 2006 17:28
Location: Guildford, Surrey, England.

Next

Return to General Historical Martial Arts

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests

cron