Are there any documented cases of cross pollination between western sword fighting techniques and Japanese ones? Such cross contamination could have happened during the Sengoku-jidai. This period would focus more on the practical aspect of swordsmanship. While during the Meiji restoration, guns were already more popular for battle. However, both western fencing and Japanese ken-jutsu may have had more opportunity to mix.

Note: I am really not interested in which style is superior or better or could slash more arse.

  • By the time of the Sengoku-jidai, Western sword-fighting technique was already very mature and had evolved over many centuries. Furthermore, the sword was becoming increasingly ceremonial and less useful on the battle-field. This actually brings up an interesting question, though, which I think I'll ask separately. :-)
    – Noldorin
    Oct 14, 2011 at 14:38
  • @Noldorin: You are welcome. Oct 14, 2011 at 14:41
  • But yes, to clarify, my answer would probably be "no", but I have no real evidence, so I'll leave this for others to answer. There's a possibility post-Meiji restoration swordfighting (if any?) was influenced by the Western style, but I'm not confident.
    – Noldorin
    Oct 14, 2011 at 14:47
  • 1
    I would suspect that many styles were still family orientated and only passed down to selected students, like many martial arts forms. With that, and the Confucian attitude of respecting ancestors, students would stick with their style and not mix other styles with their own. Of course I have no concrete evidence, but I have noticed this in popular culture and my own readings on martial styles, where family styles had a pride of being handed down for generations.
    – MichaelF
    Oct 25, 2011 at 12:57
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    @MichaelF: Yes and no. New masters did change things: Kano and Ueshiba to just name two although beyond the time scope for this question. Chinese and Korean martial arts did influence Japanese ones so there was cross pollination there. It would not be a stretched to see western arts influence Japanese ones. I seem to remember someone (no source I am afraid) saying that the head butt was introduced to China martial arts by western sailors in "bar" brawls. Oct 25, 2011 at 13:04

1 Answer 1


The first influence of this kind of the thing is the arms race. In the case of weapons they are always racing against armour.

Japanese weapons evolved to the point where they were able to defeat the type of armour they would encounter and Western weapons did the same.

Due to the increased diverity of cultures, greater natural resources, farming technoologies (along with a long East West latitude), specific attitudes towards war and other considerations the arms race progressed far quicker in Western than in Japan. Weapons and systems evolved to work against full plate, cavalary etc. In Japan massed cavalary charges were rarer, armourer (esp full plate) was rarer and not as protective due to cultural and resource reasons.

Therefore Western and European battlefield tactics were not solving the same problems.

However, in terms of dueling they had more in common. The style have several simularities but this is mainly because there are only so many ways one can use a sword and warriors in both regions found them fairly quickly. I teach medieval armed combat and have taken various courses in Japanese styles. There are some differences but there are also differences between different Western schools of combat.

However, by the time Europe gained access to Japan and the Japanese saw European technologies and culture the time of swords and hand held weapons on the battlefield was largely passed and the Japanese quickly imported firearms and experienced teachers in order to update their military as quickly as possible so it is unlikey that there was much direct influence from Western sword fighting to Eastern

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