Knight vs Samurai: What Are The Differences Between Them?

Medieval Europe shared numerous resemblances with medieval Japan but also had several differences. Both Knight and Samurai were great warriors. They were well trained and had very good manners as well. They had knights in ancient Europe and Samurai in ancient Japan. Samurai vs knights ran in battle horses and fought for the honors and dignity of their country in a true spirit. They were fighting differently and were trained with various stuff, let’s take a look at the similarities and distinctions more closely: Knight vs Samurai.

Knight vs Samurai: What Are The Differences Between Them?

1. What Is The Knight?

In fact, a Knight is an individual awarded a knighthood honorary title by a monarch or other political chief for an obligation to the monarch or nation, particularly in the military capacity. The Knights were excellent fighters and very artful as well as having good manners. They were usually known as well-educated warriors. They strived for their country’s honor and respect.

There was a rule called Chivalry and Knights follow it tightly. They tend to fight in a small group and nerve enemies by their fierce appearance. In the fight, Knights wore armor and used swords along with shields which were made of metal.

Each inch of their body was covered by a metal outfit during the combat. At the age of seven, the Knights had to begin training by serving at the lord’s castle. A knight has a soldiery rank and must be involved in tournaments.

Knight Vs Samurai

Knights cover their whole body by metallic link including their head with a helmet.

2. What Is The Samurai?

“One who serves” implies the term Samurai. In feudal Japan, Samurai belonged to a strong military caste. There are no ranks of samurai warriors. As mentioned above, The Knight has a “Chivalry” rule and the Samurai follows a rigid standard of behavior known as “Bushido” which is “The way of the warrior”. It has a religious meaning for the Samurai. Also fighting with the same spirit as Knights, Samurai is always willing to sacrifice for national self-esteem.

Samurai use distance strategies for weapons. They use the Sword when they are close to their opponents, and they use arrows when they are far away. Samurai take great care of their swords that is their lives and their honor. During the fight, they wore two swords, a Katana and a shorter blade.

Knights Vs Samurai

Samurais tend to use different types of weapons.

3. Pros And Cons Of Their Armor

European Knights:

Samurai Vs Knight

Knight’s armor details

A knight was physically difficult to defeat due to the enormous quantity of armor.Knights lost their power when wearing heavy metal armor made of metal.
The entire body was very well shielded by the metal cover.Linen underclothes had to be carried to avoid steel armor chafing.
The main means of transportation are horses.Riding horses help them move faster, but they will get hurt when they fall off their horseback.
A knight used a lot of strong, big weapons and also a shield.It was very restricted and hard to move in their armor.
Certain knights from certain locations were easily identified because of their armor.The armor had many different parts.

Japanese Samurai:

Knight Vs Samurai

Samurai’s armor details

Extremely qualified in a variety of other combat abilities.Most of their weapons such as arrows cannot pierce the armor of a knight.
The Armor was light, as it was mostly bamboo, with small pieces of metal and cloth.Samurai were less protected and more vulnerable to the body because of their thin armor.
The Samurai could fight fairly easily on horseback and foot.Mainly fighting on foot, they were overpowered when confronted with a horse knight
Good for duel fighting, especially for the accurate and fast motions of samurais.Knights had stronger weapons than those of Samurai’s
It made moving easier because it was not heavy.Their armor had various parts.

Video explanation: 

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4. Main Differences Between Knight And Samurai

  • Samurai vs Knight were well trained and were fantastic fighters.
  • Knights were located in Europe, while we met Samurai in Japan.
  • Knight vs Samurai begin their training since infancy.
  • The Samurai wears a leather or steel armor laid with silk cords while the armor of Knights was made of metal
  • Knight followed the “Chivalry” rule, while “Bushido” was the religious belief of Samurai.
  • If a samurai’s father was a Samurai, he must be a samurai as well.
  • If a Knight’s dad was a Knight, he can choose to follow his Dad’s career or not.
  • Knight plays “Joust” while Samurai plays “Kendo”.
  • A knight had a rank in the army, but a samurai had no.
  • Compared to Knight, Samurai looked scarier.
  • Samurais tend to optimize the functions of weapons, while Knights tend to attack their enemies.
  • Knight vs Samurai both had different weapons.
  • In terms of armor, samurai wore more leather than metal.

In general, Samurai vs Knight are from two different continents, each has its advantages and disadvantages. They are the pride in the ancient warriors of each country. Their fighting spirit of the nation is undeniable. This article aims to provide useful information about two prominent feudal warriors, helping people have a better understanding of an important part of human history.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How Heavy Was A Knight’s Sword?

A long sword is a kind of European sword with a double-handed hilt with a handle of roughly 16 to 28 cm (about 6 to 11 in); the straight twin blade is roughly 1-1.5 kg (2.2 to 3.3 lbs) in length, and weighing around 1 to 1.5 kg (2.2 to 3.3 lbs).

2. Short Comparison Of Chivalry And Bushido?

They began with literal meanings, “Bushi” which translated “soldier” and “chivalry” which derived from French “Chevalerie”, “which means” horseman. Both Bushido and Chivalry have developed into concepts and rules for the behavior of a person who claims to be a samurai or a knight. Chivalry is a broader social term: take care of the sick, defend the weak, be faithful to your liege lord, and so forth.

3. What Is The Proper Way To Wear A Samurai Sword – Blade Up Or Down?

Samurai prefers letting the blade side up because of the following reasons:

In order to keep the blade sharp. The blade may become blunted by gravity and friction on a downside blade against the scabbard.

Reduce the risk of leg or finger cutting when the sword collar loosens because of rub and tear.

4. Why Were Samurai Swords So Strong?

Traditional Japanese Katanas are known for their unbelievable power and capacity to cut. These swords were created in Japan at the beginning of the 5th century. Steel techniques have been introduced from China and Korea, while the iconic sword curve is believed to have been influenced by weapons of the Arabic style.

The swordsmiths were able to gradually refine and purify the blade makeup, using native Japanese steels called Tamahagane, by piling the metal till a dozen times. The completed blades had their enormous power, which would be checked repeatedly to guarantee that the metal did not contain imperfections.

5. Which Is Better Knight Or Samurai?

This is so challenging a theoretical question that we will never have a clear answer. Still, let’s try to imagine a single-combat duel between them, who do you think would win? 

    • Physical strength: European knight win. By comparing the size of their armors (6′ to about 6’5″compared to 5’3″-5’5″), we can know that European knights were higher and may have some advantages.
    • Armor: Even. It is believed that in the same period, Western metal quality exceeded its rivalry and the armor of knights covered most of his body which means it offers better protection. However, samurai armors are more light-weighted and allow better freedom of movement.
    • Swords: Samurai win. Actually, katana is not really lighter than knight swords (them taking the weight of the warrior into account). But it is deadlier. Firstly, the katana was well-roundedly designed to be suitable for slicing or thrusting, one or two-handed. Moreover, thanks to special hardened treatment and expert constant care, the katana was always razor-sharp.
    • Swordsmanship and martial arts: Even. Samurai and knight styles of unarmed fighting and using swords differ tremendously according to different purposes and functions. One serious problem is that we know little about a knight fighting technique. We just know for sure, the fight you saw in Hollywood movies can be nowhere near the real Medieval heritage martial arts.

Now, many other factors that can change it all are the scenario, the personality of the warrior himself, and even the culture.

6. Did Knights Ever Fight Samurai?

No. During the European colonization of Southeast Asia (the 1600s), knights have been already replaced by soldiers and gunpowder. 

7. Would A Samurai Beat A Viking?

Again, we never know for sure. But we can roughly break down some of the following factors:

    • Weight, strength and pain resistance: Vikings win
    • Armor, sword, skill, and range: Samurai win

Since skill and sword are huge factors, Samurai can have a higher chance of victory here.

8. Who Would Win Ninja vs Samurai?

Armed 1-1 fights or large-group fights: Samurai wins. They usually have 2 swords (a katana and a wakizashi) while ninjas normally don’t even use swords. Samurai also possess horses and are highly trained since infancy for one and one thing only, killing. This victory for samurai is in fact proved by Japanese history many times. For instance, in the Tensho-Iga war (1581), the samurai of Oda Nobunaga gained victory after defeating the ninja clans. However, thanks to the fight, the samurai were impressed by ninja irregular fighting skills and even began using the ninja spies.

Other circumstances that Ninja may win:

  • In their advantageous areas like mountainous terrain where they can make use of their hiding and survival skills.
  • When they fight in small groups and they can utilize other methods to kill the enemies. For example, poison, ambush, and lay traps were commonly used by ninja. The ninja can even sneak and wait until nights when the samurai sleep or apart from his weapon long enough (such as when he’s in the toilet) to finish him. There are no rules on this.

Last but least, you need to know that the fighting between samurai and ninja is extremely rare because they tended to work together.


Hopefully, after reading this blog, you have found out the similarities and differences between Knight vs Samurai. If you still have any questions about these warriors, feel free to ask Question Japan!

About Yuu Sato

Yuu Hiasa has been working in hospitality industry since 2003. In the past, he used to work as a tour guide and now he is running his business of supplying comfortable accommodations in Japan. Thanks to this experience and his passion for writing blog, the articles by him provides awesome tips and things to do when you are traveling in the country of cherry blossoms.

33 Responses

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  15. Anonymous says:

    both the long sword and the katana are excellent weapons. but for me the long sword is better. better steel, longer reach, cross guard, long sword flexes more. katana’s aren’t flexible so if they bent they stay that way. but they are better at cutting. long swords are really good at penetration. And a knight in armour isn’t a clumsy fool. you can move freely in full plate armour. the only down side is you get tired faster than others. knights did not use bow and arrow in battle but they used various other weapons. from blunt weapons like maces to long swords to lances and so much in between. if anything they had more variety of weapons to choose from. and the shape of the katana didn’t come from arabic swords. the katana is built straight and it curves in the cooling process automatically because there is a different in heating and cooling rate of the edge and the rest of the blade. do not use this as a source for your project. this is so wrong.

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  17. Colton peters says:

    Also, samurai carried their katanas blade up due to it allowing for a quicker draw and slice. Test it yourself and you will see.

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  20. Anonymous says:

    wow this is cool information to know! i know samurai would use martial arts, such as kendo, karate, judo, as well as others. did knights have a hand to hand fighting technique, or would they rely on brute strength / weaponry? for instance, if a samurai for were to fight a knight without any weapons, who would most likely win? would the knights heavy armor be an advantage, or disadvantage? feel free to reply, i would love to see peoples thoughts and opinions about this.

  21. Anonymous says:

    European knights in full plate armor were in fact surprisingly agile and quick (even capable of mounting a horse on their own), due to the distribution of the armor’s weight on different areas of the knight’s body. You can see plenty of evidence of this in videos shot by historical reenactors.

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  30. Anonymous says:

    Look up Fiore dei Liberi if you want to know how knights fought. His manual is one of the oldest surviving documents of the 14th century.