A skilled swordsman with a Samurai sword vs a charging Kodiak Bear...

Og I hate these (vs) threads, but I was watching a documentary about the samurai sword and it’s efficacy on the battle field, and they liken the sword to having “no mortal foe” on the battle field. (All guns aside of course) The way they portrayed it was that in one to one combat the samurai sword could best any foe if the swordsman was good enough.

Well could the sword slice through the head of an attacking Kodiak bear? Could the sword drive a mortal blow in one swing to an attacking bear? Just wondering.

I’ll bet on the bear. Old Ursa may bleed out by the time he’s through, but one swipe and the samurai is salami. Hair is temporary defense against a blade slash, so the samurai might not even get a decent chop going. Any attack is going to put you within reach of a couple of paws with very sharp claws, and a mouthful of teeth. The samurai would never get close enough for a neck chop, even if he could deliver a mortal blow.

Another bet on the bear. It has size, strength, speed and reach in its favor. You might kill it with a sword, but probably not before it kills you. The real catch is for you to be able to hit the bear with a sword, you have to be close enough for the bear to hit back.

At best a tie - if you’re getting close enough to use the sword, you’re getting close enough for the bear to use its claws, and I can guarantee you, it can take more cutting than you can take mauling.

Toreadors regularly stab bulls to death with swords. Bulls are as big as a bear, though not as strong, agile or otherwise built for fighting. Also, the bull has already been stabbed by guys on horseback and more on foot, bleeding it out and weakening its neck muscles enough that the horns aren’t as great of a threat as they might be.

Yeah, I’d bet on the bear.

If you could keep a large object between you and the bear like a tree, but were still able to stab or slice at him with the sword all the while keeping the tree between you maybe I could see it happening.

The answer to the first question is a no. Cleaving skulls was not what these blades were made for, especially ursine skulls. The second is a lot tricker. The point of a sword through an eye, down an open mouth, or a lucky slash across a throat could be a mortal blow, but even the greatest swordsman in the world couldn’t do that reliably against a charging kodiak.

As to the larger question of if you could come out of the battle alive, I’d say yes. A combination of striking at a bear’s weak spots(head and face, especially nose) should hurt it enough to leave you alone. In this case you’re praying that the bear’s natural tendancy not to fight to the death kicks in. And you better be FAST on your feet, not just with the blade.


I don’t know what this documentary was ( The History Channel maybe? I’ve been less than impressed with some of their offerings ), but the above is just crap. There is nothing at all mystical about a samurai sword and they were not kings of the battlefield. They just became the object of a cult-like fascination in Japan ( that was then transplanted to the west in the late 20th century ) , one that was largely nurtured during the Tokugawa Shogunate, when battlefield combat pretty much disappeared.

As noted they aren’t designed to hack through armor, they aren’t designed for thrusting and a Kodiak’s thick hide would almost certainly guarantee against landing a mortal blow. You’d have to be one phenomenally lucky samurai ( or have an easily discouraged bear, which is much more likely ) to survive such an encounter.

  • Tamerlane

If a Samurai was close enough to slice the bear up, there is a good chance the bear would kill the Samurai before it died like everyone else has said.

Furthermore, Samurai and sword would have been little match for a well trained crossbowman or long bowman. So not just guns need to be eliminated but also any armor penetrating missile weapon.


All you have to do to defeat the Samurai is to throw a couple nest of killer bees at the guy. If the guy can slice up all the bees before being stung to death, then I will bow in respect. :smiley:

Here’s the size of a Kodiak Bear.

Here are the claws

A shot to the balls works best when fighting Grizzlies

This is definitely a new low.


Way back in the time of the samurai, there was a powerful emperor. This emperor needed a new head samurai. So, he sent out a message to everybody he knew for them to send a message to who they knew, and so forth.

A year passes, and only three people show up: a Japanese samurai, a Chinese samurai, and a Jewish samurai. The emperor asks the Japanese samurai to come in and demonstrate why he should be head samurai. The Japanese samurai opens up a matchbox, and out pops a little fly. WHOOOOOSH. The fly drops dead on the ground in 2 pieces! The emperor says, “That is very impressive!”

Then the emperor asks the Chinese samurai to come in and demonstrate why he should be head samurai. The Chinese samurai opens up a matchbox and out pops a little fly. WHOOOOOOSH. WOOOOOOOSH. The fly drops dead on the ground in 4 pieces! The emperor says, “That is really impressive!”

Then the emperor asks the Jewish samurai to come in and demonstrate why he should be head samurai. The Jewish samurai thinks, “If it works for the other two…” So the Jewish samurai walks in, opens a matchbox, and out pops a little fly. WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSHHHH. A gust of wind fills the room, but the fly is still buzzing around. The emperor says in disappointment, “Why is the fly not dead?”

And the Jewish samurai replies, “If you look closely, you’ll see that the fly has been circumcised.”

Da bear.

I would pay to watch. A guy told my wife that his dream was to kill a brownie with an axe. I told her to tell him that I would buy his ticket to Kodiak if he would let me watch him try.

I might give the samurai a puncher’s chance. The strategy doesn’t have to be one strike to kill.

I’m talking out of my ass here but what if the samurai cuts the bear’s arm off at the elbow with that first strike? I bet that would take quite a bit of the fight out of the thing not to mention a lot of mobility. After that it would be much easier without the bear’s ability to charge anything.

Are we talking about a cornered, angry bear that’s also guarding her newborn cubs? Bear wins. The swordsman might get a lucky blow in… but then he’s a snack. I suppose a freak incident could happen, and the swordsman could get a lucky killing blow in the first attempt, but that’d be a one-in-a-million occurrence.

On closer reading, it seems that the OP specifies charging – in which case, even if you do get that lucky blow, there’s still half a ton of angry bear landing on you, flailing claws and all.

The edge (apologies) goes to the human if the bear is stunned and caught unawares by this small, scrawny creature with a shiny stick.

Everyone seems to assume that the samurai must just stand there and take the full brunt of the charge hoping that one lucky swing will smite the bear.

The OP specifies a skilled swordsman. The man is not going to just stand there and swing for the fences.

Yeah, but if the dude turns and runs (even just to get control of the situation), I’m betting that the bear will catch up and just maul him from behind.