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How well are modern troops in today's military trained in the use of melee weapons, and would they be able to hold their own against a medieval knight?
Without his rifle the modern soldier stands about as much chance as a snowman facing a chainsaw wielding Mike Tyson in hell. While modern soldiers have some closebat training I'd like to emphasize the word SOME there. It's a minor part of their training not at all the focus. This is even for special forces who receive more CQC training than most but still focus far more on modern weapons. A knight on the other hand has been trained in meleebat since he was a child. Meleebat is their job their ONLY job. They do it until they either die in battle or grow so old they can't fight anymore. Also the melee weapons employed by your modern soldier are going to be woefully inadequate to stop a knight with any reliability. While a dagger (which a modern fighting knife is an example of) is capable of doing the job in certain circumstances the chances of being able to get a kill shot on an armored angry well trained man who is not only familiar with the use of daggers but actively resisting is low. I very much doubt our soldier knows any dagger techniques that the knight does not know how to counter. Also given his armor the knight could simply grab the weapon or the hand of the modern soldier and then gut him like a fish. This is a demonstration of 14th century dagger fightingn s It's likely the knight knows something very similar to that. Meanwhile our soldier's cloth body armor is going to provide little protection against a knight's weapons. Cutting and stabbing attacks are one of the weaknesses of kevlar. Even if the knight's first blows were deflected by the ceramic plates in the armor the knight is used to fighting armored opponents and it won't take him long to figure out our soldier's limbs and neck are soft. Now I know some of you are thinking all the soldier has to do is stay away from the knight and the big brute will tire. While this is to a certain extent (everyone tires eventually no matter how well trained) you must understand that not only is a knight very well conditioned for meleebat (it is again his job) but he is significantly less encumbered than you may believe. Going off surviving examples of plate mail suits ranged from 65-85lbs depending on the size and the era. This is in the same sort of range as our soldier would be carrying for abat load and the knight's armor is spread across his entire body. His armor is also tailored for him and the suit actually has a higher ROM than the human body is capable of. Knights would regularly perform tumbling routines in full armor at tournaments and it was not umon for them to vault onto their horses for the joust. Here's an example of a regular guy doing exercises and acrobatics in an off the shelf suit of armor. A knight would be stronger and have a better fitting suitn s Likewise the knight's weapons are not nearly as heavy as the media would have you believe. Many swords were as light as 3lbs with your larger hand and a half sword generally being closer to 5. A sword owned by a knight is likely well made sharp and balanced. It is not a crude hacking weapon but a strong and agile blade capable of lightning fast attack and defense. A good swing from a sword can easily sever a limb or cut a deep cavity into anyone unfortunate enough to be at the receiving end. The knight is also an expert in it's use. Besides the lance the sword is his signature weapon. If we assume both have their regular equipment minus ranged weapons then we must also mention the lance. Your average knight would be wielding a lance on horseback as his primary weapon. Essentially a spear on steroids lances were generally 1-12 and sometimes as much as 16 feet long tipped with a steel point and couched for impact support. With this the knight can run down the soldier with ease. The soldier's vest won't stop the impact of a lance to the chest delivered at a full gallop and the knight has been training to hit that shot since he was a child. Our modern soldier is also unlikely to be able to defeat the knight with grappling. Knights were not ignorant of grappling in the least as is evidenced by period fighting manuals. There were actually a variety of unarmed and hybrid styles in Europe at the time. One of which Kampfringen is seen here s It is extensively documented and resembles Judo and MMA. They even had mounted grappling techniques. So if our soldier tries any slick grappling moves he faces a good chance of being countered and taking either an armored fist or a dagger to the face. Barring some incredible stroke of luck the knight wins this fight far more often than he loses. It's not to take anything away from our modern soldier but he's a gun fighter fighting with no gun. I think it's important to understand the impact firearms had on warfare. Once guns became good enough to reliably defeat armor (and that did take some time by the way) war started to change dramatically. Not just in weapons and tactics but in who fought them. See it takes a very long time to be proficient with melee weapons. To get really good you need to train for decades. Sure you can take an average reasonably fit person and teach them how to thrust and parry but without decades of training they will lose to someone of the caliber of a knight. So it used to be that the only people who had the time and resources to dedicate their lives to fighting were the nobility. Peasants had far more important things to worry about like not starving. So the nobility ruled the battlefield because they had the time and money to train. Guns changed that. You can take any reasonably healthy young man and within a span of 3 or 4 months he can be turned into a well trainedpetent soldier. Guns have made killing so much easier that just about anyone can be turned into a soldier quickly. The young farmboy who would have been cut to pieces by the knight in the past now possesses weapons so easy to use and so powerful that he needs not fear the landed gentry. So give our soldier his rifle and he blows the knight away with ease.
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