The Way of the Brush & the Sword Sacred Fist Karate International Ken To Fude No Ryu Kenshu Kai Karate Solly Said's Solly Said's Karate,Kickboxing & Gym
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The Term Samurai originally meant "those who serve in close attendance to nobility", and was written in the Chinese character (or kanji) that had the same meaning. In Japanese, it was originally pronounced in the pre-Heian period as saburau and later as saburai, then samurai in the Edo period. In Japanese literature, there is an early reference to samurai in the Kokinshū (古今集, early 10th century):

By the end of the 12th century, samurai became synonymous with bushi (武士) almost entirely and the word was closely associated with the middle and upper echelons of the warrior class. The samurai followed a set of written rules called the Bushido. Samurai teachings can still be found today in modern day society with the martial art Kendo, meaning the way of the sword.

The samurai used various weapons, but the katana is the weapon that has come to be synonymous with samurai, metaphorically speaking. Bushido teaches that the katana is the samurai's soul and sometimes a samurai is pictured as entirely dependent on the weapon for fighting. They believe that the katana was so precious that they often gave them names and considered them as part of the living. After a male bushi child was born, he would receive his first sword in a ceremony called mamori-gatana. The sword, however, was merely a charm sword covered with brocade to which was attached a purse or wallet, worn by children under five. 
See The Samurai  Sword
Upon reaching the age of thirteen, in a ceremony called genpuku (元服), a male child was given his first real weapons and armour, an adult name, and became a samurai.A Katana and a Wakizashi together are called a daishō (lit. "big and small").

The wakizashi itself was a samurai's "honour weapon" and purportedly never left the samurai's side. He would sleep with it under his pillow and it would be taken with him when he entered a house and had to leave his main weapons outside.

The wakizashi was always carried along with the katana, to make a daisho or pair. The wakizashi was, esentially, a shorter katana that could be wielded with one hand. One of the main uses of the wakizashi was to fight indoors, where the low ceilings of feudal japan would make use of the long katana nearly impossible.

The katana-bearing samurai of the Genpei war period and the Warring States Era would never leave behind their wakizashi, which was often used as a backup weapon if the katana was lost or damaged. The wakizashi came in handy when, at many times, the katana's length was a disadvantage.


The Tanto was a small knife sometimes worn with or instead of the wakizashi in a daishō. The tanto or the wakizashi was used to commit seppuku, a ritualized suicide through disembowelment.The wakizashi was also used to perform seppuku, the ritual suicide of a member of the warrior class who felt he or she was living with great shame, from disappointing one's master or from being humiliated in a number of other ways.


The Katana

The Wakizashi

The Tanto

The following description is graphic and certainly not for the squeamish. Please do not allow children to read it. The samurai, when asked to, or granted permission to, commit seppuku, would kneel in the traditional manner with his wakizashi at his side. He would take the short sword from it's saya and thrust it deeply into his own torso, cutting himself open vertically. He would then continue on his ritual, in spite of the pain, by cutting once more horizontally across the original wound. The samurai, having disemboweled himself, will have then died an honourable death. It was permissible to have a close friend or trusted ally to act as a second, meaning that he or she would stand behind the samurai and strike his head off with the katana after the first cut had been made. If a female samurai were to commit seppuku, she would only cut her own throat, a much simpler and cleaner ritual.

The samurai stressed skill with the yumi (longbow), reflected in the art of kyūjutsu/kyudo(lit. the skill of the bow). The bow would remain a critical component of the Japanese military even with the introduction of firearms during the Sengoku period. The yumi, an asymmetric composite bow made from bamboo, wood, rattan and leather, was not as powerful as the Eurasian reflex composite bow, having an effective range of 50 meters (about 164 feet) or 100 meters (328 feet) if accuracy was not an issue. On foot, it was usually used behind a tedate (手盾), a large and mobile bamboo wall, but could also be used from horseback because of its asymmetric shape. The practice of shooting from horseback became a Shinto ceremony known as yabusame (流鏑馬)

In the 15th century, the yari (spear) also became a popular weapon. It displaced the naginata from the battlefield as personal bravery became less of a factor and battles became more organized around massed, inexpensive foot troops (ashigaru). A charge, mounted or dismounted, was also more effective when using a spear rather than a sword, as it offered better than even odds against a samurai using a sword.

A samurai with no attachment to a clan or daimyo (大名) was called a ronin (浪人). In Japanese, the word ronin means "wave man", a person destined to wander aimlessly forever, like the waves in the sea. The word came to mean a samurai who was no longer in the service of a lord because his lord had died, because the samurai had been banished or simply because the samurai chose to become a ronin.

Emperor Meiji abolished the samurai's right to be the only armed force in favor of a more modern, western-style, conscripted army in 1873. Samurai became Shizoku (士族) who retained some of their salaries, but the right to wear a katana in public was eventually abolished along with the right to execute commoners who paid them disrespect.

The samurai finally came to an end after hundreds of years of enjoyment of their status, their powers, and their ability to shape the government of Japan. However, the rule of the state by the military class was not yet over.

In defining how a modern Japan should be, members of the Meiji government decided to follow the footsteps of United Kingdom and Germany, basing the country on the concept of "noblesse oblige." Samurai were not to be a political force under the new order.

With the Meiji reforms in the late 19th century, the samurai class was abolished, and a western-style national army was established. The Imperial Japanese Armies were conscripted, but many samurai volunteered to be soldiers and many advanced to be trained as officers. Much of the Imperial Army officer class was of samurai origin and they were highly motivated, disciplined and exceptionally trained.

The last samurai conflict was arguably in 1877, during the Satsuma Rebellion in the Battle of Shiroyama. This conflict had its genesis in the previous uprising to defeat the Tokugawa Shogunate, leading to the Meiji Restoration.

The newly formed government instituted radical changes, aimed at reducing the power of the feudal domains, including Satsuma, and the dissolution of samurai status. This led to the ultimately premature uprising, led by Saigō Takamori.

Samurai were many of the early exchange students, not directly because they were samurai, but because many samurai were literate and well-educated scholars. Some of these exchange students started private schools for higher educations, while many samurai took pens instead of guns and became reporters and writers, setting up newspaper companies, and others entered governmental service.

Only the name Shizoku existed after that.



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