The Samurai

Posted in histry.

Samurai which belongs to the highest cast of the society was powerful military nobility in Japan in that time. They had a great reputation in the past as cleverest warriors who had their own ethics and morals.

Today most of the Japanese martial arts inherits from Samurai and if anybody needs to have clear understanding on Japanese traditional martial arts, need to study the history of the Samurai.

Martial art is not the only thing which the Japan received by the samurai but Bushido philosophy in addition to many traditional contributions. Therefore, whatever martial arts coming from Samurai, was influenced by the discipline of the bushido philosophy.

It’s mentioned for the first time in 12 decade about samurai during which rigorous fighting was took place between two warrior clans named ‘Thaira’ and ‘Minomotho’. Over the five years prevailed this blood-shed combats and finally won by the clan ‘Minomotho’. The outcome of that controversial incident was the breakage of governance of ancestry (Heian Era) and led to go power to Samurai clan after which governance power was taken by ‘Minomotho Yorithomo”. During this time, capital city of Heiyan shifted to ‘Kamakura’.

The era’ Kamakura’ (1192-1333 A.D) was the golden era of Samurai and it paved the way for Samurai to be in power continuously during which the provincial warrior leads could be seen over the Japan. Besides, the samurai were recruited to government service during this period and the low in favour of the government was introduced in this period as per the intention of ‘Minomotho Yorithomo’ after which it had influenced on Bushido philosophy.

The era ‘Kamakura’ was a brilliant time of samurai but afterwards they had a bad period and the samurai had to face different status during the era ‘Thokugawa’ (1603-1860 AD). With compared to earlier times, during ‘Thokugawa’ period, they had lesser combats and military clashes and had more tendencies to religious activities rather than military activities. During this period, the Bushido philosophy of Samurai was mingled with other religious philosophies.

Even if the era ‘Thokugawa’ was almost free from clashes and peaceful leading to a spiritual development, this time period was not good for the Samurai because in the peaceful environment, they did not have a role to play.

When the samurai had a minimal role to play in the society, they begin to lose their privileges enjoyed and this had adverse impacts on the samurai who used to be enjoying special privileges in the society.

In the era ‘Meiji’ (1868-1912 A.D), this went bad to worse and Emperor

Meiji introduced new governance and changed the method of feudalism; as a result of it, the samurai gradually lost the privileges of being landlords. In addition, Meiji government put the ban on wearing sword traditionally practiced by the samurai.

With the change of the existing life style and domain work being limited, the samurai had a difficult time span. In addition, even if they came to know that professional life has come to an end, they had a challenge of shifting to another profession.

Nevertheless, most of samurai had to be adapted to the existing situation and another reacted in a different way. Those who like their samurai life full of their hearts, they started martial art schools protecting their traditional heritage. The invaluable martial arts which derived from the samurai were protected by those who worked prudently.

It’s of significance to mention about the female Samurai when mentioning about the Samurai. Once the domain work confined to minimal level, the samurai and female samurai too, made arrangements to protect their heritage to the next generations. The martial arts such as ‘Naginatha Jutsu’ are preserved by them and later it was named as ‘Naginatha Do’.

The most of the details on Royal clan female were revealed in the medieval history. As per history reveal, it’s said that the male and female children were adapted to certain disciplinary code from the early age. In addition to day to day domestic life, she had to be trained thoroughly for the martial arts.

The main objective of practicing martial art was for the self defense as well as to protect the house while husbands were away from the house therein. Apart from it, they were not engaged in any military activities. Besides, there was a certain reason for the weapon ‘Naginatha’ to fall into women’s hand. That weapon firstly used by the samurai who went to battle field on foot. Especially this was used against cavalry but due to heavy size (9 feet shaft and 2 feet curved blade ridge) of the weapon, it was not easy to keep it with the hand all the time. Because of this reason, later it was confined to the house and thereafter, it became their defensive weapon as well as their martial art.

When mentioning about the Samurai, it’s worthwhile to mention that their education system, life style, attitudes were very specific. The education which starts at the little age, includes literacy, art of sword, archery, spear, ’Yawara’ fighting methods, Jujutsu, horse riding and combat tactics. Apart from that, they had to be well disciplined on their code of conducts.

The sword plays a major role in the weapons of the Samurai and it was treated as the weapon bonded to the soul. Further, it symbolizes the hybrid power of their domain life and Bushido philosophy. The sword is an honored weapon which shows the patriotism, loyalty to the king, work to the heart-conscience and honor as per the Samurai noble attitudes. Therefore, the sword was to be used in order to do justice and for patriot and self-defense purposes.

Blood-sheds against justice were against the code of conducts of the samurai and as per the samurai old proverb, it’s mentioned that “the best victory can be achieved without bloodshed’.

Another important fact on the sword is that by merely practicing the sword techniques cannot be achieved its highest goals and objectives. It is said that at least it is not sufficient to protect once life and live longer. It means that by practicing only the martial arts does not pave the way to attain the perfection and it requires not only the martial art training but also spiritual development.