Md Sadat Hussain Rafsanjani : Samurai were the warrior class of the feudal Japan. They were like the bodyguard of a certain warlord. They were known as the eastern outlaws like the western Wild West. It is noted to be worthy that samurai use to follow a strict code of conducts to serve his master or lord. They were the warriors. Sometimes, there is no way but the way of war. The only way that is chosen by the warrior, it is bestowed on them. It is the ultimate way a warrior deal with. It is called budo. Bu means war or martial and do means way or path. Literally budo means martial way, the way of the warrior. The term is notable for its greater persists to both the psychological and physical aspect of a warrior. Another relative term is bujitshu. It bears some resemblance with the word budo. Bujitshu means science of war or martial craft. It only attributes to the physical confrontation between two opponents while giving no importance to the mind state of the warrior. A samurai is a well-trained, highly skilled warrior. The word samurai itself means one who serves or percept of knighthood, a man who is dedicated to guard and protect his master at any cost, sometimes at the cost of their own lives. They are born of noble family thus were considered elite military personnel, highly valuable and honourable than an ordinary soldier. Besides, for what the samurai were known is called bushido or the samurai code of conduct, a strict life style they were committed to follow. Bushi means warrior, do means path or way. A samurai is thus also called bushi. The master they serve is called daimyo. A samurai is bound to the daimyo and his community. Shintoism was the native religion of Japan until Buddhism replaced it in 5th century. One of the institutes used to teach Zen Buddhism which was very popular and largely practiced by the samurai. Bushido has eight entities or virtues that must
be met in a samurai. Number one is rectitude. It is like the willingness to die when to die is right and strike when to strike is right. This is the strongest virtue of a samurai. Number two is courage. Courage is the ability or willingness to confront the fear, pain or hardship. Courage is doing what is right. The third one is called ‘benevolence,’ the act of clemency. A person who has the power to command and take life must have the extraordinary power to show mercy. The fourth virtue is politeness. Politeness is the respect that must be earned. The fifth virtue is honesty. A samurai must be honest in all pace of life. He must disdain luxury, as it was believed that riches hinder wisdom. The sixth virtue is honour. Samurais could take their own life as well as others for honour. The seventh virtue is loyalty. A samurai whose master is killed which left the samurai master less is called ronin. He must take revenge by killing the killer. If a samurai lost a war, broke bushido code or brought dishonour to his master, he then would perform ritual suicide called seppuku or ritual suicide. Seppuku, also called hara kiri performed by a samurai to restore honour. To perform hara-kiri, a samurai would take a knife and cut his stomach from left to right and bleed to death. Often the dying samurai is beheaded by another second samurai called kaishaku-nin. Samurai were raised from an early age. At the age five, a boy is chosen to be trained by his parents. They were trained with martial art and sword fighting techniques usually by the father or any relative. If they were from a well to do family, the boy would be sent to a school for formal education. The education was consists of art, martial tactics, military tactics and literature. This is the reason; many samurais were also poets, politicians and led a normal life at later stage. However, some complained that if a samurai becomes fonder of art and writing, the mind would be weak. Thus, some samurai masters forbade practicing too much art and philosophy. A samurai may rarely get a chance to meet a female thus marriage were arranged. A high ranker samurai must marry a samurai family daughter where for low ranking samurais commoner were allowed. If they had a son from a marriage, the son would become a samurai one day. It was a primary rule for a samurai family. Although a samurai is always depicted as a sword-wielding warrior, there actual skill was horse ridding and firing bows while moving on the horse. This skill was very hard to master; it required a continuous practiced for a constant amount of time and even several years of hard practice. At some point, they used moving dog as targets to achieve better accuracy over moving objects at greater distance practice but it was later abolished for animal cruelty. Perhaps a samurai is best known for the use of sword called katana. Actually, a samurai used to use a lot of bladed and edged weapon. The length is varied slightly throughout the centuries. In 14th to early 15th century every katana was made at least 70cm in length. But some also used 73cm katana at that time. As the time goes by, the length became shorter, from 70cm to 60cm in the 16th century. Traditional sword smiths maintained the size at least 60cm long for carrying purpose. Katana is a curved blade but the curvature is very limited. There is another type of sword with more curvature called tachi, which is considered as the predecessor of katana. But tachi was 70 to 80cm in length, a longer bladed weapon. That is why it is easy to distinguishable. Katana sword was never worn to the waist of a samurai without its companion sword wakizashi. The duo is called daisho. Dai means large, sho means small so it was easy to identify a samurai when he wore daisho or big-small blades together to his waist. Daisho also means matched paired blades with similar grip style and visual appearance. Wakizashi was made from 30 to 60cm in length. Katana has a reputation for sharp and worlds one of the deadliest weapons. Any skilled sword man can chop off a human in two-piece of flesh with a single cut. But keeping the sharpness to the katana requires hard metal. But heard metal is prone to brittle thus breaking the sword. So, the core of the sword is made with a soft metal that doesn’t break but stretches and then millions of layers of hard metal are imposed on it using moulding and hammering. Thus a sharp sword is produced. The special type of metal used is called tamahagane. Traditional sword smiths used it to produce katana and other blades for the samurai. Good quality tamahagane contains 1 per cent carbon. After a katana is produced, it is polished for at least one to three weeks with polishing stones to get greater sharpness and quality. Katana is prone to rust thus maintenance is required frequently. To keep the sharpness, the blade is put on a frame while the curve facing the floor. To prevent rust, a mixture of clove oil and mineral oil is used to keep the moisture off. A model or display class blade is often made of zinc and carbon alloy, which are of no practical use as can be broken easily. Only made in traditional way can produce a real offensive katana. In some countries katana made after 1954 is illegal as antiques can be collected or used by martial artists for demonstration purpose only. In the battlefield a samurai was easy to distinguish for his armour. A samurai would wear to type of armour; the heavier version is called yoroi and the lighter version is called do-maru. The helmet is called kabuto. Armour was essential as they were made of metal and waterproof leather. These would protect them from small to medium scale weapon attacks. It was called that when an armoured samurai with his sword was invincible to defeat. Thus some say modern martial arts like karate and other Okinawa styles emerged to defend from armoured attackers with empty hands. Also samurai would use devil facemasks to intimidate the opponents. Samurai codes and ethics were well recorded and written in the book called Hagakure, a practical and spiritual guide for the warrior class. It was written in the peacetime of samurai class. According to the book, bushido is the way of dying and one samurai should always be read to sacrifice himself for his master. A famous samurai and ronin Miyamoto Musashi wrote a text called “A Book of Five Rings (Go Rin No Sho in Japanese)” on the strategies of sword fighting. The texts are divided into five parts called earth, water, fire, wind and the void. The text explains the lifelong learning of an undisputed and undefeated samurai. He also wrote Dokkodo (path of aloneness), some percept before his death.