Throughout the history of Japan, one class of people stands out above the rest…the Samurai warriors. As skilled military men, these guys ruled the country’s identity from the 9th to the 19th centuries leaving a lasting impression. They were knowledgeable, proficient, and man, could they fight!
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When it comes to samurai fighters, the typical image is a warrior charging into battle with a sword. However, it should be stated that these combatants were masters of more than just swords. They were also experts of the bow and arrow and a thrusting spear called a yari. In fact, bows were more common than swords because a great deal of samurai fighting was done on horseback. Swords were reserved primarily for close contact fighting and it wasn’t until the 17th century that samurais were recognized for their swordsmanship.
As the bow was widely used, the most prominent samurai fighting style, lasting the majority of the class’s existence was archery. A compound bow, called a Yumi bow, was the prime weapon in this field. It had an efficient range of about 50 meters and could even shoot further, but with loss of accuracy. The Yumi served both warriors on foot and horseback and proved to proficiently hit an exact target within the 50 meter range.
Marksmanship was another fighting technique that hugely impacted the way in which a samurai warrior fought. As a matter of fact, samurai fighters were the first to embrace the match hook rifle when it came from Europe. Renowned samurai leader, Nobunaga Oda, implemented rifles as an integral part of his troops. His fighters were assembled into three lines with each group taking turns firing shots while the other groups reloaded their rifles.
Yet, an additional samurai fighting techniques was kenjutsu, a style of martial arts which emerged during the 15th century and mainly targeted swordsmanship. This technique was put in place to train samurais for the battlefield and it is still taught today. The aim of kenjutsu is for a warrior to become one with the sword. This requires a huge amount of practice with unrelenting determination, thus falling in line with the samurai code to never give up and bring about dishonor. This fighting technique offers flexibility in movement and stance depending on individual style, but there are specific guidelines in place that dictate how a samurai should carry himself and grip a sword.
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In regards to samurai swords, they started with a straight blade, but over time, emerged into a curved shape with greater strength and a sharper point. Samurai were often known to name their swords, as it was a representation of their honor. When combat first began, these fighters were armed with one sword, but during the later years, they carried two swords-a katana and a wakizashi. As Japanese armor underwent changes, so did swords, which were able to penetrate through the gear.
Due to the varied fighting techniques and weapons used, the samurai class enjoyed many successful victories and their ways are still practiced today. To see our collection of samurai swords and weapons, check out http://www.armorvenue.com/