The Samurai And The Bushido Code

1027 words - 4 pages

The samurai were élite warriors in Japan during the 1200’s to the early 1700’s. Fifth century Japan saw conflicts with Korea and China, but Japan had a very untrained army, with a clumsy Calvary, and poor infantry men (Blumberg 1). The reason was that horses were seen as a burden and were never bred to be strong, fast, and large for war purposes (Blumberg 2). In the 6th and 9th centuries, a series of rebellions in Japan began from the Emishi people of the northern home islands; these country people were very well-trained in mounted archery. The nimble Emishi would defeat the Japanese riders with ease (Blumberg 2). But during the war against the Emishi, Japan learned to breed horses for fighting, adapted new fighting methods, and developed new weapons. They replaced the slow, straight-sword with two curved blades that were faster and lighter. For the next 350 years, infantry was replaced with mounted archers, and we start to see the 13th century samurai form (Blumberg 3). The Bushido Code, the code that all samurai follow, helped form medieval Japan.
The warrior class and ruling class in the 13th century to the 17th century were known as the samurai (Clark 1). The samurai were skilled in archery, swordsmanship, horseback riding, and martial arts: the ability to kill with their bare hands (Clark 2). The two swords that the samurai used were the katana, a curved, medium-sized blade used for two-handed combat, and the wakizashi, a dagger or small-bladed weapon for thrusting (Blumberg 7). The samurai specialized in mounted archery as well. They had a medium sized, very flexible bow that made firing arrows from a horse easier. With

Japan's newly trained and bred horses, along with the discipline of the samurai, it made for an unstoppable combination (Blumberg 7). Most of the time when samurai decided to fight, it was alone, one on one. When the samurai were about to engage in battle, most of them would state their rank, family name, and accomplishments. If the samurai was a high-ranked officer, the winner of the duel would have to send the head of the defeated to the capital city where the city officials and the people could see it (Clark 4). However, if the samurai was not killed by his opponent, he had to commit seppuku. Seppuku, also known as harakiri, is when a samurai must commit suicide by stabbing a knife into his abdomen and disemboweling himself. A kinsmen or friend would then cut off their heads. Seppuku was seen as more honorable than getting captured in battle or being forgiven from dishonor by an upper rank (Clark 5). It was also seen as more honorable to commit seppuku than dishonor the Bushido Code.
Bushido comes from medieval Japan, but until the 1600's it was something that had to be taught by a master. It was later written down for everyone to see and understand (Hurst 16). Bushido comes from all kinds of traits. It comes from Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, Confucianism, and Shintoism. All these schools of thought and religion has...

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