Samurai Sword

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    th8 Code of the Samurais:

    The Samurai Sword

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    Introduction

    Chapter 1: Evolution of Swordsmanship

    Chapter 2: Legacy of Samurai Swords

    Chapter 3: Samurai Swords: Then and Now

    Chapter 4: Types of Samurai Swords

    About us

    List of Contents

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    The Revenge of Forty Seven Ronin is one of the most famous tales of samurais in the historyof Japan. Ronin is a word that depicts a samurai who became 'master-less' owing to the deathor fall of his master. The tale is an ideal example of the samurai code of honor and portrays agroup of samurais who take revenge of the death of its feudal lord named Asano Naganori.The Ronin avenged their master's honor by ending the life of Kira, who was responsible for

    the death of Asano and wereforced to commit suicide formurdering Kira. The tale notonly reminds us of samuraisand their swords but also

    symbolizes various codes ofsamurai such as loyalty,sacrifice, persistence, andhonor.

    Samurais, the middle andupper echelons of thewarrior class, were knownfor their chivalry andfighting spirit. Rectitude,courage, benevolence,

    respect, honesty, honor andloyalty are the seven codesof a true samurai warrior.

    thSamurai sword is the 8 code

    of samurais that has been an integral part of their journey throughout the history. The word'Samurai' is related to the warrior class of feudal Japan. The word that defines and depictssamurai perfectly is 'sword' because it is one of the main weapons that have come appositewith the class of sword fighters. In modern times, samurai sword has its existence in samuraiteachings as an essential part of Japanese martial arts. In ancient times, samurai warriors usedto wear a long sword (katana) or (tachi) together with a smaller sword for conquering theirenemies and winning wars.

    In forthcoming chapters of this e-book, we will discuss the various aspects of samurais andtheir swords.

    Introduction

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    Evolution of Swordsmanship

    The sword has a special place in the history and culture of feudal Japan in the form of samurai.Kenjutsu is the word that describes sword art in Japan adequately. It shows the actual way how asword is drawn from its scabbard, re-sheathed and used for demolishing the enemies. There weremany Koryu or ancient schools in Japan that taught the art of swordsmanship. In Japan, samuraisused to follow the doctrines or moral codes of Bushido, the way of the warrior and these were thecodes that distinguished the samurais from other warriors. These codes include respect,

    benevolence, bravery, honesty, loyalty, justice and honor. It was the period between the 9th and20th centuries when Bushido developed profusely. By the end of the 12th century, samurai

    became a common word directly associated with the middle and upper groups of the warrior class.

    According to the Japanese dictionary ShogakukanKokugo Daijiten, "Bushido is defined as a unique

    philosophy (ronri) that spreads through the warriorclass from the Muromachi (chusei) period." InBushid: The Soul of Japan (1899), author NitobeInaz wrote: "...Bushid, then, is the code of moral

    principles which the samurai were required orinstructed to observe... More frequently it is a codeunuttered and unwritten... It was an organic growthof decades and centuries of military career."

    Bushido Codes1. Rectitude2. Courage3. Benevolence4. Respect5. Honesty6. Loyalty7. Honor

    Filial piety, wisdom and care for the aged were

    considered as secondary codes for samurais. It wasbelieved that earlier codes used to focus on frugality,faithfulness, mastery of martial arts, and honor tothe death. Death or suicide was considered as a

    perfect way to get honor if a samurai failed to uphold his honor.

    Asano Naganori, Imagawa Ryoshun, Kato Kiyomasa, Morihei Ueshiba, Sakanoue noTamuramaro, Tadakatsu Honda, Tokugawa Ieyasu, Torii Mototada, Sasaki Kojiro,

    Chapter 1

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    Yamaga Soko, Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Yamaoka Tesshu and Angelus Askari were some shinningnames in the Japanese history of Bushido.

    The evolution of samurais and their swordsmanship started with Asuka and Nara periods andcame to a sharp fall during the period of Tokugawa Shogunate. Heian period, Kamakura Bakufu

    period, Ashikaga Shogunate, Sengoku period and AzuchiMomoyama period were also anintegral part of rise and fall of swordsmanship of samurais. During Kamakura BakufuShogunate, samurai rose to its apex and made its presence felt in all parts of the feudal Japan.During this period, samurais were given right to wear a katana in public and the right to executecommoners who disrespect them. 'Bushido' and 'Seppuku' were the two common words in thelife of every samurai in ancient times. The latter word belongs to the death or suicide committed

    by defeated warriors or disgraced government officials.

    Samurai training with weapons

    Samurais, the champions of martial arts, were trained with a variety of weapons, but it was thesword that had a special place in their practicing, fighting and way of life. When it came totraining, samurais were ordered to use wooden swords to learn techniques and skill of using asword. The process or art of using wooden swords for training was known as kendo. It is still

    popular in various samurai schools and is practiced today to learn skills and principles ofsamurai. Samurais were the only people who had permission to carry swords in public and war

    places.

    There are some myths that the samurai fighters used to test their new swords by performing 16unique cuts systematically on the body of their be-headed victims.

    Early Samurai Weapons

    Early samurais were archers who used long bows called 'yumi', during their fights. They alsoused swords but mainly for finishing off their wounded enemies. The samurai started usingswords as their main weapons after Japan was invaded by Mangol. Samurai warriors used tocarry two long and short swords together called daisho. It was the katana and wakizashi that madea diasho. Katana is a curved blade with a length of 24 inches and was ideally perfect for slashingwhereas the wakizashi with a length of 12-24 inches was prominently used for the purpose of

    stabbing. In the late 16th century, non-samurai were forbidden to wear the daisho.

    Current Status of the 8th Code

    Data on Japanese history show that there were about 13,000 swordsmiths who contributed in themaking of two million samurai swords just before the Meiji restoration in 1868. Before the WorldWar II, there were about million swords and 1/3 rd of them were daito. After the Meijirestoration, samurai swords were manufactured in sword factories under the supervision of theJapanese government. It is said that there are about 100,000 swords in Japan and 300,000 in theUnited States. Today, more daito, buke-zukuri, shin-gunto, and kyu-gunto types of samuraiswords are found in the United States than Japan.

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    Legacy of Samurai Swords

    The Samurai sword is a powerful and eye-catching weapon without which a samurai isconsidered incomplete and incompetent... The sword is called the soul of the Samurai. Portrayalof samurai swords has a special place in movies and literature. That is why samurais have been a

    popular topic for films and books not only in Japan but around the world as well. Samurai has abig effect on Jidaigekii, a genre of film, television and theatre in Japan, which paints the way oflives of the samurais, farmers, sword smiths and merchants.

    Japanese Literature

    The oldest known evidence of samurais in Japanese literature belongs to Kojiki, the oldestchronicle in Japan, where an interesting incident is narrated by the son of Emperor Keiko on usingand admiring sword by Japanese warriors. Another Japanese history text called 'Shoku Nihongi',797 AD has some content related to the use of the term "bushi" in Japanese literature. Anotherchronicle called 'The Heike Monogatari' shows conflict and struggle between samurai clans forcontrol of power in Japan. In the similar way a letter called 'The Message of Master Gokurakuji'stresses on the importance of loyalty to one's master. Historian Carl Steenstrup also puts a light onthe development of bushido in his writings.

    17th to 19th

    c e n t u r i e sw e r e t h egolden periodfor samuraisa n d t h e i r depiction inh i s t o r y .M i y a m o t oMusashi's 'GoRin No Sho'a n d

    "Dokkodo" belong to samurai warriors. '47 Ronin' was one of themost popular stories penned during this period that later inspiredvarious movie directors and screenplay and story writers.

    'Power Rangers Samurai' was one of the famous television showsaired on Nickelodeon and Nicktoons. The show was completely inspired by the way of theSamurai.

    Chapter 2

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    Japanese Cinema

    The common theme of almost all samurai films revolves around samurai warriors, swordfighting, historical setting and code of honor. It also defines martial arts, skills of samuraiwarriors, their ongoing life and undeterred loyalty to their masters. Earlier samurai movies werehighly based on period drama, but the tre

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