Samurai Fighting

Samurai fighting techniques stem from the combat methods used by the noble military class of the Japanese pre-industrial age.

The word “samurai” comes from the archaic Japanese word for “to serve”, samorau, which later became saburau. This reflects the original role of the samurai, which was to serve a sovereign lord.

This is particularly significant in the discussion of the various samurai fighting methods, which draws on many of the honorable disciplines that were practiced for hundreds of years.

There are actually many weapons in the arsenal of the samurai, but the one that is the most readily identifiable with this group is the katana.

The katana is a single edged sword that can be anywhere from 70 to 90 cm. long and is widely recognizable for its characteristic curved blade.

The katana is undoubtedly one of the most important tools in samurai fighting techniques. In fact, the sword is so identifiable with the warrior class that many people often mistakenly call the sword itself a samurai.

Many samurai are totally dependent on the katana for fighting and they often do not even bother to carry other weapons with them.

One of the reasons for this is that the sword is considered by many warriors to be a living thing. They are even given names a sign of the samurai’s high regard for these effective killing tools.

Some of the most common uses of the katana in combat fighting are for slashing, hacking and chopping. Its lightweight and balance make it particularity suited for these roles.

There are other weapons that are also commonly used by samurai, among them: the wakizashi, the Tant?, which is a small dagger, the yumi or longbow, and the yari or spear.

The wakizashi is often carried together with a katana, and is considered the “honor blade” of the samurai. It is said that the samurai always carries the wakizashi wherever he goes, to the extent of even keeping it under his pillow when he sleeps.

The yumi is a longbow that actually remained an important part of many samurai fighting techniques, even with the advent of firearms during the Sengoku Jidai period of Japanese history.

1 Comment so far

  1. Mizerman on April 2nd, 2011

    Great article. I had no idea that samurai meant “to serve”. It is important to remember that the samurai thought that their sword was infused with a spirit. I have seen depictions of samurai with the longbow. Very cool!!

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