The Japanese Samurai

2348597171_2a4deca69dLegions of legendary Samurais played a very important role in the history and culture of Japan and left a strong imprint in the minds of its people and the rest of the world. Spelled 侍 in Japanese, Samurai were actually military nobles or officers of the emperor’s court during the Middle Ages and during the early modern era in Japan. Their rank or social status could be compared to those held by knights in Europe.

In Japanese, the spelling 侍 also coincides with the Chinese verb to express “to wait on” someone. That particular character could also mean to escort someone, especially someone from the upper class. Moreover, in both China and Japan, the word “samurai” could also refer to people who were to serve the members of noble families. By the time the 12th century arrived, simply the concept of a Samurai was closely associated with the highest ranks among warriors.

The samurai would normally belong to a particular clan, which in turn was controlled by a feudal lord. The samurai were schooled since an early age as skilled military servicemen who had great knowledge about a wide range of subjects that included various war strategies and tactics, and their members endorsed fervently a set of codes of honor and rules known as bushido. Samurais are still today considered to have been amongst the best swordsmen in the history of all civilizations in the world, and the level of mastery that they are said to have attained in swordsmanship has surpassed any other culture worldwide. The most remarkable fact about the philosophy of the samurai is perhaps that references to their principles, codes of honor and teachings are even of relevance today in Japanese modern society, Japanese academia, politics and even in different schools and movements of martial arts all over the island of Japan.