The Samurais, The Ultimate Stoics


For seven centuries, the Samurai were Japan\'s warrior class. As a class
of warriors and knights, they dominated society in feudal Japan. Their code or “
Way of the warrior”, bushido(History of the Samurai-www),called for a life of
duty, discipline and self control, on and as well as off the battlefield
(History of the World-Houghton Mifflin Company- Boston288). His loyalty and
bravery to his lord was much more important than his loyalty to his friends,
family and even their emperor. Their philosophy was one of freedom from
fear(World Surfari-www), and for these reasons, The Samurai were the ultimate
stoic warriors.
The word samurai was derived from the Japanese word for service,
saburau(Grolier Electronic Publishing, 1993), for they served their masters
faithfully. They would die if necessary for them. The Daimyo or feudal
landowners used the samurai to protect their land and to expand their rights to
more land. The Samurai would transcend their fear of death, this made them the
stoic warriors that they were.
As experts in fighting on horseback as well as on the ground they wore
two swords. This was called Daisho(World Surfari-www). The long sword was
called the daito-katena(Ibid.). It was more than twenty four inches long. The
shorter sword was called shoto wakizashi. It was between twelve to twenty four
inches(Ibid.). Their swords were the “soul\'s” of the worship. A good sword was
tougher and sharper. The swords were tested before they were used by the
samurai. The sword tester used the new blades to cut through corpses and
bodies of condemned criminals.(World Surfari-www) The test results were put on
the nakago, the small metal piece on the sword blade or handle(Ibid.). Another
weapon, the nagita, was used by a foot soldier on a horseman. The foot soldier
would cut. the tendons of the horse and disembowel them.
The samurai went from military retainers, to military aristocrats, to
military rulers(Japan, Richard Storry18) The medieval samurai were often
illiterate, rural, landowners who farmed in-between battles. They were
assassins of the night and at the same time keepers of peace. The samurai would
spend his life perfecting his military skills.
Honor was one of the most important things to a samurai. If a samurai
felt dishonored in any way he would commit seppuku. Seppuku means ritual
suicide (Japan, Cultures of the World- Rex Shelley104). It is also called
hara-kiri which means belly-slitting. This method of self-disembowelment was
the only honorable form of death for a disgraced noble or a samurai. This
method of self-disembowelment is still sometimes practiced in Japan.
The Samurai were faithful to their masters. In fact they were more
faithful to them than to their emperors and families. They had an unwritten
code called Bushido, the way of the warrior. The Samurai could not ever be
disgraced. If they were ever disgraced, they would commit ritual suicide,
Seppuku. They lived plain lives and strived to improve their skills in fighting.
Their philosophy was one of freedom from fear and for all of these reasons,
The Samurai were the ultimate stoic warriors.

Category: Social Issues