Thursday, September 16, 2010

Samurai or Ninja?

In this blog I will compare and contrast the Ninja and Samurai. From Time to Time I will write blogs like these; because it intrigues me to the degree of enjoyment. Samurai's followed a strict code of Honor and Combat as opposed to Ninja's who used covert methods of waging war.
Drawing of the archetypical ninja, from a series of sketches (Hokusai manga) by Hokusai. Woodblock print on paper. Volume six, 1817. source from

Samurai in armour, 1860s. Hand-coloured photograph by Felice Beato
Image belongs to

Samurai Weapons and Armor:

A Japanese sword, or nihontō (日本刀 or にほんとう lit. Japanese sword?), is one of the traditional bladed weapons of Japan. There are several types of Japanese sword, according to size, field of application and method of manufacture.
The most commonly known type of Japanese sword is the katana, which, like the similarly formed tachi, is a single-edged and, usually, curved long sword which was traditionally worn by samurai from the 15th century onwards.[1][2][3] Other types include: wakizashi, which are shorter swords; tsurugi, which are double-edged long swords; and ōdachi or nodachi, which are older but longer single-edged versions. Although they are pole-mounted weapons, the naginata and yari are considered part of the nihontō family due to the methods by which they are forged.[4]
Japanese swords are still commonly seen today; antique and modernly-forged swords can easily be found and purchased. Modern, authentic nihontō are made by a few hundred swordsmiths. Many examples can be seen at an annual competition hosted by the All Japan Swordsmith Association,[5] under the auspices of the Nihontō Bunka Shinkō Kyōkai (Society for the promotion of Japanese Sword Culture).[6]

 Naginata (なぎなた, 薙刀) is a pole weapon that was traditionally used in Japan by members of the samurai class. A naginata consists of a wooden shaft with a curved blade on the end; it is similar to the Chinese Guan Dao or European glaive or Russian sovnya. Usually it also had a sword-like guard (tsuba) between the blade and shaft.
The martial art of wielding the naginata is known as naginatajutsu. Most naginata practice today is in a modernised form, a gendai budō called atarashii Naginata meaning "new Naginata", in which competitions are held. Use of the naginata is also taught within the Bujinkan and in some koryū schools. Naginata practitioners may wear a form of the protective armour known as bōgu similar to that worn by kendō practitioners. Wearing the bogu means using a naginata that is a mix of light oak wood shaft, with a bamboo blade habu for atarashii Naginata.
The naginata has become associated in modern Japan as a woman's weapon as it is studied by women more than men; whereas in Europe and Australia Naginata is practiced predominantly by men - this is however simply a reflection of the martial arts demographics of Europe, where there is no historical association - as there is in Japan - that naginatajutsu is for women.

Japanese armour has developed enormously over the centuries since its introduction to the battlefield. It was worn to varying degrees by numerous classes; most notably by the Samurai (and by default the ashigaru), and was seen on the battlefield both on mounted and foot troops. The pinnacle of Japanese lamellar armour is generally accepted as being the O-Yoroi (大鎧) (literally 'great armour') type.

 Ninja Weapon and Armor:

While the image of a ninja clad in black garbs (shinobi shōzoku) is prevalent in popular media, there is no written evidence for such a costume.[73] Instead, it was much more common for the ninja to be disguised as civilians. The popular notion of black clothing is likely rooted in artistic convention. Early drawings of ninjas were shown to be dressed in black in order to portray a sense of invisibility.[3] This convention was an idea borrowed from the puppet handlers of bunraku theater, who dressed in total black in an effort to simulate props moving independently of their controls.[74] Despite the lack of hard evidence, it has been put forward by some authorities that black robes, perhaps slightly tainted with red to hide bloodstains, was indeed the sensible garment of choice for infiltration.[3]
Clothing used was similar to that of the samurai, but loose garments (such as leggings) were tucked into trousers or secured with belts. The tenugui, a piece of cloth also used in martial arts, had many functions. It could be used to cover the face, form a belt, or assist in climbing.
The historicity of armor specifically made for ninjas cannot be ascertained. While pieces of light armor purportedly worn by ninjas exist and date to the right time, there is no hard evidence of their use in ninja operations. Depictions of famous persons later deemed ninjas often show them in samurai armor. Existing examples of purported ninja armor feature lamellar or ring mail, and were designed to be worn under the regular garb. Shin and arm guards, along with metal-reinforced hoods are also speculated to make up the ninja's armor.[3]


Although shorter swords and daggers were used, the katana was probably the ninja's weapon of choice, and was sometimes carried on the back.[69] The katana had several uses beyond normal combat. In dark places, the scabbard could be extended out of the sword, and used as a long probing device.[83] The sword could also be laid against the wall, where the ninja could use the sword guard (tsuba) to gain a higher foothold.[84] The katana could even be used as a device to stun enemies before attacking them, by putting a combination of red pepper, dirt or dust, and iron filings into the area near the top of the scabbard, so that as the sword was drawn the concoction would fly into the enemies eyes, stunning him until a lethal blow could be made. While straightswords were used before the invention of the katana,[85] the straight ninjatō has no historical precedent and is likely a modern invention.
A pair of kusarigama, on display in Iwakuni Castle
An array of darts, spikes, knives, and sharp, star-shaped discs were known collectively as shuriken. While not exclusive to the ninja,[86] they were an important part of the arsenal, where they could be thrown in any direction.[87] Bow were used for sharpshooting, and some ninjas bows were intentionally made smaller than the traditional yumi (longbow).[88] The chain and sickle (kusarigama) was also used by the ninja.[89] This weapon consisted of a weight on one end of a chain, and a sickle (kama) on the other. The weight was swung to injure or disable an opponent, and the sickle used to kill at close range. Simple gardening tools such as Kunai and sickles were used as weaponry so that if discovered a ninja could claim they are his tools and not weapons, despite their ability to be used in battle.
Explosives introduced from China were known in Japan by the time of the Mongol Invasions (13th century).[90] Later, explosives such as hand-held bombs and grenades were adopted by the ninja.[81] Soft-cased bombs were designed to release smoke or poison gas, along with fragmentation explosives packed with iron or pottery shrapnel.[65]
Along with common weapons, a large assortment of miscellaneous arms were associated with the ninja. Some examples include poison,[70] caltrops,[91] cane swords (shikomizue),[92] land mines,[93] blowguns, poisoned darts, acid-spurting tubes, and firearms.[81] The happō, a small eggshell filled with blinding powder (metsubushi), was also used to facilitate escape.

Samurai or Ninja??? who is your favorite??? please comment and follow thank you!

yours truly,


1 comment:

  1. All Images and Sources belong to thank you!