Both Medieval England and Medieval Japan had a need for dedicated soldiers who would fight and protect the kingdoms. These people were given privileges but also had to make great sacrifices.
Below are two short documentaries that explain what a Knight is, and what a Samurai is. Watch these two and then complete task four.
TASK FOUR: Using evidence compare and contrast the lives of knights and samurai. You can look at them in general or focus on a specific aspect of their lives e.g. clothing, weapons, training, lifestyle etc. Assignment sheet HS149.HS150.HS151.HS153.HS156.
Black-clad figures with muffled faces skitter through a courtyard, swarming over walls like spiders and running lightly across rooftops, quick as cats.
An unsuspecting samurai sleeps peacefully as these shadows permanently silence his body guards. The bedroom door slides open without a sound, an up-raised blade glints in the moonlight, and...
This is the ninja of the movies and comic books, the stealthy assassin in black robes with magical abilities in the arts of concealment and murder. This wraith-like being is very compelling, to be sure. But what is the historical reality behind the popular culture icon of the Ninja?
Origins of the Ninja: It is difficult to pin down the emergence of the first ninja, more properly called shinobi. After all, people around the world have always used spies and assassins.
Japanese folklore states that the ninja descended from a demon that was half man and half crow. However, it seems more likely that the ninja slowly evolved as an opposing force to their upper-class contemporaries, the samurai, in early feudal Japan.
Most sources indicate that the skills that became ninjutsu, the ninja's art of stealth, began to develop between 600-900 A.D. Prince Shotoku, (574-622), is said to have employed Otomono Sahito as a shinobi spy.
Mainland Influences: By the year 850, the Tang Dynasty in China was in decline. It would fall in 907, plunging China into fifty years of chaos; the collapse prompted some Tang generals to escape over the sea to Japan.
These commanders brought new battle tactics and philosophies of war with them.
Chinese monks also began to arrive in Japan in the 1020s, bringing new medicines and fighting philosophies of their own. Many of the ideas originated in India, and made their way across Tibet and China before turning up in Japan.
The monks taught their methods to Japan's warrior-monks, or yamabushi, as well as to members of the first ninja clans.
The First Known Ninja School: For a century or more, the blend of Chinese and native tactics that would become ninjutsu developed as a counter-culture, without rules. It was first formalized by Daisuke Togakure and Kain Doshi.
Daisuke had been a samurai, but he was on the losing side in a regional battle. He forfeited his lands and his samurai title. Ordinarily, a samurai might commit seppuku under these circumstances, but Daisuke did not.
In 1162, Daisuke was wandering the mountains of southwest Honshu when he met Kain Doshi, a Chinese warrior-monk. Daisuke renounced his bushido code, and together the two developed a new theory of guerrilla warfare called ninjutsu.
Daisuke's descendants created the first ninja ryu, or school, the Togakureryu.
Ninjutsu versus Bushido: Ninjutsu developed as an opposing force to the samurai code of bushido. Samurai valued loyalty and honor above all else. Going into battle, a samurai would select a single opponent, announce his challenge, list his family pedigree, and then attack. Samurai wore bright colors on their armor to announce their clan identity. Ideally, at least, bushido was noble and highly stylized, but it couldn't always get the job done.
That is where ninjutsu came in: the ninja code valued accomplishing a mission by whatever means necessary. Sneak attacks, poison, seduction and spying were all shameful to the samurai, but fair play by the rules of the ninja.
Who Were the Ninja?: Some of the ninja leaders, or jonin, were disgraced samurai like Daisuke Togakure. They had lost in battle or had been renounced by their daimyo, but fled rather than committing ritual suicide.
Most ordinary ninja were not from the nobility, though. They were villagers and farmers, who learned to fight by any means necessary for their own self-preservation. The most famous ninja strongholds were the Iga and Koga Provinces.
Women also served in ninja combat. Female ninja, or kunoichi, infiltrated enemy castles in the guise of dancers, concubines or servants. They were successful spies, and sometimes acted as assassins as well.
Samurai Use of the Ninja: The samurai lords could not always prevail in open warfare, but they were constrained by bushido. So, they often hired ninja to do their dirty work. Secrets could be spied out, opponents assassinated, or misinformation planted... without sullying a samurai's honor.
This system also transferred wealth to the lower classes, as ninja were paid handsomely for their work. Of course, a samurai's enemies could also hire ninja. As a result, the samurai needed, despised, and feared the ninja, in equal measure.
The ninja "high man," or jonin, gave orders to the chunin, "middle man," who passed them on to the genin, ordinary ninja.
Ninja Clothing, Tools and Weapons: In modern movies and comic books, ninjas are portrayed in all-black clothing, with only their eyes showing. This costume, however, comes from the kabuki theater.
Actual ninjas wore navy blue for night operations, because it is harder to see on a dark night. Usually, however, they dressed to blend in with their targets - as any sensible espionage agent would do. They dressed as farmers, peddlers, foot soldiers, or actors, depending on their objective.
Ninja tools and weapons included: shinobigatana, medium-length swords; the bo and naginata, war staves and pikes; and martial arts like karate. Ninja also developed special equipment like the shuko, an iron hand-crampon used for climbing, and the tessen, a sharpened metal fan.
Ninja Techniques: Ninjutsu is practical; if a tactic is effective, then it is acceptable. The Eight Methods taught in many ryu were: Body skills, karate, spear fighting, staff fighting, blade-throwing, use of fire and water, fortification and strategy, and concealment.
Many ninja weapons were modified from farm sickles, saws for wood cutting, pruning shears, etc. If discovered, these items would not give away a ninja's identity.
Among the ninja were expert poisoners. Poison was added to food, or applied to a dart or blade. Some ninja disguised themselves as flute-playing mystics. The sturdy flute could be used as a club or blow-dart tube. http://asianhistory.about.com/od/warsinasia/p/NinjaProfile.htm
TASK FIVE : Read the above information about ninjas and answer the following questions. HS149.HS153.HS156
1. After reading the article what are some of the myths the articles implies exist about ninja's. 2. In your own words describe how a Ninja differs from a Samurai. 3. What reasons does the article give for the growth and development of the Ninjas. 4. Use the following words in your own sentences about Ninjas : assassins, kabuki, kunoichi, nobility 5. In your opinion explain whether you think it would be better to be a Ninja or a Samurai. Give reasons for your choice.
1.Why are they called Samurai ? The word samuraicomes from the Japanese verbsaburai, which means to serve (someone). 2.Were there female Samurai ? Although there are a few cases of women Samurai such as these women, they were not common. Women were however often trained and skilled at using weapons and were more then capable of defending themselves and their homes. 3.What's with the weird Samurai armour ? The strangest thing about the samurai is probably their weird-looking, ornate armor. However, each piece of it was functional. The samurai armor, unlike the armor worn by European knights, was always designed for mobility. A good suit of armor had to be sturdy, yet flexible enough to allow its wearer free movement in the battlefield. The armor was made of lacquered plates of either leather or metal, carefully bound together by laces of leather or silk. The arms were protected by large, rectangular shoulder shields and light, armored sleeves. The right hand was often left without a sleeve to allow maximum movement. The strangest and most convoluted part of the armor, the kabuto helmet, also served its purpose. Its bowl was made of riveted metal plates, while the face and brow were protected by a piece of armor that tied around behind the head and under the helmet. The most famous feature of the helmet was its Darth Vader–like neck guard (Darth Vader’s design was actually influenced by samurai helmets). It defended the wearer from arrows and swords coming from all angles. Many helmets also featured ornaments and attachable pieces, including a mustachioed, demonic mengu mask that both protected the face and frightened the enemy. A leather cap worn underneath the helmet provided much-needed padding. Although the samurai armor went through significant changes over time, its overall look always remained fairly consistent to the untrained eye. It was so well-made and effective that the US Army actually based the first modern flak jackets on samurai armor
4.What is Bushido ? Bushido is the code of conduct followed by the Samurai. It outlined the rules of behaviour they were to follow and was similar to the codes of chivalry the medieval Knights followed. Click here for the eight (sometimes only seven according to different sources ) rules of bushido.