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Ninjas vs. Samurai

There is undoubtedly a large cross-section of the population that assumes ninjas and samurai are two sides of the same coin, or perhaps hail from different historical periods or countries of origin, but none of this is really accurate. The fact is that the history of both ninjas and samurai began in Japan and they totally crossed <a title="Collectible Swords" href="http://www.atgstores.com/collectible-swords_15882.html" target="_blank">swords</a> back in the days of the country's feudal period, a time between 1185 and 1868 when all hell was breaking loose across the country as powerful regional clans battled the military rule of warlords known as <em>shogun</em>. <strong>The Samurai</strong> Samurai, the original <em>shogun</em>, began their ascendency as an aristocratic warrior class prior to the 10th century during the Heian period under the rule of Emperor Kammu. In a complex political switcheroo following the Imperial Court’s decline in power, the emperor’s <em>shogun</em> army disbanded and reformed in allied samurai clans that eventually joined forces as a ruling power of Japan called the Kamakura Bakufu Shogunate in 1192. What was that like, you wonder? Imagine a group of powerful aristocrats that also happened to be elite warriors who settled political arguments and collected taxes with the edge of a blade. As you might imagine, not everyone was cool with this arrangement. While wealthy samurai families warred with one another the less fortunate looked on and wondered who was going to represent their interests – much like in the U.S. today, except with fewer swords. <strong>The Ninja</strong> Fast forward a few hundred years to the Sengoku period in the 15th century. Japan was experiencing the beginning of a shift in samurai culture that weakened their collective power and opened a door for change. Taking advantage of samurai traditions of honor that demanded open combat, <em>shogun</em> subordinates that cared more about victory than decorum began hiring ninjas to take advantage of this noble weakness. These professional ninjas (not to be confused with <em>ronin</em> - samurai mercenaries with no clan affiliation) were born into the trade and had been trained for centuries in the remote mountain areas of the Iga Province as spies and assassins using secret methods passed down through many generations. In other words, these guys were using fighting tactics and tradecraft no one even knew existed, which made them exceptionally lethal. <strong>The Battles!</strong> <em>And this – finally – is where history witnessed the ultimate showdown between real, no-kidding ninjas and samurai</em>. Numerous records exist today that document how ninjas, trained in the art of concealment and deception, would sneak into samurai strongholds and proceed to turn entire garrisons into confetti with the silent carving of their deadly <em>shinobi</em> blades. Totally wicked! BUT, that was only under cover of darkness and with the element of surprise. The fear of every ninja near and far was to be caught out in the open by a samurai. Samurai may have been blue-blooded snobs, but they were unforgivingly hardcore. Take this note from Tsunetomo Yamamoto’s samurai handbook (circa 1716): “The way of the Samurai is in desperateness. Ten men or more cannot kill such a man.” And, as history notes, if samurai disgraced themselves in combat (i.e. lost) or otherwise committed an offense against their rigid <em>Bushido</em> code of honor they would disembowel themselves in a ritual known as <em>seppuku</em>. Um … yeah. It's no mystery why this would make a ninja a little skittish. <strong>The Verdict</strong> It depends. If you just throw them in a ring and say, “Fight!” a samurai might thrash a ninja. But, as an expert in covert warfare, a ninja may get the upper hand if he can catch a samurai unawares. <a title="ATG Stores Homepage" href="http://www.atgstores.com/" target="_blank">ATGStores.com</a> hopes you have a fun Friday and welcomes you to vote on who you think is the ultimate master of the sword. [poll id="7"]
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