The birth of the samurai in Japan from the 12th century, also represents the birth of one of the most powerful incarnations of male heroism. First launched as a special militia to protect northern Honshu, then threatened by the rebels, the samurai quickly took advantage of their discipline and their strike force. Their fencing masters bending to a code of honor and impeccable virtues samurai warriors have imposed all over the country the law of the sword. Soon, the emperors have used their battle of science and the effectiveness of their training to defend the kingdom. These warriors are educated and in peacetime, they occupy administrative functions for the overlord.
It’s the 17th century that the Taira samurai Shigesuke drafted a code of honor of the samurai with 47 principles to be respected. However, this is the 20th century that the book was published the most respected as a moral code of conduct samurai Hagakure, written around 1712 by Yamamoto Jōchō warrior. This is called the Way of the Warrior (Bushido) or the traditional suicide (seppuku) to redeem the lost honor teachings are essential in the practice of samurai. These knights Asian recruited most of their soldiers in the ranks of the nobility. However, some of them do not rallied to an emperor and were alone. They were given the name of Ronin and they would figure among their fellow mercenaries.
The armor of the samurai consisted of an assembly of plates connected by leather straps and a breastplate that protected the body opposing attacks. The warrior wore two swords: a smaller, the Wakizashi (which often served to kill themselves to escape dishonor in combat) and longer, the Katana, the legendary sword that Japanese consider legends being the soul of the samurai.
Since Japan was opened to Westernization, the samurai have totally lost their primary functions. Those who have not renounced their art became businessmen at the head of the powerful cartels have turned into ninja warrior without honor code and unscrupulous. The way of the warrior, is unfortunately more than a great story of the past.
(Reference from: http://www.le-japon.com/)