An ideal Samurai is a warrior. A samurai is a military warrior with the characteristics of both a tiger and a lion. Tale of the Heike is a story of military confrontations between groups in the society, notably the Heike or the Taira and the Minamoto. People between twenty and sixty years were likely to be inducted as soldiers to fight for their community. The only exception were females, people with disabilities and those who had administrative responsibilities. The Taira led by their clan leader Kiyomori and the Minamoto led by Yoritomo and other community leaders went into wars over the leadership and control of Samurai. Heike first rose to the top and carried home almost all the successes on the battlefields. Their leader, however, becomes very arrogant and they are faced with losses in battles and consequently a downfall. They were driven away from the capital during the third year of the Genpei war, 1183. This war had outstanding features and characters who can be used to describe the ideal image of Samurai.
Some of the outstanding characters are Yoshinaka and Yoshitsune. Karl describes the greatest warrior as the one who owns excellent archery skills on horseback, acts promptly during night attacks and is highly experienced in battlefields. He is a team leader with mastery in the use of the bow and arrow, sword and spear. Above all, a great warrior should have a good reputation for winning battle.
In the tenth century, significant events took place that shaped the direction of the war. From the same family, two individuals Yoritomo and his cousin Yoshinaka (also known by the name Kiso) rose separately but with a similar objective; defeating Taira and cease Kyoto. Yoritomo was well known and established in the east while Yoshinaka was established in the north. Yoshinaka successfully drove the Taira from the capital Tokyo by the end of 1183. End of this war meant the beginning of another war. Yoshinaka now felt superior having driven the Taira out of the capital, and he turned against his cousin who was more popular. To sustain his authority, Yorimoto re-established his military to counter any threat, in this case, Kiso and the Taira.Yoshitsune, Yoritomo's brother, killed Yoshinaka and ceased the whole of Tokyo in 1184. In the following months, Yoshitsune and his forces killed Yoshinaka's forces and the remnants of Taira forces. Yoritomo, therefore, achieved total success, militarily and nationally. This essay focuses on Lord Kiso or Yoshinaka to portray the ideal qualities of a warrior, therefore Samurai.
Lord Kiso is the commander in the tale who was able to capture Kyoto from the hands of the Taira. He has admirable qualities of a warrior that enabled him to conquer. First, he showed determination and willingness to fight to the end even if it meant dying in the battlefield. After Kiyomori fighters had dispersed his forces, he later met with Imai who had faced a similar tragedy. Together, they were able to gather they were able to gather three hundred men who had hidden in the hills and the capital.
On the other hand, the enemy had a gathering of more than six thousand men. Despite the difference in the military strength, Yoshinaka neither gave up nor thought of withdrawing from the battle. He told Imai that they had to fight with the army they had and called it 'mighty.' He said that he was ready to fight and die while fighting. This was a lot of bravery considering that he was much outnumbered. A good fighter must have a fierce spirit that does not give in to defeat. Alternatively, they could be some honor attached to dying on the battlefield, and maybe he wanted to be honored. This also shows the feature of persistence which any other leader or fighter should possess.
Ability to mobilize people is another feature that Yoshinaka owned. He never at any single day went to battle alone. He believed in teamwork and co-operation, which in most cases leads to success. For him to mobilize troops of people who heed instructions given, it is a clear sign that he possessed some authority. Mobilization is never an easy task because sometimes people are rebellious especially when they are faced with challenges in the field. Even though his forces were scattered, he was able to mobilize the remaining and go to war again.
A warrior should have mastery of weapons such as the bow and arrow, the spear and the shield even on horseback, and able to fight in armor. While going back to the field, he goes in full armor and horned helmet. Among the weapons he carried were arrows, sword, and a bow. He then sat on his expensive horse that is termed as a beast and raised his voice addressing his enemies to attack him. This shows that Kiso had a perfect mastery of the art of war. Besides, he was very courageous and fearless. A warrior or a samurai should possess these qualities.
Lord Kiso realized the vulnerability of women in the battlefield. Tomoe is a woman who had a masterly of war tactics and represented women in the field. She wanted to demonstrate that women can also engross in wars and emerge victoriously. In the fight involving Lord Kiso and Toi, Tomoe fought and came out of the war uninjured after most people had died. Lord Kiso tried to tell her to get out of the battlefield so that she can go and hide but she refused. Despite the fact that she had perfected war techniques, Kiso still felt that she was at risk and wanted her to leave the fighting for men.
A samurai, according to Karl should have a history of victory in battles. Although one of Yoritomo's forces killed Yoshinaka, he previously had won several battles. His most celebrated victory was being able to attack the Taira who had a history of success, and who Yorimoto had been unable to defeat despite his popularity and vast resources. He forced them to vacate, and he seized the city.
The character of Yoshinaka has been presented in films, TV shows, and theatre performances. For example, Samurai Ghost (Genpei Toma Den) is a game that was first released in 1992. In the game, the ghost of samurai rises to avenge for itself. Kiso Yoshinaka is used in the game as the boss of Kamikaze Zone, portraying his old image in the Genpei war.
When defeated, he commits suicide (seppuku), an act that was mostly undertaken by warriors when they sensed defeat. They considered it an honorable death better than surrendering oneself into the hands of the enemy and face persecution. Yoshinaka's act of suicide differs from his actual death during the war where he was shot in the face by his cousin Yoshitsune. In fact, his foster brother and partner in battle is the one who commits suicide after learning that Kiso is dead and wonders why he should continue fighting. This act shows a change of roles in the real battle and the game.
Samurai is a warrior in the first Japanese wars. The wars involved different clans, notably the Heike (hence the name Heike Tales) and the Minamoto. The tale, however, does not narrate much about the Heike because they are faced with a sudden fall after defeat by the Minamoto warriors. Their fall is also linked to the pride of their clan elder Kiyomori who acts arrogantly and boasts over their short-lived glory.
The focus of the tale, therefore, shifts to the. Minamoto who develop conflicts within family ties. Yoritomo and his half-brother Yoshitsuna turn against their cousin Yoshinaka when they realize that he is becoming more popular than them. The clash rose after the defeat of the mighty Heike by Yoshinaka. This essay describes the qualities of a samurai exhibited by Yoshinaka in the fight for his position. His outstanding feature is bravery and courage to fight, whether he will win or die in the battle. Although he dies in the contest, he displays the ideal image of a samurai.
Andrew Edmund, The Kamakura Shonugate and the Beginnings of Warrior Power. Japan Emerging: Premodern History to 1850 (2014).
Karl F Friday, The Dawn of the Samurai. Japan Emerging: Premodern History to 1850 (2014).
Patchita S Hawley, Katchu: Japanese Armor of the Kamakura Period (Hollywood, CA: Hawley Publications, 1992).
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