What’s The Difference Between Ninja and Samurai?

SAMURAI: A long time ago in Japan…

Before Japan was nationalized, it was feudal. You know, the leader with his castle and farming citizens who were also warriors when needed. And the really cool warriors were knights. That’s what the Samurai were. These guys had a strict code of conduct and very specific ideas about honorable warfare.

NINJA: Winning isn’t easy.

The problem with strict codes of conduct and very specific ideas about honorable warfare is the fact that war needs leverage. Someone needs to be a little creative (or even a little underhanded) if they’re going to win.

The Samurai cared about their honor, so…they hired other people to do the less than honorable stuff. The Ninja specialized in dirty work. Assassinations, sabotage, voter fraud(just kidding), and all that fun stuff. Guerrilla warfare is Ninja. They didn’t have any allegiances to leaders except their own. They worked for whoever paid the most. They were mercenaries.

Make sense?

SAMURAI: Loyal, honorable, chivalrous, led by warlords.

NINJA: Mercenary, ruthless, ambiguous, led by the paycheck.

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Where Did Karate Come From?

Karate is a Japanese Martial Art that was founded in Okinawa. Back in the day, Okinawa wasn’t a part of Japan. When Japan decided Okinawa should be a part, they took all of the weapons away from the Okinawans and left them defenseless against the almighty Samurai.

During this time, Okinawa was quite culturally diverse. Some of the people living in Okinawa happened to be Chinese Kung-Fu practitioners. The would-be rebels sought out the Chinese colonists to learn Kung-Fu from them. After acquiring the skills of this unarmed combat style, the Okinawans customized Kung-Fu to work against the armor-clad Samurai.

So, in its most basic idea, Karate is a mutation of Kung-Fu, designed for rebellion against the Samurai.

This is why many techniques appear boxy and focused on thrusting and holding strong stances. The forms were altered for the purposes of breaking through bamboo and doing physical damage to a Japanese knight who had a sword and/or other bladed or wooden weapons.

“Karate” means “Empty Hand”.