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5 Killer Samurai Weapons | What the Stuff?!

– You know, I used to be
an adventurer like you, but then I took an arrow in the… oh, you heard that one. (goofy music) Samurai served many
functions in Japan’s history, but the role we know them best
for is that of the warrior. That said, slapping on some homemade armor and buying a sword from your pawn shop is not enough to make you a samurai. It took years of training
to learn the art of battle, often beginning at the age of five. As renowned swordsman
Miyamoto Musashi once wrote, “A member of a warrior
family who does not learn “to use weapons and understand
the specific advantages “of each weapon, “would seem to be somewhat uncultivated.” Did you know that for
the first few centuries they were around,
samurai were better known as mounted archers than sword fighters? In fact, the samurai
code of honor of Bushido evolved from the devotion
to horseback archery known as “the way of the horse and bow.” A samurai horseman’s primary weapon was a six foot yumi bow
made from an oak/ash base and finished with bamboo. Arrows could be accurately
fired from a fitted hand grip, allowing for accuracy from a moving horse. To train, archers tethered
swinging targets to a pole. In fact, this included living dogs until the cruel practice was abolished. Eventually, the sword was
considered a crucial part of a samurai’s life. When they were born, a sword was brought into the bedchamber during
the samurai’s delivery, and when a samurai died, his honored sword was placed by his side. Before making these blades,
a swordsmith would pray, fast, and even purify
himself with cold water. And they faced a difficult
metallurgical challenge. See, samurai sword steel had to be forged so it had both a sharp edge and wouldn’t break during a duel. If it’s too hard, the sword is brittle, but if it’s too soft, it
won’t take on a keen edge. So the solution was to
make the sword’s core with a soft metal that wouldn’t break, then cover it with harder metals that were repeatedly folded and hammered until there were literally
millions of layers laminated together. If you had vermin to kill, this steel would cut them right in half. Samurai warriors actually
wielded two swords, though, referred to as Daisho. Dai, meaning “large,” represented the single edged katana sword. Focusing until his mind
was clear of distractions, a samurai could draw his katana and kill an enemy in a single move. The samurai’s second
sword was the wakizashi, the small part of Daisho. It was used in close combat and for beheading an honored
opponent after killing them. But the wakizashi’s most
important role was for a samurai to ritually disembowel himself
during the act of seppuku. This form of suicide was performed to maintain a samurai’s honor. Sometimes a ritual dagger was
used instead of the wakizashi, but regardless of the blade chosen, another samurai stood
by to behead the victim so their death was quick. When they weren’t shooting you down or cutting you to pieces, samurai also used pole arms in combat. The most common of these long
poles with attached blades was the naginata. Its blade was two to four feet long, while its shaft reached up to five feet. This extended reach
allowed samurai to strike before a sword-wielding
opponent could even reach them, or to bring mounted enemies to the ground. Finally, when European traders began to arrive in Japan
in the 16th century, the reproduction of their matchlock guns was quickly mastered. These firearms were an influence
on all of Japanese warfare, so samurai took them up as backup weapons. Some even wore solid
body designed plate armor that was intended to be bulletproof. When the emperor banned samurai
from wearing their swords in public in 1876, it was
the beginning of the end for this warrior culture. But tell me in the comments, if you were facing combat with a samurai, which of these five
weapons would you choose to defend yourself? For more about samurai, from their armor to the Bushido code, check out our original
article on “How Samurai Work.” And for more videos to arm yourself with, don’t forget to subscribe to
our How Stuff Works channel. Finally, we have to say thank
you to Alkaloid Networks for allowing us to use
this wonderful setting. It’s just like feudal Japan.

67 thoughts on “5 Killer Samurai Weapons | What the Stuff?!

  1. If I only got to chose from the 5 weapon talked about in the show, I would use the Naginata.  The long pole with a attached blade.  —-  Weapon I like to use Flame Thrower.  Humans fear fire and for good reason.  back up weapon for fun: Fart Gun!  I going to die, let me go out with a smile 😉

  2. Well i am in the uk and we arnt cool enough to have AR15 or an ak so i am going to have to go with a land rover after i mow him down i would reverse over him

  3. reason for the many-folded swordsmithe technique has to do with the native found iron and mining. europe and other areas had swords which would be easier made and would not break either. kinda miss that info.

  4. During seppuku the second guy was there to kill the first one if he wasn't capable of finishing the job; not just to assert the coupe de grace.And a wakizashi wasn't the preferred weapon for the seppuku, that's what tantos were for.

  5. "When they weren't shooting you down or cutting you to pieces the samurai also used pole arms in combat."

    Yeeeeeah cause they way you said that totally doesn't seem like the yari wasn't the most used weapon of the samurai at all and the swords were merely backup weapons until Edo era japan started to romanticize the katana because there wasn't much war going on so it became easier to just use swords to deal with the random countrysize bandit/ronin you'd commonly encounter than lug 4 weapons around all the time.

    Quite a bit of misinformation in this video. But to answer the question, if it was a single samurai I'd probably use a grenade… While looked down upon they did use em, and fighting a seasoned warrior is much easier if they're over there… and there… and there… and there…

  6. honestly I would use first the matchlock then the naginata then the katana and wakizashi and finally if nessisary the wakizashi

  7. bow & spear & firearm = battle weapon

    sword….for home defensing ?…to fight with assassin who invade you backyard..?

  8. Actually, sword are only secondary weapons for samurai on battlefields. And tobe honest, there are very few records that samurai use dual swords on battlefield.

  9. pirotess2 samurai used their swords often yeah they used polearms bows and guns but the sword was used often and as well as other weapons the sword had the samurai 's soul

  10. of all these weapons I usually prefer a staff. it's true that all of them are amazing, but the staff is, for me, much more graceful. at first I really like tha katana, up until now I still like it. but the way of the sword doesn't really suit me well.

  11. of all these weapons I usually prefer the staff. all of them are amazing. I really liked the katana, up until now I still like it. but the way of the sword doesn't really suit me.

  12. If I would have if I dual is samurai kusarigama I will use battōjutsu Systema or Krav Maga Systema Wing Chun even the weapon katana even I learned a little bit of battōjutsu I haven't mastered yet

  13. Matchlock, I can keep my distance and one shot is all I’ll need as long as he’s not wearing the bulletproof armor, if so I’ll pick the pole arm

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