The Japanese Warriors of the Feudal Period
In the Japanese Middle Ages’ feudal society, a samurai (literally "one who serves") was a warrior fighting either for a Daimyo or feudal lord, or for the Shogun, the military chief ruling Japan at the times.
From the 12th century, civil wars frequently broke out in the archipelago and consequently a category of warriors renowned for their total loyalty and strict discipline arose. The were usually fighting on horseback and were masters swordsmen, using katana and other blades, such a the short sword tanto.
If a samurai was disowned by his feudal lord, he became a ronin, a free warrior looking for a new fealty. When dishonored, a samurai must commit suicide by seppuku (cutting the belly), a ritual also known as "hara-kiri."