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The samurai emerged around the tenth century in the court of kyoto. this caste of professional warriors gaind prominence during the civil wars that rocked japan in the Middle Ages untill it became a powerful social class that ended up controlling the country through a military regime. Initially expert archers on horseback, the samursai became masters in the art of the sword and hand to-hand combat. 

The samurai followed a strict code of conduct called bushido (the way of the warrior), in which the concepts of "loyalty" and "honor" were above everything, and they scorned the material side of life. If a warrior lost his honor, the only way he could recover it was through seppuku, or harakiri, a suicide ritual. According to their philosophy of life, the goal of the samurai was to reach a high level of physical and mental perfection. To achieve this they practiced Zen meditation and underwent tough training in different martial arts.

Originally, samurai warriors were expert horsemen and very skilled with the bow and arrow. This weapon predominated in Japanese battles until the twelfth century, when the samurai developed great skill in handling the sword.