Reading Comprehension | Samurai: The Way of the Warrior

This is an article about the Japanese warriors known as the Samurai.


A samurai is a highly skilled Japanese warrior. The word ‘samurai’ means one who serves. A samurai warrior had many duties, but his most important duty was to serve his master, called his ‘daimyo.’ The daimyo were the local rulers in Japan.

The samurai first came to power in Japan during the 12th century. They were members of the privileged upper class and had authority over common citizens and ordinary soldiers. Their lives were ruled by a strict code of duty, honor and sacrifice called ‘Bushido,’ which means ‘way of the warrior.’

The samurai were like a police force. They wore armor and carried two swords: a long, curved sword, called a katana, and a short one, called a wakizashi. If any soldier or common citizen disobeyed or offended a samurai, by law, the samurai had the right to take his life.

The training of the samurai in martial arts began at the early age of five. They were most often taught by their fathers or uncles. Most grew up to have families of their own. Many were farmers and many were well-educated in history and literature, especially poetry.

In 1876, the Japanese emperor banned the samurai from wearing swords. Although the samurai no longer exist, descendants of samurai families in Japan today are still highly respected. The teachings of the martial arts carry on their code of honor and discipline. Today, the samurai are a popular subject for books and can be seen in many martial arts movies.

Here are some questions to ask after listening to the article:

When did the Samurai first come to power?
What does ‘Samurai’ mean?
What are the names of the two swords carried by the Samurai?
At what age did martial arts training begin?
What did the Japanese emperor do in 1876?

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