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Samurai

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Samurai swimming

noun - Samurai (Japanese: bushi) were the military nobility of medieval and early-modern Japan. By the end of the 12th century, samurai became almost entirely synonymous with bushi, and the word was closely associated with the middle and upper echelons of the warrior class. The samurai followed a set of rules that came to be known as bushidō.

Open Water Swimming

The Japanese samurai practiced suijutsu (水術 in Japanese) or suieijutsu, the ancient Japanese martial art of combative swimming. It is described as one of the 18 martial arts.

Samurai Swimming

While not as widely practiced as swordsmanship, samurai swimming was often a part of the bushi's training. It was natural for the Japanese warrior to develop swimming skills because Japan is surrounded by water where combat took place. Swimming and engaging an opponent in water reached a high level in certain clans of warriors. Depending on the speed, size, and depth of the water that was near a particular clan, different skills were developed. For example, some ryu of suieijutsu featured methods for swimming under water, while others focused on swimming in fast-moving rapids.

Suieijutsu served various purposes, ranging from allowing the bushi to silently sneak up on an enemy, to floating for long periods, to fording strong rivers. Bushi needed to be able to swim while wearing armor, carrying flags, weapons, and banners. They needed to be able to use a bow and arrow while being almost submerged. Some ryu also featured grappling while in the water.

They also practiced shinden ryu (marathon swimming), kankai ryu (ocean swimming), suifu ryu (river swimming or rapids swimming), as well as other methods that were based on the topography and waterways (e.g., coastline or mountain areas). For example, if the samurai had to fight while wearing armor, they would study the kobori ryu where the samurai would eggbeater (tread water) while keeping their upper body above water to fight with swords, fire arrows or guns while in or crossing a river.

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