Samurai retainers are elite expert swordsmen who remain behind to protect their master’s castle from enemy attacks while the daimyo is on campaign. The retainers go into battle accepting death and fearing little, which gives them excellent morale. Accepting death is not the same thing as foolishly throwing away your life, so samurai retainers must be wary of threats from cavalry and missile troops against which they have little defence.
The katana is the weapon most readily associated with all samurai. Its elegant, curved single blade is created from high carbon steel, which is sharp but brittle, and low carbon steel, which is tough and flexible but not able to hold an edge. By cunningly combining both metals, the katana manages to be tough whilst retaining its sharp edge. The katana was made to be used as a two-handed sword; the sharp edge of the blade would cut into an enemy and the momentum of a blow would carry it through the body, often killing in one deft movement. It was a sword used for cutting rather than thrusting, and doubled as a shield because the samurai could parry and deflect enemy attacks with the flat of the blade.