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Samurai vs. Knight

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Grade 6-8 | Argumentative | Source-Based

Source Lexile®: 1110L-1140L

Learning Standards



Prompt: Read the documents below about the training of medieval samurai and knights. Consider the similarities and differences in the two passages as you read.


Evaluate which group's training would be more effective for preparing warriors.

Which group was better prepared for the physical and mental trials of battle and war? Write an argumentative essay in which you make a claim about which group's training would be more effective for preparing warriors. Use evidence from both texts to support your position.



Source 1


The rigorous training began in childhood. School was a unique combination of physical training, poetry, and spiritual discipline. The young warriors studied Kendo (the art of fencing with bamboo sticks), the moral code of the samurai, and Zen Buddhism. At about age 14, trainees officially became samurai in a ceremony called genpuku. Samurai were expected to live according to Bushido, a strict ethical code influenced by Confucianism that stressed loyalty to one's master, respect for one's superior, ethical behavior in all aspects of life, and complete self-discipline. Girls also received martial arts training; though samurai women did not fight on the battlefield, they were prepared to defend their homes against invaders.


Source: Adapted from the PBS series, "Japan: Memoirs of a Secret Empire", 2004.



Source 2


A prospective knight's training began at the age of four or five with learning to ride a pony. By the age of seven or eight, he would be sent to serve as a page to his father's overlord or to a powerful relative. There he ran errands, practiced [swordsmanship] with wooden swords, refined his horse skills, and received some religious instruction. By the age of 14, pages were eligible to become a squire. Squires continued with weapons training, but were already considered to be fighting men. They would accompany their master into battle, dress him, feed him, care for his horses, and hope to be deemed worthy of becoming a knight. If a squire received approval from a knight, he would usually become a knight around the age of 21.


Source: Adapted from the PBS series "Warrior Challenge", 2003.








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