The Taika culture is the dominant culture group on the western continent by sheer numbers. From the Northern most edge of the Snow Country to the dusty deserts of the Wind country and the Island nations beyond, Taika is the predominant culture group of the lands. Only in several parts of the Western Continent is the culture not the dominant one, with these areas being mainly Chonobi Clan lands. However, make no mistake for there are many differences known within the culture group.
- 1 Regional Distinction
- 2 Religion
- 3 Language
- 4 The Classes
- 5 Clothing
- 6 Names
- 7 Traditions
- 8 Warfare
Spread over the Western continent, the Taika are split into various regional groups. Subtle differences do exist in customs, dialects and traditions with the Taika in these different regions but many of these differences are usually small and too subtle to notice, at first. But when comparing a Taika, from the Earth Country, with a Taika, from the Tea Country, the differences will be become clear with time.
The Western Taika are slightly different from various traditions that they still uphold and as a whole are considered the most "traditional" of the Taika Regions. Commoners aren't allowed to have surnames unless they have been granted that privilege by their clan leader or daimyo. Another feature that makes them stand out is the fact that they uphold the classes system and laws in a stricter fashion.
Consisting of the The Eastern Taika are considered more fractured from each other. They uphold and follow different traditions that are considered 'newer' from the more traditional Western Taika. Scholars debate that this also has to do with the more fractured geosocial and political climate of the Eastern Lands versus the more unified Western Lands during the early rise of clans and countries.
Northern Taika are for the most part similar. Differences exist due to the large populations of Sanosuke and Hojo as well as the melding of Taika culture with that of the Lightning Country vassals on the Eastern Continent but for the most part the majority of Northern Taika are very similar in most aspects of their specific region of Taika.
The southern part of the world has the Taika as a dominant culture. Yet much like the Eastern Taika, the Islander Taika are less traditional than the Western Taika.
The Taika culture is already diverse at what they believe in. Many religions can be found within the known world. And as many as there are, their differences can be even more numerous. For this reason, it is difficult to bound the different regions of Taika together through Religion.
The Eastern Taika follow in majority The Way of Fire as their primary religion, especially the non-clan populace. However, many clans of Eastern Taika often partake in ancestor worship on top of following the Way of Fire with those in the Northern lands tending not to follow the Way of Fire at all in favor of their regions religions. Even so, the Way of Fire does still give things to clans and countries that are part of Eastern Taika that do not follow it, such as important dates for specific traditions that no longer have as much to do with the Way of Fire as they do other aspects of the tradition.
For the most part, the exceptions being the Hyuzu and other clans, the Western Taika that are not clan bound follow the Way of Fire as well as mixing in ancestor worship as in much of the Eastern Taika regions.
Northern Taika follow a mix of clan and regional beliefs. Split between Nature Worship of the Sato Clan, the traveling monks of the Cult of Hinode, the many and myriad Followers of Akemi, and the followers of The Voice of the North. Many of the religions in the North revolve around the harsh and starkly beautiful natural world of the Northern lands and all that comes with it.
With the largest population being that of the Republic of the Water Country, the religions of Islander Taika tend to be similar to that of the large country, spread over time from the Water to the smaller nations through trade and other means. The Islander Taika region is home to the most diverse group of religions, with the core Water Country religions (Youko's Faith, Followers of Nanami, Miku's Light, and The Inner Circle) being present on many of the smaller islands and peppered by islands that worship countless deities and the ocean they rely on.
The Taika language is the most spread and used language on the western continent. It is used by clans and people of other cultures as well. For this reason, Taika is a source of pride for many of its people. But for the same reason, there are many dialects in the many regions within the western continent. It is in theory that two Taika can still converse and understand each other despite coming from regions that are split by a large distance but many times accents and dialects make it hard to hold understand each other in these situations, leading many to speak slowly and concisely when faced with this issue as rare as it is.
The society of the Taika culture is in general made up of classes. There are various regions and clans that don't follow or have the class system or have a different system. What follows is the general classes that can be found within the Taika culture.
Obviously, there are certain professions that don't fit into the classes. These are either considered above or below it.
Above the Classes
Those above the classes are the sovereign rulers. Many of them go by the title of daimyo or some variant of it but in general, those who rule supreme are considered to be above the classes. And thus earning the utmost respect of both subject, foreigner and even foes.
Daimyo and Samurai
Below the feudal lords and rulers are the 'samurai' class. Although they barely make up 10% of the population in many countries, these smaller daimyo (and clan) lords and samurai wield a lot of power. When a member of this class passes, those of lower classes are required to bow and show respect. If they refuse, then in many clans and countries, the respective samurai or daimyo is legally entitled to decapitate the recalcitrant person's head.
Interesting is that samurai only answer to the daimyo that they work for. This also includes smaller lords that are under the vassalage of another daimyo. Sovereign feudal lords, however, bow to nobody.
The Farmers and Peasants
The second class are made up of farmers or peasants. According to old beliefs, farmers are superior to artistans and merchants because the food and resources other classes are depended upon. This means that technically, they are a honoured class. The reality is, however, much less promising for farmers and peasants are heavily burdened in many countries as clans by taxes.
The third class is made up from artistants. Crafting many beautiful and necessary goods, such as clothes, cooking utensils and tools, they were considered less importan than the farmers. Even those that dedicate themselves to a trade such as crafting weapons and armour for samurai and daimyo belong to the third tier of Taika society.
It is even that the artisan class live in their own sections of major cities, segregated from the other classes.
The bottom tier of the class society of many Taika communities is made up by merchants. Not just the merchants that travel but also of shop-keepers. This has to do with the fact that merchants are ostracized as 'parasites' who profit from the labour of the more productive peasants and artisan classes. This disdain even means that merchants live in a separate section of each city but goes further. Those of higher classes are forbidden to mix with them except on business.
Below the Classes
There are some people who fall out of the fourth tier. These people are engaged in taboo industries and for that reason shunned quite well by 'modest' folk. Professions as butchers, executioners as tanners are considered 'unclean'. Being called eta.
Another class of social outcasts was the hinin, which included actors, wandering bards, and convicted criminals. Prostitutes and courtesans, including oiran, tayu, and geisha, also lived outside of the four tier system. They were ranked against one another by beauty and accomplishment.
Descendents from this class are just ordinary people. But in many places, they still face discrimination from the other classes in hiring and marriage.
Miscellaneous Traditions and Laws of Classes
There are several laws and traditions around the classes of the Taika culture that are prominent in many regions. Of course, these laws and traditions aren't invoked in every Taika region or clan. They can also vary from region to region.
- When a horse, ox or other large farm animal dies, it becomes the property of the local outcasts. It does not matter if the animal has been the personal property of a farmer, or if its body is on a daimyo's land; once it is dead, only the eta had any right to it.
- The samurai class basically lives on a form of social security. They are paid a set stipend, in rice, and did not get raises for cost-of-living increases. As a result, some samurai families have to turn to the manufacture of small goods like umbrellas or toothpicks to make a living. They secretly pass these items on to peddlers to sell.
- Commoners who try unsuccessfully to commit suicide because of love are considered criminals, but they cannot be executed. So, they become outcast non-persons, or hinin, instead.
- Commoners in many Taika countries are not allowed to have surnames (family names), unless they have been awarded one for special service to their clan leader.
The clothing of the Taika culture varies from region to region, but certain staple items of dress and style do tend to remain mostly consistent throughout Taika lands. For the most part, Taika clothes can be defined by their robe-like and dress-like properties, with many men wearing long flowing overcoats that are similar to full dresses or robes for everyday work and business and women wearing dresses more suited to working than to fashion or status. Status can be easily discerned by clothing within Taika lands. Commoners will tend to wear more muted or less embroidered clothing of nice coloring while aristocrats and businessmen will tend to wear slightly fancier clothes of nicer make and design. Nobility wear the same style clothing as commoners just on a completely different level of design and embroidery, normally with intricate details in the clothing, expensive hats for men, complicated hairstyles for women, and overall better quality materials than the other two levels of clothing.
In many countries, those who are regarded as commoners usually have only a first name. There are regions and countries that don't have this tradition. In general, the names of the Taika are different from the Yakimara and Chonobi names. They have are what we would call 'Japanese' names. A few helpful sources are:
- Behind the Name provides a good list of names, with the meaning of the said name.
- The Fantasy Random Generator provides both surname and first names but no additional information on their meaning.
- Alternatively, one could look upon the feudal Japanese names. A good example is how the Uchiha Clan uses the names of the in real life Ashikaga Clan.
Traditions vary from region to region of Taika, but for the most part certain traditions do remain consistent between all of the regions despite their distance and time spent separated by one another.
Rite of Passage
The Rite of Passage is an important notion within Taika culture in all regions. The idea that one has risen to adulthood is not to be taken lightly, as with it comes the ability to take over a family business or farm, marry, and make possibly life altering choices on their own without the blessing of ones parents.
The widespread rite of passage within the Taika Culture is one that is rather bland when compared to the likes of the Sanosuke rites of old, and the current Chonobi or Hanta rites. Instead of a feat of will and courage, a mastery of a set of trials, or the felling of a grave foe, the common Taika rite consists of a simple date.
The day set for the Rite of Passage is during the first week of the New Year on the year that the child will turn 16 no matter their current age at the time. Celebrated on the Fourth day of the week, the Rite of Passage consists mainly as a family affair. The one to be considered an adult is thrown a small celebratory dinner in which the passing adult is made to sit at the head of the table for the first time in their life, taking the common seat of their father regardless of the individuals gender. It is common for the passing adult to lead the family through any small rituals they may privately perform, be fed first, and dismiss all from the table once the meal is complete. During the meal, the passing adult is offered spirits and liquors from their family in order to offer their first true taste of adulthood.
After the passing adult has taken and finished the drinks offered to them it is commonplace for the passing adult to then tell their parents what it is they aspire to do now that they are an adult. Be it marrying a certain person, taking over the family business, starting their own business, or pursuing a different career, the family must listen and by tradition and despite the parents wishes they must then offer all they can in the pursuit of the passing adults dream within reason. Importantly, this is the only moment in a child's life that they can request for an arranged marriage to be canceled, although this is seen as highly disrespectful to both the parents and the family that the child has been promised to and is very rarely done by a passing adult.
Inheritance and A Brothers Charge
Inheritance within the Taika culture is a largely male event. With the death of the head of a family all of their possessions, claims, and lands are left open and bare to the world, the only thing keeping them restrained to the specific family they belonged to being the surviving children of the head of the family. As a daughter is expected to marry outside of the family and in turn gain whatever their husband has, they are excluded from a normal inheritance process
A rule brought about largely by the way in which women are viewed as lesser in the family than that of the males, the inheritance is most commonly done between the sons of the family. The Eldest Son upon their Fathers death immediately inherits the responsibility as head of the family and with it everything that brings. Though a tradition has sprouted within Taika that varies this inheritance process slightly from what one may imagine. Instead of the Eldest Son inheriting everything and that being the end of the inheritance process, the Eldest Son is then required by tradition to make deals with his younger brothers in order of age. These deals are meant to satisfy all the male members of the family by giving gifts of material wealth, promises of assistance in need, the head of the families backing in public and private matters, and in rare cases land.
These promises are known as the Brothers Charge and are seen as one of the highest forms of a promise one can make. Relations between brothers are to be set aside during the process of making deals and both brothers are supposed to walk away from the deal content with what they are giving in the case of the Eldest Brother and what they are receiving in the case of the Younger Brother. The Brothers Charge that is agreed upon by both parties is then to be given at the appropriate time as agreed upon in the deal process which could range from immediately to when the younger brother believes they now require it.
In the common occurrence that only one son exists, despite being eldest or not he inherits all no matter the age of any daughters that may be present with no requirement to carry out a Brothers Charge with any of his sisters. In the absence of any Sons, the Inheritance does go to the Eldest Daughter, and, if any younger daughters exist, a Brothers Charge is carried out between them although the name of the promises made remains the same.
Taika weddings are an important aspect of the socio-political situation of the Taika people as clans, both for rich or poor, powerful or weak alike. There are various regional or clan differences on how weddings are conducted. Those differences are, however, often small and don't vary too much from each other.
Mark of Crime
In many regions where the Taika culture is dominant, a person that committed a crime and is found guilty will be first marked. This is usually a very painful process as heated irons will leave a burned mark upon the person. The location varies among the Taika but the kanji of 'dishonoured' is the same. Some manage to elude this practice by either being of noble birth or able to pay the high fine to keep themselves unmarked.
Perseverance of Honour
When a member of a noble family has committed a grim crime or brought somehow shame to himself, then there is the common tradition of honourable suicide. This is done by the practitioner to stab himself in the abodmens right side and cutting further to the left. By doing so, the practitioner saves his family from bearing his shame and dishonour. Often, with nobles, an attendant is present with a blade. This attendant strikes at the neck once the practitioner cuts his abdomen open. Making the process go quicker and less painful for the practitioner.
For a traditional Taika wife, it is most important that her husband can come home to a clean and organised house. It is a small tradition that the wife is the first to formally greet her husband when he comes home.
Binding of Tea
In some regions and clans, it is said that if a man can't provide a cup of tea every day for his wife, that she is legally allowed to divorce him.
Order of the Meal
When a family is about to have a meal, regardless if it is breakfast or supper, it is the father or man of the house that takes the first bite or drink. The others wait, to show their respect and loyalty. The same counts for guests, to show goodwill towards the owner of the home.
It is considered ill-mannered to lock eyes with one of superior social status or any rank. The person of lower (social) status is allowed to lock gazes with the other for several seconds. By lowering their eyes, it shows not only obedience but respect to the other's higher status and rank. Only venerable elders as outcasts aren't bound by this tradition.
The reputation of the Taika in relation to warfare has waned in recent history due to the rapidly growing martial reputation of the Chonobi clans when it comes to waging war. However, if the past is anything to show, it is that the Taika do possess the ability to wage and win wars on large scale over long periods of time versus not only other Taika clans but the Chonobi as well.
Tactics and Strategy
Taika for far more years than they have been in conflict with Chonobi forces were fighting among themselves. In this period of inter-warring between Taika clans a clear and concise modum for waging war became visible. Taika hosts would often attempt to outmaneuver the other in order to force battle in a favorable position, leading to many Taika hosts simply walking around each other for extended periods of time until one was either caught out or became to tired to continue marching and would prepare for combat.
When combat finally did come the units of a Taika host would be arranged similarly for most engagements, with changes in deployment only becoming common toward the initial arrival of Chonobi on the continent and the subsequent conflicts with the new invader that would follow.
With the arrival of Chonobi forces Taika strategy and tactics were updated and rewritten on the fly as field commanders figured out ways to counter the fevered and endless resolve of the Chonobi foe. Yumi units began to be placed in flanking positions and in hiding, shields were slowly adopted, Yari and Naginata units received better armor and more training along with more qualified, skilled, and inspiring commanders to hold their men from routing for as long as possible in the face of Chonobi axes and swords.
Aguni Code Talkers
A direct response to the Chonobi learning the Taika language during the early years of their arrival and the subsequent struggle for the Taika to do the same for the Chonobi language, a Clan leader by the name of Mihiro Aguni would create a new code language to be used both in combat and out of it for messenger purposes. The language itself did not have a name and was known only within the units that Mihiro commanded for a short period of time. Using the language Mihiro's forces were able to defeat a vastly superior Chonobi force in combat as the Chonobi commanders were no longer able to understand and react directly to orders called out in Taika. With news of the new language spreading throughout Taika clans many would approach Mihiro Aguni about being allowed to learn the language and use it in battle and for their messages as well. Aguni was reluctant at first, but would set up a basis of ground rules for the other Taika clans to follow if they were to use the language which persist to today.
- No Chonobi, ally, or friend, are to be allowed access to the Aguni Code language.
- The Aguni Code is not to be written down, under any circumstances. Those found with words written down are to be disciplined as necessary, or executed under suspicion of being a spy.
- The only Aguni Code an average soldier knows are simple commands which are changed often and randomly. In the event that they are captured they are unable to give up the entire code language and only words that will soon no longer hold the same meanings.
- The words of the Aguni Code and their corresponding meanings are to be changed frequently and the information is to be disseminated to those with a need to know. Individual units and separate armies may have entirely different meanings for the same word in Aguni Code.
The Aguni Code itself sounds like a very screwed up version of Taika, as if someone were talking backwards and with sounds out of place. As well it consists entirely of sounds that the Taika know the Chonobi have trouble emulating due to the differences in their languages.
A usual deployment of Taika forces would consist of multiple lines of Yari Ashigaru and if available Naginata Ashigara as a front line. An initial wall or wave to meet the enemy depending on which force took the initiative and attacked first. Normally located fifteen to twenty meters behind this line would lines of Yumi Ashigaru. These Yumi Ashigaru however would normally strike out in front of the front line and launch missile volleys at the opposing force, averagely leading to exchanges of missiles between both forces archers as they attempted to whittle down their foe.
Once these initial volleys were complete or one side decided to begin an assault not wanting to sit under arrow fire any longer the Yumi Ashigaru would move back to their position behind the Yari and Naginata units. If possible and time allowed for it they would resume firing on the enemy units as they advanced to try and lessen their numbers before a true clash began and firing had to be stopped for fear of hitting their own men.
At this point a melee would begin. The tight formations of yari and naginata pressing into each other and attempting to kill or rout the other before either could happen to them. A battlefield commander would at this point be watching and waiting for a moment to press an advantage with reserve troops of Ashigaru or more commonly Samurai units. Seeing a possible breaking or routing formation of enemy was normally a signal to send in reserve troops and secure a victory, but in events where neither side seemed to easily break or even want to engage one another Commanders would resort to more unorthodox and even "dishonorable" methods such as night raids and the like.
Cavalry would be used to often chase down and obliterate routing enemy forces, flank engaged units, move around and destroy Yumi units as their protection was engaged ahead of them, and break particularly strong defenses. In response to the dominance of cavalry units in Taika warfare, field commanders would begin to construct wooden defenses of spikes and fences to deter cavalry charges. These defenses were brought to almost every engagement with the Chonobi upon their initial landings and subsequent attacks further inland only for no cavalry to show up to battle much to the confusion of the Taika commanders. It is said that after Chonobi victories the Chonobi would find the abandoned spiked poles driven into the ground and fences created by the Taika forces and speculate on whether it was an odd ritual of their enemy.
Taika Warfare depends highly upon the units they field. With individual hosts consisting of a myriad of differently equipped and trained troops the Taika do not boast the same level of unit cohesion and discipline as the warrior-culture oriented Chonobi clans but they do boast larger and more flexible forces for warfare.
The backbone of a Taika host are often made up of light infantry units referred to as Ashigaru units, or more literally
"Light [of] Foot". Sporting lighter armor than the heavier and wealthier samurai retainers and nobles of the Taika the Ashigaru are in all aspects of their being Light Infantry units. Nominally made up of well trained levee infantry and professional foot soldiers, the Ashigaru units do not boast the same amount of moral as a standard Chonobi unit and are often the first to break in battle when facing a more determined Chonobi foe. An Ashigaru unit can be distinguished by the word that comes before them, "Yumi Ashigaru" being archer units that utilize the Yumi or "Bow" as an example.
Arguably among the most numerous of units in any Taika host. Yumi Ashigaru units normally numbered anywhere from 160-200 archers and formed the skirmisher units of a host.
Utilizing asymmetrical composite bow designs that are collectively known as "Yumi", the Taika yumi of old boasted extensive range when compared to the Chonobi longbows. But what they gained in range they lost in penetrating power of their arrows due to the lighter construction needed for this range. In use against the lighter Ashigaru armor of Taika clans the yumi were a deadly effective weapon, with historians stating that greater than 70% of all battlefield casualties were caused by arrows, but when pitted against the newly invading Chonobi the arrows struggled to penetrate the thicker plate, gambison and mail of the new foe. Faced with this issue the Taika clans would quickly begin to rework their common yumi for better penetrating power. Increasing the size and weight of their arrows and increasing the draw weight of their bows to be able to penetrate Chonobi armor. This reform of the yumi has caused them to become practically equal in range and power to that of the Chonobi longbow while still maintaining their distinctive asymmetrical look.
Flaming arrows are a favorite among Taika Yumi units for the amount of moral damage they do in combat.
The second most common of Ashigaru units are that of the "Yari Ashigaru", the Yari being the long straight-headed
spear of Taika origin. Yari Ashigaru make up the core of any Taika front line force and are usually among the first to meet an enemy close enough that weapons clash unless some aspects of a battle has gone horribly wrong.
The yari themselves normally sported a blade that was anywhere from several centimeters in length to 0.9 meters or longer, with the spear itself being on average taller than its wielder and of a sturdy enough construction to rarely break in combat. Yari are fearsome when used against cavalry units and tended to best even trained nobles and samurai in combat thanks to their superior reach. With their effectiveness in thwarting most foes, Yari Ashigaru tend to only be outmatched by archers, flanks, and larger or more disciplined yari units.
Yari spears do tend to be customized between different clans, with different designs to the blades of different areas.
Among the less common of a Taika host due to the relatively expensive process of creating a Naginata and the fact
that Naginata units are more commonly Samurai and Nobles, Naginata Ashigaru are a force to be reckoned with on the battle field. The long curved blade of a Naginata allowing the yari-like weapons to be used in a cutting and slashing motion as well as a stabbing motion which normally allowed a Naginata user to come down hard on yari and if lucky break the spears and disarm the men in front of them.
Naginata units were particularly nasty when pitted against Chonobi forces wielding axes, the curve of their blades allowing them to hook into and under the heads of axes and render opponents unable to use them as a nearby naginata wielder would take down the man. Due to this use against axe wiedling units of Chonobi which are arguably the most effective when pitted against Ashigaru Taika units. The use of naginata units, although expensive, has been greatly increased throughout Taika clans.
Another rarity among Taika hosts, Katana Ashigaru are not used very often due to the extensive amount of training needed to be able to properly wield a katana in combat. With Ashigaru being mostly levee infantry it is unreasonable to expect many of them to be able to wield a katana with any sort of combat acceptable proficiency. However, there are units of Katana Ashigaru within many Taika clans although they are numbered. These units are normally considered among the professional soldiers of a Taika host, and spend their time in service as career military in order to hone their skills.
Katana Ashigaru, along with Naginata Ashigaru, are among the most highly trained and disciplined that Ashigaru units have to offer, with historical examples of these units fighting to the literal last man as Yari Ashigaru infantry units broke and fled around them. Katana Ashigaru have on more than a few occasions been the tipping points of small conflicts between Chonobi houses and bordering Taika clans, their unexpected ferocity in battle catching Chonobi forces off guard as they expect most Ashigaru units to break easily.
Samurai and Noble Retainers
"A man whose profession is the use of arms should think and then act upon not only his fame, but also that of his descendants. He should not scandalize his name forever by holding his one and only life too dear."
Among the professional units of any Taika host, Samurai dedicate their lives to a warrior path. Training in their chosen weapon from a young age and later offering their service to prominent leaders or clans in exchange for anything from land, reputation, or power in local affairs. The Samurai are among a class of nobles within Taika, although not normally as influential as true Clan Nobility, they do hold rather powerful sway in local areas and regions and specifically powerful Samurai tend to sit on councils or as advisers to the clans they serve.
Samurai adhere to a strict code of honor. Believing that retreating in battle is among one of the greatest offenses they can undertake, Samurai tend to fight to the last with fervor that does not seem to sway, as once they are committed in combat there is no retreat without dishonor. This foolhardy approach to honor is likely why they are held in reserve for much of a battle, lest entire units of extremely valuable Samurai be utterly wiped from the field if committed too early. Samurai that do retreat partake in the ritual of the Perseverance of Honor and commit ritual suicide in order to gain their noble status back for their family.
Clad in heavy armor, purposefully unsettling full face masks, and ritual ornamentation, Samurai are considered to be the heavy infantry and shock infantry of the Taika hosts as well as carrying out every aspect of cavalry units. With armor on par to that of their Chonobi counterparts since before the Chonobi arrived on the continent, Samurai have served as the true hammer to an anvil of Ashigaru. Normally held in reserve until a commander spots a moment to use their superior discipline, training, and practically unwavering morale to utterly crush an enemy, the Samurai units have historically delivered the decisive blows in battles as their superior forces enter the fray.
It is said that Samurai units on multiple occasions broke the morale of the renowned Chonobi forces upon appearing on the battle field for the first time to face them. Their heavy armor and terrifying face masks as they charged the Chonobi units sent the men into a rout before the two had even clashed. Although this reputation held for many years to come, the Chonobi have become less fearful of the masks and armor themselves while maintaining a healthy respect for the combat ability of the men beneath them.
All Samurai carry with them no matter what they actually use as a main weapon in combat a Katana and a Wakizashi at their hip and are trained and drilled extensively in the use of both.
A common tradition among Samurai in times of old was that of a duty-bound honor to accept a duel before, during, or even after combat with an enemy host was completed. Much like champions of Antiquity, Samurai could stand as Champions of an army and be sent to fight to the death by their commanders or at their own request with a Samurai of the opposing host. Many times this would decide the outcome of a battle with only one death, the opposing army surrendering to the army that had won the duel. If the army did not surrender it was commonly routed in a short period as the death of a champion tended to destroy the morale of an army at large and especially the front line units of Ashigaru that were able to witness the entire duel.
During battle if a Samurai is seen engaging another Samurai it is common knowledge they are not to be interrupted or assisted by any other man as it is a stain on both the honor of the survivor and the honor of the fallen at the end of the duel.
This tradition led to outrage upon first contact with the Chonobi, as single Samurai would attempt to duel Chonobi warriors of particular combat ability only to be surrounded and overwhelmed by the Chonobi around them. It is said that this misunderstanding led to the Samurai being particularly ruthless in battle, as they saw the Chonobi forces as lacking honor entirely after news spread of such dishonorable happenings.
Units of Taika Samurai occupy every facet of Ashigaru units while also handling the cavalry side of combat.
Samurai units posses far superior morale, discipline, and training to that of Ashigaru units but are fewer in number. With nobility being a smaller group than the common people of the land, Samurai units although better equipped and trained tend to be about half or a third the size of an Ashigaru unit that specializes in the same weapon. A unit of Yari Samurai will likely overrun and rout a unit of Ashigaru Yari, but only due to the severe morale damage that a unit of Samurai has among less trained and equipped units and the fact they are normally employed to ensure victory among already wavering enemy units. Otherwise it is likely a Samurai unit would on most occasions lose a fight with an Ashigaru unit due simply to a difference in numbers and not experience or training.
The true pride of Taika hosts is their Cavalry. With every aspect of cavalry involving large costs, from armoring horses to training and feeding them, Cavalry has been and is still mostly contained to a nobles job in a host as they have the money and resources to maintain a war mount. The lands of the majority of the Western Continent are favorable for the raising and training of cavalry units and have led to a rather large culture of cavalry dominance within the Samurai Nobility.
Cavalry were among the few factors that allowed Taika to come out victorious among battles during the early expansion and raiding of the Chonobi on the Eastern shores. The pure shock effect of cavalry alone during a charge and subsequent meeting of several hundred pounds of flesh and armor to rows of Chonobi likely led to many of the minor victories over Chonobi forces as the outmatched Ashigaru infantry were able to drive into the wedges of disoriented and unruly Chonobi forces as they reeled from these assaults. As time progressed Cavalry units were forced to adopt armor for their mounts as Chonobi forces adopted larger formations of pikemen to counter them.
Samurai Cavalry units consist of multiple different kinds of units, among the most deadly of them are the Yari and Heavy Cavalry units. The Yari Cavalry sporting the same long yari of the foot Samurai and Infantry, these units were able to mass charge with great effect as not only did the meeting of horse and man do damage but their yari were able to strike out first and take down men moments before the meat grinder began.
While the Heavy Cavalry tend to posses Nodachi; a far larger version of the katana; for mounted use. The Heavy Cavalry are among the best protected men and horses to enter battle, with lamellar armor of iron, bamboo, and cloth covering the majority of both rider and mount. Heavy Cavalry are renowned for placing ornaments of horns, grinning teeth, and terrifying faces on their horses for morale damage during a charge.