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Considering that the Samurai class had its distant roots in Chinese political structure, did China or Korea have a similar warrior class?

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When you say warrior class, do you mean a social class similar to that of that Samurai, people with similar abilities to the samurai, both, or something else? –  Reliable Source Nov 27 '12 at 23:43
@ReliableSource Any and all of that. –  coleopterist Nov 28 '12 at 5:18
Chinese wuxia (武侠) fiction and movies are (partly) relevant here: "Typically, the heroes in Chinese wuxia fiction do not serve a lord, wield military power or belong to the aristocratic class. They are often from the lower social classes of ancient Chinese society ... The Chinese xia traditions can be contrasted with martial codes from other countries, such as the Japanese samurai's bushido tradition, the chivalry of medieval European knights and the gunslingers of America's Westerns." –  Drux Jan 21 '13 at 9:03
Did China have a warrior class? Yes absolutely. I don't know about Korea, but I have no doubt. How are we defining warrior class? Professional standing warriors? Do we include a code of conduct (bushido?) do we include the extraordinary fealty of the Samurai? Their political status? –  Mark C. Wallace Jun 11 '14 at 13:53
How do you define "equivalent"? –  Mark C. Wallace Jun 11 '14 at 14:56

3 Answers 3

In China, there were warriors similar to ronin - the xia. As a link, I found only those regarding their philosophy or literature about them. GURPS Martial Arts (it's no solid historical work and I didn't manage to find any better source) states they were more like Robin Hood than Lancelot - they were not upper class like samurai.

Korean Hwarang are approximation of Samurai from the other side - they were upper class young men probably serving as warriors, but it's not their defining feature. In GURPS Martial Arts they are presented as very similar to Samurai, but when I consider what is written in Wikipedia, it might be just a myth.

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There is a Chinese saying (in pinyin), "Hao tie bu da ding, hao ren bu dang bing." (Good iron is not used to make nails. Good men do not become soldiers.)

For most of Chinese history, soldiers were vilified, rather than honored. Hence, they would not generally be regarded as members of the upper class, which was occupied by landowners and philosophers.

Most of Korea, whose culture is more similar to China's than Japan's felt much the same way.

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I wonder if this is not a bit of an overstatement. E.g. Jonathan D. Spence in Treason by the Book introduces 18th-century General Yue Zongqi. He was governor-general of Shaanxi and one of the few officials with direct access to the Emperor. While I cannot recall a specific name right now, I also seem to remember that some senior officers styled themselves as philosophers e.g. after having succeeded in imperial examinations in their youths. –  Drux Jan 20 '13 at 21:24
@Drux: I said that this proverb held for MOST of Chinese history. Naturally, there were occasional exceptions, but these did not lead to the establishment of a "samurai" class. Also, your "exceptions" have the effect of "proving the rule." That is, men who passed the examinations for philosophers who were also military men were honored. But most soldiers can't do this. –  Tom Au Jan 20 '13 at 21:29
Alright, fair enough. –  Drux Jan 20 '13 at 22:20
I don't have it handy, but Scott Rodell's book on Chinese Swordsmanship asserts that the height of martial virtue occurred earlier in China, and the warrior philosopher was obsoleted by masses of unskilled peasants with cheap weapons. This may help to explain the quote - as you point out the perception of martial virtue changed over time. –  Mark C. Wallace Jun 11 '14 at 18:01

of course for example, jinyiwei or dongchang,secret polices of Ming. everything you see from Japan or Korea were from China, ninja is just Japanese version of China Wuxing Taoists.

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Assertions without evidence, and without a framework to permit evaluation of their validity. –  Mark C. Wallace Jun 11 '14 at 14:28

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