The Ronin Tee features a Japanese ronin wielding his naginata — a weapon used extensively during feudal Japan. The naginata consists of a curved blade, between 1 and 2 feet in length, mounted to an oak shaft, which is up to nine feet long. At the opposite end of the naginata is a sharp end-cap called the ishizuki, which was used to pierce between the plates of an enemy’s armor.
Ronin (浪人) were masterless samurai during the feudal period of Japan (from 1185 to 1868). In Japanese, the word ronin means a “drifter” or a “wanderer”, i.e. “he who drifts/wanders.” A samurai could become masterless either upon the death of his lord or due to his master’s loss of favor or privilege. According to the Bushido Shoshinshu (The Samurai’s Code), a samurai’s final duty of loyalty to his former master was to commit seppuku (ritual suicide). Those who chose not to honor the Code were shunned and shamed by other samurai and daimyos alike.
During the Edo period (1603 to 1868), the shogunate’s rule and rigid observation of the class system led to a dramatic increase in the number of ronin. Because these former samurai generally could not legally take up new trades, many ronin became bodyguards for the wealthy, mercenaries for hire, or even outright criminals.
If you want see more ronin in action, we recommend checking the Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai or anything from the Lone Wolf and Cub compendium. Those familiar with The RZA’s album Liquid Swords will certainly remember the famous intro from the Shogun’s Assassin, which was adapted from the Lone Wolf series.