Sometimes when you watch a samurai movie you could be forgiven for thinking everyone in mediaeval Japan was a master swordsman automatically, like it was in the water or something. But no, you had to study and train hard to get good, and the real masters could be found in a dojo dedicated to the way of the sword

In Osprey’s samurai rules Ronin, these guys are called a “ko-ryu”, which literally means “old school”. Each ko-ryu was a centre of excellence in a traditional skill, in this case swordsmanship.

They’re not as heavily armed as the Bushi or even the Ikko Ikki, lacking bows, guns, and armour. But their skill with their chosen weapon (in this case the sword) makes them very deadly in a close battle. With the right scenario (such as this escort scenario set in a town) they make a great little warband.

I had a bit of fun painting these, with bright colours and some freehand patterns on their clothes. Actual Japanese clothing from the middle ages seems to have been richly detailed and brightly coloured, and I deliberately did them much brighter and fancier than the bandits I painted before them. I also did their basing different, so they’re easy to tell apart from other plainclothes samurai on the tabletop.

Most of these are Perry miniatures, except for the two female students and the grumpy looking chap in the stripey robe. I’m honestly at a loss to find where I got them from, but they’re clearly sculpted by a different hand.