A continent now flourishing with economic superpowers, Asia is comprised of countries that were built by centuries of bloodshed. Entire periods of war for unification are a common theme within the East—certainly something unique to the region.
Indeed, history is a well-known lover of heroes. Fearsome warriors have been glorified and romanticized since time immemorial. Therefore, it is unsurprising that Asia produced certain individuals oozing with martial might and badassery during the years when it was engulfed in mutual conquest.
10. Prithviraj Chauhan
Hailing from the Indian Chahamana dynasty, Prithviraja III (aka Prithviraj Chauhan) was a warlord and king who is known as one of the fiercest men in history. Inheriting the throne at the tender age of 11, he was declared successor of the kingdom on merit of his bravery. To top things off, he was one of the few fighters throughout history credited with victory over a lion in barehanded combat.
As for his skill as a warrior, Prithviraj was particularly noted for his ability to fight with precision without sight. While blindfolded, he was able to hit an archery target by virtue of sound alone. Though likely more a tale of folklore than historic account, this skill set came in handy when he was captured by his enemy Muhammad of Ghor.
His captors burned out his eyes with red-hot irons. Blinded and held captive, our Indian hero didn’t lose hope. Presumably wanting to show off his “honored guest,” Muhammad held an archery competition in which Prithviraj struck the target dead-on—even without his eyes.
Then he supposedly killed his captor with a single strike after hearing the sound of Muhammad’s voice. Prithviraj promptly escaped with the help of his friend Chand Bardai.
Though that particular account remains a legend, it cannot take away from the endless conquests and martial victories the warrior king achieved throughout his life. Prithviraj will be remembered as one of India’s greatest kings forever.
9. Tsutsui no Jomyo Meishu
When we think of feudal Japan, we generally consider the most fearsome warriors to be samurai or ninja—and for good reason. However, few people are aware of the unsung warrior monks who roamed the region during that era in search of enlightenment (and sometimes just a good fight).
Jomyo Meishu of Tsutsui, a warrior monk in the early 1000s, was as tough as an overdone steak and is no doubt one of the greatest monks ever to have lived.
Garbed in a suit of black armor with a quiver full of arrows, swords on his side, and a naginata in hand, Jomyo Meishu stood firmly on the banks of the Uji River. Behind him was the monastery that had raised him. In front was an army of bloodthirsty Taira samurai, separated from Jomyo Meishu only by two thin wooden beams spanning the water.
With his fellow warrior monks beside him, our bald champion stepped forward and shouted, “I am the worker monk Jomyo Meishu from Tsutsui, a warrior worth a thousand men. If anyone here considers themselves my equal, let them come forward. I shall meet them!”
With his words barely out of his mouth, he let loose an arrow straight into the throat of an enemy. Enraged, the samurai returned fire, but Jomyo Meishu remained calm. With a supreme showing of skill, he sniped his quiver empty, felling 12 samurai on the spot and incapacitating another 11. Not a single arrow missed its mark.
Still unsatisfied with his kill count and teeming with battle intent, Jomyo Meishu sprinted across a beam like a veritable medieval gymnast, naginatawhirling with abandon. Tearing through five men in a heartbeat, he finally lost his spear in the belly of the sixth, at which point his sword flashed from his side. Possessed by the fever of battle, he slashed through another eight until he delivered a skull-shattering blow that snapped his sword into pieces.
Just when it appeared that he was done, Jomyo Meishu pulled his last knife and kept going, fighting until he had nothing but bare hands. Eventually, he was pulled from the fray, where he finally took stock of his losses. Upon seeing the 63 dents in his armor, he simply chuckled, brushed himself off, and walked away, praising the Buddha as he went.