The feudal, honorable warriors of Japan, equivalent to European knights. They were a class of nobles, highest in the system set by Tokugawa. They were honorable, powerful, and courageous fighters, quite different from ninja, who were the skilled assassins with little to no honor. I believe each side could take on the other, personaly.
The samurai were very brave warriors, 'nuff said. No flames about ninjas beating them!