There are two areas of martial focus: war and dueling.
The sword, bow and spear define war in the Empire. Peasants are often trained in the use of these and form the bulk of most armies.
The strategies of war revolve around using these troops and the environment to take advantage of your opponent’s weaknesses. Many books on strategy are written and read, and studying them is a noble task all martial clans demand of their samurai.
Many opportunities for heroism and honor exist in war – blood feuds are persecuted, duels are fought, dishonor is purged through noble combat. Samurai who have been shamed may be allowed to serve the clan by fighting in war. They may be able to earn their honor back, or the clan may expect them to win their honor through death. Warriors who know that the only way to honor their ancestors is by killing as many enemies as possible and then dying are fearsome foes, willing to fight even impossible odds.
There are hundreds of fighting styles across the Empire, each developed by a lesser or greater samurai family. The creation of a fighting style has sometimes even been the reason for the founding of a minor clan, so they may focus on their unique art while still falling under the aegis of the great clan. Simpler styles are for peasant fighters who don’t have the sophistication to learn the complex styles of the noble warrior.
Dueling is one of the most honorable acts of a samurai. He proves his worth by defeating an opponent in combat and proving his family’s strength and the superiority of his dueling style. Every great clan has its own martial practice, distilled from thousands of years of fighting, and so each clan is eager to prove they are the best.