Stories of legendary katana and great samurai swordsmen are widely known. However, this is a true story of a warrior from Montenegro who won in sword duel against a samurai. His name is Aleksandar Lekso Saičić (Vinicka, 5 August 1873 – Cetinje, 7 April 1911).
Alexander Lekso Sajčić was a Vasojević hero, born in the village of Vinicka in Berane. From a young age he showed remarkable characteristics: agility, speed, movement skills and alertness which were later crowned with great courage. Lekso Saičić was captain of the Montenegrin army, and remembered by the incredible art of handling a sword. He finished High School in Dubrovnik, then moved to Belgrade where he attended Infantry NCO School. After the NCO School he went back to Montenegro for three years, where he was appointed an adjutant of Vasojević brigade. As a soldier with the desire for further improvement he went to Istanbul where he joined Turkish army as a captain of the imperial Guard where he served for three years. From Istanbul he moved to Manchuria and joined the Russian army, where he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant. During his service in 1905 a major war between Russia and Japan broke out.
Aleksandar Lekso Saičić
In Vladivostok, where the troops of the two great empires gathered before the great battle, he encountered a squad of volunteers from his Vasojevići clan who had just arrived. Rejoiced to see them he decided to join them, and with them performed the final preparations before the battle. The commander of the Russian army (who was an admiral of the fleet) Roženstvenko lined up the army and announced that Japanese Emperor was looking for a hero of the Russian army to have a sword duel with a Japanese samurai (at that time, the refusal of such a request meant admitting defeat). Anyone who feels able to go to the contest, please report to me, said the commander.
Among the first who volunteered was Lekso Saičić who asked permission from Russian commander to go on a duel with the Japanese hero. When Lekso was ready to go, he greeted the commander and thanked him for the opportunity. Armies of two great empires with the greatest interest watched heroes, who dueled in front of them .
In a surreal setting, the heroes approached each other with breakneck speed they clashed their swords dozens of times. It was a clash of two traditions and two methods of warfare. One swing of the samurai katana grazed Saičić’s forehead. Japanese warrior, who saw the blood on Montenegrin was determined to end the duel. In that moment Lekso Saičić with his lightning speed waved the sword and beheaded the Japanese hero. As soon as he fell to the ground, samurai horse ran off back to the Japanese army. With this victory Saičić applied a heavy moral defeat to the Japanese army, which caused disappointment, but joy and happiness to the Russian army .moving back from the duel ground, Lekso as a true knight, paid tribute to deceased Japanese soldier. As he approached the Russian army, lined up in his honor, he gave a command: QUIET!
Military music was playing military march. The commander of the Russian army generals, met the winner of the duel. Lekso greeted the commander and reported to him that he had performed his task. The commander greeted him back and congratulated him the victory, as well as the other generals. Then they treated him with highest military honors. Admiral of the Russian Fleet Rodzenstvenko and the Japanese Fleet Admiral Togo also congratulated him. The Russian government has set his paycheck on forty napoleons in gold per year for life. In Manchuria, he was promoted to the rank of captain and by the end of the war he commanded the cavalry squadron Amur Dragon regiment. His sabre, with which he defeated samurai is now kept at the Military Museum in Moscow. He carried the following medals: St. Anne and St. Stanislaw of II class with swords, St. Vladimir of III class with Swords, St. Anne and St. Stanislaw III Class with Swords, Russian Medal of Wounded in Wars, Medal of the Italian Crown of IV class.
Montenegrin medals he received were Medal of Danilo First of IV class and Silver Medal for Bravery.
In battles he was wounded three times, he never took a break to heal the wounds, but he continued to fighting. He died as a result of a jump from the second floor of the King’s Palace in Cetinje during the fire in his thirty-eighth year, while he was trying to save the rare books that were kept there. He was buried with highest military honors.
I’m coming late, but at the time of the Russo-Japanese wars, the Japanese cavalry no longer used katanas, they had already replaced them with European style cavalry sabres (thought it still kept some small traits like a similar blade geometry). Only Army and Navy high rank officers wore sabres with actual katana blades, but mostly for ceremonial purposes.