Onna-musha were female warriors who both led and fought alongside samurai and other warriors of Japan.
One notable Onna-musha who lived during the Heian period (12th century) was Tomoe Gozen*, an ally of the Minamoto clan. Tomoe had commanded three-hundred samurai at the battle of Genpei defeating two-thousand warriors.
Tomoe's legend was honored in the epic The Tale of the Heike which was compiled through a collection of stories documenting the struggle between the Taira and Minamoto clan for control of Japan during the Genpei war (1180–1185). In this epic, she was described as a "remarkably strong archer and swordswoman. She was a warrior worth a thousand, ready to confront a demon or a god, mounted or on foot. She handled unbroken horses with superb skill; she rode unscathed down perilous descents. Whenever a battle was imminent, Yoshinaka sent her out as his first captain, equipped with strong armor, an oversized sword, and a mighty bow; and she performed more deeds of valor than any of his other warriors".
A rivial of Tomoe, Hangaku Gozen, was an ally of the competing Taira clan. Hangaku was noted for her leadership and bravery. Like her rival, Hangaku led samurai into many battles wielding the naginata and also was a notable archer.
*Gozen was not a name but a title similar to Lady