Shuriken – Traditional Ninjutsu Weapon
Shuriken are small hand-held weapons that can be either thrown at the enemy or used at close quarters to stab or slash. This Japanese martial arts weapon is mainly associated with the martial arts style of Ninjutsu (Ninja). However, Shuriken training is also found at some Japanese Bujutsu and Kenjutsu Ryu.
Shuriken come in many shapes and sizes. Nevertheless, they are generally split into 2 groups; Bo Shuriken and Shaken Shuriken (Hira Shuriken). Bo Shuriken are short straight blades or spikes (also known as “Throwing Darts”) Needle Shuriken are also included in this category. Shaken Shurken are the multi-pointed variety (commonly known as “Throwing Stars”).
Shaken Shuriken are either thrown from the hip frisbee style with the blade horizontal or from over head with the blade vertical. There are advantages/disadvantages to both ways of throwing Shaken. The main advantage of throwing from the waist is speed. A number of Shaken can be stacked in the left hand which is held at the left hip in a stance with the right leg forward, shaken are then fed into the right hand and thrown.
Different schools of Shuriken Jutsu have have preferred ways of holding Shaken but the most common is to simply hold the star by one point between forefinger and thumb. The wrist should be canted forward when throwing from the hip. The star is then thrown as the wrist is snapped into position in order to generate more power to the throw. The main advantage of the overhead throw is greater force and accuracy. When using the overhead throw, the stance is usually left leg forward and left arm out pointing towards the target. The star is held in the right hand again by one point with forefinger and thumb and is brought up roughly adjacent to the right ear. As you throw, the hip is twisted and the left (guiding) hand is retracted at the point of release. The right hand should be roughly where the guiding hand was (again the wrist is snapped in order to generate more power).
Throwing a Shuriken
There are generally 2 methods of throwing Bo Shuriken. These are the spin throw and the no spin throw.
Throwing the Bo Shuriken is much more complicated because there are a lot more variables such as type of bo Shuriken, dimensions/weight length of the Shuriken, the target distance (as this determines the exact position to release the weapon to execute the correct trajectory), the balance of the bo Shuriken (is it weighted more at the back or the front?) and such.Again different schools have different ways of holding Bo Shuriken. Generally, using the spin throw, the Shuriken is held between forefinger and thumb by one end. Most Bo Shuriken are pointed only at one end. However, you need decide on whether hold to the Shuriken by the pointed end or the blunt end based on the distance and the number of revolutions the weapon will make before hitting the target. Obviously if the Bo Shuriken is pointed at both ends then it makes no difference.
The no spin throw is the most difficult Shuriken jutsu technique and requires a great deal of practice. Usually the Bo Shuriken is positioned across the first and second fingers to find the correct balance of the Shuriken. Then using the third and little finger, the base or blunt end is carefully brought into the palm. The thumb is then placed over the Shuriken in order to secure the weapon and ready it for the throw. As the throw is executed, the thumb is used to guide or alter the flight of the Shuriken. With all types of Shuriken throwing, you should start at a relatively close position to the target and as you get more proficient the distance is gradually increased. Professional instruction is the best quickest and safest (if not the only) way to learn Shuriken jutsu.
For information on other martial arts weapons, please visit the main Traditional Martial Arts Weapons section.
Instructional Video focused on “Senban Shuriken” (Ninja Stars)
Instructional Video focused on “Bo Shuriken” (Throwing Darts & Needles)
In the videos above, Bujinkan Sensei Roemke demonstrates how to hold and throw Bo Shiruken, as learned from Otsuka soke, Meifu Shinkage Ryu. This is from the Online Ninjutsu Black Belt Course “Basics of Ninja Training”.
Caution: Using Shuriken is dangerous and illegal in some locations. Only train under direct supervision of a qualified professional. You are solely responsible for damage or injury you cause attempting any maneuvers shown in these video. Shuriken should only be used for martial arts training purposes and historical demonstrations.
- Ninja Learning Network, http://www.ninja-learning-network.com/Ninjutsu-Blackbelt-Course.html, Added – 12/18/14