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The word shuriken, composed of the characters " shu", "ri" and "ken", is literally translated as "hand hidden blade". The character "ri" is composed of the morpheme (meaning component) "i" as in clothing, in the sense of covering, as well as the phoneme (sound component) "li", together representing the idea of "reverse, back, or covered. Ri (the on yomi reading) is also read in kun yomi as ura, which to us martial artists would be familiar from expressions such as "ura waza" as opposed to "omote waza". In combination with the first character, "shu-ri" suggests "hidden in the hand, or in the palm". "ken" means blade, and is the same character as found in bokken, or shinken, hence "hand hidden blade". There is however, occasional usage of the character "ri" which means separate, or to release, and this has sometimes led to the translation of shuriken as "hand release blade". Why this usage occurs is not clear at this stage, though it could refer simply to thowing of blades such as tanto, kodachi, or even katana, where it is not necessary to hide the blade in the hand. The other possibility is that people were not greatly literate in feudal times, and they simply used any character that sounded correct. Mou En Ryu documents, the Mou En Ryu Shu Ri Ken Goku Hi, held in the University of Kyoto library contain one particular example of this usage. During the time of the Sengoku Jidai, (Warring States period, 1482 - 1558) shuriken were also once known as shiriken, meaning "rear end blade", due to a popular misconception that the weapon was the small utility knife (kozuka) held in the scabbard of the long sword, which was thrown from a grip which held the tip of the blade in the palm, (the rear end of the knife thus pointing outwards to the target). Of course, kozuka were indeed thrown as a weapon, but they were not all that were thrown. As we shall see, there were many types of blades and objects, small enough to be worn hidden on the body, but heavy and sharp enough to be thrown as a tactical weapon. There are two basic types of shuriken, bo shuriken ( cylindrical, with varying thicknesses and shapes, and shaken ( plates of metal. ), which are long, thin and ), which are made from flat
Bo shuriken consist of three main designs, defined by the origin of the material used for the their construction, the first being cylindrical, and straight sided, which are called hari gata ( needle shaped. The second type are square sided, and are called kugi gata ( ), or ), or nail
shaped, and the third type called tanto gata ( ), or knife shaped, that are flatter and wider, and maintain a knife shaped appearance. Within these three bo shuriken categories, there is a more detailed classification system, which mostly describes various blades based simply on their shape, or the objects from which they were adapted. (Please refer to table below) Shaken are further classified as hira shuriken ( ), which are the multi-pointed, starshaped design, and senban shuriken, which are lozenge-shaped blades. The source for these is not clear and could be from the washers that sit under nails in the woodwork of traditional Japanese buildings, from carpenters nail removers, (see below), from stones, fashioned into throwing objects (tsubute) or hishi-gane, derived from coins. There is a 3rd type, called teppan which is a large version of the senban, some as large as 12cm in width, that were adapted from
the carpenters "nail-removers", whether they are classed as shaken or not is uncertain at this stage. The basic method of throwing of the shuriken varies little between schools, the main differences being the shape of the blades and their origin.
Throwing things has no doubt been a pastime of human beings for thousands of years, and when early man learned he could protect himself and catch food by throwing hard objects at living things, the idea of a throwing system surely developed from here on. A study of the development of throwing things throughout human history would be a next to impossible task, so this site will be mainly concerned with the highly refined traditional Japanese system of throwing concealable edged/pointed weapons. There is very little historical documentation, particularly accurate, detailed and objective information, available today on the shuriken art, due to a number of factors. Possibly the primary reason is that it was a rather secretive art...the technique of using the shuriken itself involved deception and surprise, and the main schools that utilised such methods of battle were also heavily involved in deceptive and secretive activities. This probably also contributed to a certain amount of disdain held towards the art and its proponents, by the innocent population in general. What documentation that may exist would be held by the individual schools in the form of scrolls, the contents of which would only be shown to trusted students of the particular school. Furthermore, the simplicity and utility of the weapon was probably not held in such high esteem as that of the kenjutsu arts, which used highly developed techniques to wield swords of great refinement and advancement in metal technology. Added to this is the fact that the shuriken itself was a supplementary weapon to the sword and other weapons within the main martial art schools of the time, and hence probably did not gain much popularity, even among students who were initiated into the secrets of the schools they were member of. Nevertheless, it did hold some historical and practical value, as there are occasional mentions of the use of throwing blades in the literature showing them to be held in a positive regard. The earliest Japanese work, the Kojiki (around 600AD), contains a passage where Prince Yamato-Takeru throws a cylindrical vegetable into the eye of white deer, killing it. Some translations have him throwing a chopstick. The Nihon Shoki (also around 600AD) mentions a stone throwing implement called an ishihajiki, but its possible this was a sling. Yet another ancient work, the 8th century Man'yoshu, in one section describes throwing an arrow, and another section a flat stone called tsubute (see below). The record of the Later Three Year War (Gosennen no Eki, 1083-87AD), entitled Hiyori no Ki, contains a passage describing holding a short blade hidden in the palm and throwing it from a distance "shuriken ni utsu" (lit. strike with a blade in the palm). One researcher believes this may be the origin of the term shuriken (1) The Osaka Gunki (military record of Osaka) contains a passage that says: "Tadamasa saved himself from his foe by drawing out his wakizashi and throwing it, as you would a shuriken". It is said that Tadamasa later created the first shuriken, called the Tanto-gata from a short sword. Chronicles of Japan's history, such as the Heike Monogatari, and Gikeiki make mention of "ishinage", or stone throwing. The stones were specially shaped to aid throwing, and were called "totekibuki", and later "tsubute", which means both to throw a small stone, and the stone itself. Tsubute were later made of "iron-stone", and thus called "tetsutsubute"., and appear to be the precursor to the lozenge shaped senban shuriken.
Today, there are many and varied types of shuriken, which suggests that the development of the art was rather fragmented and insular among various schools and areas. According to Yasuyuki Otsuka Sensei, headmaster of Meifu Shinkage Ryu Shuriken-jutsu, there were no standardised or formalised set of rules governing manufacture and use of the shuriken blades as there were with the katana, or Japanese sword, and this would have aided in the proliferation of differing designs and schools around the country. Chikatoshi Someya Sensei attempted to form some sort of categorisation of shuriken in his book "Shuriken Giho", but admitted that without historical records, such categorisation is purely speculative, and that there were a number of examples that could not fit in his categorisation method as well. Nevertheless, such categorisation can be useful today for the purpose of describing and discussing the art and the items in use.
Origins of bo shuriken - Needle, Knife and Arrow
In discussing bo shuriken, Someya Sensei divides the blades into two main groups, needle, or cylindrical, and tanto, or square. The tanto group possibly derived from the early practice of throwing knives, (tanto) and even swords. Blades such as those found in Chishin Ryu, Mou En Ryu, Katori Shinto Ryu etc, are those that are believed to have originally been fashioned from the Japanese nail, called wakugi, having been found to be the suitable replacement material for knife blades ground into the eventual shuriken shape. These nails varied in size from small pins for furniture to huge rods used to hold the support beams of houses and temples. Early nails up to the Meiji period (1863) were square, with large heads of various size and shape, and subsequently became round with the influence of western manufacturing methods. Of further note is that these shuriken schools were closely related to, or a part of the kenjutsu or sword schools, and hence it follows that the shuriken would evolve from a thrown blade.
Figure 1. Some examples of size of traditional Japanese nails, called wakugi. (web.kyoto-inet.or.jp/people/kanamono/wakugi.htm - link no longer active)
sphere. very likely were either lost or left embedded in the opponent (or the ground) during battle. or from the Chinese method of piau. Lintong. tough metal rather than the somewhat unrefined iron as evident in several of the photos below. hence the uchine (see below). while the material origin of these blades can quite possibly be thought to be needle .Figure 2. and thus would not have been so readily left behind after use.htm . The Needle group is a little more problematic. being small. Shuriken by their very nature.(see more) . one of the earliest examples of shuriken in Japan. then into sticks that were thrown. and thrown from one's person. hairpins (see hibashi below) etc. a practice which is apparently still in use today (see link). and thus being left lost or unretrieved from battle would not be a costly mode of operating.like objects such as chopsticks. China.. though I sincerely doubt it was to the same extent as that of swords. tongs.link no longer active) Some people have stated that shuriken were actually forged in the method of the Samurai sword.ne. and were thus of very hard. It is interesting to note the similarity in shape between the Ganritsu Ryu shuriken. or dart throwing. so it may be true that blades had some hardening and forging to a certain extent. Some examples of traditional nails from various ages. My feeling is that because shuriken were adapted from pre-existing items found in everday places. there was little value placed upon them as objects. Blades which were forged would have taken time and money to create. Michael Finn in his book "Art of Shuriken Jutsu" suggests that shuriken evolved first from sticks used as striking weapons held in the hand. Bronze Crossbow bolt of the Qin Dynasty (221BC). It is true that traditional nails were hand forged. the idea for the throw possibly came from the arrow. many of their applications would involve being thrown by the proponent before they took to escape by foot from the attack. (www1. The arrow is about 18cm long. Since they were primarily used as a distracting weapon. That the idea of throwing needle and arrow like blades came from archery is a strong possibility.jp/tknk-mse/dougu-e/e14kugi. and has a triangular conical head. Compare with the Ganritsu Ryu blade next page) Figure 3. From the Shaanxi Museum of Terracotta Warriors. and with the Qin Dynasty crossbow bolt (see below).
or double pointed blade. (biao). Piau. Chinese Origins Chinese Martial Arts have a lenghty and well represented history of throwing weapons. via China and the importation of Buddhism to Japan. others saying they are ritual daggers used to pierce ghosts. a dagger with 3 sided blade that often figures in Buddhist religious art. particularly in the development of the ryobari-gata shuriken. Some of the Ninjutsu schools include items similar to purbhas. Many of these weapons are rather unusual in shape and usage. and the other a triangular shaped blade which is held and thrown in an unusual way (called Chinese Fist). being double ended blades. to a couple of the Japanese schools. one is a dart shaped spike much like the Ganritsu Ryu blade shown above. and possibly also the uchine. air dart ) and the Lo Han Ts'in (Magic Coin . called Vajra. particularly with the use of mystical symbolism. It is interesting to note the Tibetan purbha. or throwing arrow. however there are at least two examples that may have a historical connection to one or two schools of shuriken in Japan. some meditative practices. one of the earliest examples in Japan of a needle intentionally adapted to be used as a throwing weapon. and a form of numerological divination. has some stylistic similarities to certain shuriken blade shapes.see below) both have strong similarities. The Fei Biao (or piau.Figure 4. or Dorge. There two reported types of Fei Biao. Tibeto-Indian Origins There is also some suggestion of an influence from India and Tibet. (more research on this in the future) . Some examples can be found throughout this site. as part of their shuriken tradition. and obviously bear no connection to the Japanese throwing weapons at all. some referring to them as being pegs to tether horses. A Ganritsu Ryu bo shuriken. This is a modern. Mikkyo Buddhism played an important role in relation to several Japanese martial arts. in both design and method of throwing. stylised version of the original Chinese throwing dart. Figure 5. The historical use of these items is not fully known.
ina-ngn.jp/~newyama/H14/shiryoukan/noukou/senbakoki.JPG ) . and to the vajra and dorge is quite evident. schools which use the turning hit method. this theory seems all the more plausible.Figure 6. since they utilise the turning hit method of throwing. (throwing arrow). When one considers that Shirai Toru.ed. Senbakoki is a rice/grain threshing tool developed during the Tokugawa period. as one such item which may have been used. Once the throw had been established. Anyway. An 8th Century Tibetan bronze purbha or ritual dagger.as this aided the jikidaho method of throwing. that has a number of iron teeth which could have been modified to produce blades for throwing. Senbakoki.. a traditional rice threshing machine ( http://www. Since the throwing method required a certain amount of snap in the wrist. and gives this example. or jikidaho or chokudaho throw. since these projectiles do not turn in their flight to the target. it has been observed that a flat sided blade allows this effect much more effectively than does a rounded surfaced blade. called a senbakoki. Otsuka Sensei postulates that Shirai Ryu derives from the practice of throwing needle-like tongs called hibashi. Figure 7. or hantendaho or ikkaitendaho method quite possibly derived from the throwing of tanto. The rounded surfaced blades of Shirai Ryu don't particularly need this same snap. the blade shape was later adapted from whatever suited the throw. needle shaped blade that may have originated from long thin coal tongs. quite possibly derived from needle or arrow throwing. studied extensively in some kenjutsu arts. Further information and photos on Senbakoki and their possible use as shuriken can be found here. the founder. because it uses the turning hit method. whereas schools which use the direct hit method. but I suspect the type of throw is more important an indicator for the origin of the school. this remains purely speculation. Therefore. The octagonal blades of Negishi Ryu are believed to have derived from the round. Senbakoki Otsuka Sensei has heard of some forms of bo shuriken being made from parts of agricultural farming implements.. The stylistic similarity in shape to uchine. So I suspect that although Shirai Ryu uses a round. rather than the type of material used. and finger pressure on the tail end of the blade as it left the hand. needle shaped utensils used in sewing. The large leather needles were then thought to be ground to possess the eight flat sides. until more evidence comes to hand. it actually evolved from a thrown blade. along with Negishi Ryu and others.
finger nail cleaners. because of their everyday use. or utility knife. but there are many examples of various uses for them. Japanese ornamental hairpin There is a famous story which relates a duel between Shosetsu and Sekiguchi Hayato. in the centre. pointed metal stick. and made to look like a hair-pin. used by both men and women to hold the traditional styling of the hair. were able to pick up any object at hand. however there are no schools or styles that use these items in particular. fiting into the saya. or chonmage. So it could be said that they are more of an opportunistic weapon. these items were then used as a disguised weapon. as the name suggests. rather they are either items that were used because they were available at the time as a weapon. in various situations. As Hayato rushed at Sekiguchi. thin. It is thought that Sekiguchi used a specially fashioned kogai that was balanced. generally had 3 holes. Perhaps. Kozuka . and effectively throw it as a weapon. and were an item that could be effectively thrown. to the wooden floor. pinning Sekiguchi's hakama. The tsuba. they were used because they were available at the time. knife and needle shaped items used in various parts of traditional attire or around the home. Kozuka . one for the blade tang to pass through. who through their training. such as traditional Japanese ornamental hairpins. or were used by proponents of a throwing system. even specially designed spikes used to pierce and carry the heads decapitated by execution. who faced each other off with swords. and thence began the idea of a throwing system. and Hari . Hibashi . It appears no-one can definitively say what they were designed to be used for. . a variety of purposes (see Figure 8). Kogai are a somewhat mysterious traditional household item. Hashi . thin. or handguard. They were originally made of ivory or silver of various decorative designs. which included throwing as a weapon. (see fig. These are long. (Tsubouchi) Kozuka are small utility knives that fitted into the saya. or pleated skirt. of samurai together in a bundle. the latter pulled a kogai from his hair and threw it. Kogai . and two smaller holes either side for the utility blades to slide through. ear wax removers. and have been known to be readily adapted for use as a thrown weapon. Some have suggested they were head scratchers. about 20cm long with a handle around 1. but these are more correctly known to bekankyuto (more on these later). There are a wide variety of stories in Japanese literature that give examples of these items being thrown as a weapon. or scabbard of the Samurai sword and served.Kogai . later to be made in a variety of metals (see Figure 7). Figure 8. They are essentially a long.Their use generally does not belong to any particular Ryu. 10) Figure 9.5cm wide. at a later stage. What is clear is that they were regarded as a multipurpose instrument.
showing two holes for the utility knives. There are two kinds of hashi. and a second type (wari-bashi. Sokaku Takeda.Figure 10. Figure 11. Picture of hashi here The founder of Daito Ryu Aiki-jujutsu. or handguard for a Samurai sword. (http://www. Otsuka believes hibashi were the original items used to create the blades of Shirai Ryu. (Photo . The tongs pictured here are 39cms in length. and there appears to be great variety of these. which was a type of utility chopstick set that was pressed together and inserted in the saya of the long sword. and no doubt used on occasion. or wari-kogai) with thin blades and thicker handles. Otsuka believes the bulbous projectile shaped blades of Negishi Ryu (see above) are derived from the large and heavy needles used for sewing leather. and chopsticks. a simple design which has not changed much over the centuries. purpose built as chopsticks. reportedly carried his own set of metal chopsticks. some were made of metal. hashi. the even tapered. Mr. straight sided sticks. (see fig. alongside the kozuka. due to their similarity in size. Modern day hibashi . 11). and while traditionally made of bamboo or other woods.Author's collection) Hashi are chopsticks. shape.htm) Hari are needles. probably because the bulb head of the needle was used to form the hole in order to pull twine or thonging through. A Tsuba. or coal tongs. This would account for the reason why many Negishi Ryu blades have a hole or ring at the tail end.com/yamizo/kaziya/default. that fitted into the scabbard. kozuka. Hibashi are metal tongs used for lifting hot coals from the fire and into various heating and cooking implements in the kitchen.ichaya. It is possible that this hole or ring was then . Mr. Although there appears to be no documentation to support the theory. and material. which were sharpened. and hence were adapted as a throwing weapon. as the twine would be attached. mainly according to the type of sewing they were required to do.
Mr Otsuka also believes that the hexangonal and octagonal shape of the Negishi Ryu blades was added later to the needles. particularly in the jikidaho method.not all needles would have had holes or rings.© Robert C. List of blade types in the bo shuriken category. from the collection of Charles V. This would also explain why some of the Negishi Ryu blades did not have holes or rings in the end .used as a convenient way to connect the tassles to the end. Gruzanski) . hari gata hoko gata kankyutao gata kugi gata kunai gata matsuba gata (enbi ken) mesu gata tanto gata needle shaped spear shaped hand held piercing tool shaped nail shaped kunai (utility tool) shaped swallow tail shaped knife shaped Table 1. and thus serve an advantageous purpose of steadying the blade in flight. or tools simply used to make holes in the leather. Some straight blades from various schools and sources. as some would have been used solely as hole punches. Gruzanski (Used with permission. as the flat faces of the blades are easier to throw. Various Photos Figure 12a and 12b.
Figure 15 shows detail of the narrow. ensuring a straight hit.Figure 13. They are held and thrown much like a modern-day javelin (see fig. 13) shows a wide variety from a range of schools. a small utility knife that fits into the scabbard of a katana. as well as several from Negishi Ryu and Shirai Ryu. in rapid succession. current Head Master of Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu. and also the tanto-gata (top row. No doubt an industrious soldier. 14b). The large blade with long tassle. were adapted from parts of the soldier's armour. b. and the arrow-head shaped blade. 4th from the right is a kozuka. A variety of straight throwing blades from the collection of Dr. or wrist protector. particularly the splines that form the kote. particularly those of Tsugawa Ryu. in the thick of battle. so it could be thrown again. Figure 14a. ripped pieces of his own armour off and threw them at his attacker as a last resort . Masaaki Hatsumi. It is also suggested by an authoratitive Japanese source that some shuriken. are called uchine. possibly staring death in the face and attempting all that he could do to survive. 7th from left) immediately after the throw. The smaller uchine has tassels which are used to create drag in flight. thin metal plates that were sewn together to form a protective armour against the sword. The long chord was used to retrieve the uchine. This interesting collection of blades (fig. top row. There are several blades peculiar to Ninjutsu. Negishi Ryu became utilised by various schools or clans of Ninjutsu. and the second from left. Posture for throwing the uchine. Centre row. called yoroi. which are actually throwing spears. such as the flat spatulate blades or itaken shuriken. or long sword. At some point in history.
showing the thin plates of metal that could have been adapted for use as a throwing weapon. the overhand throw which is like a baseball pitch. Detail (L) of yoroi. and were thrown originally as percussive weapons. and. in the Heike Monogatari and the Gikeiki. Shaken thrown in the overhand method may have originated with the throwing of flat circular ) There are very early mentions of this in Japanese literature. firstly. misleading and mistaken information is sometimes passed around. and later inji-uchi. it follows that the use of such metal plates of similar shape and size would have been investigated as a potential weapon . Shaken are generally used in the Ninja ryu-ha. Eventually.effort in defending himself. 16a). Further to this. designed to smash bone and/or armour. such as stones.5cms in thickness (see fig. as mentioned above. These two types of throw suggest two possible and separate origins for the early development of throwing shaken. especially in English. (Photo courtesy of Takeshi Yoshizaki. called tsubute ( the Man'yoshu. If successful. as historical detail is severely lacking. used with permission) Origins of shaken ( ). Tsubute were around 4 . into slimmer and more perfect round shapes. leaving only examples of their blades behind in collections and people's memory.anything to give one the advantage .6 cms in diameter. these rounded blunt objects were fashioned from ironstone. often unwittingly.and from there we have the beginnings of a new tradition of throwing weapon: Tsugawa Ryu (see blade here) Figure 15. who have been somewhat secretive as to the nature of their techniques and activities. where the word was first used in conjunction with the act of throwing stones. This situation is made worse by the fact that false. and secondly. even octagonal or . many of the arts which used hira-shuriken of various designs have since died out and become extinct. called tetsutsubete. the horizontal throw which is like throwing a frisbee. where stone throwing in combat is referred to as ishi-nage. both determined by the nature of the objects originally being thrown. among teachers and students of these arts who have not actually had formal training in these ryu-ha. or armour of the samurai. or hira shuriken ( ) The origin of these blades is somewhat unclear. and 1 1. Within the contemporary Ninjutsu arts there are two particular methods (among others) of throwing shaken.
It is not difficult to see how an industrious person could take these blank pieces of metal. such as cross shaped brackets found in traditional timber architecture. They would then have the nail holes punched out. These would have been mass produced as flat plate metal (teppan) and cut to size and shape for particular building applications. and from metal washers. and then get hammered into the curve shape that suits the timber they are affixing. 16a and Figure 16b Figure 16a. at virtually no expense to themselves. . when it was realised the sharp edge could cut. Figure. This way an assassin could hide the tools of his trade in plain view. A flat round. were constructed from construction materials such as nails. round stone of similar size and shape to the tsubute. as in Fig 17. as in Fig 21 (below). and then began to be sharpened along the edge. it is possible that some types of shaken may also have been fashioned from construction materials. and 16b a depiction of throwing round objects such as tsubute is shown in Fujita Seiko's "Zukai Shurikenjutsu" (Photo A .author's collection) Just as a number of bo-shuriken. used to sit under the heads of nails.hexagonal shapes. find that they are easy to throw and then sharpen the edges to make a dangerous weapon. Most people would recognise these plates of metal as construction items. and thus would not become suspicious if they were discover an individual carrying them. namely the kugi-gata type.
Douglas Hsieh in his "Ancient Chinese Hidden Throwing Weapons" tells the story of how coin throwing first developed.( "ts'in" being a coin see fig. These coins could be either sharpened. He noticed that the thinner fragments seemed to carry better than thicker ones. A man was watching children throwing tile fragments across the water. A cross shaped construction bracket found at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo. The throw involves forcefully flicking your hand at the wrist. used with permission) The influence from China is not to be overlooked. a large Chinese coin of the type that is possibly the precursor to flat circular thrown objects. and from this got the idea to throw coins. .Figure 17. It is said that if you could cause the coin to penetrate the clay surface of a wall. (Photo . In addition to the piau. It is said coins were sharpened and thrown as weapons at a very early date. The method of throwing the coin is to hold it horizontally between the thumb and the forefinger. Lo Han ts'in. there is also a tradition of throwing coins called Lo Han Ts'in. (photo courtesy of Danny Fletcher. your skill in throwing was very high. of left with their normal edge. and shaken thrown in the horizontal manner could quite possibly have originated on the Chinese mainland. and also the origin of the horizontal throw. 18) as weapons. as Chinese Kung Fu arts also have a lengthy tradition of throwing weapons. eventually known as hishi-gane. usually the face. with the palm facing towards the belly.author's collection) . and these could be the precursor to the Hishi-gata and senban shuriken . Figure 18. causing a rapid spinning of the coin as it travels in a flat straight line to the target.
Figure 19. L).jp/tknk-mse/dougu-e/e14kugi.From this one can gather that the thicker heavier tsubute could not be thrown in this method. appears to be the historical origin of the horizontal throw. large old coins called hishi gane ( Hishi = Japanese water chestnut shaped like a diamond. with minimal modifications.link no longer active) Figure 20. the idea of throwing round. Mikkyo Buddhism religious items of unknown usage Another report states that the Chinese also had a cross shaped blade called Mu-Zi Shi Zi Biao (Mother-Son Cross Dart). 20. Hishi-gata shuriken (L). the many innovations and different designs became formalised and adapted by practitioners who eventually formed schools. therefore. Horin. Whatever the origin. formed from old coins and Senban shuriken (R). but this needs clarification. washers (senban ) (see Fig. rather. flat sharpened blades probably arose. Note top left (www1. only a thinner object. Shuriken in the 20th Century and beyond . and possibly Mikkyo Buddhist religious objects such as horin (see Fig 21. All these blades are based on a circular design as opposed to the straight pencil shape of bo shuriken. Gane = money) (see Fig. 19.htm . From this point.ne. formed from washers.sphere. Figure 21.). From this innovation. R) carpenters nail removers (kugi-nuki) (see FIg. meaning "wheel shaped blade". it was the convenient shape of these items which first attracted proponents of these schools to forming a throwing weapon. 19. or nail removers. and everyday items were then recognised as being easily adaptable to be thrown in this manner. There seems to be several sources of material for the construction of these blades. Examples of carpenters kugi-nuki. hence the name shaken. top L). The throwing of these coins. such as a coin and later the thinner senban. where knowledge of the construction and use of the items began to be passed on and used seriously.
Shirakami Sensei. still the problems of violence remain. Information is becoming more freely available. Arts that are aimed at developing skill in fighting are useful only for military purposes. students having to sign a ledger recording an oath of responsibility. I believe there are many reasons for training in a Martial Art. the valuable cultural heritage of this great nation began to attract many in the West. An example of this is in the Iwama Aikido Dojo in Ibaraki prefecture. and one that often gets overlooked. and since shuriken was considered to be of somewhat lesser importance than other weapons within the curriculum of many schools. perseverance. I believe that proper practice of shuriken can and does have a place in the modern world. Offences relating to sharp. or method. and simply remain as a jutsu. and prohibitions on such weapons are a logical and easy solution. because if violence and hatred are still present. crimes will continue to occur. especially a traditional art which places great emphasis in moral values such as respect. especially with the high rates of violent crime in today's society. Shuriken jutsu seems to recently be undergoing somewhat of a rise in popularity. but to achieve such skill requires a calm and relaxed mental state. It is difficult to justify to the authorities the ownership and use of shuriken these days. Due to the nature of transmission of these arts from teacher to student. For this reason. only three of master Kanji Naruse's students survived the war. honour and integrity as well as techniques of self defence. and now. Arts that follow the principles of Japanese Budo. Development and mastery of a Martial Art requires years of patience. humility. and the art is being more freely taught in dojos in Japan. the use of shuriken declined along with that of the sword. which makes it an unattractive proposition for persons of ill intent who wish to maliciously cause others injury. Isamu Maeda Sensei (1901 . Kukishinden Ryu.1988). Yagyu Shingan Ryu. concealable and throwable weapons are quite common these days. the continuation of these schools has been possible even under the most oppressive and difficult of times. Shirai Ryu would have died out completely were it not for Satoshi Saito Sensei resurrecting the art and incorporating it into Negishi Ryu practice. are deeper in that they become a way of life. Entry into this particular art until recently was quite limited. such as the traditional art of sword-making. It is simply not feasible to continue placing endless prohibitions on everyday objects which can be adapted to become weapons. This is one area where Martial Arts can have a positive rather than a negative influence. Despite this. of which the late headmaster. it is probable that shuriken jutsu could continue to decline over time. as Mr Shirakami recounts. Tatsumi Ryu. The skill in throwing a blade is to have it strike the target perfectly. and hence a resurgence of cultural preservation has been occurring. Yet. Such a mental state can only be achieved by years of dedication and understanding. and Satoshi Saito Sensei. and to be judged of sound character by the headmaster before being permitted to learn. the present headmaster of Negishi Ryu. live in students are becoming increasingly interested in the art. students from around the world visit Japan and train in the traditional arts under these masters. and that these moralistic principles become a strong guiding influence over the student. Fortunately however. dedication and humility. and such is the danger of the weapon.As it was an art often associated with the use of the Samurai sword. and for them the art becomes the way. as interest and understanding of Japan grew around the world. free from distractions and feelings of egocentricity. or headmaster to successor. Many masters of the martial arts did not return from the war. or classical martial systems. The art seemed to have lost popularity and almost died out in the period immediately after the second world war. . Morihiro Saito Sensei was for many years a master. etc. Many such arts suffered after the occupation. but in subsequent years. and this kind of training can only have a positive influence on a student. suggesting that the root of the problem lies deeper within the fabric of society itself. the art of shuriken has probably been saved by it's inclusion as a supplementary weapon within a rather large number of koryu bujutsu arts. such as Katori Shinto Ryu. However complete transmission of a schools curriculum requires many years of dedication and service.
Shirakami got angry and reprimanded the boy. but couldn't make the blade stick. Shirakami agreed and showed him the basic form. of Sheffield. whether the blade was actually adapted for throwing is not known. Figure 22. England. to which Shirakami replied that violent. and Shirakami walked in on he and his friends. embedding deeply. and eventually he earned a new found respect for teachers. He came to his teacher and asked again. by H. but highly possible. vowing to surprise his teacher.G. The blade is 3 1/2 inches long. Used in World War 2 as a close personal defence weapon. Sleeve.G. this time promising to work hard and earnestly. with three grooves. or Wrist Daggers H. the boy began to apply himself more to training and less to troublesome activities with his friends. OSS Sleeve. so he wouldn't teach him. they should check the laws of their area. Figure 23. As it turned out. with a groove around the butt forming a hammer head. As a final note in this introduction. or Cross Dagger. because. given its shape. Long and Co. aside from their combative characteristics. he should throw it in earnest. where one needs to hunt for food. so if an individual is endeavouring to begin practice by purchasing or making one of their own. and his parents noticed a change in their son. then told him that if he was going to throw a knife. The student was throwing a knife in a classroom. and his grades began to improve. Long & Co. a 7 inch long spike with a triangular blade intended for piercing and causing a nasty wound.com/ .Shirakami Eizo tells a story in his recollections of how a problem student of his at high school turned his life around after studying the shuriken art. Click here for more discussion on the law. This act so impressed the student that he came to ask Shirakami to teach him. or fullers. and practiced on his own. dishonest and lazy people cannot throw a blade correctly. sharpened into flat blade edges The handle is rectangular cross section 3/8inch wide and 1/4 inch thick. This story serves as a good example of how Martial Arts can lead those who are astray into a focussed and worthwhile path in life. Over time. The boy was disappointed. the boy trained diligently. Shirakami took the knife and threw it at the wall. it is interesting to hear that some American Special Forces and other military units are becoming interested in shuriken. The student went on to be accepted in University. the shuriken has potential in survival applications. made an item called the OSS Sleeve Dagger. A replica of the OSS Sleeve Dagger by Crawford Knives Some sleeve daggers also here http://www.snyderstreasures. It should be mentioned here that there are weapons regulations in place that govern the possession and use of shuriken.
German Air Darts and French flechettes. WW I German copies of the French "flechettes" (photo courtesy of Martin Garnett. developed a speed of 200m per second and a spread of 200m radius. In the "Air Artillery" section of the World War I display one can find several pieces labelled "Air Dart" (see Fig 22-23 below). believed to be of the Yagyu . which are worth mentioning. which is triangular cross section. they turned in the air so the heavier tips pointed downwards on impact. Mr Shirakami relates an anecdote in his book where several Japanese dignitaries visited France in the 1880's in order to negotiate new trading relations. with a 3 1/2 inch blade. Illustrations depict the flechettes being stored and released from the plane with the tips pointing upwards.) These flechettes are of interest because it is quite clear that their design was adapted from the Japanese shuriken. through which a lanyard ring can be attached. a single airplane could carry as many as 5. London. However. possibly skilled in martial arts. due to their small and random striking area. Not widely employed. which are copies of the French "flechette". especially later.500m. It. Figure 25. which when dropped. London. with a bulbous pommel.Cold Steel Special Projects produce a blade called the Delta Dart. carried several shuriken. and like the French flechettes of World War 1 which was in fact based on Japanese shuriken. they play an important role in the development of aerial weaponry as the finned tail structure of the flechette came to be a major design feature of airplane bombs. causing either severe injury or death. The handle is round. the Delta Dart also appears to be based on the bo shuriken shape. World War I era (5) There are several interesting items in the Imperial War Museum. whether these weapons were used as throwing spikes or not would have to be confirmed. It is 8 inches in length. could possibly be thrown as well. They could pierce through both a man and the horse on which he sat.000 of these darts.1. and as they fell to the ground. is intended to be a hand held piercing weapon. The items depicted in Fig 22 are German made "Fliegerpfeile" (lit. Imperial War Museum. One of the dignitaries. although as the name "Dart" suggests. Figure 24. flier arrows). Held together in packages of 50. a 12cm long metal projectile dropped from airplanes and Zeppelins from a height of 500m . The Cold Steel Special Projects "Delta Dart" The design of both these weapons lends themselves very well to the throwing method of Japanese bo shuriken. like the Sleeve Dagger above.
the more commonly used battlefield weapons. who then experimented with the design and the method of throwing to develop an aerial weapon of their own. The item in Fig. metal was somewhat scarce as compared today. Fig. In early times.Ryu. 25. The similarity in design of these weapons to the Yagyu Ryu blade. shows that the Japanese dignitary probably demonstrated their use to the French officials. such as swords. The shaft is about 7 inches long. a metal smith was known to a particular dojo. With most of the . and it later filtered through to craftwork and artistry. the Chinese "fei biao" (air dart). and the fact that they were released with the tips pointing upwards (away from the target). and required great skill to actually be used effectively.. then weaponry. Shuriken-jutsu was an obscure and unpopular form of warfare. as part of his equipment allowing him to serve the secondary function of a bodyguard. spears. etc. but rather an independent innovation based upon a logical application of throwing sharp objects in a straight line. the dignitary in question saw no need to continue carrying such weapons. but. or family. Arrows. washers and coins were all everyday items that were adapted by martial artists form a throwing weapon. though much larger than. which is probably due not to any historical connection. nails. who would commission the smith when necessary. particularly within schools that had a well established tradition in the of use of shuriken. shuriken design was largely determined by the shape of the item borrowed and adapted to make a weapon. Metal went first to construction. and this is why many old.. and donated them as a gift to the French government. London. then to armour. A German "Air dart" (photo courtesy of Martin Garnett. through both importing and improvement in smelting processes. it was not a lethal art.) The future of Shuriken During the pre-Meiji era in Japan. as metal became more freely available. So it can be understood that little metal was given over to a formalised production of shuriken blades as compared to that with the sword. Metal was basically scavenged in earlier times. In later times. Imperial War Museum. shuriken began to be purpose built. Further information on these items is not available at present. to make shuriken. knives. simply due to the lengthy and inefficient smelting process. authentic examples of shuriken betray their material origin. At the end of the trip. Generally. where they were then installed on display in a military museum in Paris. needles. 25 appears to be a modified "flechette" with the metal tails cut down and bird feathers added by attaching with twine. and the low grade of iron sand found in Japan at the time. it had a limited range and capability. and the feathers appear to be those of a raven (crow). The dart is very similar in shape and design to. the design was still somewhat restricted to emulating that of the material origin of earlier blades. still.
became associated with a particular school or style of martial art. the skill of an innovative individual was initially absorbed into the school's training. taking his teacher Someya's knowledge from Katori Shinto Ryu and applying it a modern understanding of the throwing art. in a more insular way. Once this tradition of passing on the form within the art was established. where two attackers. but I can't help but think if it was a less brave man whose house was invaded and he relied on help from the authorities. particularly for teaching and preservation processes.sogo budo. Today. and positive. but with tamer and tamer weapons. a particular blade shape became accepted as the standard. metal of varying grades is freely available to the individual. killing him. Hozan Suzuki of Mumyou Ryu is a prime example of this. Only this week we had a home invasion in Melbourne. usually hand forged. confronted a man in his own home. and Daniel Bowley in Australia. In Australia only licensed martial arts instructors are permitted to possess a sword. and the other with a gun. in response to this seeming lack of power by the relevent authorities is that individuals will begin to take the law into their own hands. such as Ed Green and Jeff Adams in the US. catering mainly to students of more traditional schools as bound by their design requirements... and in technique. local law enforcement appears to be seen less and less as a reliable force to assist in civil unrest and domestic violence. It appears police will not be charging him. Yasuyuki Otsuka Sensei of Meifu Shinkage Ryu is a more public example of this. murders on civil soil by misguided and angry individuals. etc. There are also several smiths. would he still be alive? . to pass on their tradition. I believe the development of shuriken and shuriken-jutsu is now at a crucial stage. prohibitions are becoming even more restrictive. and develop their skills within the arts they transmit. as per the requirements of a particular school. such as Yagyu Ryu. I also see a movement towards a prohibition on weapons. and is constantly researching and experimenting with not only blade shape and throwing style. This movement towards prohibition. yet they retain an understanding of traditional knowledge. I feel will not remedy the problem of violent crime in our society. wounding him pretty badly. The skill became formalised into a collection of techniques. Nowadays we are hearing of petrol station hold-ups by individuals brandishing cheap replica Samurai swords. innovative. But due to media attention and hysterical reaction against the acts of killing themselves.. Katori Shinto Ryu. There are still teachers of the traditional arts today. His blades are unusual. and this is healthy for the art.the type that would hardly do much damage even if the attacker could properly weild them. but he has developed quite a high level of skill. and thus a particular shape of shuriken blade. and no doubt they obtain their blades in much the sme way. and to make matters worse. There are also quite a number of classical arts that continue. but methods of concealment and carry. Thus blades would eventually be specially made. one armed with a sword. who maintain a shuriken teaching regime. It means positive advances will be made in the art. Otsuka Sensei has access to some highly skilled smiths who make high quality blades for his school's use. The man disarmed the intruder holding the sword. interested individuals are beginning to make their own blades. both in Japan and in the west. We are no longer restricted by the material origin of an existing metal item over the shape of a small. It began with restricting automatic firearms. His throwing style is very individual. as is access to the metal trades. they are also experimenting with their own designs and construction processes. spurred on by no doubt. hand held throwing weapon. I sense a growing movement within the shuriken community that is vibrant. both in design. What I think will happen. As the art becomes more popular. and he then cut the man holding the gun. quite radical in design. However. and used it on him. killings have continued. who have become quite well respected as shuriken smiths. or composite martial arts that contain a shuriken component in their teachings. Over the years despite these restrictions. due to the changing nature of our society today. and develop their own styles of throwing. Although these smiths take great pains to make accurate reproductions of authentic blades using traditional methods.
Definitely interesting times ahead. pp 211-212 "Aeroplane Darts and Fire Darts". Mol. When we say "schools of shuriken". . Crompton. in Shirakami) Note 5: Sources of information on Flechettes "Aeroplanes.this is the stealthy nature of the art that was a major aspect in its usefulness as a weapon. and probably develop their own method of use and style. 1915) "The War In the Air" by C. the practical and adaptable nature of the people in the past who developed such weapons and made them the interesting and unique items today.airports. 1915 "Pliegerpfeile" (flying arrows). a very tough and durable compsite developed in the aerospace industry. Paris. London Tsubouchi: Kinsei Jitsuroku Zenshu (complete works of the modern authentic record. This is again. As people choose particular items based first on their innocent concealability. Waffen-Revue 2.No. The tradition lives on. nightclubs. G. 23rd January. So I think then that people will begin to think for themselves about personal protection. I believe we will see a development in shuriken-jutsu that while being a modern innovation to deal with a modern problem. even schools. to stand up. and I believe some surgical instruments. 1915. then on their merit as a personal defence weapon. and which happens to have a shuriken component as well. Ed Green makes items in a modern plastic called Delrin. it will at the same time be also a rekindling of the original spirit of the shuriken art. France. easily obtainable yet inconspicuous everyday items that can double up as a stabbing and throwing weapon. durable. c. particularly sword. which are becoming more and more present in our society . Look at the community of Bendigo when the Commonwealth Bank pulled out leaving the town without banking facilities. Dirigibles. I think the nature of our society is such that people are beginning to think for themselves. pp 311-312. There will be a movement towards carrying and using small. Metallic items are now easily picked up by detectors. Scientific American Supplement No 2042 (Feb 20. and perhaps one or two others. Schools of shuriken With the exception of Negishi Ryu. typically Yamamoto Ryu. join together and look after themselves. armour-piercing bullets are made of porcelein. Paul H. Porcelein is also making great advancements. Serge (2003) Classical Weaponry of Japan: Special Weapons and Tactics of the Martial Artists. What I think will also happen is that we will see some developments in the throwing technique. we are really talking about a combative art that would include a grappling art along with several weapons. although even Negishi Ryu in the past was taught alongside a sword art. Zeppelins" periodical. in The War Illustrated. Shuriken jutsu was not taught as a single art belonging to its own school or style. Japan Shirakami. Waffen Lexikon 2102-000-1. Notes: 1. I think will will then see that people will then experiment with how to use these items. Eizo (1985) Shurikendo: My study of the way of Shuriken. The town got together and formed their own bank. . But there will be a movement towards using non-metallic materials to make these items.this is the practical nature of the minds that developed shuriken in ancient times. . Kodansha. the Bendigo Bank. Grey.
*** . Another needle type shuriken of Ganritsu Ryu. Kodachi. as it resembles "air both the shape and throwing method of a Chinese dart called the "piau" (or fei biao dart"). generation by generation.(according the Nihon Budokai Shurikenjutsu video) This shape is also very similar to the Chinese "piau". 1) and specifically states it as being a Ganritsu Ryu blade. sometimes "brushing the rafters with his kimono". and he was sometimes called "henyasai" as he had an unusual ability of hopping and jumping around his opponent. or Ganritsu Ryu An early mention of specifically throwing blades comes from Ganritsu Ryu. or throwing needle. as some people today have suggested. So in light of this. When a sword art dies out. The school included Iai. Ganryu was the stylistic name assumed by Matsubayashi. I think it is necessary to maintain this system of nomenclature. we can identify a particular shuriken as being from a particular school.bo shuriken Gan Ryu. For this reason. Blades of the various schools . By observing the design and manufacture of a sword. A needle type shuriken of Ganritsu Ryu.Various schools however. however a video on Negishi Ryu Shuriken-jutsu produced by Nippon Budokan shows a blade similar to the one below (see fig. were inclined to use their own particular individual designs for shuriken. discern the name of the school by observing the blade's design. and had their own exclusive techniques and methods for teaching them. while we cannot say a particular sword is representative of a particular school of swordsmanship. and we are left with uniquely shaped tools of the art. Yari. it is not possible to discern which school the sword was peculiar to. And for the interests of preserving traditions of the past. Tachi-Uchi (sword fighting method). It is highly possible that this blade. we can however. These techniques were passed down within the ranks of the school.. based on its design. Figure 2. and we are left with only the swords. and they developed an individual personality different to the techniques and methods of other schools. and the throwing method associated with it was either copied or imported from China. Jo. it is not a futile exercise to categorise various shuriken by their associated school. in use during the Song Dynasty (960-1127 AD) (more info offsite here) Also see Qin Dynasty crossbow bolt (previous page) Figure 1. founded by Matsubayashi Samanosuke Nagayoshi "Henyasai". Mr Shirakami states that the blade of this school is not known. according to Fujita Seiko in "Zukai Shurikenjutsu". a professional swordsman in service of the 18th lord of Matsuhiro in the 20th year of Kanei (1644). where we have many schools that have indeed died out. as many schools would use the same design. KumiUchi (wrestling) and Shuriken. Naginata. the techniques and methods of teaching die with the last proponents. However with shuriken.
In interview.). Satoshi Saito Sensei 1922 . who served around 1764 -1780. (to be confirmed).4-5).1948). which was used in the manufacture of the helmet. When the Meiji Restoration ordered the abolition of swords. This school was founded by a samurai of Sendai-han. but there have also been reports that his successor will be Yoshinori Kono Sensei. after showing promise with the use of a shinai as a child. The similarity in shape between Negishi Ryu blades and Ganritsu Ryu blades is evident in the bulbous head and tapering shaft. 5 ) and sometimes has a eye-hole shaped hook attached to the base. one where the shaft of the blade narrows in the middle. and widens towards the tail (Type 1 . and thrown into the eyes of an attacker. like a slender bomb (see fig. Needle type shuriken of Izu Ryu. (1850 . eventually becoming the head of the Kaiho Ryu. or paper wrapped and held together by lacquer. hitting each hoof in turn. The Type 1 blades generally have either string. Katono said that if he was able to blind an attacker. Negishi became a student of Kaiho Hanpei. (Fujita Seiko "Zukai Shurikenjutsu") Figure 4.1939). The needle. also known as Katono Izu. Katono was a student of Matsubayashi Henyasai of Ganritsu Ryu. taught by his father Negishi Sentoku. For a brief period.Katono Ryu. Tonegawa also studied under Shirai Toru Yoshikane. a retainer of Joshu Annaka during the last days of the Tokugawa shogunate.. Apparently. 4th headmaster role was pased onto Isamu Maeda Sensei.fig. and later taught for several years. and passed away in 1904. who was succeeded by Kanji Naruse (also Narusei) (1888 . and hence we can see that Negishi Ryu descended directly from Ganritsu Ryu. The basic blade shape of the Negishi Ryu is a projectile shaped pen that has an enlarged head and tail. (Type 2 . called Fujita Hirohide of Katono. there are two types. The successor to Negishi Shorei was Tonegawa Magoroku (also called Tonegawa Sonoroku Masatoshi). and leather mask. but he returned to Hanpei. the second master of Hokushin Itto Ryu sword. According to Someya Sensei. He then studied swordsmanship of other schools such as Araki Ryu. from Iwai Kohoku's "Hidden Weapons". Figure 3. and the other where the shaft narrows towards the tail. Mesu gata shuriken of Izu Ryu. There is also a report that 2nd headmaster. Kaiho Hanpei was also a student of the Katono Ryu shurikenjutsu. It was said that he could throw two needles at a time at a picture of a horse. He pioneered the use of a throwing needle.74gm. Saito Sensei has stated that his successor will be Mr. and can weigh between 47 . Listed in Iwai Kohoku's "Hidden Weapons" as using the blade depicted below (see fig 4) called "mesu gata". who transferred the title in 1959 to current headmaster. he became a farmer. and learned kendo. as well as Ganritsu Ryu techniques from him. Yoshimi Tomabechi. about 10cm in length and weighing about 20gm. around the . several of which he wore in his hair. but this is possibly not true. (or Izu Ryu) . as Shirai Toru passed away in 1843.see fig. armour. there would be no reason to fear them.4). and spear of Oshima Ryu. *** Negishi Ryu Negishi Ryu was founded by Negishi Nobunori Shorei. shuriken. was held between the middle and forefinger.
below). Negishi Ryu shuriken Type 2 showing tassle attached to tail (From Otsuka Sensei's Meifu Shinakge Ryu Shurikenjutsu website) Some people suggest that the wrapping of material around the blade changes the balance of the blade. and the long hair assists a straight flight. thus assisting either a shorter or further distance throw. This is to enable the thrower to limit the forward rotation of the tail end towards the tip. or a tassle of strings (see fig. but over time. The balance of the blade. (from the cover of Someya Sensei's book "Shuriken Giho") Figure 5. whether for shorter or long distance throws is determined rather. his throws are at first rather wild. the hair wears off and becomes shorter. Figure 4. by the actual shape of the blade. Thus it is in the nature of the Negishi Ryu blade whether it is a long distance or short distance thrower. thus compensating for the lack of hair. who can throw long or short distance by adjusting the throwing technique. showing tail wrapped in string. regardless of the nature of the blade. The Type 2 blades generally have animal hair (see fig. . 5. unlike the Shirai Ryu. the size of the bulbous head and the length of the shaft are what determines the balance of the blade. in order to create a rough surface which causes friction against the fingers as it leaves the hand. Mr Shirakami mentions that as the student throws this type of blade. Negishi Ryu shuriken Type 1.shaft. which also assists in straight flight. 7. while at the same time the students throw becomes more comfortable and accurate. thus assisting in longer distance flight. As can be seen from the many examples shown here. however the weight shift caused by adding by such material is negligible when compared to the weight of blade itself and the force used in the throw. to create drag in flight. below) attached at the tail end of the shaft.
with a conveniently constructed knob on the tail around which a tassel can be more easily fitted. used with permission) Figure 8. aged 61. A shuriken (Type 2) of the Negishi Ryu. Figure 9. born 1783 in Okayama and died in 1843. *** Shirai Ryu Shirai Ryu was founded by Shirai Toru Yoshikane. Gruzanski (photo courtesy of Robert C. A modern. showing attached pigskin/hair tail (Click image to view large) From the collection of Charles V. Gruzanski. Negishi Ryu shuriken. Type 2 Figure 7. commercially made Negishi Ryu shuriken.Figure 6. and at 14 . At the age of 8 he began to learn swordsmanship under Ida Shimpachiro of Kiji-ryu. A modern day Japanese made Negishi Ryu blade.
and a huge variety of blade shapes. no-one who practiced it remained alive. and that he began a study of the art and revived it. Gruzanski (photo courtesy of Robert C. ie. (click to view large) From the collection of the late Charles V. In the subsequent years he returned to Edo a number of times to train with his seniors. Over 9 years his fame spread and he had over 300 students. Shuriken of the Shirai Ryu Figure 11. thus known as Tenshin Itto Ryu. his students "gathered together to practice among themselves" (3) The blade of Shirai Ryu is a metal rod 15cm to 25 cm in length and about 5-6mm in diameter. and began teaching in Okayama at 23. but he continued to doubt his ability. It is sharpened at one end and rounded at the other. nails for the square. After this revelation.(see fig. the differences no doubt due to the origin of their source material needles for the round type. used with permission) *** Other styles and types of shuriken There are other less well known styles of shuriken.(2) According to Yoshinori Kono. he added the word Tenshin to the name of his art. Here are some more examples. Gruzanski. the Shirai Ryu became a lost art. Shuriken of the Shirai Ryu. According to Satoshi Saito Sensei. until eventually he achieved some sort of major revelation and found peace with his technique. although Shirai Toru left no official successor. They consist of both round and square cross sections.moved to Tokyo and trained daily under the Nakanishi school of Itto Ryu sword. The style of blade and throwing method he taught became known as Shirai Ryu. . Figure 10. 7-8). current headmaster of Negishi Ryu. Shirai Ryu techniques are now taught by Saito Sensei as part of Negishi Ryu training.
The shuriken is named so as it is shaped like the blade portion of the te-yari. about which nothing is known at this stage. taken from a screen shot of the Negishi Ryu Shurikenjutsu video produced by the Nihon Budokai. It is interesting to note that the name of the last headmaster is Tanba. A te-yari is a short hand spear. which is te-yari gata shuriken. who passed it on to Niki Juemon and then on to Asano Denemon. with a tanto-gata (knife shaped blade). which were then passed on to Dogen Tasaemon. and also design) in his book. a type of short throwing spear. 14. A Chishin Ryu blade in the author's possession also measures 13. . Fujita Seiko lists only the blade shown in Fig. finishing with Tanba Orie Ujinaga (who presumably was the last headmaster of the art). by the name of Iijima Hyobei (Iijima Ichibei?) further developed these techniques. but not intended to be thrown. Figure 13. listed by Yumio Nawa Sensei as Araki Ryu blades. similar to uchine. Figure 12. this style is descended from Takemura Ryu (see below). suggesting a connection between Chishin Ryu and Tanba Ryu.kanji reading uncertain) of Araki Ryu *** Chishin Ryu According to Mr Shirakami. and not the te-yari blade . Onkobushi (inken?. To confuse matters. to be thrown with the Negishi Ryu style direct hit throw. The blade in fig. An interesting feature of the Chishin Ryu stance is that the right foot is forward as opposed to the left stance used in the majority of the other styles. About 17cms long. the throwing style of Musashi was said to be the turning hit. Someya Sensei describes the blade (see pic below. trans. as being 16cms in length. Figure 14. similar to uchine. An Araki Ryu shuriken. 12 shows the shape thought to be used in Araki Ryu. Furthermore. Under what circumstances did the tantogata shuriken of Takemura Ryu change into a kugi-gata shuriken of Chishin Ryu? It seems as though there is a discrepancy in the history at some stage.Araki Ryu No information on their shuriken techniques available at present.5cms. "Yin Fist") as being of the Araki Ryu. Hoko gata (spear shaped) shuriken. A student of Takemura. Also. a distinguishing feature of the blade itself is the pyramidal finish to the butt end. It has a 25-30cm blade attached to a wooden haft. thought to have derived from the "te-yari". whereas the Chishin Ryu blade in its final form is a kugi-gata (nail shaped blade). an Onkobushi (lit. Fujita Seiko has this type of blade listed as belonging to Tanba Ryu and Chishin Ryu below.
It seems the art is going through somewhat of a revival in recent times Figure 17.16 Chishin Ryu blade as shown by Fujita *** Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu According to a student of the Abashiri Dojo in Hokkaido.Figure 15. . (photo courtesy Giacomo Merello. used with permission) Fig. Simple bo shuriken made from nails. Gruzanski. According to Meik Skoss. although students of Abashiri Dojo are taught shuriken rather informally at present. Historical sources state that Takeda Sensei carried a pair of metal chopsticks which he was able to throw like shuriken. Hokkaido. probably a tanto. There is a story of a duel between Musashi and Shishido. used for practice at Abashiri Dojo. a sickle and chain developed specifically to defeat the samurai's sword. Sokaku Takeda Sensei was a master of Negishi Ryu shuriken. One source has stated that Daito Ryu uses the projectile shaped Negishi Ryu blades. thrown outside against old tatamai. depicts a tanto-gata as the blade used in Enmei Ryu. Daito Ryu is the foundation art from which Morihei Ueshiba Sensei developed Aikido. Enmei Ryu is no longer extant. late headmaster of Meifu Shinkage Ryu Shurikenjutsu. used with permission) *** Enmei Ryu The famous swordsman Miyamoto Musashi was reportedly the founder of this school. an expert of the kusari-gama. Musashi threw a dagger and struck him in the chest. or knife. or traditional matting. Bugei Ryuha Daijiten lists Enmei Ryu as having a jujutsu component. Shuriken of the Chishin Ryu (photo courtesy of Robert C. killing him. which involves throwing a 40cm blade. More information added as it comes to hand. and practice with bo shuriken constructed from large rounded nails 15cm in length (see Fig. added by one of Musashi's students. Chikatoshi Someya Sensei. 17). As Shishido pulled out his chain.
who. Ohmi. I believe. founded by a Mr. Iga Ryu Refers to a collection of traditional arts. the blade served several other functions. Japanese knives adapted to become shuriken *** Hirano Densho Ryu Toukenjutsu This is a modern school. The art is characterised by utilising very powerful throws. from Fujita Seiko's "Zukai Shuriken jutsu" . tanto-gata. Shuriken of Hirano Densho Ryu. Along with being thrown as a weapon. Japan. although they do possess a uniquely shaped blade called "Matsuba gata" (Pine needle shaped). with close ties to Koga Ryu. was a student of the now defunct Hakkaku Ryu. Figure 21. with both left and right hand alternately. as well as Ninpo. heavy (about 150gm). basically an identical art confined to the Koga region. forged and polished with a very sharp edge. to a unique design. An illustration of the "Swallow Tail blade" of Iga Ryu. including jujutsu and buki-waza (weaponry). confined historically to the Iga-Ueno region in central Honshu. Visit their website here. mainly shaken. Iga Ryu utilised a wide variety of blades in the shuriken component of their art. or "Enbi-ken" (swallow-tail blade). Figure 20. and the blades are large . much like a pocket knife. Note highly polished tip. Shuriken of the Enmei Ryu..Figure 18.
(photo courtesy of Danny Fletcher) Ikku Ryu. 1948). Gruzanski. This method overcomes the problem of positioning the blade the right way round in the hand before throwing. and author Shirakami Eizo. or without having to adjust the positioning of the blade in the hand. General Hayashi Senjuro. Figure 23. created in 1965 by modern day shuriken master. Mr Shirakami was born in Tokyo in 1921. or Ikku-ken Ikku-ken is the name given to a relatively modern style of shuriken. which involves a double pointed blade (see fig.Figure 22. he apparently left no successor as head of this Ryu. 23). and archery (including uchine) of the Heki Ryu. sadly passed away in 2001. Shirai Toru. and formed a new method. Mr Shirakami began shuriken training in 1938 under Mr Naruse. from another uncle. The method of holding the "Swallow Tail blade" for throwing. so one could throw either Negishi or Shirai Ryu style throws. giving greater flexibility in distance. Shuriken of the Ikku Ryu (to be confirmed) Click image to view enlarged (photo courtesy of Robert C. the 3rd headmaster of Negishi Ryu shurikenjutsu who had also trained in Yamamoto Ryu sword. and although he did have some students over the years. used with permission) Note: Mr Shirakami writes that it was his innovation to make use of the double pointed blade. Mr Shirakami also learned kenjutsu of the Hokushin Itto Ryu under his uncle. without having to change one's blade. and combined the blade from the Shirai Ryu with the throwing style of the Negishi Ryu. and learned both Shirai Ryu and Negishi Ryu. Master Naruse was a student of Yonegawa Magoroku who in turn was a student of the above mentioned founder of Shirai Ryu. Miyamura Chizuka. and had written a book on Japanese Sabre Fighting after his experiences at war with China at the turn of the century. He was a student of Master Naruse Kanji (d. Are we to assume from this that he developed the double pointed blade? Perhaps something was lost in the translation I am .
Itto Ryu is said to use the round sectioned blade. however Fujita listed it among his list of schools in Zukai Shurikenjutsu . *** Jitsuyo Ryu or Kobu Jitsuyo Ryu. who studied shurikenjutsu under Katono Izu (Fujita Hirohide). The throws in both Shirai Ryu and Negishi Ryu utilise a vertical downward action. Yumio Nawa depicts the blade below as representative of this school. Also Yamada was the third-generation grandmaster of the Untyu-ryu (spelling?) school of kenjutsu. was a student of Kaiho Hanpei. and his shuriken jutsu. *** Itto Ryu Itto Ryu Kenjutsu. but the double ended shuriken has been around for quite some time. Hirayama's treatises "Kensetsu" ("Meaning of fencing") and "Kentyo" ("Collection about fencing") are the treasure of bujutsu. and I suspect. Opponents used standard 1-metre shinai. The essence of the system Hirayama described in the beginning of "Kensetsu": "My kenjutsu is served to punish enemies by death". although strictly speaking was part of Itto Ryu. Hirayama also studied kenjutsu of other schools. Negishi Sentoku. but students a short sword (only 40 cm with handle!). who created the Hokushin line by mixing Hokushin Muso Ryu and Nakanishi Itto Ryu. Under Saito Sandayu he studied the Naganuma school of military strategy. Shorei originally learned Annaka-ha Araki Ryu kenjutsu from his father. Apparently all their weaponry was thick and heavy duty. and several of its substyles. from great wrestler Shibukawa Bungoro Tokihide the jujutsu and iai-jutsu of Shibukawa-ryu. but didn't use protectors.1828) born into a family who functioned as Iga-gumi or guards in the Iga area. Itto Ryu is one of the major influences on kenjutsu throughout Japanese sword history.not sure. the 2nd headmaster of Hokushin Itto Ryu. through the body's centreline. Chuko Shinkan-Ryu Not much reliable information on this school available at present. a once secret cutting technique peculiar to Itto Ryu. (1759 . For training fights they used bamboo shinai. Tyuko Shinkan-ryu was ultimately combat-oriented and completely negated competitions. archery and swimming. Negishi Shorei. came to be popularly known as Shirai Ryu. founder of Negishi Ryu Shurikenjutsu. Also he studied horseback riding. hands and legs. This needs some research. It is interesting to note that it is said of Negishi Shorei that he filed the round needles to make the octagonal blades that is characteristic of Negishi Ryu. also Hirayama Gyozo). also studied Itto Ryu under Chiba Shusaku Narimasa. that Itto Ryu has also played an important part in the dissemination of the early shuriken art. including Shinto Isshin-ryu. from Yinokami Ryuzaemon the firearm shooting of Buei-ryu school. figure heavily in the lives of several prominent innovators of shuriken. Nakanishi Itto Ryu was studied by Shirai Toru Yoshikane. designed to penetrate armour and dismount riders. The founder was Hirayama Kozosen. Hirayama's sword-fencing teacher was Yamada Mohei from Shinnuki-Ryu. who founded later Tenshin Itto Ryu. and was succeeded by Soma Taisaku. Jitsuyo means "pragmatic use". similar to the sword cut kiri-otoshi. similar to the subsequent Shirai Ryu style of blade. although it is not verified at the moment. Fighters of Tyuko Shinkan-ryu tried to immediately came close to enemy and stroke him by sword. Hanpei. (or Hiraiyama Kozo Hisomu. but he also learned both kenjutsu and shurikenjutsu from Hanpei. . from Matsushita Kiyokuro the spear-fighting methods of Oshima-ryu.
Sugino line A branch of Katori Shinto Ryu under Yoshio Sugino. A recent video has been produced by this school which features. or "direct hit" method. with a 2. Fig 25. 24. such as shuriken-jutsu. *** Kashima-Shinryu Founded in the late fifteenth century. Shurikenjutsu is still taught today as part of the curriculum. Kashima-Shinryu is a composite art. Shuriken of Jitsuyo Ryu. The tip is octagonal. For short distance throws. hojo-jutsu (rope tying techniques) a form of grappling called goshin jutsu. though the hanare. The shuriken of Kashima Shinryu resembles the blade of Ryu. and others. naginata (halberd). a shuriken component. with the tip resting over the first finger. and the fleshy part of the base of the thumb pushes against the tail. thus inhibiting the natural tendency of the blade to turn. The Kashima Shin Ryu shuriken is a slightly tapered square blade. about 3cm long. sojutsu (spear). among a few other obscure weapons. 1. with an octagonal tapered tip. The method of throw is the choku-da-ho. it is about 12cms long. Although training focuses on the use of the sword. the blade is pushed further up the hand. as was famous for helping the choreography on Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai". tapering down to about 8mm at the tail end. In Kashima Shinryu. or exit of the blade from the hand differs from that of Negishi Ryu. the blade is pushed further down. about 12cm long. or "collar-cut" style of the sword. the blade is held in a slight angle across the palm. about 6 inches in length. Sugino sensei was regarded as Japan's last great swordsman. the hand slightly pushes forward. towards the fingers.Fig. This method is quite contrasted with the Negishi Ryu method of stroking the tail of the blade with the middle finger as it leaves the hand. bo (staff) jo (short staff). and for longer distance throws. the Kashima-Shinryu is one of the oldest martial systems in Japan.5cms at its widest point. consisting of twelve disciplines including kenjutsu. *** Katori Shinto Ryu . The throw mimics the kesagiri. but as the blade leaves the hand. closer to the centre of the palm.5 cm taper. .
as a hand held item for prying open an opponent's armour. Yuishinkan Sugino Dojo. . used for purposes such as digging implements and climbing aids.html .vpuma.Yoshio Sugino shihan. (Seems very early) Source: http://www. and thus the technique was passed on and came to be known as Koden Ryu Shuriken.com/styles/jujutsu. 10th dan (1904-1998) Photo courtesy of Kristoffer Sandven. said to be of Korean origin. They were apparently originally used in "kumi-uchi". being called "kunai gata". Fujita Seiko shows the following as blades of Koden Ryu in "Zukai Shurikenjutsu". extant in Japan as early as 7th Century AD. Kunai come in a variety of shapes. Tokyo *** Koden Ryu A form of ju-jutsu. and appear to be a rather versatile utility tool. Perhaps their use as a throwing weapon was realised. Finn. They are very distinctive in appearance. an early battlefield grappling art.
however this may be an error in publication.(FIg. From "Zukai Shurikenjutsu" *** Koga Ryu Refers to the martial systems that were practiced around Koga prefecture. as well as normal "bo-shuriken". 27. does not include shuriken jutsu as part of the school. by tradition. (see also Iga Ryu. and teaches a variety of weapons and hand techniques. pictures this blade as being of the school. Probably not a ryu as such. a technique reminiscent of the tsubute of ancient times. rather a general term for a number of various arts known to the region. Fig 28. he had donated a large part of his martial arts collection. A student of Nawa Sensei has confirmed that this is a typographical error. 27) Fig. Japan. A bo shuriken of the Kukishin Ryu. Yumio Nawa Sensei. 50(r) below. including shuriken.5cm square flat plates of sharpened steel called "teppan". They are lozenge shaped with a square hole in the centre. In some of the Kukishin documents there is mention of such plates reaching up to 12cm in diameter. as Masaki Ryu. current headmaster of Masaki Ryu Manrikigusari jutsu. Shingetsu Ryu) Kukishinden Tenshin Hyoho Kukishin Ryu is another ancient and comprehensive fighting art that traces its beginnings back to the 1300's.Firegure 26. Shuriken of Koden Ryu. of the needle type called "uchibari" ( *** ) Masaki Ryu In one of his books. to the Koga City Ninja Museum. Not long before this however. *** . He died in a car accident with three of his students in the 1960's. as seen in Fig. They use 7. They also use the "kozuka" or swordsman's utility knife. Fujita Seiko was reportedly the last headmaster of this system. which are said to be thrown against warriors with armour.
and also manages the Meifu Shinkage Ryu website. in Japanese. It is one of only 3 ryu specifically devoted to the shuriken arts. and is succeeded by Yasuyuki Otsuka Sensei. originated in China. beyond that they practice the turning hit method. the traditional nail. it is not certain whether there are any Ikkyu Ryu students or schools in existence. and advanced practitioners throw a wide variety of blade shapes. He was also a shuriken researcher. the other two being Negishi Ryu and Ikku Ryu. who trained under Someya Sensei since 1980 and now runs a dojo with about 30 students in Japan. for beginners to practice with. who utilise a variety of blade shapes. They practice the direct hit method of throw up to 7m distance. resembling those of Shirai Ryu. However. who began training as a boy in Katori Shinto Ryu from the 1930's to the 1970's. The blade shown appears to have a triangular cross section. . as they are easier to learn the basics with. Shuriken jutsu was his forte among the buki waza of the Katori Shinto. This fact seems to be confirmed by several sources when taken together suggesting that the long tapering shape of the Mou En Ryu blade derived from a triangular Chinese dart. Figure 29. (photo courtesy of Danny Fletcher. he introduced the blades below. and it appears the art may have originated in China. Someya Sensei was trained in Katori Shinto Ryu. Shuriken of Meifu Shinkage Ryu [view larger] These blades are 7mm in thickness and 15cm long. Someya Sensei passed away in June 1999. Someya Sensei in his book "Shuriken Giho" states that the art is "touden" ( ) . having investigated a number of techniques and types of blades used in various ryu. thus giving the art its current name. Chikatoshi Someya Sensei depicts blades and throwing methods at length in his book. and shows the blade for this art as seen in fig. Shuriken of Meifu Shinkage Ryu Large image available here  (author's collection) Figure 30. 31.ie. There is a video available here on this art. and he made some modifications and formed his own style in the 1970's. although the blade is termed kugi gata as it is made from wakugi.Meifu Shinkage Ryu This style was founded by Chikatoshi Someya Sensei. in a variety of throws. "Shuriken Giho". used with permission) *** Mou En Ryu The founder was Koshiba Soubei. although with the passing of Shirakami Sensei in 2001. including "Chinese Fist method".
The example shown here is 16. palm forward. and triangular blades were not generally known. an Edo period samurai of the Aizu domain used shuriken on a number of occasions during his employment in the Shogunate's security force. Okamoto Munishige. and therefore show a derivation from the Chinese. which has a two sharp edges that meet at the point. and a third dull edge at the rear (see also Teihozan Ryu. (There is an account of this duel with Yagyu Jubei somewhere. which exhibits square cross sections. . with the tip pointing outwards towards the target. A blade of the Mou En Ryu. In Fig. Y. the top example is 13. so it is still difficult to accurately compare the Ryu with Chinese sources. as depicted in Someya Sensei's "Shuriken Giho" Fig. Hsieh. This description may well suggest the reason for the unusual triangular butt end of some Mou En Ryu blades. . However. Mou En Ryu blades as depicted in Fujita Seiko's "Zukai Shurikenjutsu". due to a certain difficulty in throwing them. appearing in a work of fiction and misunderstood to be an historical event.however Otsuka Sensei said in personal communication that it is square. or back flap of the hakama. There is some suggestion that this account is actually fictional. including the koshita. In "Ancient Chinese Hidden Weapons" by Douglas H. I am presently searching for it. *** Mouri Ryu Named after its founder. and the blade is thrown under-arm. Mouri Gentaro Gentatsu who apparently was a cripple and practiced throwing 15cm nails at sparrows as a child.Jason) *** Otsuki Ryu Yasuda Zenjiro. and carried 36 blades. the method of throwing in Mou En Ryu is not known at this stage.7cms long.3cms Fujita Seiko.no longer extant (Skoss) *** . a triangular throwing dart is described. confirming Otsuka Sensei's coments above.31. He reportedly carried around 12 blades in various places. 18 in each hand. in his book "Zukai Shurikenjutsu" depicts Mou En Ryu blades as seen in Fig. 28. a master of Otsuki Ryu Kenjutsu from Hiroshima recounts that his teacher. below). 32. This dull edge sits in the palm. Note that the cross section for these blades is square. He later dueled with Yagyu Jubei. Fig. 32.
but passed the title on to Satoshi Saito Sensei. Reportedly. and the author of several historical books on various traditional arts. but it appears they used tanto-gata Enmei Ryu. his martial arts name) based on his training in Negshi Ryu and Shirai Ryu under Kanji Naruse Sensei. in that he seemed to make very little arm movement while throwing. under the auspices of a Master Teranaka. or ornamental hairpin as its representative blade. Maeda Sensei felt his style wasn't representative of Negishi Ryu. Bo shuriken of the Shingetsu Ryu. but thicker. and therefore should not be headmaster. if not unusual.33. *** Takemura Ryu This school was founded by Takemura Yoemon Tsunenori who was the adopted son of Miyamoto Musashi. with a rounded sides. however his throwing style was rather distinct. staff and rope tying techniques.. It appears this style of shuriken jutsu is taught as part of the Itosu-kai Shito Ryu karate curriculum. based in Iwate-ken (prefecture).Ryusei Ryu There are several mentions of this school. Shinei Ryu is still taught. of Musashi Miyamoto. that also includes sword. during the 1950's. Fig. but no information can be found on them at present. and that he once demonstrated his skill by throwing a 40cm dagger at a peach floating on a river. Video footage shows Maeda Sensei holding and throwing blades in what is called the "Chinese Fist" method. Maeda Sensei was due to be next headmaster of the Negishi Ryu after Naruse. and was able to accurately throw blades well into his later life. *** Shosho Ryu Shosho Ryu Yawarajutsu is a old school of jujutsu. In his "Zukai Shurikenjutsu". and depicts the Shingetsu Ryu blade. and the shuriken. Note that the thickness increases towards the tip. Details are scanty. in 1948. *** Shinei Ryu This style of shuriken jutsu was formed by Isamu Maeda Sensei (also known as Shinei Maeda. this art is said to use a kogai. The blade said to be of this school is depicted below with the Yagyu Ryu examples. in Osaka. and possesses a shuriken component. of similar length to Shirai Ryu blades. Fujita Sensei was the 14th headmaster of Koga Ryu Ninjutsu. he mentions that the founder of this art was Fujiwara Naritada. piercing it to the (knife-shaped blades) in the manner of . *** Shosetsu Ryu Founded by Yui Minbu no suke Tachibana Shosetsu. It is said he was very skilled with the sword. Shingetsu Ryu This shuriken art was reportedly passed onto Manzo Iwata Sensei of Shito-Ryu by Seiko Fujita Sensei. Ryusei is a Japanese word for comet.
core. Fig. are both listed together by Fujita Seiko as Chishin Ryu AND Tanba Ryu. and the art's name was Chishin. and that the error is caused by the fact that the teachers name was Tanba. along with the blade shown above in the section on Chishin Ryu. also of Takemura Ryu. According to the kanji. the kogai. 33 below as being of the Takemura Ryu. 34 below: Figure 34. which is a utility needle used to either pierce boils in the horse's skin. (lit. Tanto gata shuriken of Takemura Ryu Fujita Seiko also illustrates this blade shown in Fig. *** Tanba Ryu Little is known of this school at present. "Uuma bari". It is possible this example is the spike used to either pick up a decapitated head and present it to the presiding official at executions. the style appears very similar to Katori Shinto Ryu. horse needle). but with a tassle attached). the kankyu-to possess a sharp knife edge hence the character -to. More information needed to confirm this. however technically. or to act as a support to which an identifying label is attached and iserted into the head on display. no doubt as an "assimilated art". in his Shurikenjutsu book depicts the blade as the type of tanto shown in Fig. as the name suggests. this blade is a Kankyuto gata ( ) shuriken. usually being round with a sharp point. or possibly to clean objects from under the hoof. as has been suggested. From Iwai Kohoku's "Hidden Weapons" *** Tamiya Ryu Kenjutsu This school of swordsmanship also contains shuriken throwing techniques as part of its curriculum. whereas the uma bari is. 36. this translates as "pierce a decapitated head". Fujita Seiko. not. although Fujita Seiko shows the blade below as belonging to both Tanba Ryu and Chishin Ryu. According to Iwai Kohaku. They are usually classified together and thought to be the same. needle shaped. and this blade. or the let blood from the swollen veins in the horse's legs caused by overwork. (This is the same type of blade thrown by O-Ren Ishii. Kankyuto gata shuriken . Fig 35. See also Araki Ryu above . A similar item to the Kankyuto is the uma bari. It is my suspicion that Tanba Ryu and Chishin Ryu are synonymous. the female mafioso in the movie "Kill Bill". in his "Hidden Weapons" book. It is interesting to note that the last headmaster of this school is named Tanba. Viewing a demonstration on video.
borrowed and used. At its base. and 12mm thick. though I suspect shuriken training was introduced into the art at a later date. as well as battlefield and martial strategies. Tatsumi Ryu This school is a comprehensive martial art founded by Tatsumi Sankyo around the mid 1500's. Tsutsumi Yamashiro no kami Hozan.6 cms long and weight 90 grams. Shuriken of the Tatsumi Ryu (photo courtesy of Danny Fletcher) *** Teihozan Ryu (Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu) Teihozan is an alternate reading for the name of the school's founder. . it is 17mm wide. It teaches a complete range of weaponry. Shuriken of the Tanba Ryu. from "Zukai Shurikenjutsu". Details about the shuriken in this Ryu are scarce at present. Hozan Ryu is sometimes mistakenly called a school of Kendo. specific techniques were incorporated from a variety of existing Ryu which contained a kenjutsu component. as well weapons such as kenjutsu and kusari-gama (sickle and chain). along with techniques from others schools. The photo below shows a blade currently used in the Tatsumi Ryu. Little is known about the shuriken component of the Ryu at this stage. Fujita depicts the blade shape shown below as being the blade of this school.Figure 37. It is interesting to note that this blade shape is similar to the Chinese flying dart. to form the first standardised set of Kendo forms. This blade is rather interesting in that it's cross section is somewhat diamond shaped. above for similar triangular shapes in blades. being flattened along one axis. Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu was one of these schools. called Fei Biao (see History). Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu is a 15th century ju-jutsu art that included a form of grappling called yoroi kumi uchi. which involves grappling in armour. This is possibly due to the nature of the source material used to make the blade. It is 12. and still operates today. Figure 38. and it was the Hachiten Giri technique from Hozan Ryu. including shuriken. See also Moen Ryu. but this is untrue. When the Kendo kata were being formulated.
38 the weight is forward. 38 to those of Negishi Ryu. fig. and the sword against sword kata have apparently been lost. Ikku Ryu. *** Tendo Ryu Naginata-jutsu (Tendo Ryu Heiho) Tendo Ryu also includes shuriken. which explains the similarity in shape of the example in fig. (fig.There were apparently even some yari techniques. 40 have their weight balanced close to centre. and in fig. In some of the earlier kata. with a long and distinguished history. Tendo Ryu also includes Nito.42. as of Negishi Ryu. This theory is identical to that of Negishi Ryu. nottom. too. Naginata is practiced against sword. middle Chishin Ryu.. techniques for kaiken and tanto are included as well. It is a composite art consisting of many weapons. sword and shuriken included. middle. Figure 39. *** Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-Ryu This style is one of the most famous martial arts of Japan. These variations in weight balance affect the blades rotation in flight. Jo and kusarigama. One is a blade with hexagonal cross-section. 40 . . There are descriptions of two different blades. the weight is to the rear. 39 top. Top Shuriken of Katori Shinto Ryu. although there are apparently very few people who know these techniques. therefore determining whether a blade is more suitable for a short. As with many other schools. the shuriken was taught as part of the techniques for sword. The ones shown in fig. The later weapons are only taught to older high ranking students. Figure 38. too. and shidachi for the naginata side. It is thought the throw of Katori Shinto Ryu is that of the "direct hit" method.Figure 39. where the uketachi for the tachi side. The variations in shape of these types of blades (excluding hashi shaped) are due to the balance of weight along the length of the blade. all of which are matched against the tachi. 38) but most are the square sectioned type shown in fig. A Shuriken of the Tsutsumi HoZan Ryu. and it suggests that the two arts are more closely linked than previously thought. or long distance throw.
Shuriken of the Katori Shinto Ryu from the collection of the late Charles V. Gruzansky. used with permission) . on display at the Katori Shrine. now in the possession of Yasuyuki Otsuka Sensei. Authentic Katori Shinto Ryu Shuriken from the collection of Chikatoshi Someya Sensei. These blades were offered to the shrine by the school in 1890. Authentic Katori Shinto Ryu shuriken. Figure 41. (photo courtesy of Danny Fletcher) Figure 42. (photo courtesy of Robert C. Gruzansky.Figure 40.
a double ended blade. Length has been extended to 17. I heard a report that this pattern is similar in shape to a part of the traditional armour.7 kajo (Basic techniques . Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu contains the following shuriken jutsu techniques in their curriculum: 1.Figure 43.8cm.9 teachings) *** Tsugawa Ryu The blade used by this style is a large. a piercing weapon dropped at . and by others a ryobari-gata shuriken. or ryohashi tsurugi-gata shuriken.9 kajo (Secret techniques . double pointed spatulate blade. so the label is not incorrect for both. as well as a 2nd type. and was the basis for the French designed "flechette". A set of Katori Shinto Ryu shuriken copies. Gokui no shuriken . *** Yagyu Ryu A famous kenjutsu style founded by Kamiizumi Ise no Kami Nobutsuna.8 kajo (Higher techniques .7 teachings) 2. Gogyo no shuriken . 44. much like the fletchings on an arrow. Some groups use teppan to signify a large lozenge senban type blade.8 teachings) 3. made by myself following the pattern of a blade given to me by Otsuka Sensei. as it has two points that are similar to the double edge straight sword called tsurugi. The Tsugawa Ryu shuriken. The word teppan means "plate metal". and passed through the Yagyu family. Fig. called by some a teppan. Perhaps this is the reason for the unusual shape of the blade. Successive generations of Yagyu lords served the Tokugawa shogunate for many years. Someya Sensei depicts the Yagyu Ryu shuriken blade as a 4 pointed hira shuriken. According to school documents called the "Mokuroku Heiho no Shinsho". This is the style of shuriken that was presented to the French Government on a diplomatic mission during the 1800's. Omote no shuriken . but with the tail end having a star shaped cross-section. and that in battle it was known to be removed and used as a throwing weapon. thickness is 8mm. similar in shape to Negishi Ryu's "projectile" shaped blades.
Gruzanski. Shuriken of the Yagyu Ryu. and achieved a velocity of 150m per second. . however in Nihon Kobudo's video on shuriken it is referred to as a Ryusei Ryu blade. and the horse he sat on. They were dropped in bundles of 3500 to 4000 from an altitude of 2000m. Figure 45a& b.height from aeroplanes. Shuriken of the Yagyu Ryu. used with permission) Figure 46. used in World War I. This "ju-ji" (Japanese: number 10 shaped) shuriken is listed in Fujita Seiko's Shurikenjutsu book as being a Yagyu Ryu blade. The kanji in the top right do not specify Yagyu Ryu either. Type 2. (Click to view enlarged) (From Otsuka Sensei's Meifu Shinkage Ryu Shurikenjutsu website) Figure 47. enough to pierce through body of a man. Type 1 (Click to enlarge) (photo courtesy of Robert C.
Figure 49. Koden Ryu. or shaken from various Ninjutsu schools. and 4 are shuriken of the Koga and Iga Ryu. 10 is from Yagyu Ryu and Koga Ryu.3. or shaken Generally these blades were of Ryu used by the various clans of Ninja. Blades of the various schools . "ju-ji" shuriken of Yagyu Shinkage Ryu (photo courtesy of Danny Fletcher) *** Isu Ryu Quite possibly a variant of the spelling of Izu Ryu (See Katono Ryu above). examples 1.Figure 48. Some disc or star-shaped shuriken. 7. Shosho Ryu. 8.hira shuriken. . Yagyu Ryu or Ryusei Ryu. 5. 6. Kobori Ryu. From top left.
.© Robert C. Gruzanski (Click image to . A selection of shuriken from the collection of Charles V. and senban shuriken (top right). A variety of shaken. including hira shuriken. Some throwing stars from various schools and sources. Of interest is the rough rounded black object next to the large centre item. round rock. Masaaki Hatsumi. Figure 52.Figure 50. from the collection of the late Charles V. current Head Master of Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu. Gruzanski) Figure 51. Gruzanski (Used with permission. It is a tsubete which is a flat. throwing blades from the collection of Dr..perhaps a very early pre-cursor to the shaken.
53. shows throwing the shuriken as one would throw a small "frisbee". There seems to be some dispute over the method of throwing. parallel to the ground. current Head Master. dating back to the seventh century. 2" Koryu Books. used with permission) The star and cross shaped shuriken.. the blade is held horizontally. Dr Hatsumi. that is. use an entirely different principle in flight than do the bo shuriken. Gruzanski. or shaken. and that the blade is held and thrown vertically." 2. or 34th soke of Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu. and have multiple points which can make contact with the target. was called Koden Ryu . Toru Shirai: Founder of Tenshin Shirai Ryu in "Aikido Journal" #108 p. See here for more details on throwing shaken. below) Figure 53. in much the same way as a bo shuriken. "One of the earliest schools of jujutsu. states that this method is wrong. (1) shows an incorrect method Both types of throw are feasible. Much of their inspiration derived from Korea. The wrist makes a flicking action forward as the arm straightens out in front of the thrower's stomach.43 BASIC PRINCIPLES Wearing the Shuriken . Several shuriken are held cupped in the left hand like a stack of coins. however.enlarge) (photos courtesy of Robert C. Shirakami Eizo however. 1999 (back) 3. as they spin at a rapid rate. and are passed to the right hand in rapid succession. between the thumb and first finger.. (see fig. Kono. known as hira shuriken. Interview with Satoshi Saito in "Sword & Spirit: Classical Warrior Traditions of Japan Vol. the latter method can generate much more power. Finn: Michael Finn Martial Arts: A Complete Illustrated History . Holding a hira shuriken of the Ninjutsu schools. Yoshinori (1996).
together like a stack of coins wrapped in a leaf of cotton. and how the shuriken are worn can either help or hinder your ability to respond to attack effectively. 26. each convenient for a right hand draw in a variety of situations. dependent upon the situation. up to 8 or 10. Traditionally. and position of the blade as it comes into the hand. and ability for a quick draw which helps one gain the upper hand by using surprise when attacked. To make better use of this advantage. jikidaho or choku-da. the blade will fit in the hand ready for a turning or a direct hit. and throw. due to hand position. angle of the hand to the opponent. Ninjutsu practitioners hold their hira shuriken. 22. involves holding the blade with the point out. which is then pocketed or secreted in any number of pouches built for that purpose. a number of points around the hip were used as places to wear the shuriken. As mentioned above. (see fig. The points of the blade are embedded in the clothing. below) . By momentarily disabling an attacker who could be from 3 to 15 paces away. grip. so their blades could have been in view. a thorough understanding of the draw is necessary. depending upon the school. Samurai did not have the restrictions on wearing such weapons as we do these days. so whether one takes the front or back set. Figure. The shuriken in flight The shuriken travels through the air to the target in 3 different ways. and also as a short distance throw in the Shirai. and each position would offer some advantage over another.The shuriken's tactical advantage is it's small size and concealability. Jikishin and other Ryu. or hidden. and this enhances its tactical advantage. towards the target. This method is employed in the Negishi Ryu.(Particularly important in Shirai Ryu) In feudal times in Japan. With practice. great accuracy with the shuriken can be achieved. this gives one precious time to collect your thoughts and move to better position from which to deal with the attack. Wearing the shuriken The illustration above shows 3 positions. in Shirai and Negishi Ryu. as the left illustration shows. shuriken were also worn as hairpins. The "direct hit" method.
the relationship between the travel of their arm and their distance in steps from the target is exactly the same as for a shorter individual. the "turning hit". or Ikkaiten-da. The next throwing distance from the target is 3 steps. the form is practiced (Manji no kata. From this stance. then withdrawing the left foot so one is standing in shizentai. From here. below) but not by Negishi Ryu. from 1 to 15-18. (see fig.Figure 22. this process measures the 1st step's distance. withdraw the left foot. so proportionately. which involves turning the blade in the hand so the tail is pointing to the target. In Shirai Ryu. with blade. however I believe nowadays students of Negishi Ryu also learn the throws and about the blades of other Ryu. or 1 turn. as there is not room enough for the blade to turn in flight. This method is employed by the hira shuriken schools. 23. During its travel through the air to the target.. take 3 deep strides backwards. or right forward stance. which is a kind of limitation. because distance varies for each individual. or natural stance. including Shirai. throwing distances are multiples of 3 steps from the target. This makes standard units of measurement useless as a guide to learning distance. so that the left foot is forward. "The direct hit" method The second way that the blade turns. but they also have a longer arm reach. is measured in steps. see below). A taller individual has a longer stride. or dakaiten-da. and stand in . as one can only throw from one of these distances. Figure 23. utilising the "direct hit" method. 1 step's distance is measured by standing in a right zenkutsu dachi. This method is employed by the Shirai and other Ryu. where the many points of the star shaped blade will rotate and have no difficulty piercing the target at any distance. especially in Shirai Ryu. Standing at the target as before. and involves holding the blade with the tip pointing into the palm. or more as it flies through the air. (Not illustrated. This is due to the fact that Shirai Ryu is based upon the principle of the "turning hit" method of throwing. By taking one deep stride backwards with the right foot. with the right arm extended forward touching the target with the tip of the shuriken. has the blade turning 360 deg. the blade turns 180 deg. (up to 18 steps). rather than units such as feet or metres.) Distance Distance from the target. This method is also employed by the Shirai Ryu over long distance throws. the "multi turn" method. (about the maximum effective range for throwing a blade). Each turn in the air is equivalent to 3 steps of added distance. The "turning hit" method The third way a blade turns. is called hantendaho.
Judgement of distance is purely by feel based upon experience. Every 2 weeks. and is actually a shuffle. To develop this judgement. After 2 weeks. one should be reaching the limit of their throw. This is the 3 step's distance. so one gets a disciplined and repetitive experience of measuring the distance by steps. for another two weeks. only practiced after each of the shorter distances have systematically been practiced. then the right foot slides back. The throw is then practiced. it is superior to Shirai Ryu. so throwing at any distance can be achieved. one should be able to judge automatically whether one should hold a blade in hand with the tip or tail pointing out. ensuring that mastery of this distance is achieved. because the principle of the throw is different. then onto 3. nor does it allow for earlier release. Because it can only be used at short distance. stride forward counting the steps. So after 9 months of dedicated training. More on distance here Striking the target There are many forms of target. weight is transferred to the left foot. and minute adjustments in technique (see below) are made to allow for the minute variations in distance. This action decides the next distance. this same process is repeated. it therefore was targeted at the softer and more vulnerable parts of the body. one must train quite severely and repetitively. the slide backwards is repeated. as it is only used for short distance. However. and various exposed regions of soft tissue. Ultimately. From a left zenkutsu dachi. As mentioned above. as this distance dictates. such as the back of a swordsman's hands. Training starts at 1 steps distance. It was not meant to pierce armour or to be able to kill with one blow from a distance. and the 3rd distance is added to the routine. each day. then the next distance back is trained at. In its role as a distracting weapon. with the tip of the blade always held pointing outwards. each time turning the blade in the hand. therefore the goal of the training is achieve a quicker draw and throw. a further backstep is added. the individual starts at 1 steps distance. such as the head. The practice of Jikishin is primarily a development in speed. . When retrieving the blades from the target. earlier release. and from here the "turning hit" method is utilised. progresses to 2 steps. The throw of Jikishin Ryu is only used for short distances. For the remaining distances. especially the eyes. and practices like this. as described above with the Shirai Ryu. The individual practices at this distance for about 2 weeks. and the exposed feet. a turning hit. Negishi Ryu solely utilises the "direct hit" method of travel. the left foot slides back so the heel meets the instep of the right foot. however it is exactly the same change in distance as a full step. see below). arrived at in exactly the same way as above for Shirai Ryu. rather than the opposite foot.shizentai. the individual at first throws at 1 steps distance. usually by sword. the reaction time to attack is necessarily much shorter. though technically. the next distance is begun. Shuriken were developed as a quick response shock weapon that caused the enemy to be distracted while the thrower rushed closer for a killing technique. according to the Shirai Ryu technique. This is why shuriken appears to be have been taught as part of swordsmanship. the technique is much more advanced and much more difficult to master. So it can be said that it is not a weapon that can deal deathly blows. the throat. After 2 weeks of this. otherwise a good hit of the target will be an impossibility. except that one remains with the same foot forward. so only a brief discussion will follow. Each day. Once again. stepping again into zenkutsu dachi. for a further 2 weeks. as its grip does not allow for a "turning hit" method of throwing. The technique of Negishi Ryu does not have this problem of turning the blade. until they are comfortable with their ability. with the necessary adjustments made (eg.
or even blocks of wood have been developed. representing the swordsman's hands while holding the sword. as the blade is still applying force directly to the strike after it touches the target. Because the blade is falling due to gravity. Any angle between A and B is ideal. although more elaborate targets consisting of frames holding various types of material. . and it also tends to damage the shuriken. representing the face. The shuriken can hit the target in a number of ways. and that is as the blade is just becoming horizontal. According to Satoshi Saito Sensei. and stomach height. then the blade should hit the target just as it becomes aligned to the trajectory of the throw. whose retreat to the wild had left them without resources. and penetration by the blade is reduced. This type of hit is said to be a "live hit". ranging from screens of paper. and turning during flight due to the force of the throw. especially by "yamabushi". Figure 22 Tatami used as target For this reason. targets consisted of two main areas in which the throw was focused. or sheets of cardboard. and the ideal is to have the full weight of the blade moving down its length through the point into the point of impact. with a piece of white paper and a target image drawn on it and pinned to the box would be sufficient. head height. or straw matting was used. cardboard boxes. there is an ideal moment during the rotation of the blade for it to hit the target. or just as it becomes aligned with the direction of the throw. tatami.. If one were to draw a line from the hand that releases the blade directly to the target. Figure 23 The "Live" and "Dead" Hit This illustration shows a number of possible angles the blade can hit the target if thrown in a horizontal trajectory. the body of the blade is still rotating and applying force down its length to the tip. Today. much of the blades force is lost to lateral movement. practice with a hard target is not necessary. thus is more penetrating. This gives maximum force to the hit. Traditionally. boards of wood. or mountain warriors. If the tail is swinging up or sideways as the point strikes. because as the tip hits the target. Trees have been often used.Image temporarily unavailable.
This is because generation of power in a strike is an outward force. . In Japanese swordsmanship there is the concept of "In-Yo". which we can learn to adjust to through regular training at different distances. If we take certain movements to be related to In. and severely limits physical performance. power cannot be generated as effectively on the in-breath as it can on the out-breath. the weight at the base of the blade is no longer being transferred to the tip. at the moment of the throw. its variability has been reduced to close to constancy. unite various groups of movement into a unified whole. and is therefore much less penetrating. It is very difficult for the mind to be able to judge and adjust to 2 variables at the same time. and efficient. it is important to understand the physical movements. The extent of variability in the throw can be decreased through training. that combine to form the whole of things that we perceive. With our breathing it is: Inbreath . it is the swing that has to be refined so it becomes constant. and thus becomes constant.Outbreath. This concept describes how all things in the universe can be represented by two opposing yet inter-related sets of alternating polarities. distance and the throw. it is found in our footwork: step with the left foot. probably more widely known as "YinYang". thus making our overall performance much more harmonious. is the obstacle we have to realise and overcome. In our body we have In-Yo. Adhering to the throwing form is absolutely necessary for achieving consistent and controlled accuracy. but is being carried upwards. and combine them. The distance we are subject to. distance and swing. When the throw becomes constant. and the trick becomes choosing the right size club according to the distance. minute changes in technique can be made to adjust to changes in distance. there are two major variables that affect the outcome of the throw. great attention must be paid to practice of the form. to the point where it becomes a constant. Once the swing is mastered. and the type of breath that should be associated with these movements. one must coordinate their breathing pattern with the physical movements of the body for the technique to become natural and effective. In throwing the shuriken. All schools and methods stress the importance of "form" when throwing. thus creating a more controlled and accurate throw. it makes the task of judging 1 variable easier. whereas breathing in is an inward force. it is not just a matter of throwing the blade at the target.C and D are termed "dead hits" because at the moment of impact. so it is a variable we have to account for by adjusting our technique. the throw is the most important aspect of the shuriken art. once the throw has been mastered. there are also two variables. In golf. so by making 1 of these become close to a constant. the only variable facing us in hitting the target is distance. laterally to the point of impact. in cutting with the sword it is raise and lower. Due to the physiology of the body. as is breathing out. step with the right foot. we can through an understanding of this concept. Therefore. The variability of distance is compensated for by changing between heavier and lighter clubs. Breathing The Breath is very important to the throw. How important it is though. To achieve a constant throw. The principles are very similar to the game of golf. In shuriken. The throw Needless to say. Breathing in as one exerts force tends to sap power from the body. and other movements to be related to Yo.
details of the throwers technique and their general state of mind can be observed. Even though the form . is by first going through a series of steps from basic form to advanced form. or readiness and observation. 2. Gyaku-uchi Rear throws consist of ura-uchi Front Throws The Basic Form. Thus the in-breath is coordinated with the raising of the arm. there are 3 basic types of throw. Side throws consist of also of 3 throws: 1. BASIC FORMS OF THROW In the Negishi and Shirai Ryu. At this point. Yoko-uchi 3. and cannot be neglected. Hon-uchi 2. Koso no I. In effect. there are several steps one must go through. one must hold their intent with the feeling of zanshin. there is only two components. drills the body through these steps. which would otherwise distract one's concentration from the form. the raising. For any throw. and is practiced for the first 6 months without holding a blade.In the ultimate form of throwing a shuriken. or form. one examines the position of the blade in the target. in order to set up the conditions for an accurate hit. and the lowering of the arm. and how close to or far from perfect it is. On an individual throw. to the front. Uranami. and the outbreath is co-ordinated with the lowering of the arm. or the throw. then observes or remembers how they felt during the throw. and the relationship between each blade in the target can tell you about the state of mind of the thrower at the time. and observes the result of the throw. its position can tell you about the throw itself. indeed all throws. and this kata. Koso-no-I The method of learning the front throw. One can then judge how their body influenced the blade and its flight. If the positions of the blades are observed over a whole session of throwing. it can also give an indication of the psychological state of the thrower. Front throws involve 3 forms 1. the results of throwing a blade can be a good barometer for measuring the mental state of the thrower. then assess what postural and other adjustments need to be made for subsequent throws. Observing and judging the strike At the end of each throw there is a moment of stillness. to the side and to the rear. The reason why it is practiced without a blade is to prevent the mind from becoming attached too early to scoring a hit. The method employed to begin learning the basic form of Koso-no-I is called Manji no kata. Jikishin 3. At this point one concentrates on the feeling at the end of the throw. Not only can it tell the weaknesses in the throwers technique. If 3 or more were thrown in a row. Koso no I (see below). the grouping. It is a simple set of 8 movements which form the essence of the constant throw. Observing the position of the blade in the target can tell you a lot about the throw. In simple terms.
and the right foot does not step forwards during the throw. The left hand is raised. Manji no kata then becomes an 11 step form. The swastika shape. and allows the correct throwing movement to dictate how the body moves during the throw. Between step 2 and 3 of the sequence above. although the Jikishin grip of the blade is different. and at this stage the student is ready to hold a blade while practicing the form. making the movement go directly from "passing the blade" (step 3) to shuriken no kamae. as having shuriken in the throwing hand would be seen as offensive action.no . tips pointing to the rear as you step up to the throwing position. travelling past the side to the rear. the thumb goes behind the blade while the fingers cover the blade. tails pointing to the right. Both arms drop to the side together. 3 further steps are added. This is an inoffensive gesture. to the front of the hara. 25) is called chokushi no kata. Click here for a picture sequence of the Manji . 24) is called Toji no kata. 2. The grip is transferred to the right hand. the form begins to control how the body moves. The shuriken are carried in the left hand. 3.Kata Once the 8 movements of the form have been absorbed by the body and become familiar. The arm moves in a round movement. rather than have the untrained body upset the movement of the blade during throw. then raises to the position behind the ear (yokomen uchi movement in Aikido). The Toji no kata form. The third level of Koso no I (see fig. or abbreviated number of steps to the Manji no kata form.looks very rigid and the movements seem superfluous. 1. Figure 24. The right hand raises to meet the left. The second level of Koso no I (see fig. and simply involves a shortened. this is necessary as it causes the body to succumb to the form. . This arm movement is the same movement used in Jikishin Ryu. thus hiding the blade from view. The holding of the right arm by the side is subtracted. as it now incorporates extra steps which involve passing the blade from the left hand to the right. or manji is subtracted. holding the shuriken. (step 5). and the arm is raised to shuriken no kamae (step 5) behind the right ear from the side as though raising a sword (shomen uchi movement in Aikido). which involves a further shortening of the form.
It is used for short distances. is really the essence of the front throw movement. current head of Negishi Ryu Jikishin The second form of front throw. rigid and superfluous movements have gradually been whittled and trimmed away. Figure 26. remain internally. The final level called Koso no I. and uses a different method of holding the blade. even appearing casual. The Chokushi no kata form. but its emphasis is on surprise and speed. the Koso no I. even though the large. the shape of the throw becomes more natural. The Koso no I of Satoshi Saito Sensei. The ultimate goal is to be able to simply look at the target and strike it with a shuriken. The Koso No I of Shirakami Eizo Image temporarily unavailable Figure 27. free and smoother. yet the core movements. without having to adjust before cutting down with the right arm. (see fig. The posture is such that the throw is available immediately. Over years of training. 28) . Jikishin is really a simplified form of Koso no I.Figure 25. It is pure readiness.
it is fast. from the natural. As with the Jikishin throw. 1. . "tachi uchi". It is the underhand version of the Jikishin throw. downwards pointing position. Hon uchi (the basic over-arm throw). This method of holding the blade facilitates a quick draw.. and can be thrown as quickly as one can raise their arm. immediate. Gyaku uchi (under-arm throw). In practice. Click here for a picture sequence of the Uranami throw Side Throws Side throws also involve 3 forms.. As with all other grips. the hand is light and relaxed. as it utilises a right forward step as the blade is thrown. 2. however.Figure 28. Yoko uchi (side-ways throw) and 3. Click here for a picture sequence of the Jikishin Kata Uranami The third form of front throw is called Uranami. as if holding a swallows egg. forward to a horizontal angle facing the target. the right hand can reach for and take the blade in one movement quite quickly and easily. The arm movement on the throw is as though one is cutting with a sword. It is like a softball pitch where the arm swings at the right side.it is a simple yet natural grip. in the traditional Japanese style of sitting on the knees and ankles (see below). the grip does not facilitate a long distance throw. and is the more difficult of the 3. The Jikishin grip. or sitting in "za uchi". these throws can be done from standing. and a surprise.
fig. either right of left. Click here for a picture sequence for Hon Uchi The second form. which is done completely naturally and without thought. The lesson in this form however is the change in hand movement to allow a fast and powerful throw sideways. . if the first form is mastered first. (see fig 29-30 above. 31 below) will produce more power and is quicker. Hon uchi. which progresses to Toji no kata. 3. 2. while the second form. and gyaku uchi being the most advanced. despite them being more difficult throws. and is not a powerful throw. Mastery of hon uchi requires practice at various levels of performance. Yoko Uchi The action of hon uchi focusses on the bending of the elbow. The latter two are not usually practiced until the hon uchi form is mastered. then to Chokushi no kata. Hon uchi. these will be easier to attain. yoko uchi. Gyaku uchi (4. This final form is the essence of all levels of the over-arm throw. yoko uchi is more difficult. most of the technique is an extension and variation of principles of the first form. which starts with Manji no kata. 1. and consists of only 2 movements. Ura Uchi) Figure 30. Yoko uchi. In the second and the third form. leading to the final form Koso no I. Hon Uchi Hon uchi is the basic throw. raise and throw.Figure 29. yoko uchi and gyaku uchi from standing posture (tachi uchi) The first form.
This throw is different from Uranami. the right arm raised to the chest. and the palm is face down in gyaku uchi. The end of the yoko uchi throw by Shirakami Aizo. From shizentai.Figure 31. stepping and throwing together. then the throw is made from a static posture. The moment the right foot is placed on the ground. and the palm faces to left at right angles to the . Gyaku Uchi In gyaku uchi. the right hand is just completing the throw. The arm raises with the palm down until it points towards the target. Yoko uchi. the throwing action comes from the shoulder. the blade is passed hands. Figure 32. whereas Uranami comes from the side. as the hand raises from the front of the body. The more advanced form is one movement. At this point. and swung out and towards the target. Click here for a picture sequence of Yoko Uchi The Third Form. The illustration shows to basic form. and the blade is allowed to depart the hand. the hand stops raising sharply. where one steps as the blade is passed to the other hand. as one steps sideways. and is more difficult than hon uchi or yoko uchi.
with a few variations of their own. (see fig.ground. Ura Uchi Ura Uchi uses a similar throwing action as Gyaku uchi. Elevation in this throw is gained by leaning the body more forward. with a few variations depending upon the type of blade. Click here for a picture sequence for Gyaku Uchi Rear Throw. but it is aimed at the rear. Click here for a picture sequence for Ura Uchi BASIC TECHNIQUES Methods of gripping the shuriken Bo shuriken Both Negishi Ryu and Shirai Ryu hold the blade in the same way. The feeling of the hand when holding and throwing is said to be gentle. Shirai Ryu In Shirai Ryu. and other schools follow suit. or inwards to the palm. and the palm is not facing flat to the ground. depending upon the distance to be thrown. but vertical. 2nd and 3rd fingers. The little finger gives extra support and the thumb holds the blade in place. and angling the hip more sharply at the end of the throw. . the blade is held with the point outwards towards the target. 1). like holding a swallows egg so as not to break it. It is held in the hand by forming a guide with the 1st.
(Used with permission. Holding the shuriken of the Negishi Ryu The Jikishin grip . and much like the method of Shirai Ryu. for long blades.(see fig. Gruzanski) Gripping the blade in Negishi Ryu In Negishi Ryu.© Robert C. and the thumb locks it in place. it is held in the hand with the fingers acting as a guide. A variation in the hold of Shirai Ryu.Figure 1. 2) Figure 3. the blade is always held with the tip pointing forwards. Holding the shuriken of the Shirai Ryu Fig 2.
Kashima Shinto Ryu has a particular method of throwing the shuriken with a step of the right foot forwards and a rapid raise and drop of the right arm for the throw. The 3 smaller fingers are curled. the arm cuts down as if it were a sword.com. where the hand is either held in a low position with the palm upwards and throws at targets at above horizontal. forming a kind guide through which the blade exits. downwards. The throw is a simple raising and lowering of the arm from the side as a step is taken forward. The thumb. as though making a gun shape with the hand. and/or Mou En Ryu (said to have originated in China). Holding the shuriken in the Jikishin grip The grip of "kanime" see Advanced techniques Figure 5. The "negative" hand (shown in fig. and it is suspected that this is a variation in style of a precursor to Shirai or Negishi Ryu. There are two methods of throwing. throwing at targets below horizontal. a blade of 9-12 cms is used.Not much is known about Jikishin. providing support. yet this is to be confirmed. which appears to be run by a practitioner of the NInjutsu arts. The major difference to the above throws is in the way the blade is held (see fig 4). The butt end of the blade is placed in the centre of the palm. is regarded as a "metsubushi" (sight remover) attack. as . and as the Jikishin method involves the same specific method. It appears this method of holding and throwing is peculiar to Teihozan Ryu. Gripping the shuriken in preparation for "kanime" "Chinese Fist Method" Chugoku Genho This method of holding and throwing a blade is mentioned in Douglas Hsieh's "Ancient Chinese Hidden Weapons". 6 below). while the index finger points out straight. called "positive" and "negative" hand.mumyouan. but the Japanese arts which utilise this type of throw use a longer blade. and holding the tail down as it leaves the hand. The index finger then rests on the side of the blade. it is possible that Kashima Shinto Ryu has in fact preserved the jikishin throw. or held in a high position with the palm downwards. middle and ring fingertips clutch the sides of the blade. Figure 4. The hand flicks forward to the target. which pushes the blade out through the fingers on the throw. holding it in place on the side of the curled middle finger. and is also discussed on www. The blade sits with its butt in the palm and the thumb applies slight pressure from above. index. In the Chinese arts.
Holding a shuriken in the "Chinese Fist" method Concealing blades in the hand As mentioned previously.) The hands are very expressive parts of the body. as opposed to the Shirai or Negishi Ryu basic throws where the blade is thrown from above the head like a sword cut. but also makes it difficult for the observer to recognise what a person is doing. and the shape and movement of the hands can often unconsciously betray our intentions. It is interesting to note that film footage of the late Isamu Maeda Sensei of Negishi Ryu. part of the tactical advantage of the shuriken is it's small size and unobtrusive shape. Figure 6. Opponents make a visual judgement of each other before engaging. and thus swing the balance of power in an altercation.it targets the eyes. that of "deceit". The path of the blade. "Attack the enemy where he least expected and prepared" (Chapter 1. but also within the hand as a surprise tactic before throwing in battle. who appeared in the NHK documentary on Negishi Ryu shuriken jutsu featuring Yoshinori Kono Sensei. not only on the body for carrying. V4. they are used in many human activities. meaning that it can be concealed quite easily. senior of Satoshi Saito Sensei. thus creating a very small profile as it could only be seen from in front of the tip. This idea follows the fundamental principle of Sun Tzu's Art of War. as it leaves the hand is direct. dark material not only masks the shape of the hands. and the tactics one uses are based upon what one is able to perceive. shows him distincly throwing blades in this "Chinese Fist" method. Shuriken can be quickly drawn and deployed. or straight. This makes it difficult to see. These same experiments have also shown that covering the back of the hand and fingers with a flat. ie. and this surprise change to the battle situation could gain one a valuable few seconds advantage in timing. therefore making it an ideal metsubushi waza. . Experiments have shown that an observer relies heavily on the shape and position of the hands in relation to each other and the body when trying to determine the intended activity of a subject.
The fingers close into a fist. the fingers loose and open. the skin goes a bit whiter than the rest of the parts of the body. in the 3 examples below. using these small facts we know about the way we unconsciously do things.When we carry objects in the hand. . due to the contriction of blood from tightening the muscles that are doing the holding. When the arm hangs by the sides of the body without carrying anything. one must project the illusion that the hand is empty. Example 1a Example 2a Example 3a In the 3 examples above. the hand is turned to reveal the weapon and the method of holding it. however. and there is no whitening of the skin. In order to carry something in the hand without giving anything away. the hand shapes and position do not give away the fact that a potentially dangerous weapon is being carried. our hand naturally takes a shape and position about the body that we can readily recognise as being the shape used for carrying. In this way we can see how the body can betray our intentions. the muscles are relaxed.
in much the same way as a bo shuriken. There seems to be some dispute over the method of throwing. that is. 5. Several shuriken are held cupped in the left hand like a stack of coins. known as hira shuriken. The wrist makes a flicking action forward as the arm straightens out in front of the thrower's stomach. between the thumb and first finger. shows throwing the shuriken as one would throw a small "frisbee". or shaken. (see fig. Our body follows familiar paths of perception. current Head Master. so we rely more on signals given by our subconscious. below) . we don't have as much time to think or rationalise. Much like a magician performing sleight of hand. and that the blade is held and thrown vertically. judgement. that is. decision and action. under stress we act more on instinct or unconscious signals than through carefully thought out decisions. and when situations are changing rapidly. parallel to the ground. or 34th soke of Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu. or shaken The star and cross shaped shuriken. Dr Hatsumi. we can hide a shuriken in plain view. thus giving us a tactical advantage over an opponent.Example 1b Example 2b Example 3b In the immediacy of an engagement at battle. we need to make quick decisions based on what we immediately perceive. Shirakami Eizo however. the blade is held horizontally. Hira shuriken. as they spin at a rapid rate. use an entirely different principle in flight than do the bo shuriken. and are passed to the right hand in rapid succession. and have multiple points which can make contact with the target. states that this method is wrong.
Figure 5. Holding a hira shuriken of the Ninjutsu schools. (1) shows an incorrect method Both types of throw are feasible, however, the latter method can generate much more power. See here for more details on throwing shaken.
Figure 6. Note that the thumb grips the centre of the blade, holding the blade firmly against the forefinger. This ensures that the blade remains under control during the throw, thus removing another possible variable from the blade's travel to the target.
As mentioned in the introduction, there are two reported methods of throwing shaken. I haven't had any instruction in throwing the way Hatsumi Sensei described, that being from horizontal, so I won't discuss that method. The throw of the other method, holding the shaken vertically, is similar to the throw with bo shuriken, it is an over-head throw, where the arm moves in a vertical downwards and forwards movement. It is important that the shaken is thrown perpendicular to the ground, and to the target. If it leans over in the throw, air resistance will create an aerodynamic effect against the blade, and it will curl off and raise slightly in its path off target. Even if the shaken is held upright, but is turned sideways in the throw, that is, not in line with the flat plane between thrower and target, air resistance created by its forward movement will cause the blade to angle off line and drop quickly. (refer to diagram)
Only when the blade is vertical, and perfectly aligned with the line of throw to the target, will you be able to control the throw with any degree of accuracy. Another cause for inaccuracy with shaken is an asymmetricity between the two sides of the blade itself. Shaken have sharpened edges that are sloped much the same way as a knife blade. If the amount of surface area on the sloped edges of each side of the blade are not equal, then there will also be an aerodynamic effect when the blade is thrown.
Figure 8. So if your blade seems to veer off from straight, even though you are sure of holding it vertically to the ground, and perpendicularly to the target, the next thing to do would be to carefully check the edges of the blade for symmetricity.
Throwing the blade in Negishi Ryu
Adjusting to distance When adjusting to the variation in distance while throwing in the Negishi Ryu, one cannot make the same simple adjustments possible in Shirai Ryu, where one just needs to turn the blade in the hand. In Negishi Ryu, the hand grip is constant. To make the adjustment to different distances, slight postural changes need to be made, both in the way the hand is held, and the leaning of the body at throw. 1. Leaning the body "When close to a target, lean back on the throw. When far from a target, lean forward on the throw" On close throws, as the arm sweeps down, pull the torso back at the last moment to add turn to the throw. This causes the shuriken to straighten earlier in the shorter distance, thus allowing a more direct hit. It also has the added benefit of pulling the head back from target slightly, in case the blade miss hits and bounces back. On distant throws, leaning forward on the throw adds the body weight, creating a more powerful throw, necessary to cover greater distances. It also has the added effect of intensifying the concentration forward, giving the psychological advantage by creating the illusion of being closer to the target. 2. Timing the release "For close targets, release later, for distant targets, release earlier". When the arm is raised in Koso no I, the blade is pointing upwards. In its flight towards the target, the tip tilts forward and straightens in relation to the target, so it is in line with the angle of trajectory at the moment of, or just before, striking the target. So when closer to the target, the shuriken has less time to tilt in flight, so a late release means that the shuriken is more horizontal as it leaves the hand (see fig 33). When further from the target, the shuriken needs to align with the trajectory just before striking the target, because of this tendency to tilt, so an early release will compensate for this tilt.(see fig 34-35)
Fig. 33. Late release, and turning the palm, for close targets.
Fig. 34. Mid release for mid-range targets
but also it creates a drag effect on the tail as it releases. it will have become a dead hit already. but it has to be done skillfully else it will upset the smooth flight. so their departure tends to be more variable (see fig." The shape of the hand is very important for the trajectory of the blade as it leaves the hand. and facing the palm. * Aim . preventing the blade from turning excessively before reaching the target (see fig 33) In training. and the blade releases earlier in the throw. so the grip then tends to require more gentle guidance. there is more weight and support behind the blade. for distant targets 3. so that during its travel to the target. By turning the hand so the palm faces to the left in relation to the target. It creates a "grippy" surface on the tail end of the shaft. the head of the blade "falls" forwards. the hand is still facing more to the target. the blade is pointing upwards. so that by the time it is about to align with the trajectory of the throw itself. the blade has already developed velocity. Early and late releases have different effects on the position of the blade in relation to the trajectory. as though "holding a swallows egg". If it aligns with the trajectory before striking the target. As the student becomes more proficient. and when it strikes the target. The thumb catches on the butt end of the blade as it departs. and practice late release with the turning of the palm. Not only does the blade need to be gripped lightly.35). causing the blade not to turn so much. the hand must facilitate a clean. This is why there is the practice of wrapping the shafts with thin twine. Note: The "stroking" of the shaft as it leaves the hand is actually a method of applying power to the forward momentum of the blade in the throw. the blade releases when the arm is still quite high above the head. For a late release. as this is the last contact with the body to have influence over the blade's flight. and the fingers actually seem to stroke the shaft of the blade as it leaves the hand. and even departure called hanare. one should start at a close distance. as basic technique (as shown above in Manji no kata). it strikes the target. then coating it with laquer. and earlier releases have a less controlled hold. For a long distance throw. the hand is really only offering a straight pathway for the blade to depart the hand. turn the palm for closer throws. Turning the hand "Face the palm for distant throws. from the hand. which will enable more pressure to be exerted on the stroking action on the release. As it does so. while at the same time. It seems that the feeling of stroking has less of an upsetting effect. smooth.Fig. it will continue "falling". Early release. (see fig 35). the distance is increased. By turning the hand so the palm faces the target on early release. 35.
and try to feel some sort of connection between our centre (the tanden) and the centre of the target. by varying the training method. This form of training builds up necessary strength and stability in the hips. on a more advanced level.When aiming at the target. rather than take aim with the eyes. c) where the left knee is forward and the foot on the ground.26. is still done on the knees. our focus is outside the body. However. By looking at the target. The side throws can also be performed in seated posture. as in a) . and our thoughts are with striking the target. above). 37) . 36) and can be done directly facing the target. and began to throw shuriken in the dark. the idea is to try and take aim with the navel. Za Uchi. The two of them went to the dojo at night. is illustrated . (see fig. by placing our awareness in the navel. Note that the front throw is performed in either seiza. Rather. or tachihiza with the right leg back. The first blade made the sound of piercing the target. rather than by relying in sight alone. or to focus on particular skills. we should feel the target. called suwari-waza. Tonegawa Sensei. The seated form of the throw is called za-uchi. and the right knee is back and placed on the ground. (full seated posture). 36. One of the basic forms of variation is to train on the knees. (see fig. This story illustrates how one can learn the perception of the target by feel. Fig. then the second blade made an unusual sound. In several traditional martial arts. Apparently it had hit the tail of the previous blade. and mentioned this to his teacher. or seated throw. training in a number of techniques. whereas sideways throws are made in tachihiza with the left leg back. Figure 37. Here the toji form on the knees in tachihiza. Mr Shirakami relates a story of how his teacher felt confused by this concept. * Variations in Training Training can be made more interesting.b) or in the stance called tachihiza. the basic shape of the aim is to have the tips of the blades in the left hand in line with the eyes and the target (see fig. and also teaches the body movement to be more precise.
at the moment of departure of the blade. and merge with the target at the moment we think of throwing. The tendency when throwing at greater distances is to unconsciously add more power to the movement. By training at static distances. we are bound by the throw from a static position. When the basic form is practiced. our posture and movement has to be adjusted quickly and precisely to allow the blade to strike effectively. Note: 1 . then we take the next step back. Mr Shirakami writes of his teacher Naruse Sensei that even when he was throwing at great distances. 38 Hon uchi.Figure. we throw repetitively until that distance is mastered. we must overcome our thoughts about distance as being an obstacle. At each step. 4 . jumping and turning. Figure 39. and also lying down. So arises the desire to be able to throw one step further away. However. one learns the mechanics of the form. the distance is set. yoko uchi and gyaku uchi from kneeling posture (tachihiza) Throwing from a "still distance" and from a "moving distance" There are training methods for throwing the blade while running. This form of training cuts down the time we think about distance. and while static. But when moving while throwing. is another such method. we have plenty of time to think about the distance and achieve this.5 are shown from the back. By training during movement. one must make minute adjustments in their technique to have the blade strike effectively.3 shown from the front. Eventually. either forwards or backwards. which in fact adversely affects the technique. At each distance. and training progresses incrementally from 1 step and beyond. . The action is a continuous stepping to the throwers right side. When we count the steps and throw. enabling us to throw a blade and have it stick at any distance without thought. The training method of throwing while running. one is using the form. To be able to achieve this. Training at Sei no Maai. or "still distance" lays the technical foundation for Do no Maai. his movement was relaxed and appeared as though he was throwing only a close distance. the concept of distance is always at the back of our mind. or "moving distance". we lose the concept of distance entirely. Multiple throwing can also be practiced while walking. thus decreasing the obstacle that is always at the back of our mind. which is a constraint preventing us from being able to throw at any distance. Figure 39 shows a method of multiple throwing in time with the stepping of the feet. yet the blade flew powerfully and struck firmly.
Figure 40. (see fig. so it is sometimes necessary to be able to throw several in rapid succession. There is a phrase from olden times that says "Ikki Goken". There is a certain posture with a technique developed for rapid throwing. This is because we are learning the throw. A strong or prepared adversary may be able to receive the first blade (ie.Rapid throwing. and the throwing action of the right hand is the same as the position and action of the right hand as it holds and cuts with a sword. The art is in being able to detach ourselves from the throw immediately after the blade has departed the hand. then the right hand returns to the sword. There are 5 forms in a kata called Tojustsu Kumikomi no Kata. (Used with permission. .© Robert Gruzanski) Throwing the blade during a sword cut There are also techniques that involve throwing shuriken while holding a sword. where the left hand is held above the left eye (see fig 40. Before the 1st blade strikes. When we practice the basic form. The throw is made. we are taught to pause and observe momentarily. which means to throw 5 blades in one breath.). the 2nd blade should be on its way. and the right hand is held in Koso no I. deflect or ignore). But we have to be detached from the throw. Because the throwing position of the right hand. and to be able to continue our movement without caring if the blade strikes well or not. closely followed by the 3rd. 37) where the sword is held as normal by the left hand. Posture for rapid throw. so passing the blade from left to right hands could be done with the raised throwing arm. This allows for the rapidity of throwing blades in succession. in zanshin or readiness. and so on. the two weapons can be blended in such a way that they do not adversely affect the movement of each other. and throw the next. gripping the handle. or commit ourselves to the next action.
There are stories of famous encounters where swordsmen could deflect the flight of arrows and shuriken in battle. Satoshi Saito Sensei demonstrating shuriken throwing with the sword. though this is generally thought of as being the stuff of legends. The idea is that one develops the ability to throw shuriken quickly while one is drawing and cutting with the sword. or an arrow. due to the weight and size of the weapon. giving you an advantage already.Figure 41. being smaller and lighter. but having a blade thrown at you. called yadome. The shuriken. Mr Shirakami tells of his . Receiving a blade. within the arts there are training techniques designed. such as a shuriken. However. Some of the postures of the Tojutsu Kumikomi no Kata Image temporarily unavailable Figure 42. which has a certain timing. This stems from the days of the Samurai where a swordsman would defend himself against attackers throwing or propelling objects at him. can be drawn and thrown much quicker than a sword. so it can be said that you can attack inside the rhythm of a swordsman's attack. yadome An advanced level of training involves not throwing a blade. so we should not discount the possibility that an individual can perform this sort of feat. Most swordsmen trained only in the sword know only the rhythm of the sword. to develop this ability. Thus one could be able to launch 1 or 2 shuriken at the opponent before they are in sword distance.
In the interview Saito Sensei makes vague mention of this in conjunction with the balancing of the centre of gravity of blades to accentuate close or distant hits. and therefore generate excess rotation. it appears that this practice of wrapping the shaft of the blade in paper. This effect hinders the natural rotation of the tail end forwards. while wearing fencers protective face gear. and create drag in flight for a straight trajectory. the idea is to move at the same instant. and providing the sense of timing in awase is correct. The principle of "Kanime no Daiji" (eyes of a crab) . the idea is to unify yourself to this moment. After further discussion by email with several people who are training in shuriken. as well as a simultaneous downward movement of the hip. Rather than wait to see the path the arrow is taking. This is because the technique of throwing involves a slight flicking or twisting of the hand.experiences where he asked his student to shoot arrows at him. however this seems to serve a different function to that of wrapping the blades. which applies a slight amount of pressure to the tail end of the blade just before it completely departs from the finger tips. acting out the mind's intentions. is to assist in the smooth departure from the hand. the smooth metal surface of the shaft would slip easily from the fingers. There is the moment in the attackers mind where they commit to action. The practice of gluing pigskin to the end of the blades with the hairs pointing backwards.. however it is not at all clear. but the postioning of the thumb and first finger are reversed (see illustration fig. The shooting of an arrow. or the throwing of the blade is seen as being like the cutting of a sword. varnish and string . a sword. If one were to throw a clean blade. . an arrow or a shuriken. Wrapping the blades with paper. because a flat surface allows more grip on the shaft as it leaves the hand. This is also one of the reasons Mr Otsuka believes the Negishi Ryu shuriken were hexagonal and octagonal. with the same feeling as the attacker. but this appears not to be the case. and cut the arrow down. and that is holding it in the hand and using it as a striking implement. thus deflecting the attack. whereas a rounded shaft will allow less grip on the shaft as it leaves the hand. 1999). which is for reasons different to that of attaching pigskin hairs to the end of the blade. The tip targets vital areas of the body. with no string or paper wrapping. then react to it by trying to block it. 42). So by using awase. Here the idea is to match your feeling and movement to that of the attacker's without the thought of reacting to their movement. in order to apply a small amount of friction as it leaves the hand. then the body follows. correct performance of the technique will protect your centre. thus creating a more straighter flight before striking the target. The grip is similar to that of Jikishin. but uses the power of the arm and body to create the strike. to cut as the attacker cuts. it does not matter whether the weapon attacking your centre is a fist.updated There is mention of some Negishi Ryu shuriken being wrapped in paper. string and lacquer (Interview with Saito Sensei in Skoss. I believe this feeling is the same as awase training with sword. The key seems to be in the mental attitude one takes when faced with such an attack. laquer and/or string is a way of creating a rough surface on the shaft of the blade. Some people have suggested this is to adjust the balance of the blade so it is perfectly centred. in Aikido.Using the shuriken as a striking implement There is another method of using the shuriken. He was able to develop the ability to deflect the flight of an arrow but cutting at it with a sword as it was fired at him.
with the blade tip protruding in various ways. or Aconite (Aconitum japonicum). and the depression in the throat just above the collar bone. making it almost impossible to treat. .. and it has been found that one can survive its paralysing and fatal effects if one submits to an artificial respiration machine for a period of 24 hours. there is a variety of Aconite in Japan called Aconitum Aizuense. To do the strike. As a side note.Fig. so you can no longer throw the blade. The active constituent Aconitine causes neuro-muscular paralysis and contractions. 42. affecting the heart and respiration. secret instruction to him. pushing the tip into the target. That is. that you have entered and caught the opponent by surprise. the arm is straigthened and the thumb pushes forward. Mr. Death is caused by severe and fast acting infection from a mixture of horse manure. the effect of the poison wears off after 24 hours. one is the extract of Wolfsbane. Shirakami discusses this strike at length. Mention has been made by some that the poison from the fugu. When you can see the opponents eyes bulging. Chikatoshi Someya Sensei. thus giving them lethal capability. as fugu poison is neutralised by oxygen after 24 hours. The techniques appear to be karate-like striking movements. particularly among Ninjutsu schools. like "the eyes of a crab". saying that this technique came from a secret Negishi Ryu document titled "Kanime no Daiji". in his book "Shuriken Giho". chicken's blood and oysters. which contains highly toxic and extremely fast acting alkaloids. and demonstrates methods of holding that can conceal the blade from onlookers. the tip is held slightly up with the arm bent at the elbow. Holding the shuriken in order to strike the target with the hand The thumb presses down hard on the top of the blade. The targets for this strike have been listed as the eyes. Substantial doses of Aconite cause almost instantaneous death (2. without raising suspicion. There has been extensive research into fugu poisoning. the distance has closed between you and your opponent. then you would be victorious. which together contain the broadest spectrum possible of infectious bacteria. but also used on many types of edged weapons. and the wrist extends forward. That is. He illustrates methods of holding 1 and 2 blades in the hand. As one strikes. demonstrates a wide variety of apparently secret striking techniques where the shuriken is hidden in the palm. or Japanese Puffer fish may have been used for tipping blades. The second poison is not so fast acting. for which there is no specific antidote. I am not sure this is correct. 3). There are two traditional poisons I know of used for this purpose. but nevertheless lethal. The technique is to be used as a final resort.. and was Master Naruse's final. as shown in the photo on the left. but the focus of the attack is to pierce the opponent in vital areas with the shuriken at close range. an interesting connection to either the Aizu area. or the Aizu clan. This poison was not strictly limited to shuriken. as shown in photo on the right. meaning. Tipping the shuriken with poison Mention has been made of the use of poison being applied to the tips of shuriken.
Training in sword is usually done one step back with the right foot forward. In Aikido we have techniques trained in 2 forms.Notes: 2. was also a master of the shuriken. however if one wishes to study the art more deeply there could be something of interest here to think about. Training in empty-handed techniques usually begins with the left foot forward. Hsu. then one is able to control an opponent who is in close enough range to hit you with their bare hands. 1986 NOTES ON TRAINING The notes on this page in relation to the shuriken throwing art are more theoretical and intellectual. If one has mastered the bow and arrow. and this is an extra step in distance away from the opponent. as the weaker left hand is used for defensive maneuvers leaving the stronger right arm free for counterattacking and controlling maneuvers. with the throw of Jikishin. the development of hand techniques is seen as a progression from sword techniques. and ki-no-nagare. is usually done with the left foot forward. Long Beach. one can see there is a well organised and logical plan behind the choice of weapons that a warrior learns. But outside. making the effective range of the staff a step greater than the sword. staff and empty-hand techniques as being 3 essential components of Aikido training. Angus & Robertson. Various weapons have various effective ranges. Everist "Poisonous plants of Australia" Australian Natural Science Library. others teach empty-handed forms after one has mastered weapons forms. Hong-yen "Oriental Materia Medica: A Concise Guide" Oriental Healing Arts Institute. and are not necessarily so important for learning the technique of throwing a blade. the closer the opponent the more of a threat. Kihon involves training in a strong. These forms of training gives one the control over the closest combat distances. one also learns to control various distances. Less well known is that he is also a master of Negishi Ryu. Ki-no-nagare training is a flexible. the further the opponent the less a threat. moving form which involves the opponent taking one step towards you to attack. Selwyn L. or staff. static form where one is already gripped. O-Sensei. 1974 (back) 3. although it is not known which style. the teacher of Aikido's founder. the ones with the most immediate danger. and was once quite famous among the local gangs as being a person not to cross. or within the ranges of those weapons. In Iwama Aikido. Perhaps it is by no coincidence that the next step beyond the staff's effective range is covered by the minimum effective range of the shuriken. and when one looks at how the ancient warrior was required to master a range of weapons to deal with a range of situations on the battlefield. In real terms. and adds another step's distance to the effective range of control. It is also reported that Sokaku Takeda. kihon. by learning various weapons. as the blade can hit an opponent who is further than 1 step away. If one has mastered hand techniques. The maximum practical . I found it interesting that shuriken is part of the technical repertoire of these masters of empty-handed and sword techniques. one will not be able to control the distance beyond or within the range one has trained in. Training in jo. the current head of Iwama dojo. With mastery of techniques comes the control of distance. one can control attackers at a great distance. Distance with various weapons Some martial arts teach weapons after one has mastered empty-handed forms. Morihiro Saito Sensei. Therefore. teaches sword. if one has not had the proper training.
surviving by using one's wits. or billiard players preferring certain cue sticks. and tools and weapons do not escape this idea. and other martial art training with shuriken. and these psychological influences can seriously enhance or decrease a persons physical performance. finding something suitable for the required task. there may be differences in their performance. particularly these commercial sites. By supplementing your Aikido. without excess. and aficionados report that such blades emit a presence and power that can be felt when handled. adaptablility. *** Finding a "Live Blade" Mr. to achieve the best results. one can discover a new dimension to the shuriken art that I think many people overlook. or finding and throwing blades. and doing only what is necessary. *** The Philosophy of Making your own shuriken I noticed on the Internet there are a number of commercial sites offering beautifully made yet expensive blades. Weapons such as the bow. then this blade is said to be a "live blade". Shuriken are just pieces of metal. the senban shuriken. fly and stick better than other blades. Shinto mythology of Japan holds that all things are imbued with elements of the spiritual. are shaped the way they are because they were fashioned from the simple metal washer that fitted under the head of a construction nail.effective range of a shuriken is 15-18 paces. Just as a batsmen may feel more comfortable. fashioned into a throwing implement. This leaves the shuriken to control the distance indoors. so one must judge and choose by feel. If a blade feels more comfortable to handle. and seems to strike properly more often. It was this attitude of looking around at what was available. Whether or not events in the past have given these blades any particular power perhaps can never be determined. or tend to fly and stick better in the target. While there may be no physical markings or signs to differentiate between the blades. but such ideas have a great influence on the mind of an individual. One builds up a collection of live blades by discarding the "dead blades". There are swords in museums and collections in Japan that are so historically valuable they have become designated as national treasures. Similarly. Shirakami makes mention of the practice of finding live blades in his book on Shuriken-do. be mindful of which blades tend to feel more comfortable. which is half the minimum range of a bow. Because they had a shape which was already close to a comfortable and practical design for throwing. This commercialism goes against the Japanese idea of simplicity. so one will find that some blades feel. thus were not used indoors. For example. If one looks at how the blades were made historically. In a number of ways. which are the lozenge shaped blades. and they were adapted from items that were freely and cheaply available in Japan at the time. So when making. I feel this is not the true spirit of shuriken. and with greater and unusual ease. then doing the minimum amount of work to get it functional that was also a part of the martial spirit. the spear and the halberd were battlefield weapons. even perform better using certain bats. the square and triangular bodied bo shuriken are so because they were adapted from nails and other materials. one effectively adds the potential for control of greater distance. . they were simply sharpened and used. rather than the expensive and aesthetic extravagance of perfectly fashioned and beautifully looking blades. and should be kept as one's own special blade that no-one else handles.
so that you reach 100%. we can see that there is no real "perfect design". the feeling one experiences is indescribable. First. To develop accuracy. If we measure our ability by a percentage of perfect techniques per techniques performed. 2. Our performance in the real world is only going to be a fraction of our performance in the dojo. different shapes. easily fashioned into a sharp and practical. *** Achieving Higher Accuracy It is natural for us to want to have good accuracy. Part of the development of one's technical skill is in researching different materials. So in effect. I think one gains much greater satisfaction by constructing the blades oneself. rather than purchase them at a shuriken smithy or similar. Accuracy comes as a result of employing the principles of the throw correctly. Rather than judge your accuracy by your best throw.. 1. The dojo is a controlled training environment. one must judge accuracy by the average of all your throws. Because of the pressure of situations in real life. Looking at the incredible variety of blades that were used. and thus when the time comes. As a beginner.The Physical Level When you have just completed an excellent throw. there are 2 things to consider. this ratio gradually increases. our aim should be to increase that average. For this reason. and modifying and refining one's own design to suit oneself. we may not be able to recall that singular moment when we performed the technique perfectly in the dojo. on the physical level. and therefore our performance is somewhat contained by this environment.. variable and potentially dangerous. I am sure the ancient ninja. and our focus should simply be to increase the percentages. however over time. you may experience 1 perfect throw out of 100 unsuccessful throws. but your throwing action was effortless and natural. anything that was easily obtained. as that is the impressive thing about throwing a blade. concealable. This obviously requires a long time of repetitive training. we cannot judge the level of our ability by how well we may have once performed a technique. The real world does not have this controlled atmosphere. was the idea at the time. which is on the mental level. We must remember that perfection in the dojo does not equal perfection in the real world. it is likely that we will perform poorly.Secondly. The idea is to raise your average of perfect throws per throw. all one need do is count averages. and an effective implement that flew well with a bit of practice. What we should be striving for is to achieve accuracy without trying to be accurate. which is on the physical level. The Mental Level . Constructing the blades by yourself also causes you to develop a deeper appreciation for the weapon and the art. is experience. training to develop accuracy. ronin and bushi made their own such weapons. finding out which is better. thus rendering all situations unique. should be geared towards repetitive practice. where not only did the blade strike the target beautifully. rather than of trying throw an accurate blade. rather. To achieve this. This of course is theoretically possible. Yet to throw with the desire of achieving an accurate hit is detrimental to actually achieving an accurate hit. due to all sorts of factors Nevertheless. then we can effectively increase the potential effective performance of technique in the real world.. then we have a much more reasonable estimate of our ability in the real world. and second is our attitude when throwing. And by concentrating more on raising the percentage of accurate and perfect throws in the dojo rather than improving the accuracy of an individual throw. but practically impossible.
If we can make the leap of faith in agreeing that the body and mind are indeed connected. as stiffness usually means a contraction of the muscles. thus is called the centre of gravity. which severely limits flexibility and ability to move quickly.One of the intriguing aspects of shuriken is that the reason for throwing a blade is to make it stick. we are able to subtly control the activity of the body. and with stability comes speed and power. such as developing fine and complex motor skills to a high degree of accuracy and reliability under situations of stress. distractions and external conditions. or higher. too often it gets passed off as religious dogma. By being relaxed. having a lower centre of gravity is a great advantage. thus bringing the feeling of focus up into the chest. the centre of our power and movement is in the hip. Just as our body chemistry is regulated by hormones produced by various mental states. or "tanden" the breath becomes abdominal. and the upper body. The hip is also the centre of the body's weight and mass. The closer the centre of gravity is to the ground. it is easier to listen to what's happening with the body. as well as a resistance to stress. But when we impose strenuous conditions on the body. Stiffness and rigidity are looked upon as being detrimental to natural physical movement. So by instituting rules which govern the activity of the mind. and perhaps gain some of the benefits they purport to bestow upon the student. From a physical point of view. which tend to raise the heart rate. the more stable and solid a person. and often. If you are relaxed. but it is also the physical state in which one can better perceive the condition of one's own body. then we can begin to learn what these teachings may have to offer. which are now easier to do since the body is relaxed. Almost of all these philosophical teachings I believe are designed to improve the utilisation of the hip in the body's movement. And when the teachings of a martial art begin to discuss this area. When performing simple activities that require little motor skill. When we require of our body the performance of actions that utilise fine and complex motor skills. our body tends to act somewhat predictably and reliably. as the hip both controls the stability of the legs. and the secret appears to be the ability of the body to relax. hence you are in a better position to make the necessary changes. and therefore largely ignored. rather than in the chest. the body is able to quickly change direction and to fluidly react to changes in its environment. as well as controls movement in the upper body. the reason for throwing a blade is in fact not to make it stick. yet the best way to make the blade stick is to have no desire to achieve a good hit. to act without desires. The philosophical teachings of martial arts appear to be methods of drawing the attention away from the upper body and bringing it down to the hip. By focussing on the "hara". thus lower. It is when we develop and refine a physical activity so highly and precisely that we begin to experience the effect the mind has on our body and physical function. however the best indication that you are employing the principles correctly is that you can actually make it strike well. Another factor that influences this hindrance to our physical ability is our "mental state". As most martial artists will already know. Meditation and abdominal breathing bring the minds focus on the body's centre of gravity. and this can be covered by technical development in training on a physical level. It is all very well to theorise about the connection of the mind and body. but there appears to be little in the way of instruction on this in everyday life. Once the hip is physically identified as the major factor in improving body movement. and although the methods by which these operate may not be fully understood. so in effect. one has to learn how to control this new-found ability. and can and do influence each other. they nevertheless seem to work in the individuals who apply these principles in their training. There appear to be a number of mental triggers that enable our body to perform to great levels of ability. so too are our actions regulated by our mental state. as we utiltise these mental tactics to trick our body into . our ability to perform is greatly affected by our mental state. do something without doing it. This paradox reflects the Zen outlook on life. Many teachings also require the stilling of thoughts and desires. which in turn provide support for the hip itself. the body often tends to act less reliably and capably. Over the long term. One of the reasons for this is that our body has not had sufficient physical training in the required activity.
and physical performance can increase. and the ability to achieve a high level of accuracy depends upon a great deal of refinement of this physical process. we are learning and practicing techniques and principles etc. or the method of shuriken. *** The Way of Shuriken In their summary of Negishi Ryu in "Sword and Spirit". and thus all that we have learnt. rather it was on how to make the transition from basic and varied principles from within the dojo to a realistic application and understanding in the real world. we begin to realise the benefits of such mental states as being relaxed. Unfortunately I haven't had exposure to those teachings. in this case. training in traditional martial arts can have a great beneficial effect on the student. It wasn't explained to me as being 4 types of knowledge as such. distracted or unfocussed. Training When training is still at the stage of learning technique. or the way of shuriken. as it is a centre of learning. or "Four Knowledges". c) principles of the art. something like moving from "practice" to "doing". rather like having a skill developed and fine tuned. If your mind is unsettled. and d) the "Way" itself. governed and protected by the rules and atmosphere of the dojo itself. it is said to be "shuriken-jutsu". Because the basic movement of the throw is such a simple and gross utilisation of the body. Our consciousness is molded. This means that in the dojo. the shuriken's strike of the target. focus their attention on the centre.what we believe is better performance. the effects of this can immediately be seen in the results of your physical movement. "Jutsu" is practiced in the dojo. not only must one have mastered the technical aspects of the physical movement. of breathing abdominally and focussing the mind on the centre. we are faced with the real world. one must also be able to relax. it becomes "shuriken-do". so I will write about it here. When training is at the stage of doing technique it becomes "shuriken-do". In the long term. stilling the mind of thoughts and desires. . now comes to use. and are faced with the rules of that reality. Likewise for shuriken. Once we see this increase in physical performance. those being the exponents ability to correctly understand a) the situation. In this way. "do" is done in the real world. in the context of education. 1. but I have had instruction in something which sounds very similar. when we use shuriken in our daily life. and accept them as a valuable mental state to cultivate. Meik and Diane Skoss mention an abstract teaching called shichi. proper shuriken training can offer great benefits in not only physical. this influence can effect an adjustment in the psychological makeup of a person. In the real world we need all our skills for survival. Shuriken training is the perfect vehicle for such mental processes to be experimented with. settle the breathing from the chest down to the abdomen. and develop a feeling of oneness and unity between their mind and the surroundings. When we apply our skill and knowledge to the outside world. b) other people's intentions. or have come back to reality. but also mental and spiritual development. Since the body and the mind are very adaptable organisms. then methods have become ways. the body begins to react to this new method of control. empty their mind of thoughts and desires. To be able to consistently throw accurate and controlled blades. at some given stage. Long term exposure to this type of mental state begins to influence us on a deeper and more psychological level. When we leave the dojo and go about our regular business. and cause great changes in the personality. the influence of the mental state over the body is easily observed in this movement. that we intend to apply later.
Wartime. During Wartime. Wartime is not necessarily an official declaration. and apply them to a certain extent. In effect. Peacetime has its own rules. This is all the person of Budo is concerned about. at some level in the shuriken Art. To live the way during Peacetime. and one reaps the benefits of such physical. In the dojo we learn the rules of War. and held with equal importance as other daily activities. and Peacetime. until the state of peace has been achieved. daily practice of shuriken is a method of controlling both the consciousness as well as the physique. staff. and that is how to engage the opponent. In my case. The practice becomes a part of the daily routine. on a daily basis. sword and staff techniques. after one has studied in the dojo one also continues practicing at home. In order to achieve this return to peace. Shuriken has largely been taught as part of a "koryu" or a traditional system that involves a number of arts. and did not touch upon the specific use of techniques. Chapter 57 of the "Dao De Jing" says: "Use the orthodox to govern the state. empty-hand and other weapons. It was suggested that I take the principles of engagement from the Art I was studying and by following a given set of guidelines. the main art is Aikido. as does Wartime. and how to apply our shuriken Art to them. is the Way of Shuriken. reality contains two parts. the practice must be regular. During Wartime. It appears that the reason for this is that shuriken is a supplemental art that "piggybacks" on the basic principles and techniques of a major Martial Art system. the shuriken is used as a form of protection of Peacetime. and spiritual training. Practicing technique can only take one to a certain stage. and the benefits such practice has to offer begin to shape our experience of the world outside the dojo. Therefore. but rather the point at which the peaceful fabric of our personal world becomes threatened so much so that it requires the use of Martial Skill in order to protect it. the rules of War come into effect and take over the decision making processes. The basic guidelines are simply . For example. Satoshi Saito Sensei also will only take students who have been studying another martial art. While an individual's ability to defend themselves when faced with an opponent is greatly enhanced by the study of a Martial Art. Elsewhere in an individual's consciousness. use the unorthodox to wage war". 2. the instruction on this topic I received was very general. At some stage. Engaging the Opponent In the dojo. then the rules of Peace take over. and again. Understanding these differences between Wartime and Peacetime. and that one can take the principles regarding engaging the opponent from that Art. and realisations achieved in order to prepare the individual for engaging an opponent. During Peacetime. one must learn how to apply this knowledge in Wartime.From the perspective of Budo. decisions have to be made. or the Martial Way. and I have developed my understanding of the application of shuriken based upon my understanding of the martial principles of Aikido. typically kenjutsu. or one is living the "Way" of Shuriken. the techniques one has learned are used in order to achieve a return to the state of peace. mental. one uses the shuriken for self defence. one is "doing" shuriken. The mental focus and concentration. Thus training in shuriken is having an effect on one's life in this way. or living the "Way". which involves empty-hand. such as sword. the final outcome of the engagement rests solely on the actions of the individual. one continues practice of their Martial Art. one is "doing" shuriken. as well as the physical and mental relaxation required for proper flight of the blade (as mentioned above in "Philosophical Considerations") affects the consciousness that in turn affects one's experience of reality in the real world. For it to have such an influence. apply them to the use of the shuriken in developing my own method of dealing with an opponent. one has learnt specific techniques and principles that govern the use of the shuriken.
"Momentum" is the speed of the opponent's oncoming attack. they are closing the distance. it is not something which can be taught systematically. at a dangerous angle. In assessing the level of threat. both short term and far-reaching. but it is also the weight or power behind the physical movement that is counted as well. At this point. 2. and increasingly limiting defensive options. Even though the opponent may be at a close distance. "Angle" is determined by the relationship between the opponents centre and that of of one's own. then one will be in a better position to know the consequences of their own actions. One must observe the world and develop an understanding of how consequences derive from actions.worldly knowledge All actions have consequences. Angle 3. and with how much capability. Much of human suffering is derived from the consequences of negative actions. so to allay suffering. if so. if a relatively distant opponent is showing non-aggressive signs by turning the body. Understanding of how things work . Decide which actions to take to best facilitate that outcome. say a side attack. the level of threat is less than a similar attack from a stronger structure. Various techniques of the various main arts will have varying levels of threat assigned to the various angles of attack. which would have greater application of power than an attack from a weaker structure. 1. Certain angles. with considerable momentum towards a particularly vital area. One must be able to look into the opponents soul and determine if they intend to attack or not. Distance 2. Assessing the level of threat. This is a very intangible ability that is entirely up to the individual and their application of their training. with how much intensity. An understanding of the vital areas of one's own body is just as important as an understanding of the potential damage various weapons can cause. If an opponent is attacking quickly. focussing away from your centre and not moving. "Intention of the opponent when attacking". and thus has a variety of threat associated with each weapon. 1. Deciding Upon the Outcome. Intention These 5 things are determined through an understanding of the main art. but also shortening the reaction time. Likewise. "Nature of the attack" is the weapon. The weapon is the type of weapon being used to attack. and are more or less vulnerable to certain types of attack than others. the level of threat can be dangerously high if the opponent intends to harm you. one must choose actions that do not lead to such negative consequences. Nature of attack 5. "Distance" is determined by number of steps away the opponent is. As the opponent takes steps closer. the level of threat may not necessarily be so great if the opponent does not intend to attack. Decide upon what outcome and its consequences 3. thus increasing the level of threat. such as rear attacks are harder to defend than. by drawing an imaginary line between the two. 5 things about the opponent must be observed immediately. and the target. Assess the level of threat 2.1. the individual must take a . Momentum 4. One's own body has areas which are more and less defensible than others. but their structure is not well grounded.
breaks or stretches the interpretation of the rules of society will determine the social standing of the individual within society So in determining how one wishes the threatening situation to turn out. so it is more worn. Very often the social situation or the cultural setting will call for particular types of action. then the triangular heads ground and polished to an edge. how they were made. Deciding Which Actions Best Facilitate that Outcome This is a logical decision based upon the assessment of the level of threat. is to attain mastery. taken from a structural . Hira shuriken. or culture. indeed with any art. I can only speculate on what mastery really is. or is one resolved to preserve life at all costs. and here there may be conflicts with one's own morality. "Attaining Mastery: Using Linguistic Principles to Define a Path of Learning within an Art. and how can people make their own. behaviour and recourse to the law. or make decisions based upon a form of morality or philosophy. *** Attaining Mastery The final goal of shuriken-do. but there also may be opportunities for action. where they choose what they are prepared to do. and the technical understanding of one's art. given to me in 1982 by an old friend "Scriv" who keen weapons enthusiast." SHURIKEN COLLECTION I have had quite a few enquiries about my shuriken. what I use. authentic dimensions. Within this culture. to act to the best of one's ability. . He made them himself in metal shop at college. or shaken. and these can be limiting factors in making decisions. one must consider these two factors. and are not prepared to do. yet it is here that the individual is judged as a human being. and to be prepared to accept the consequences. However. and a bit of information on manufacturing them. Is one prepared to kill or to injure in order to protect oneself. The circular holes were then drilled wit 13mm bit. the individual is also part of a society. so I include here for reference the ones I have and/or presently train with. there are certain expectations one is expected to abide by. and there are both written and unwritten rules that prompt and inhibit action. once the choice of actions have been made. what kind of outcome you desire. so I offer my thoughts on the matter here. Click image image2 for larger view These were my first ever shuriken.. Not having much experience with being a master.stance. They are just 3mm coated plate steel with the 4 pointed pattern scribed from a template then cut out. How one follows. to. or one may be forced to act against their principles. One may be able to act while protected by the requirements of the situation. All one is required to do. no matter what the situation is? It is here that the individual's integrity. acco him. 3. The silver one really nice and I use it more often than the others. what they look like.linguistics viewpoint. honour and responsibility are tested. is to commit to them fully.
had as a student. Currently researching good heat-hardening methods. The Negishi Ryu shuriken shown above. It is mistakenly believed that these two methods are employed to adjust the balance blade for throwing either short or long distances. but with handles wrapped in twine. both famous collectors and proponents of the shu arts. and difficult to work with. this and the following 2 shurike to be authentic. Charles. It's 20cm in length. Morihiro Saito Sensei. I don't know. suggesting authentic origin. but it goes through just about everything I thro Authentic Japanese Bo shuriken of the Chishin Ryu View large Yet to be officially appraised as true historic pieces. I tried treating the tip. They were generously given to me by Robert Gruzanski late father. Click here for a larger view I rewrapped them in jute twine. a Japanese working-holidayer who was working with me at my teachers c It's 6mm rod steel cut to 16cm lengths. I offer my own detailed description of these 3 blades in a personal here . given to me years ago by my friend Scriv. and by all accounts was a formidable exponent of the art. handmade blades made from the heavy. a rougher and courser material which creates good the fingers for the throw. one of my Aikido teachers of many y and a shuriken practitioner himself. its too heavy and bulky. Another metho providing a friction surface was to soak paper in lacquer and wrap the shank of the with several thickness of material. to the exact size and dimensions of a set of Negishi Ryu shuriken given to him late headmaster of our style of Aikido. but this is not the case. This one is the most complete. but I s needs work.I think I needed a much higher tempera what I was producing. Bo shuriken of the Ikku Ryu Click image for larger view This is a protoype of the double tipped Bo shuriken devised by Shirakami Eizo. Masaaki H Sensei and Yumio Nawa Sensei.Bo shuriken of the Negishi Ryu Click image for larger view These were given to me by Mic Marelli Sensei. or Jap traditionally smelted metal. but the metal is very hard and heavy. These were professionally made on a lathe in a shop. ground down 8 inch railway sleeper nail. I of these nails in various stages of completion. tip ground and end rounded by stone. Saito Sensei was an e the Negishi Ryu. to provide friction against the fingers as the blade is released from the hand. Where he got nails. as is n done. the action of retarding the blade's natural tendency to turn in flight. the the shuriken book mentioned at length on this site. black tamahagane. thus allowing the hit method of throwing to fly over gresater distances without turning. All 3 blades exhibit very interesting and unusual surface markings. Click here Bo shuriken of the Shirai Ryu Click image for larger view These I made myself a few years ago. obtained these from his teachers. who continued training until late in life. but it didn't get any harder . as it was th manufacture of the blade itself that decided whether it would be for throwing shorter longer distances. modelled on a Bo shuriken given to me in 19 Ryo-kun.
It appears that the tip end ha heat hardened before filing to a point. I am not sure how authentic its design and dimension compared to traditional shaken. it is just dependent upon the material round were from needles.Authentic Japanese Bo shuriken of the Ikku Ryu View large As I mentioned elsewhere. . Very nice. The butt is gently rounded and squared off. Authentic Japanese Bo shuriken of Shirai Ryu View large This blade has a square cross section. with a symbol embossed on one side. 6mm thick. unlike the circular section characteristic of th school. bevel to remove the sharpness. this set of 5 bo shuriken is the standard package that new students acquire commencing training.1cm long.5cm long and thick. and th slight increase in the angle of the taper in the last 7mm of the tip. note the darkened area below the tip. Ikku Ryu is a 20th Century name coined by Mr Shirakam style of shuriken art. The Ja must know their heat hardening. This blade is 18. comfortable feel abo throws very well.This example is 21 cms long. so this needs some research. the lengthwise edges have a very slight 45 deg. This was given to me by Chihiro Negishi san as mo symbolic gift than one for use. with a very sharp. thickness at its widest point: 7mm. clean. Overall length 16. there are examples of double pointed blades that ap predate Mr Shirakami. Modern shaken from Japan Click image for larger view An example of the type of shaken available today in Japan. The 15. 26mm tip. Yasuyuki Otsu Sensei. square from nails. e when thrown into timber targets. Note the Meifu Shinkage stamp on the paper packaging. because these blades have still retained their tip. Authentic Katori Shinto Ryu Bo Shuriken View large Also a gift of Otsuka Sensei. however square ones were common. This blade has a very nice. this appears to be a relatively modern handmade blad industrially produced metal stock. which is a upper end of the range that Shirai Ryu blades are found in Modern Day Bo Shuriken of Meifu Shinkage Ryu View large A generous gift from the current headmaster of Meifu Shinkage Ryu. but very cool nonetheless. however.
an states that he can throw these successfully at 30ft (10m). View large. whereas the lower blade has an offset hexagonal profile on the tip. The blade resting in top has th octagonal sides following through the entire length of the blade. and throw in the turning method. to strengthen the tip. placement of the thumb above or below the hole compensates for changes in distance by changing the balance point in the grip. chokuda-ho method (direct hit).I do not have much success with it. They are thrown in the Negishi Ryu style. The 25mm taper is slightly conv curved. Jeff Adams Negishi Ryu blades (View large) Very nice. It is simple to th very well. but I imagine it is thrown in a similar fa (knife grip??) to the ovoid blade. the other two hexagonal. but I cannot get them to fl properly or stick in target at all. in a tough metal with a nice Parkerised coating. and was to accurately judge the scale of the photographed blade. These blades ha taper narrowing to the rear. Jeff Adams Ovoid Thrower This particular design is a creation of Jeff's. View large Jeff Adams "Shirai Ryu type" Bo shuriken These are 18cm blades. These are my main practice blades at the m (My son Adrian has commandeered for himself the ones Otsuka Sensei gave me) V large Jeff Adams "Tsugawa Ryu type" Teppan shuriken This blade is only 16cms in length. I can get them to stick when thrown in the turning hi method. and sticks in the target with almost uncanny ease. which means they are better suited to attaching the tuft pigskin and hair into a tassel shape.5cm blades with 8mm diameter. a blad and thrower in the US who very kindly sent me these to showcase his craft. and hexagonal section are very difficult b throw. It is a good. A very easy blade to throwing with.5cms long and 10mm thick at the widest point. The lower blade to has a square cross section. 6mm square in thickness. They ar well made. and the next several examples. Proportionately it appears to have the correct dimensio would hazard a guess that Jeff was working off a photo to produce these. again. traditional blades are around the 17-18cm mark. I am not sure how this blad thrown . but I use it in this grip. clean and simple lines. . are handmade shuriken by Jeff Adams.Custom made shuriken from a smith in the US. relatively heavy blade that flies very both Shirai Ryu and Negishi Ryu styles. and therefore a bit shorter than the traditional Ts Ryu blade length of 19cms. as opposed to wrapping in twine as with the ex above. This. these 3 are not quite identical. I am not sure how Jeff for it to be thrown. thus giving a more factted appeara These blades are 12. solid. Being a d ended blade. finished with a light san oil. it will stick every two paces distance from the target. View large Jeff Adams "Chishin Ryu type" Bo shuriken These 12. The thumb is pla the hole to maintain consistency of the balance. but I believe this blade type was not designed for the turning hit. and is a brilliant blade. and for distances within or outside step increments. a bit sho thin for my liking.
with design elements taken from the Tibetan r daggers called 'Phurbas". The blade is sharpened to edges. and they fly well. and swung like a lasso. and triangular blade tip. as well as pie ability. It is attached to a thin ro about 12-18 feet in length. The lower one brass casing wrapped around the tail. This example is 10cms long. Very nice blade feel right. both horizontally above the head vertically beside the body. and two have also a leather sheath tightly wrapped glued with a resinous lacquer made from the Japanese Urushi plant. with a he cross section. rather than curved. The example in the pic has not yet been lightly sanded with oil. 11mm thick. each example providing both weight and a fri surface that aids in retarding the spin as the blades leave the hand. but it appears its usage has been introduced into Japanese Martial Arts Not sure of the Japanese name. Jeff Adams Shirai Ryu bo shuriken set (View large) These blades are the same as the Shirai Ryu type above. the other 3 are 21cms. a bit short for my liking. For the pouch I adapted a mini Maglite belt pouch. enabling a reasonable direct hit method throw blade is only 12. the rope is let g the blade shoots forward in whatever direction one chooses. 4 sided point. stacked and carried together as a set. as opposed to the difficulty of carrying a set of longer Shirai Ryu blades. The fla compact shape of these blades permits them to be conveniently secreted in a numb places. Bo Shuriken by Hozan Suzuki of Mumyouan Made from 8mm hexagonal stock steel. tips machine lathed to a long taper. except the tapered tips a straight. Jeff Adams Ovoid Thrower Set (View large) More of the above mentioned blades. and the rope prevents blade from escaping the control of the person swinging it. and to a square. The shorter blade is 17cms long.5cms in length. with circular cross section. Black tw been wrapped around the tails. This it safe and comfortable to wear inside the clothing without piercing yourself. The 4 indented rings along the shaft pr very good friction against the fingers. so the Parkerised fin still fresh. which he collects.Jeff Adams Phurba Prototype (View large) This blade is an experiment of Jeff's. thus giving it cutting ability at any point of contact in the swing. When the speed of the swing increases. (View large) . This example has 10mm thickness. An awesome weapon when used skillfully! The weapons is known as a "Chin Rope Dart". but Jeff finds the shorter bla easier to throw. Jeff Adams Rope Dart (View large) I didn't really know what this blade was until I recently saw the DVD of the Martial A demonstration at Meiji Shrine in Japan in November 2004.
but for pract are ideal. . soft mild steel. one of 16cms length. Took roughly 5 hours. More info here Mumyouan. was a perfect direct hit that flew and true. The butt-end is hollow drilled to affect the weight balance.com MANUFACTURE DESIGN SHURIKEN MATERIALS MAKING YOUR OWN On this page is information regarding the process of making a blade. It is a work in progress. The only downside is these are big and heavy blades. they are 21cm lon 12mm thick and weight 160gm. July 5th 2004. They are easy to throw. Hozan believes that a larger and heavier blade makes it easier for the beg learn the difficult "direct hit" method. so I will add to it as I progress in the craft. My first attempt at a Katori Shinto Ryu blade. Made from 8mm square bar. Subsequent throws at greater distances were just as easy. and I find myself in agreement. I am very impr with these.Mumyou Ryu Heavy Weighted Bo Shuriken by Hozan Suzuki These blades are specially designed by Hozan to be suited to the beginning studen shuriken jutsu.. My first throw with this at 3+ metres..difficult to carry many in concealment. so I could compare the way it flies to a more trad. I made this one to 18cms length. Most recent additions are at the top.
Comparison of same blade with a traditional Katori Shinto Ryu blade. I know what improvements to do for the next one. I need to find about rust protection and heat treating now.
http://www.engnath.com/public/harden.htm has some good info
Basic octagonal stock for a Negishi Ryu blade. I used the 12mm square bar, and used a bench grinder to file the corners, thus making an octagonal bar. Took about 3 hours.
My first set of 3 Katori Shinto Ryu blades, made to 17cms length, and 8mm width. They took several hours each. I ground them down from 8mm quare bar stock to the basic shape, using a bench grinder, then finished them off with an oilstone to get the smooth surface.
DESIGN - for plans of shuriken from the various traditional schools MATERIALS - information about metals, both sources and chemistry etc. MANUFACTURE - the craft of making shuriken; tools, the process, techniques and skills, as well as examples of the finished product.. BACK TO MAIN MANUFACTURE PAGE
MANUFACTURE MAKING YOUR OWN SHURIKEN
These plans are based upon information from a number of sources, including "Shuriken Giho" by Chikatoshi Someya, "Shuriken-do" by Mr Shirakami, from photos kindly supplied by Robert C. Gruzanski, and other generous visitors to this website, as well as blades from my own collection. More will be added as information comes to hand.
Mou En Ryu
I don't have much information about this style yet. Someya Sensei in his book only briefly outlines details about the blade itself. The example shown in Someya Sensei's book is clearly triangular in section, however Otsuka Sensei is quite certain it is square, and said that there are no triangular blades extant, and that triangular blades are very difficult to throw. I feel loathe to argue with Otsuka Sensei, but the photo in the book is quite clearly triangular.
The dimensions shown here follow Someya Sensei's information, although other photos show a couple of variations in overall length, and proportion of straight shaft length to taper length. Consistency appears to be in the squareness of shaft, and greater thickness in proportion to length as compared to other styles, and the pyramidal finish to the end of the shaft. Chishin Ryu blades are sometimes called kugi-gata shuriken, as they are historically made from the Japanese nail, wakugi. View enlarged photo of Chishin Ryu shuriken 
Meifu Shinkage Ryu
Someya Sensei mentions two sizes, 6mm thick X 16.5 long, and 7mm thick X 17.5 long. Just to confuse matters, the examples shown in Robert's photos have the longer blades as thinner than the shorter. The only consistency being that they have a straight, square shaft. The blade depicted in Someya Sensei's book has the tapered tip squared off to the tip, but the examples shown in Robert's photos show the taper as rounded. View enlarged photos of authentic Meifu Shinkage Ryu shuriken  
Whether this demonstrates a higher refinement of technique.Shirai Ryu There seems to be great variety in length of blades in this style. a feature which this variant retains. In the case of a. View enlarged photos of authentic Katori Shinto Ryu shuriken      Below is variant a. which may suggest connection or derivation to the earlier Chinese piau. which must have required considerably more work to produce than the square or octagonal blades. Photos of Katori Shinto Ryu blades have included this shape among them. Notable feature of this style are blades with round shaft. the blade also has a triangular cross section. so it is assumed they belong to the katori school. There are variants of this shape that have a thicker shaft with the rear-end taper either a) shorter and closer to the tail (and triangular cross section). which may suggest it is a variant of the Mou En Ryu blade (above).  Katori Shinto Ryu As with Shirai Ryu blades. or utilisation of a different source material is not clear. but this needs to be confirmed. a particular historical pedigree. View enlarged photo of an authentic Shirai Ryu shuriken. and also a thinner version. with the thicker part of the shaft to the rear. or b) longer and closer to the middle of the blade. there also appears to be considerable variety in the basic shape of blades in this Ryu. although the tail end in that style does not taper. as have with variant b. almost like a needle or dart. .
Will have to confirm this. possibly without knowing its origin. a feature exhibited by Negishi Ryu Ryu blades. Variant c. I think that a number of styles now use this blade. It is also said that Sokaku Takeda of the Daito Ryu also used a hashi shaped blade. but it is thought that he demonstrated skill in Negishi Ryu shuriken. or "chopstick" shaped. which do not have a widening taper towards the tail tend to have an attachment such as a ring. A Japanese shuriken retailer here has this type listed as a Chishin Ryu blade. with the thicker part of the shaft towards the tip. or a hole through which thread or a tassle or animal hair is attached. respectively.Below is variant b. Here is an accurate plan. so it is possible this blade is not of the Negishi Ryu. and the only such blades I have been able to find are the design below. As a point of interest. there is mention in the Negishi Ryu of taping the blades to make the balance either forward or back. If these three blades are found to be all of the Katori Shinto Ryu. Mention has also been made of Katori Shinto Ryu blades being square hashi. supplied by a visitor to this site. making them conducive to longer distance or short distance throws. then it may follow the same logic in that the weight of these 2 variants is further back (a) or forwards (b). This variant notably has a hexagonal cross section. often associated with the Ikku Ryu variant a shown below. although those blades. changing the centre of gravity of the blade to make them more suitable for longer or shorter distance flight. of a Katori Shinto Ryu blade currently .
Ikku Ryu Although Mr. View enlarged photos of authentic Ikku Ryu shuriken      Variant a. according to distance. parellel section of the shaft as above. primarily being the length of the straight central shaft in relation to the lengths of the tapers. Note slight variation of dimensions.available in Kendo supply stores in Tokyo. Shirakami states in his book that he developed the idea of a double pointed blade to avoid the necessity of placing the blade either tip out or in the palm. Note that the tapering extends the full length of the blade. There are also a number of variations in the shape of this blade. rather than having a straight. and thus called his style Ikkyu Ryu. . so I am hesitant to actually call the blades depicted below an example of Ikkyu Ryu. Shirakami's innovation. and example 2 below shows a blade with virtually no straight central shaft whether these are blades of different styles is not known at present. Figure 8 (bottom) . because they may in fact be representative of another style altogether. sometimes called ryobari-gata shuriken. there does appear to be photo evidence of shuriken that pre-date Mr.
Enmei Ryu Tanto-gata are shuriken that are adpated from the short knife. Note that this type of blade should be wrapped with either laquered paper or string around the tail shaft. Some pictures of tanto-gata show string and tassles attached to the hole whether this is a fortuitous use of the hole or by design is not certain. thus retain some of the shape. probably due to ease of manufacture on a modern day lathe. so I include ones that I can vouch for. tanto. over that length they are classed as kodachi. Note that the bulb and tail are equal . Below is my own Negishi Ryu shuriken. They are rounded. extending from the butt to about 7cm up the shank towards the head. Negishi Ryu There are many variation in shape and dimension between shuriken of Negishi Ryu. This first one is what is currently available in martial arts stores in Nagoya. Tanto are classed as blades under 30cm. Japan.. or short swords. an exact copy of those used by Saito Sensei and students of the Iwama Dojo in Ibaraki Pref. rather than the characteristic octagonal. It would be an exhaustive effort to record them all. The hole in blade is the hole for the retaining pin that attaches the handle and fittings to the blade.
as well as many other metal implements such as furniture fittings. MATERIALS DESIGN SHURIKEN MANUFACTURE MAKING YOUR OWN Traditionally. Metal smelting technology was imported to Japan from China via Korea around the 8th Century. I have heard that specific construction methods. called tamahagane. which produced a black slag of varying (and low) carbon content. and the butt is rounded off on a more acute angle. which simply means shuriken made from flat plate metal. rough pig-iron that needed further refinement to become the great swords Japan is famous for. The metal was heavy. jutte. with the appearance of a double pointed knife. however this needs confirmation. a fact which quite probably greatly influenced the overall shape of blades within each particular style. easy to work with. Tsugawa Ryu Rather large. however it suffered in hardness and tensile strength. Japan was not a great source of iron ore. rather than being specially made to design. (swords in particular). They are of the type called "teppan shuriken". so what little they did have of the low grade satetsu. In pre-Meiji Japan. long flat blades. This product was a black. have been kept secret. and since there appears to be no historical documents extant today on subject. particularly in the Negishi Ryu. and relatively easier than the sword metal to produce. and refined over the subsequent millenium. manrikigusari.thickness. all exhibit a rough. One may notice that many older metal weapons. or "iron-sand" required a lengthy and ingenious smelting process (called tatara). this . I guess that is why this Ikkyu Ryu shuriken example #5 has broken points. matte black appearance. shuriken were fashioned from pre-existing metal implements. such as shuriken. metal was scarce and its use devoted predominantly to conventional weaponry. It is thought they are adapted from certain parts of the traditional Japanese armour.
there is a great variety of metals produced. such as size. practically and effectively available to us. For this reason.. easily worked into shape.information remains unclear. I think it proper to search for everday items which can. Objects such as 8 inch railway nails. Providing that it follows the principles defined by the art which determine their use. it seems that what was required was a cheap and easy-to-make weapon. can all be easily obtained. simple and dispensable. balance etc.. one that appeared harmless in that it looked like either a tool. but by opportunity from pre-existing metal ware. shape. far superior to the pig-iron traditionally used for such things. Grinding. Micheal Finn. construction or carpentry implement. old carpenters files. tensile strength. the spirit of the art requires that we use whatever is cheaply. however I am yet to confirm this. and yet provide an excellent source of metal. so why not use a bench grinder and a gas torch to achieve what the Japanese were striving to create? . they were folded and hammered over a furnace. in his 1983 book 'Art of Shuriken Jutsu" writes that shuriken were fashioned in a similar way to that of Japanese swords. heat resistance and conductivity etc. be adapted to create a throwing and piercing weapon that can be concealed in the palm. polishing and heat treating technology is more efficient and available to us these days. Since shuriken were fashioned not by design. with little effort. crude. So rather than attempt to imitate the traditional blade to the point that we use exactly the same metal.. each with varying combinations of physical properties such as hardness. chisel blades etc. the source of the metal for the shuriken is of secondary importance. ie. Nowadays.
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