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. ( - link no longer active)

. being small. then into sticks that were thrown. many of their applications would involve being thrown by the proponent before they took to escape by foot from the attack. That the idea of throwing needle and arrow like blades came from archery is a strong possibility. the idea for the throw possibly came from the arrow. Bronze Crossbow bolt of the Qin Dynasty (221BC). It is interesting to note the similarity in shape between the Ganritsu Ryu shuriken. so it may be true that blades had some hardening and forging to a certain extent. My feeling is that because shuriken were adapted from pre-existing items found in everday places. and were thus of very and thus being left lost or unretrieved from battle would not be a costly mode of operating. a practice which is apparently still in use today (see link). Compare with the Ganritsu Ryu blade next page) Figure 3. or dart throwing. and has a triangular conical head. there was little value placed upon them as objects.sphere. The arrow is about 18cm long. Lintong. Blades which were forged would have taken time and money to create. It is true that traditional nails were hand forged.Figure 2. From the Shaanxi Museum of Terracotta Warriors. and with the Qin Dynasty crossbow bolt (see below).(see more) . and thrown from one's person. Since they were primarily used as a distracting weapon. Shuriken by their very no longer active) Some people have stated that shuriken were actually forged in the method of the Samurai The Needle group is a little more problematic. tongs. while the material origin of these blades can quite possibly be thought to be needle . Some examples of traditional nails from various objects such as chopsticks. one of the earliest examples of shuriken in Japan. Michael Finn in his book "Art of Shuriken Jutsu" suggests that shuriken evolved first from sticks used as striking weapons held in the hand. hairpins (see hibashi below) etc. though I sincerely doubt it was to the same extent as that of swords. (www1. tough metal rather than the somewhat unrefined iron as evident in several of the photos below. very likely were either lost or left embedded in the opponent (or the ground) during battle. or from the Chinese method of piau. and thus would not have been so readily left behind after use. hence the uchine (see below).htm . China.

and a form of numerological divination. There two reported types of Fei Biao. Some of the Ninjutsu schools include items similar to purbhas. has some stylistic similarities to certain shuriken blade shapes. air dart ) and the Lo Han Ts'in (Magic Coin . (more research on this in the future) . Many of these weapons are rather unusual in shape and usage. a dagger with 3 sided blade that often figures in Buddhist religious art. and the other a triangular shaped blade which is held and thrown in an unusual way (called Chinese Fist). in both design and method of throwing. Tibeto-Indian Origins There is also some suggestion of an influence from India and Tibet. or double pointed blade. or Dorge. Some examples can be found throughout this site. Chinese Origins Chinese Martial Arts have a lenghty and well represented history of throwing weapons. some meditative practices. some referring to them as being pegs to tether horses. one of the earliest examples in Japan of a needle intentionally adapted to be used as a throwing weapon. particularly in the development of the ryobari-gata shuriken. The Fei Biao (or piau. as part of their shuriken tradition.see below) both have strong similarities. Figure 5. to a couple of the Japanese schools. The historical use of these items is not fully known. A Ganritsu Ryu bo shuriken. called Vajra. one is a dart shaped spike much like the Ganritsu Ryu blade shown above. others saying they are ritual daggers used to pierce ghosts.Figure 4. Piau. being double ended blades. and obviously bear no connection to the Japanese throwing weapons at all. or throwing arrow. particularly with the use of mystical symbolism. however there are at least two examples that may have a historical connection to one or two schools of shuriken in Japan. stylised version of the original Chinese throwing dart. (biao). This is a modern. via China and the importation of Buddhism to Japan. It is interesting to note the Tibetan purbha. and possibly also the uchine. Mikkyo Buddhism played an important role in relation to several Japanese martial arts.

and finger pressure on the tail end of the blade as it left the hand. studied extensively in some kenjutsu arts.Figure 6. Figure 7.ed. that has a number of iron teeth which could have been modified to produce blades for throwing. whereas schools which use the direct hit method. the founder. a traditional rice threshing machine ( http://www. Further information and photos on Senbakoki and their possible use as shuriken can be found here. An 8th Century Tibetan bronze purbha or ritual dagger.. and to the vajra and dorge is quite evident. and gives this example.JPG ) . it actually evolved from a thrown blade. The rounded surfaced blades of Shirai Ryu don't particularly need this same snap. as one such item which may have been this aided the jikidaho method of throwing. Senbakoki Otsuka Sensei has heard of some forms of bo shuriken being made from parts of agricultural farming implements. The octagonal blades of Negishi Ryu are believed to have derived from the round. quite possibly derived from needle or arrow throwing. since they utilise the turning hit method of throwing. The stylistic similarity in shape to uchine. because it uses the turning hit method. So I suspect that although Shirai Ryu uses a round.. needle shaped blade that may have originated from long thin coal tongs. this theory seems all the more plausible. Senbakoki. but I suspect the type of throw is more important an indicator for the origin of the school. it has been observed that a flat sided blade allows this effect much more effectively than does a rounded surfaced blade. or jikidaho or chokudaho throw. this remains purely speculation. Since the throwing method required a certain amount of snap in the wrist. until more evidence comes to hand. the blade shape was later adapted from whatever suited the throw. rather than the type of material used. When one considers that Shirai Toru. needle shaped utensils used in sewing. since these projectiles do not turn in their flight to the along with Negishi Ryu and others. schools which use the turning hit method. (throwing arrow). called a senbakoki. Anyway. Otsuka Sensei postulates that Shirai Ryu derives from the practice of throwing needle-like tongs called hibashi. Senbakoki is a rice/grain threshing tool developed during the Tokugawa period. The large leather needles were then thought to be ground to possess the eight flat sides. Once the throw had been established. or hantendaho or ikkaitendaho method quite possibly derived from the throwing of tanto. Therefore.

they were used because they were available at the time. fiting into the saya. or were used by proponents of a throwing system. They were originally made of ivory or silver of various decorative designs. or handguard. who through their training. ear wax removers. and thence began the idea of a throwing system. later to be made in a variety of metals (see Figure 7). Some have suggested they were head scratchers. and have been known to be readily adapted for use as a thrown weapon. Kozuka . (Tsubouchi) Kozuka are small utility knives that fitted into the saya.Kogai . or scabbard of the Samurai sword and served. Hibashi . these items were then used as a disguised weapon. the latter pulled a kogai from his hair and threw it. such as traditional Japanese ornamental hairpins.Their use generally does not belong to any particular Ryu. who faced each other off with swords. pointed metal stick. in the centre. in various situations. As Hayato rushed at Sekiguchi. These are long. and effectively throw it as a weapon. Japanese ornamental hairpin There is a famous story which relates a duel between Shosetsu and Sekiguchi Hayato. but these are more correctly known to bekankyuto (more on these later). finger nail cleaners. rather they are either items that were used because they were available at the time as a weapon. They are essentially a long. as the name suggests. were able to pick up any object at hand. of samurai together in a bundle. or utility knife. at a later stage. and Hari . Kogai are a somewhat mysterious traditional household item. even specially designed spikes used to pierce and carry the heads decapitated by execution. to the wooden floor. There are a wide variety of stories in Japanese literature that give examples of these items being thrown as a weapon. (see fig. Hashi . The tsuba. which included throwing as a weapon. Perhaps. but there are many examples of various uses for them. Figure 8. It is thought that Sekiguchi used a specially fashioned kogai that was balanced. because of their everyday use. What is clear is that they were regarded as a multipurpose instrument. or pleated skirt. thin. about 20cm long with a handle around 1. It appears no-one can definitively say what they were designed to be used for. thin. 10) Figure 9. and were an item that could be effectively thrown.5cm wide. So it could be said that they are more of an opportunistic weapon. or chonmage. and two smaller holes either side for the utility blades to slide through. used by both men and women to hold the traditional styling of the hair. Kogai . pinning Sekiguchi's hakama. however there are no schools or styles that use these items in particular. generally had 3 holes. Kozuka . knife and needle shaped items used in various parts of traditional attire or around the home. and made to look like a hair-pin. one for the blade tang to pass through. . a variety of purposes (see Figure 8).

and chopsticks. Modern day hibashi . It is possible that this hole or ring was then . alongside the kozuka.Author's collection) Hashi are chopsticks. Otsuka believes hibashi were the original items used to create the blades of Shirai Ryu. reportedly carried his own set of metal chopsticks. or coal tongs.ichaya. and a second type (wari-bashi. shape. purpose built as chopsticks. probably because the bulb head of the needle was used to form the hole in order to pull twine or thonging through. kozuka. that fitted into the scabbard. mainly according to the type of sewing they were required to do. (Photo . and no doubt used on occasion. and there appears to be great variety of these. a simple design which has not changed much over the centuries. some were made of metal. or handguard for a Samurai sword. straight sided which were sharpened. hashi. which was a type of utility chopstick set that was pressed together and inserted in the saya of the long sword. as the twine would be attached. (see fig. A Tsuba. Picture of hashi here The founder of Daito Ryu Aiki-jujutsu. and material. This would account for the reason why many Negishi Ryu blades have a hole or ring at the tail end. Mr.htm) Hari are needles. The tongs pictured here are 39cms in length. Otsuka believes the bulbous projectile shaped blades of Negishi Ryu (see above) are derived from the large and heavy needles used for sewing leather. due to their similarity in size. Figure 11. or wari-kogai) with thin blades and thicker handles. Hibashi are metal tongs used for lifting hot coals from the fire and into various heating and cooking implements in the kitchen. (http://www. There are two kinds of hashi. and while traditionally made of bamboo or other woods. Sokaku Takeda. 11). Although there appears to be no documentation to support the theory.Figure 10. and hence were adapted as a throwing weapon. Mr. the even tapered. showing two holes for the utility knives.

as the flat faces of the blades are easier to throw. and thus serve an advantageous purpose of steadying the blade in flight. Various Photos Figure 12a and 12b. Gruzanski) . 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. as some would have been used solely as hole punches.© Robert C. List of blade types in the bo shuriken category. from the collection of Charles V. Gruzanski (Used with permission. or tools simply used to make holes in the leather. Some straight blades from various schools and sources.not all needles would have had holes or rings. Mr Otsuka also believes that the hexangonal and octagonal shape of the Negishi Ryu blades was added later to the needles. 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. particularly in the jikidaho method.

as well as several from Negishi Ryu and Shirai Ryu. No doubt an industrious soldier. Figure 15 shows detail of the narrow. The large blade with long tassle. Posture for throwing the uchine. top row. Figure 14a. or long sword. 7th from left) immediately after the throw. called yoroi. This interesting collection of blades (fig. were adapted from parts of the soldier's armour. b. 14b). a small utility knife that fits into the scabbard of a katana. Negishi Ryu became utilised by various schools or clans of Ninjutsu. The long chord was used to retrieve the uchine. A variety of straight throwing blades from the collection of Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi. are called uchine. which are actually throwing spears. particularly the splines that form the kote. and the arrow-head shaped blade. in the thick of battle. The smaller uchine has tassels which are used to create drag in flight. particularly those of Tsugawa Ryu. possibly staring death in the face and attempting all that he could do to survive. It is also suggested by an authoratitive Japanese source that some shuriken. and also the tanto-gata (top row. 13) shows a wide variety from a range of schools. Centre row. There are several blades peculiar to Ninjutsu. or wrist protector. They are held and thrown much like a modern-day javelin (see fig. At some point in history. so it could be thrown again. thin metal plates that were sewn together to form a protective armour against the sword. such as the flat spatulate blades or itaken shuriken. current Head Master of Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu.Figure 13. ensuring a straight hit. in rapid succession. ripped pieces of his own armour off and threw them at his attacker as a last resort . 4th from the right is a kozuka. and the second from left.

called tsubute ( the Man'yoshu. and 1 1. 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. showing the thin plates of metal that could have been adapted for use as a throwing weapon. these rounded blunt objects were fashioned from ironstone. even octagonal or . used with permission) Origins of shaken ( ). who have been somewhat secretive as to the nature of their techniques and activities.5cms in thickness (see fig. called tetsutsubete. especially in English. firstly. and. it follows that the use of such metal plates of similar shape and size would have been investigated as a potential weapon . many of the arts which used hira-shuriken of various designs have since died out and become extinct. into slimmer and more perfect round shapes. as historical detail is severely lacking.and from there we have the beginnings of a new tradition of throwing weapon: Tsugawa Ryu (see blade here) Figure 15. and secondly. where stone throwing in combat is referred to as ishi-nage. designed to smash bone and/or armour. This situation is made worse by the fact that false. Within the contemporary Ninjutsu arts there are two particular methods (among others) of throwing shaken. Detail (L) of yoroi. as mentioned above.anything to give one the advantage . These two types of throw suggest two possible and separate origins for the early development of throwing shaken. such as stones. among teachers and students of these arts who have not actually had formal training in these ryu-ha. Eventually. and later inji-uchi. Further to this. and were thrown originally as percussive weapons. Shaken are generally used in the Ninja ryu-ha. If successful. the horizontal throw which is like throwing a frisbee. both determined by the nature of the objects originally being thrown. (Photo courtesy of Takeshi Yoshizaki.6 cms in diameter. in the Heike Monogatari and the Gikeiki.effort in defending himself. often unwittingly. misleading and mistaken information is sometimes passed around. Tsubute were around 4 . or armour of the samurai. leaving only examples of their blades behind in collections and people's memory. where the word was first used in conjunction with the act of throwing stones. or hira shuriken ( ) The origin of these blades is somewhat unclear. the overhand throw which is like a baseball pitch. 16a).

hexagonal shapes. such as cross shaped brackets found in traditional timber architecture. and then get hammered into the curve shape that suits the timber they are's collection) Just as a number of bo-shuriken. as in Fig 21 (below). namely the kugi-gata type. . when it was realised the sharp edge could cut. and from metal washers. 16a and Figure 16b Figure 16a. Figure. They would then have the nail holes punched out. Most people would recognise these plates of metal as construction items. used to sit under the heads of nails. These would have been mass produced as flat plate metal (teppan) and cut to size and shape for particular building applications. and then began to be sharpened along the edge. This way an assassin could hide the tools of his trade in plain view. it is possible that some types of shaken may also have been fashioned from construction materials. A flat round. It is not difficult to see how an industrious person could take these blank pieces of metal. round stone of similar size and shape to the tsubute. and 16b a depiction of throwing round objects such as tsubute is shown in Fujita Seiko's "Zukai Shurikenjutsu" (Photo A . as in Fig 17. at virtually no expense to themselves. were constructed from construction materials such as nails. find that they are easy to throw and then sharpen the edges to make a dangerous weapon. and thus would not become suspicious if they were discover an individual carrying them.

author's collection) . These coins could be either sharpened. 18) as weapons. usually the face. Figure 18. . Douglas Hsieh in his "Ancient Chinese Hidden Throwing Weapons" tells the story of how coin throwing first developed. (Photo . A man was watching children throwing tile fragments across the water. used with permission) The influence from China is not to be overlooked. your skill in throwing was very high. eventually known as hishi-gane. The throw involves forcefully flicking your hand at the wrist. A cross shaped construction bracket found at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo. there is also a tradition of throwing coins called Lo Han Ts'in. In addition to the piau. (photo courtesy of Danny Fletcher. causing a rapid spinning of the coin as it travels in a flat straight line to the target. as Chinese Kung Fu arts also have a lengthy tradition of throwing weapons. It is said that if you could cause the coin to penetrate the clay surface of a wall. a large Chinese coin of the type that is possibly the precursor to flat circular thrown objects. It is said coins were sharpened and thrown as weapons at a very early date. and these could be the precursor to the Hishi-gata and senban shuriken . and also the origin of the horizontal throw. and from this got the idea to throw coins.( "ts'in" being a coin see fig. The method of throwing the coin is to hold it horizontally between the thumb and the forefinger. He noticed that the thinner fragments seemed to carry better than thicker ones. and shaken thrown in the horizontal manner could quite possibly have originated on the Chinese mainland. Lo Han ts'in.Figure 17. with the palm facing towards the belly. of left with their normal edge.

R) carpenters nail removers (kugi-nuki) (see FIg. Shuriken in the 20th Century and beyond . formed from washers.sphere. Whatever the origin. the idea of throwing round. meaning "wheel shaped blade". 20. formed from old coins and Senban shuriken (R).ne. The throwing of these coins. but this needs clarification. and possibly Mikkyo Buddhist religious objects such as horin (see Fig 21.From this one can gather that the thicker heavier tsubute could not be thrown in this method. only a thinner object. Note top left (www1. top L). or nail removers. 19. All these blades are based on a circular design as opposed to the straight pencil shape of bo shuriken. Figure 21. Horin. 19. Figure 19. 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. Hishi-gata shuriken (L). where knowledge of the construction and use of the items began to be passed on and used seriously. From this innovation. therefore. 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). From this point. with minimal modifications. hence the name shaken. such as a coin and later the thinner senban.). rather. the many innovations and different designs became formalised and adapted by practitioners who eventually formed schools. large old coins called hishi gane ( Hishi = Japanese water chestnut shaped like a diamond. L). Gane = money) (see washers (senban ) (see Fig.htm . flat sharpened blades probably arose. appears to be the historical origin of the horizontal throw. it was the convenient shape of these items which first attracted proponents of these schools to forming a throwing no longer active) Figure 20.

and hence a resurgence of cultural preservation has been occurring. Yagyu Shingan Ryu. and one that often gets overlooked. Development and mastery of a Martial Art requires years of patience. This is one area where Martial Arts can have a positive rather than a negative influence. are deeper in that they become a way of life. and prohibitions on such weapons are a logical and easy solution. or method. . or headmaster to successor. because if violence and hatred are still present. Many such arts suffered after the occupation. free from distractions and feelings of egocentricity. Due to the nature of transmission of these arts from teacher to student. Morihiro Saito Sensei was for many years a master. Offences relating to sharp. Yet. honour and integrity as well as techniques of self defence. Fortunately however.As it was an art often associated with the use of the Samurai sword. Entry into this particular art until recently was quite limited. but in subsequent years. I believe there are many reasons for training in a Martial Art. the present headmaster of Negishi Ryu. and now. suggesting that the root of the problem lies deeper within the fabric of society itself. It is difficult to justify to the authorities the ownership and use of shuriken these days. For this reason. etc. of which the late headmaster. I believe that proper practice of shuriken can and does have a place in the modern world. it is probable that shuriken jutsu could continue to decline over time. However complete transmission of a schools curriculum requires many years of dedication and service. live in students are becoming increasingly interested in the art. and such is the danger of the weapon. Such a mental state can only be achieved by years of dedication and understanding. and the art is being more freely taught in dojos in Japan. especially with the high rates of violent crime in today's society. perseverance. humility. and that these moralistic principles become a strong guiding influence over the student. It is simply not feasible to continue placing endless prohibitions on everyday objects which can be adapted to become weapons. The skill in throwing a blade is to have it strike the target perfectly. Isamu Maeda Sensei (1901 . the valuable cultural heritage of this great nation began to attract many in the West. Shirakami Sensei. Tatsumi Ryu. students from around the world visit Japan and train in the traditional arts under these masters. An example of this is in the Iwama Aikido Dojo in Ibaraki prefecture. still the problems of violence remain. Kukishinden Ryu. especially a traditional art which places great emphasis in moral values such as respect. and to be judged of sound character by the headmaster before being permitted to learn. and since shuriken was considered to be of somewhat lesser importance than other weapons within the curriculum of many schools. Arts that follow the principles of Japanese Budo. students having to sign a ledger recording an oath of responsibility. but to achieve such skill requires a calm and relaxed mental state. crimes will continue to occur. which makes it an unattractive proposition for persons of ill intent who wish to maliciously cause others injury. such as Katori Shinto Ryu. the use of shuriken declined along with that of the sword. Shirai Ryu would have died out completely were it not for Satoshi Saito Sensei resurrecting the art and incorporating it into Negishi Ryu practice. Shuriken jutsu seems to recently be undergoing somewhat of a rise in popularity. Many masters of the martial arts did not return from the war. Information is becoming more freely available. as Mr Shirakami recounts. and for them the art becomes the way. The art seemed to have lost popularity and almost died out in the period immediately after the second world war. dedication and humility. only three of master Kanji Naruse's students survived the war. Arts that are aimed at developing skill in fighting are useful only for military purposes. as interest and understanding of Japan grew around the world. 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. and Satoshi Saito Sensei. and this kind of training can only have a positive influence on a student. Despite this. or classical martial systems.1988). the continuation of these schools has been possible even under the most oppressive and difficult of times. such as the traditional art of sword-making. and simply remain as a jutsu. concealable and throwable weapons are quite common these days.

to which Shirakami replied that violent. where one needs to hunt for food. so if an individual is endeavouring to begin practice by purchasing or making one of their own. The blade is 3 1/2 inches long. sharpened into flat blade edges The handle is rectangular cross section 3/8inch wide and 1/4 inch thick. embedding deeply. of Sheffield. 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. by H. Figure 22. OSS Sleeve. Shirakami took the knife and threw it at the wall. Shirakami got angry and reprimanded the boy. Figure 23. with three grooves. vowing to surprise his teacher. As a final note in this introduction. the boy trained diligently. A replica of the OSS Sleeve Dagger by Crawford Knives Some sleeve daggers also here http://www. or fullers. he should throw it in earnest. As it turned out. or Cross Dagger. and practiced on his own. made an item called the OSS Sleeve Dagger. Over time. or Wrist Daggers H. Used in World War 2 as a close personal defence weapon. Long & Co. the boy began to apply himself more to training and less to troublesome activities with his friends. so he wouldn't teach him. It should be mentioned here that there are weapons regulations in place that govern the possession and use of shuriken. He came to his teacher and asked again. Click here for more discussion on the law. a 7 inch long spike with a triangular blade intended for piercing and causing a nasty wound.G.snyderstreasures. aside from their combative characteristics. The student went on to be accepted in University. because. Shirakami agreed and showed him the basic form. but couldn't make the blade stick. This act so impressed the student that he came to ask Shirakami to teach him. but highly .G. it is interesting to hear that some American Special Forces and other military units are becoming interested in shuriken. whether the blade was actually adapted for throwing is not known. Long and Co. dishonest and lazy people cannot throw a blade correctly. The student was throwing a knife in a classroom. The boy was disappointed. they should check the laws of their area. with a groove around the butt forming a hammer head. the shuriken has potential in survival applications. Sleeve. and Shirakami walked in on he and his friends. then told him that if he was going to throw a knife. and his grades began to improve.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. this time promising to work hard and earnestly. England. and his parents noticed a change in their son. and eventually he earned a new found respect for teachers. given its shape.

developed a speed of 200m per second and a spread of 200m radius. which when dropped. possibly skilled in martial arts. Figure 25. like the Sleeve Dagger above. Not widely employed. It. The items depicted in Fig 22 are German made "Fliegerpfeile" (lit. German Air Darts and French flechettes. and like the French flechettes of World War 1 which was in fact based on Japanese shuriken. World War I era (5) There are several interesting items in the Imperial War Museum.1. especially later. through which a lanyard ring can be attached. they turned in the air so the heavier tips pointed downwards on impact. with a bulbous pommel. the Delta Dart also appears to be based on the bo shuriken shape. although as the name "Dart" suggests. London. WW I German copies of the French "flechettes" (photo courtesy of Martin Garnett.Cold Steel Special Projects produce a blade called the Delta Dart. could possibly be thrown as well. The handle is round. Figure 24. 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. London. Illustrations depict the flechettes being stored and released from the plane with the tips pointing upwards. due to their small and random striking area. It is 8 inches in length. causing either severe injury or death. whether these weapons were used as throwing spikes or not would have to be confirmed. which is triangular cross section. 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.500m. believed to be of the Yagyu . However.000 of these darts. is intended to be a hand held piercing weapon. with a 3 1/2 inch blade. One of the dignitaries. They could pierce through both a man and the horse on which he sat. flier arrows). Held together in packages of 50. which are copies of the French "flechette". Imperial War Museum. a single airplane could carry as many as 5. a 12cm long metal projectile dropped from airplanes and Zeppelins from a height of 500m . In the "Air Artillery" section of the World War I display one can find several pieces labelled "Air Dart" (see Fig 22-23 below). which are worth mentioning.) These flechettes are of interest because it is quite clear that their design was adapted from the Japanese shuriken. carried several shuriken. and as they fell to the ground. 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.

shuriken began to be purpose built. 25. and the low grade of iron sand found in Japan at the time. the dignitary in question saw no need to continue carrying such weapons. The similarity in design of these weapons to the Yagyu Ryu blade. The shaft is about 7 inches long.. The item in Fig. who then experimented with the design and the method of throwing to develop an aerial weapon of their own. London. shows that the Japanese dignitary probably demonstrated their use to the French officials. but rather an independent innovation based upon a logical application of throwing sharp objects in a straight line.the more commonly used battlefield weapons.) The future of Shuriken During the pre-Meiji era in Japan. a metal smith was known to a particular dojo. washers and coins were all everyday items that were adapted by martial artists form a throwing weapon. the design was still somewhat restricted to emulating that of the material origin of earlier blades. and required great skill to actually be used effectively. Fig. and this is why many old. which is probably due not to any historical connection. At the end of the trip. through both importing and improvement in smelting processes. and the feathers appear to be those of a raven (crow). then to armour. and donated them as a gift to the French government. though much larger than. In early times. Imperial War Museum. then weaponry. to make shuriken. the Chinese "fei biao" (air dart). shuriken design was largely determined by the shape of the item borrowed and adapted to make a weapon. simply due to the lengthy and inefficient smelting process. Arrows. Further information on these items is not available at present. where they were then installed on display in a military museum in Paris. knives. Generally. etc. such as swords. metal was somewhat scarce as compared today. nails. or family. needles. 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. With most of the . still. who would commission the smith when necessary. 25 appears to be a modified "flechette" with the metal tails cut down and bird feathers added by attaching with twine. The dart is very similar in shape and design to. 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. authentic examples of shuriken betray their material origin. as metal became more freely available. but. A German "Air dart" (photo courtesy of Martin Garnett. In later times. and it later filtered through to craftwork and artistry. it was not a lethal art. Metal was basically scavenged in earlier times.. Metal went first to construction. it had a limited range and capability. particularly within schools that had a well established tradition in the of use of shuriken. and the fact that they were released with the tips pointing upwards (away from the target).Ryu.

local law enforcement appears to be seen less and less as a reliable force to assist in civil unrest and domestic violence. metal of varying grades is freely available to the individual. and he then cut the man holding the gun. Over the years despite these restrictions. but methods of concealment and carry. who maintain a shuriken teaching regime. who have become quite well respected as shuriken smiths.. As the art becomes more popular.. such as Ed Green and Jeff Adams in the US. as per the requirements of a particular school. in a more insular way. There are also quite a number of classical arts that continue. and thus a particular shape of shuriken blade. The man disarmed the intruder holding the sword. or composite martial arts that contain a shuriken component in their teachings. The skill became formalised into a collection of techniques. but he has developed quite a high level of skill. interested individuals are beginning to make their own blades. There are also several smiths. confronted a man in his own home. taking his teacher Someya's knowledge from Katori Shinto Ryu and applying it a modern understanding of the throwing art. hand held throwing weapon. In Australia only licensed martial arts instructors are permitted to possess a sword. and the other with a gun. Only this week we had a home invasion in Melbourne. murders on civil soil by misguided and angry individuals. where two attackers.became associated with a particular school or style of martial art. This movement towards prohibition. both in Japan and in the west. and no doubt they obtain their blades in much the sme way. Katori Shinto Ryu. I feel will not remedy the problem of violent crime in our society. I believe the development of shuriken and shuriken-jutsu is now at a crucial stage. one armed with a sword. 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.. and develop their own styles of throwing. 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. quite radical in design. wounding him pretty badly. as is access to the metal trades. and to make matters worse. such as Yagyu Ryu. Nowadays we are hearing of petrol station hold-ups by individuals brandishing cheap replica Samurai swords. and Daniel Bowley in Australia. Although these smiths take great pains to make accurate reproductions of authentic blades using traditional methods. yet they retain an understanding of traditional knowledge. to pass on their tradition. Otsuka Sensei has access to some highly skilled smiths who make high quality blades for his school's use. It means positive advances will be made in the art. killings have continued. etc. There are still teachers of the traditional arts today. due to the changing nature of our society today. but with tamer and tamer weapons. What I think will happen. and is constantly researching and experimenting with not only blade shape and throwing style. and develop their skills within the arts they transmit. It began with restricting automatic firearms. usually hand forged. Hozan Suzuki of Mumyou Ryu is a prime example of this. killing him. both in design. they are also experimenting with their own designs and construction processes. However. It appears police will not be charging him.sogo budo. and in technique. Yasuyuki Otsuka Sensei of Meifu Shinkage Ryu is a more public example of this. and positive. I sense a growing movement within the shuriken community that is vibrant. His throwing style is very individual. catering mainly to students of more traditional schools as bound by their design requirements. I also see a movement towards a prohibition on weapons. innovative. particularly for teaching and preservation processes. the skill of an innovative individual was initially absorbed into the school's training. would he still be alive? . But due to media attention and hysterical reaction against the acts of killing themselves.the type that would hardly do much damage even if the attacker could properly weild them. We are no longer restricted by the material origin of an existing metal item over the shape of a small. a particular blade shape became accepted as the standard. prohibitions are becoming even more restrictive. His blades are unusual. and used it on him. Today. Once this tradition of passing on the form within the art was established. Thus blades would eventually be specially made. and this is healthy for the art. spurred on by no doubt.

Notes: 1. join together and look after themselves. The tradition lives on. although even Negishi Ryu in the past was taught alongside a sword art. Mol. Waffen-Revue 2. and I believe some surgical instruments. Zeppelins" periodical. pp 211-212 "Aeroplane Darts and Fire Darts". Crompton. which are becoming more and more present in our society . Serge (2003) Classical Weaponry of Japan: Special Weapons and Tactics of the Martial Artists. armour-piercing bullets are made of porcelein. Paul H.airports.No. we are really talking about a combative art that would include a grappling art along with several weapons. G. As people choose particular items based first on their innocent concealability. and perhaps one or two others. Waffen Lexikon 2102-000-1. London Tsubouchi: Kinsei Jitsuroku Zenshu (complete works of the modern authentic record. Shuriken jutsu was not taught as a single art belonging to its own school or style. So I think then that people will begin to think for themselves about personal protection. particularly sword. . Japan Shirakami. Eizo (1985) Shurikendo: My study of the way of Shuriken. to stand up. Definitely interesting times ahead. in Shirakami) Note 5: Sources of information on Flechettes "Aeroplanes. and probably develop their own method of use and style. But there will be a movement towards using non-metallic materials to make these items. France. c. Metallic items are now easily picked up by detectors. The town got together and formed their own bank. . What I think will also happen is that we will see some developments in the throwing technique. pp 311-312. Paris. 1915 "Pliegerpfeile" (flying arrows). Dirigibles. When we say "schools of shuriken".this is the stealthy nature of the art that was a major aspect in its usefulness as a weapon. the Bendigo Bank. a very tough and durable compsite developed in the aerospace industry. There will be a movement towards carrying and using small. Grey. even schools. it will at the same time be also a rekindling of the original spirit of the shuriken art. I think the nature of our society is such that people are beginning to think for themselves. Ed Green makes items in a modern plastic called Delrin. Porcelein is also making great advancements. I believe we will see a development in shuriken-jutsu that while being a modern innovation to deal with a modern problem. and which happens to have a shuriken component as well. 1915) "The War In the Air" by C. This is again.this is the practical nature of the minds that developed shuriken in ancient times. durable. I think will will then see that people will then experiment with how to use these items. easily obtainable yet inconspicuous everyday items that can double up as a stabbing and throwing weapon. Look at the community of Bendigo when the Commonwealth Bank pulled out leaving the town without banking facilities. . Schools of shuriken With the exception of Negishi Ryu. 23rd January. 1915. nightclubs. typically Yamamoto Ryu. Scientific American Supplement No 2042 (Feb 20. then on their merit as a personal defence weapon. Kodansha. the practical and adaptable nature of the people in the past who developed such weapons and made them the interesting and unique items today. in The War Illustrated.

*** . and had their own exclusive techniques and methods for teaching them. Yari. Mr Shirakami states that the blade of this school is not known. and the throwing method associated with it was either copied or imported from China.. However with shuriken.(according the Nihon Budokai Shurikenjutsu video) This shape is also very similar to the Chinese "piau". or Ganritsu Ryu An early mention of specifically throwing blades comes from Ganritsu Ryu. in use during the Song Dynasty (960-1127 AD) (more info offsite here) Also see Qin Dynasty crossbow bolt (previous page) Figure 1. or throwing needle. as many schools would use the same design. and he was sometimes called "henyasai" as he had an unusual ability of hopping and jumping around his opponent. and we are left with only the swords. KumiUchi (wrestling) and Shuriken. Kodachi. it is not possible to discern which school the sword was peculiar to. Tachi-Uchi (sword fighting method). The school included Iai. we can however. Naginata. It is highly possible that this blade. as some people today have suggested. discern the name of the school by observing the blade's design. and they developed an individual personality different to the techniques and methods of other schools. and we are left with uniquely shaped tools of the art. And for the interests of preserving traditions of the past. I think it is necessary to maintain this system of nomenclature. Ganryu was the stylistic name assumed by Matsubayashi. however a video on Negishi Ryu Shuriken-jutsu produced by Nippon Budokan shows a blade similar to the one below (see fig. For this reason. according to Fujita Seiko in "Zukai Shurikenjutsu". When a sword art dies out. it is not a futile exercise to categorise various shuriken by their associated school. So in light of this. the techniques and methods of teaching die with the last proponents. based on its design. 1) and specifically states it as being a Ganritsu Ryu blade. Figure 2.Various schools however. as it resembles "air both the shape and throwing method of a Chinese dart called the "piau" (or fei biao dart"). Jo. generation by generation. By observing the design and manufacture of a sword. we can identify a particular shuriken as being from a particular school. were inclined to use their own particular individual designs for shuriken. founded by Matsubayashi Samanosuke Nagayoshi "Henyasai". a professional swordsman in service of the 18th lord of Matsuhiro in the 20th year of Kanei (1644). while we cannot say a particular sword is representative of a particular school of swordsmanship. These techniques were passed down within the ranks of the school. A needle type shuriken of Ganritsu shuriken Gan Ryu. where we have many schools that have indeed died out. sometimes "brushing the rafters with his kimono". Blades of the various schools . Another needle type shuriken of Ganritsu Ryu.

(Fujita Seiko "Zukai Shurikenjutsu") Figure 4. Katono said that if he was able to blind an attacker. shuriken. and widens towards the tail (Type 1 . Listed in Iwai Kohoku's "Hidden Weapons" as using the blade depicted below (see fig 4) called "mesu gata". and passed away in 1904. also known as Katono Izu.4-5). The successor to Negishi Shorei was Tonegawa Magoroku (also called Tonegawa Sonoroku Masatoshi). from Iwai Kohoku's "Hidden Weapons". the second master of Hokushin Itto Ryu sword. There is also a report that 2nd headmaster.4).).1939). armour. and spear of Oshima Ryu. Saito Sensei has stated that his successor will be Mr. and the other where the shaft narrows towards the tail. Satoshi Saito Sensei 1922 . hitting each hoof in turn. Yoshimi Tomabechi. (1850 .. or paper wrapped and held together by lacquer.1948). as well as Ganritsu Ryu techniques from him. and can weigh between 47 . but this is possibly not true. Negishi became a student of Kaiho Hanpei. This school was founded by a samurai of Sendai-han. Needle type shuriken of Izu Ryu. and thrown into the eyes of an attacker. According to Someya Sensei. there would be no reason to fear them. who was succeeded by Kanji Naruse (also Narusei) (1888 . several of which he wore in his hair. around the . but he returned to Hanpei. called Fujita Hirohide of Katono. (Type 2 . about 10cm in length and weighing about 20gm. Tonegawa also studied under Shirai Toru Yoshikane. The Type 1 blades generally have either string. he became a farmer. and leather mask. It was said that he could throw two needles at a time at a picture of a horse. was held between the middle and forefinger. like a slender bomb (see fig. who served around 1764 -1780. (to be confirmed). and later taught for several years. 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. taught by his father Negishi Sentoku.Katono Ryu. and learned kendo. In interview. Apparently. one where the shaft of the blade narrows in the middle. The needle. For a brief period. who transferred the title in 1959 to current headmaster. a retainer of Joshu Annaka during the last days of the Tokugawa shogunate. He pioneered the use of a throwing needle. and hence we can see that Negishi Ryu descended directly from Ganritsu Ryu. as Shirai Toru passed away in 1843. which was used in the manufacture of the helmet. 4th headmaster role was pased onto Isamu Maeda Sensei. When the Meiji Restoration ordered the abolition of swords. Katono was a student of Matsubayashi Henyasai of Ganritsu Ryu. eventually becoming the head of the Kaiho Ryu.fig.see fig. The similarity in shape between Negishi Ryu blades and Ganritsu Ryu blades is evident in the bulbous head and tapering shaft. Figure 3. (or Izu Ryu) . 5 ) and sometimes has a eye-hole shaped hook attached to the base. there are two types. He then studied swordsmanship of other schools such as Araki Ryu.74gm. The basic blade shape of the Negishi Ryu is a projectile shaped pen that has an enlarged head and tail. Mesu gata shuriken of Izu Ryu. *** Negishi Ryu Negishi Ryu was founded by Negishi Nobunori Shorei. Kaiho Hanpei was also a student of the Katono Ryu shurikenjutsu.

or a tassle of strings (see fig. . below) attached at the tail end of the shaft. Mr Shirakami mentions that as the student throws this type of blade. Negishi Ryu shuriken Type 1. and the long hair assists a straight flight.shaft. thus compensating for the lack of hair. 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. thus assisting in longer distance flight. This is to enable the thrower to limit the forward rotation of the tail end towards the tip. (from the cover of Someya Sensei's book "Shuriken Giho") Figure 5. 7. Figure 4. to create drag in flight. his throws are at first rather wild. Thus it is in the nature of the Negishi Ryu blade whether it is a long distance or short distance thrower. 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. The balance of the blade. regardless of the nature of the blade. unlike the Shirai Ryu. thus assisting either a shorter or further distance throw. The Type 2 blades generally have animal hair (see fig. 5. in order to create a rough surface which causes friction against the fingers as it leaves the hand. showing tail wrapped in string. whether for shorter or long distance throws is determined rather. the size of the bulbous head and the length of the shaft are what determines the balance of the blade. below). which also assists in straight flight. the hair wears off and becomes shorter. who can throw long or short distance by adjusting the throwing technique. but over time. while at the same time the students throw becomes more comfortable and accurate. As can be seen from the many examples shown here. by the actual shape of the blade.

Negishi Ryu shuriken. *** Shirai Ryu Shirai Ryu was founded by Shirai Toru Yoshikane. Gruzanski (photo courtesy of Robert C. commercially made Negishi Ryu shuriken. A shuriken (Type 2) of the Negishi Ryu. Figure 9. A modern day Japanese made Negishi Ryu blade. and at 14 . Type 2 Figure 7. showing attached pigskin/hair tail (Click image to view large) From the collection of Charles V. used with permission) Figure 8.Figure 6. Gruzanski. born 1783 in Okayama and died in 1843. with a conveniently constructed knob on the tail around which a tassel can be more easily fitted. A modern. aged 61. At the age of 8 he began to learn swordsmanship under Ida Shimpachiro of Kiji-ryu.

he added the word Tenshin to the name of his art. thus known as Tenshin Itto Ryu. Gruzanski (photo courtesy of Robert C.(see fig. used with permission) *** Other styles and types of shuriken There are other less well known styles of shuriken. but he continued to doubt his ability. and that he began a study of the art and revived it. 7-8). The style of blade and throwing method he taught became known as Shirai Ryu. although Shirai Toru left no official successor. Shuriken of the Shirai Ryu Figure 11. 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. After this revelation.moved to Tokyo and trained daily under the Nakanishi school of Itto Ryu sword. and a huge variety of blade shapes. Here are some more examples. Gruzanski. Figure 10. current headmaster of Negishi Ryu. until eventually he achieved some sort of major revelation and found peace with his technique. According to Satoshi Saito Sensei. It is sharpened at one end and rounded at the other. Shuriken of the Shirai Ryu. no-one who practiced it remained alive. Shirai Ryu techniques are now taught by Saito Sensei as part of Negishi Ryu training. (click to view large) From the collection of the late Charles V. the differences no doubt due to the origin of their source material needles for the round type. the Shirai Ryu became a lost art. and began teaching in Okayama at 23. They consist of both round and square cross sections. nails for the square. .(2) According to Yoshinori Kono. ie. 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.

which is te-yari gata shuriken. Also. About 17cms long. The shuriken is named so as it is shaped like the blade portion of the te-yari. and not the te-yari blade . to be thrown with the Negishi Ryu style direct hit throw. 14. A te-yari is a short hand spear. by the name of Iijima Hyobei (Iijima Ichibei?) further developed these techniques. suggesting a connection between Chishin Ryu and Tanba Ryu. but not intended to be thrown. taken from a screen shot of the Negishi Ryu Shurikenjutsu video produced by the Nihon Budokai. a distinguishing feature of the blade itself is the pyramidal finish to the butt end. "Yin Fist") as being of the Araki Ryu. An Araki Ryu shuriken. Onkobushi (inken?. To confuse matters. It is interesting to note that the name of the last headmaster is Tanba. this style is descended from Takemura Ryu (see below). whereas the Chishin Ryu blade in its final form is a kugi-gata (nail shaped blade). an Onkobushi (lit. A student of Takemura.Araki Ryu No information on their shuriken techniques available at present. who passed it on to Niki Juemon and then on to Asano Denemon. thought to have derived from the "te-yari". Furthermore. Figure 14. The blade in fig. similar to uchine. which were then passed on to Dogen Tasaemon. the throwing style of Musashi was said to be the turning hit. about which nothing is known at this stage. finishing with Tanba Orie Ujinaga (who presumably was the last headmaster of the art). Someya Sensei describes the blade (see pic below. with a tanto-gata (knife shaped blade). similar to uchine. listed by Yumio Nawa Sensei as Araki Ryu blades. a type of short throwing spear. 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. . A Chishin Ryu blade in the author's possession also measures 13. It has a 25-30cm blade attached to a wooden haft.5cms. Fujita Seiko lists only the blade shown in Fig. Fujita Seiko has this type of blade listed as belonging to Tanba Ryu and Chishin Ryu below. as being 16cms in length. 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. and also design) in his book.kanji reading uncertain) of Araki Ryu *** Chishin Ryu According to Mr Shirakami. Figure 13. Hoko gata (spear shaped) shuriken. Figure 12. 12 shows the shape thought to be used in Araki Ryu. trans.

killing him. Daito Ryu is the foundation art from which Morihei Ueshiba Sensei developed Aikido. As Shishido pulled out his chain. Historical sources state that Takeda Sensei carried a pair of metal chopsticks which he was able to throw like shuriken. added by one of Musashi's students. an expert of the kusari-gama. or traditional matting. Hokkaido. Shuriken of the Chishin Ryu (photo courtesy of Robert C. According to Meik Skoss. or knife. Sokaku Takeda Sensei was a master of Negishi Ryu shuriken. depicts a tanto-gata as the blade used in Enmei Ryu. probably a tanto. thrown outside against old tatamai. There is a story of a duel between Musashi and Shishido. Musashi threw a dagger and struck him in the chest. More information added as it comes to hand. Simple bo shuriken made from nails. which involves throwing a 40cm blade. It seems the art is going through somewhat of a revival in recent times Figure 17. Bugei Ryuha Daijiten lists Enmei Ryu as having a jujutsu component. 17). and practice with bo shuriken constructed from large rounded nails 15cm in length (see Fig. Gruzanski. although students of Abashiri Dojo are taught shuriken rather informally at present. used with permission) *** Enmei Ryu The famous swordsman Miyamoto Musashi was reportedly the founder of this school.16 Chishin Ryu blade as shown by Fujita *** Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu According to a student of the Abashiri Dojo in Hokkaido. used with permission) Fig. Enmei Ryu is no longer extant. Chikatoshi Someya Sensei.Figure 15. One source has stated that Daito Ryu uses the projectile shaped Negishi Ryu blades. late headmaster of Meifu Shinkage Ryu Shurikenjutsu. (photo courtesy Giacomo Merello. . used for practice at Abashiri Dojo. a sickle and chain developed specifically to defeat the samurai's sword.

The art is characterised by utilising very powerful throws. Along with being thrown as a weapon. forged and polished with a very sharp edge. Iga Ryu Refers to a collection of traditional arts. Iga Ryu utilised a wide variety of blades in the shuriken component of their art. Visit their website here. with close ties to Koga Ryu. confined historically to the Iga-Ueno region in central Honshu. mainly shaken.Figure 18. heavy (about 150gm). was a student of the now defunct Hakkaku Ryu. although they do possess a uniquely shaped blade called "Matsuba gata" (Pine needle shaped). Ohmi. much like a pocket knife. An illustration of the "Swallow Tail blade" of Iga Ryu. Shuriken of Hirano Densho Ryu. founded by a Mr. who. with both left and right hand alternately. Figure 21. or "Enbi-ken" (swallow-tail blade). Figure 20. and the blades are large . Shuriken of the Enmei Ryu. Japan. from Fujita Seiko's "Zukai Shuriken jutsu" . tanto-gata. basically an identical art confined to the Koga region. I believe. as well as Ninpo. the blade served several other functions.. including jujutsu and buki-waza (weaponry). Note highly polished tip. to a unique design. Japanese knives adapted to become shuriken *** Hirano Densho Ryu Toukenjutsu This is a modern school.

used with permission) Note: Mr Shirakami writes that it was his innovation to make use of the double pointed blade. he apparently left no successor as head of this Ryu. and formed a new method. from another uncle. Mr Shirakami also learned kenjutsu of the Hokushin Itto Ryu under his uncle. Gruzanski. created in 1965 by modern day shuriken master. This method overcomes the problem of positioning the blade the right way round in the hand before throwing. He was a student of Master Naruse Kanji (d. giving greater flexibility in distance. and author Shirakami Eizo. The method of holding the "Swallow Tail blade" for throwing. Figure 23. sadly passed away in 2001. Mr Shirakami was born in Tokyo in 1921. 23). Are we to assume from this that he developed the double pointed blade? Perhaps something was lost in the translation I am . the 3rd headmaster of Negishi Ryu shurikenjutsu who had also trained in Yamamoto Ryu sword. without having to change one's blade. and although he did have some students over the years. or without having to adjust the positioning of the blade in the hand. 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. and archery (including uchine) of the Heki Ryu. Shuriken of the Ikku Ryu (to be confirmed) Click image to view enlarged (photo courtesy of Robert C.Figure 22. General Hayashi Senjuro. Shirai Toru. which involves a double pointed blade (see fig. and learned both Shirai Ryu and Negishi Ryu. or Ikku-ken Ikku-ken is the name given to a relatively modern style of shuriken. so one could throw either Negishi or Shirai Ryu style throws. (photo courtesy of Danny Fletcher) Ikku Ryu. Mr Shirakami began shuriken training in 1938 under Mr Naruse. 1948). and combined the blade from the Shirai Ryu with the throwing style of the Negishi Ryu.

but the double ended shuriken has been around for quite some time. Hirayama's sword-fencing teacher was Yamada Mohei from Shinnuki-Ryu. Also Yamada was the third-generation grandmaster of the Untyu-ryu (spelling?) school of kenjutsu. and was succeeded by Soma Taisaku. from Matsushita Kiyokuro the spear-fighting methods of Oshima-ryu. Hirayama's treatises "Kensetsu" ("Meaning of fencing") and "Kentyo" ("Collection about fencing") are the treasure of bujutsu. archery and swimming. Hanpei. similar to the sword cut kiri-otoshi. For training fights they used bamboo shinai. Nakanishi Itto Ryu was studied by Shirai Toru Yoshikane. . Negishi Shorei. and I suspect. also studied Itto Ryu under Chiba Shusaku Narimasa. Under Saito Sandayu he studied the Naganuma school of military strategy. The founder was Hirayama Kozosen. (1759 .1828) born into a family who functioned as Iga-gumi or guards in the Iga area. but he also learned both kenjutsu and shurikenjutsu from Hanpei. Itto Ryu is one of the major influences on kenjutsu throughout Japanese sword history. Jitsuyo means "pragmatic use". designed to penetrate armour and dismount riders. Apparently all their weaponry was thick and heavy duty. Shorei originally learned Annaka-ha Araki Ryu kenjutsu from his father. Yumio Nawa depicts the blade below as representative of this school. including Shinto Isshin-ryu. came to be popularly known as Shirai Ryu. Itto Ryu is said to use the round sectioned blade. also Hirayama Gyozo). the 2nd headmaster of Hokushin Itto Ryu. hands and legs. Also he studied horseback riding. (or Hiraiyama Kozo Hisomu. Chuko Shinkan-Ryu Not much reliable information on this school available at present. and several of its substyles. who founded later Tenshin Itto Ryu. although it is not verified at the moment. Negishi Sentoku. 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. similar to the subsequent Shirai Ryu style of blade.not sure. was a student of Kaiho Hanpei. *** Jitsuyo Ryu or Kobu Jitsuyo Ryu. The essence of the system Hirayama described in the beginning of "Kensetsu": "My kenjutsu is served to punish enemies by death". Tyuko Shinkan-ryu was ultimately combat-oriented and completely negated competitions. Fighters of Tyuko Shinkan-ryu tried to immediately came close to enemy and stroke him by sword. figure heavily in the lives of several prominent innovators of shuriken. however Fujita listed it among his list of schools in Zukai Shurikenjutsu . Opponents used standard 1-metre shinai. *** Itto Ryu Itto Ryu Kenjutsu. The throws in both Shirai Ryu and Negishi Ryu utilise a vertical downward action. and his shuriken jutsu. but didn't use protectors. that Itto Ryu has also played an important part in the dissemination of the early shuriken art. who studied shurikenjutsu under Katono Izu (Fujita Hirohide). through the body's centreline. who created the Hokushin line by mixing Hokushin Muso Ryu and Nakanishi Itto Ryu. Hirayama also studied kenjutsu of other schools. This needs some research. a once secret cutting technique peculiar to Itto Ryu. from Yinokami Ryuzaemon the firearm shooting of Buei-ryu school. although strictly speaking was part of Itto Ryu. from great wrestler Shibukawa Bungoro Tokihide the jujutsu and iai-jutsu of Shibukawa-ryu. but students a short sword (only 40 cm with handle!). founder of Negishi Ryu Shurikenjutsu.

Kashima-Shinryu is a composite art. 1. as was famous for helping the choreography on Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai". 24. Sugino sensei was regarded as Japan's last great swordsman. the blade is pushed further down. closer to the centre of the palm. *** Katori Shinto Ryu . but as the blade leaves the hand. the blade is held in a slight angle across the palm. about 12cm long. Fig 25. .Fig. In Kashima Shinryu. The method of throw is the choku-da-ho. towards the fingers.5 cm taper. and for longer distance throws. and others. such as shuriken-jutsu. though the hanare. The tip is octagonal.5cms at its widest point. it is about 12cms long. with a 2. the hand slightly pushes forward. a shuriken component. thus inhibiting the natural tendency of the blade to turn. about 3cm long. *** Kashima-Shinryu Founded in the late fifteenth century. the Kashima-Shinryu is one of the oldest martial systems in Japan. and the fleshy part of the base of the thumb pushes against the tail. A recent video has been produced by this school which features. The throw mimics the kesagiri. Although training focuses on the use of the sword. Shurikenjutsu is still taught today as part of the curriculum. For short distance throws. with the tip resting over the first finger. 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). The Kashima Shin Ryu shuriken is a slightly tapered square blade. with an octagonal tapered tip. tapering down to about 8mm at the tail end. sojutsu (spear). or exit of the blade from the hand differs from that of Negishi Ryu. consisting of twelve disciplines including kenjutsu. or "collar-cut" style of the sword. among a few other obscure weapons. or "direct hit" method.Sugino line A branch of Katori Shinto Ryu under Yoshio Sugino. the blade is pushed further up the hand. naginata (halberd). hojo-jutsu (rope tying techniques) a form of grappling called goshin jutsu. Shuriken of Jitsuyo Ryu. The shuriken of Kashima Shinryu resembles the blade of Ryu. about 6 inches in length.

Finn. Yuishinkan Sugino Dojo. Tokyo *** Koden Ryu A form of ju-jutsu. They are very distinctive in appearance. (Seems very early) Source: http://www. . and thus the technique was passed on and came to be known as Koden Ryu Shuriken. They were apparently originally used in "kumi-uchi". 10th dan (1904-1998) Photo courtesy of Kristoffer Sandven. Kunai come in a variety of shapes. used for purposes such as digging implements and climbing aids. as a hand held item for prying open an opponent's armour. Fujita Seiko shows the following as blades of Koden Ryu in "Zukai Shurikenjutsu".vpuma. being called "kunai gata". said to be of Korean origin. extant in Japan as early as 7th Century AD.html . Perhaps their use as a throwing weapon was realised. and appear to be a rather versatile utility tool.Yoshio Sugino shihan. an early battlefield grappling

50(r) below. of the needle type called "uchibari" ( *** ) Masaki Ryu In one of his books. They use 7. Probably not a ryu as such. by tradition. 27) Fig. Fujita Seiko was reportedly the last headmaster of this system. and teaches a variety of weapons and hand techniques. however this may be an error in publication.(FIg. *** . Fig 28.5cm square flat plates of sharpened steel called "teppan". Not long before this however. does not include shuriken jutsu as part of the school. rather a general term for a number of various arts known to the region. which are said to be thrown against warriors with armour. They are lozenge shaped with a square hole in the centre. pictures this blade as being of the school. he had donated a large part of his martial arts collection. a technique reminiscent of the tsubute of ancient times. as Masaki Ryu. Shuriken of Koden Ryu. They also use the "kozuka" or swordsman's utility knife.Firegure 26. A student of Nawa Sensei has confirmed that this is a typographical error. From "Zukai Shurikenjutsu" *** Koga Ryu Refers to the martial systems that were practiced around Koga prefecture. Japan. as seen in Fig. as well as normal "bo-shuriken". 27. (see also Iga Ryu. Shingetsu Ryu) Kukishinden Tenshin Hyoho Kukishin Ryu is another ancient and comprehensive fighting art that traces its beginnings back to the 1300's. In some of the Kukishin documents there is mention of such plates reaching up to 12cm in diameter. to the Koga City Ninja Museum. including shuriken. Yumio Nawa Sensei. A bo shuriken of the Kukishin Ryu. current headmaster of Masaki Ryu Manrikigusari jutsu. He died in a car accident with three of his students in the 1960's.

Chikatoshi Someya Sensei depicts blades and throwing methods at length in his book. who trained under Someya Sensei since 1980 and now runs a dojo with about 30 students in Japan. having investigated a number of techniques and types of blades used in various ryu. Someya Sensei in his book "Shuriken Giho" states that the art is "touden" ( ) . Shuriken jutsu was his forte among the buki waza of the Katori However. The blade shown appears to have a triangular cross section. who began training as a boy in Katori Shinto Ryu from the 1930's to the 1970's. although with the passing of Shirakami Sensei in 2001. Someya Sensei passed away in June 1999. in a variety of throws. the other two being Negishi Ryu and Ikku Ryu. who utilise a variety of blade shapes. Shuriken of Meifu Shinkage Ryu [view larger] These blades are 7mm in thickness and 15cm long. Someya Sensei was trained in Katori Shinto Ryu. 31. originated in China. (photo courtesy of Danny Fletcher. and advanced practitioners throw a wide variety of blade shapes. beyond that they practice the turning hit method. He was also a shuriken researcher. and he made some modifications and formed his own style in the 1970's. used with permission) *** Mou En Ryu The founder was Koshiba Soubei. and it appears the art may have originated in China. .Meifu Shinkage Ryu This style was founded by Chikatoshi Someya Sensei. Shuriken of Meifu Shinkage Ryu Large image available here [1] (author's collection) Figure 30. "Shuriken Giho". thus giving the art its current name. They practice the direct hit method of throw up to 7m distance. There is a video available here on this art. in Japanese. resembling those of Shirai Ryu. including "Chinese Fist method". 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. It is one of only 3 ryu specifically devoted to the shuriken arts. and is succeeded by Yasuyuki Otsuka Sensei. and shows the blade for this art as seen in fig. it is not certain whether there are any Ikkyu Ryu students or schools in existence. and also manages the Meifu Shinkage Ryu website. as they are easier to learn the basics with. the traditional nail. for beginners to practice with. Figure 29. he introduced the blades below. although the blade is termed kugi gata as it is made from wakugi.

In Fig. This description may well suggest the reason for the unusual triangular butt end of some Mou En Ryu blades. Mou En Ryu blades as depicted in Fujita Seiko's "Zukai Shurikenjutsu". which exhibits square cross sections.7cms long. 28. Mouri Gentaro Gentatsu who apparently was a cripple and practiced throwing 15cm nails at sparrows as a child. There is some suggestion that this account is actually fictional. This dull edge sits in the palm. He later dueled with Yagyu Jubei. The example shown here is 16. the method of throwing in Mou En Ryu is not known at this stage. A blade of the Mou En Ryu. or back flap of the hakama. . Fig. confirming Otsuka Sensei's coments above. as depicted in Someya Sensei's "Shuriken Giho" Fig. Y. 32. palm forward. the top example is 13. I am presently searching for longer extant (Skoss) *** . *** Mouri Ryu Named after its founder. and triangular blades were not generally known. due to a certain difficulty in throwing them. Hsieh. in his book "Zukai Shurikenjutsu" depicts Mou En Ryu blades as seen in Fig. a triangular throwing dart is described. Note that the cross section for these blades is square. 18 in each hand. appearing in a work of fiction and misunderstood to be an historical event. He reportedly carried around 12 blades in various places.however Otsuka Sensei said in personal communication that it is square. 32. a master of Otsuki Ryu Kenjutsu from Hiroshima recounts that his teacher. In "Ancient Chinese Hidden Weapons" by Douglas H. and a third dull edge at the rear (see also Teihozan Ryu. below). and carried 36 blades. . which has a two sharp edges that meet at the point. and therefore show a derivation from the Chinese. an Edo period samurai of the Aizu domain used shuriken on a number of occasions during his employment in the Shogunate's security force. with the tip pointing outwards towards the target.Jason) *** Otsuki Ryu Yasuda Zenjiro.31. However. (There is an account of this duel with Yagyu Jubei somewhere. so it is still difficult to accurately compare the Ryu with Chinese sources. including the koshita. Okamoto Munishige. and the blade is thrown under-arm.3cms Fujita Seiko.

his martial arts name) based on his training in Negshi Ryu and Shirai Ryu under Kanji Naruse Sensei.33. and depicts the Shingetsu Ryu blade. and the author of several historical books on various traditional arts. but thicker. with a rounded sides. Shinei Ryu is still taught. but it appears they used tanto-gata Enmei Ryu. or ornamental hairpin as its representative blade. and possesses a shuriken component. piercing it to the (knife-shaped blades) in the manner of . and the shuriken. Video footage shows Maeda Sensei holding and throwing blades in what is called the "Chinese Fist" method. of Musashi Miyamoto. but passed the title on to Satoshi Saito Sensei. In his "Zukai Shurikenjutsu". Ryusei is a Japanese word for comet. this art is said to use a kogai.. Maeda Sensei felt his style wasn't representative of Negishi Ryu. and was able to accurately throw blades well into his later life. Fig. The blade said to be of this school is depicted below with the Yagyu Ryu examples. It appears this style of shuriken jutsu is taught as part of the Itosu-kai Shito Ryu karate curriculum. It is said he was very skilled with the sword. in Osaka. *** Shosetsu Ryu Founded by Yui Minbu no suke Tachibana Shosetsu. under the auspices of a Master Teranaka. Note that the thickness increases towards the tip. Fujita Sensei was the 14th headmaster of Koga Ryu Ninjutsu. *** Takemura Ryu This school was founded by Takemura Yoemon Tsunenori who was the adopted son of Miyamoto Musashi. *** Shinei Ryu This style of shuriken jutsu was formed by Isamu Maeda Sensei (also known as Shinei Maeda. Shingetsu Ryu This shuriken art was reportedly passed onto Manzo Iwata Sensei of Shito-Ryu by Seiko Fujita Sensei. if not unusual. but no information can be found on them at present. he mentions that the founder of this art was Fujiwara Naritada. during the 1950's. staff and rope tying techniques. Bo shuriken of the Shingetsu Ryu. Details are scanty. in that he seemed to make very little arm movement while throwing. however his throwing style was rather distinct. *** Shosho Ryu Shosho Ryu Yawarajutsu is a old school of jujutsu. and therefore should not be headmaster. Maeda Sensei was due to be next headmaster of the Negishi Ryu after Naruse. and that he once demonstrated his skill by throwing a 40cm dagger at a peach floating on a river. in 1948.Ryusei Ryu There are several mentions of this school. based in Iwate-ken (prefecture). Reportedly. of similar length to Shirai Ryu blades. that also includes sword.

33 below as being of the Takemura Ryu. It is interesting to note that the last headmaster of this school is named Tanba. and the art's name was Chishin. Tanto gata shuriken of Takemura Ryu Fujita Seiko also illustrates this blade shown in Fig. the female mafioso in the movie "Kill Bill". According to Iwai Kohaku. 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. From Iwai Kohoku's "Hidden Weapons" *** Tamiya Ryu Kenjutsu This school of swordsmanship also contains shuriken throwing techniques as part of its curriculum. It is my suspicion that Tanba Ryu and Chishin Ryu are synonymous. 34 below: Figure 34. but with a tassle attached). 36. Fig 35. whereas the uma bari is. are both listed together by Fujita Seiko as Chishin Ryu AND Tanba Ryu. (This is the same type of blade thrown by O-Ren Ishii. not. along with the blade shown above in the section on Chishin Ryu. See also Araki Ryu above . or possibly to clean objects from under the hoof. the kogai. "Uuma bari". Fig. although Fujita Seiko shows the blade below as belonging to both Tanba Ryu and Chishin Ryu. the kankyu-to possess a sharp knife edge hence the character -to.core. (lit. Fujita Seiko. Kankyuto gata shuriken . this blade is a Kankyuto gata ( ) shuriken. the style appears very similar to Katori Shinto Ryu. and this blade. According to the kanji. however technically. and that the error is caused by the fact that the teachers name was Tanba. usually being round with a sharp point. as the name suggests. A similar item to the Kankyuto is the uma bari. which is a utility needle used to either pierce boils in the horse's skin. as has been suggested. no doubt as an "assimilated art". Viewing a demonstration on video. They are usually classified together and thought to be the same. horse needle). also of Takemura Ryu. or the let blood from the swollen veins in the horse's legs caused by overwork. *** Tanba Ryu Little is known of this school at present. or to act as a support to which an identifying label is attached and iserted into the head on display. in his Shurikenjutsu book depicts the blade as the type of tanto shown in Fig. needle shaped. More information needed to confirm this. this translates as "pierce a decapitated head". in his "Hidden Weapons" book.

Tsutsumi Yamashiro no kami Hozan. borrowed and used. Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu was one of these schools. to form the first standardised set of Kendo forms. as well as battlefield and martial strategies. Details about the shuriken in this Ryu are scarce at present. Tatsumi Ryu This school is a comprehensive martial art founded by Tatsumi Sankyo around the mid 1500's. It is 12. specific techniques were incorporated from a variety of existing Ryu which contained a kenjutsu component. See also Moen Ryu. This blade is rather interesting in that it's cross section is somewhat diamond shaped. but this is untrue. above for similar triangular shapes in blades. Figure 38.Figure 37. from "Zukai Shurikenjutsu". it is 17mm wide. Fujita depicts the blade shape shown below as being the blade of this school. which involves grappling in armour. When the Kendo kata were being formulated. being flattened along one axis. Shuriken of the Tanba Ryu. and still operates today. as well weapons such as kenjutsu and kusari-gama (sickle and chain). called Fei Biao (see History). though I suspect shuriken training was introduced into the art at a later date. along with techniques from others schools. Hozan Ryu is sometimes mistakenly called a school of Kendo. and it was the Hachiten Giri technique from Hozan Ryu. and 12mm thick. Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu is a 15th century ju-jutsu art that included a form of grappling called yoroi kumi uchi. It teaches a complete range of weaponry.6 cms long and weight 90 grams. At its base. 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 interesting to note that this blade shape is similar to the Chinese flying dart. Little is known about the shuriken component of the Ryu at this stage. . This is possibly due to the nature of the source material used to make the blade. The photo below shows a blade currently used in the Tatsumi Ryu. including shuriken.

The later weapons are only taught to older high ranking students. One is a blade with hexagonal cross-section.Figure 39. and it suggests that the two arts are more closely linked than previously thought. nottom. Figure 39. (fig. Naginata is practiced against sword. the shuriken was taught as part of the techniques for sword.There were apparently even some yari techniques. *** Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-Ryu This style is one of the most famous martial arts of Japan. *** Tendo Ryu Naginata-jutsu (Tendo Ryu Heiho) Tendo Ryu also includes shuriken. as of Negishi Ryu. . It is a composite art consisting of many weapons. techniques for kaiken and tanto are included as well. too. sword and shuriken included. There are descriptions of two different blades. 38) but most are the square sectioned type shown in fig. A Shuriken of the Tsutsumi HoZan Ryu. As with many other schools. Figure 38.. and shidachi for the naginata side. which explains the similarity in shape of the example in fig. 39 top. and in fig. 40 have their weight balanced close to centre. In some of the earlier kata. 38 the weight is forward. although there are apparently very few people who know these techniques. It is thought the throw of Katori Shinto Ryu is that of the "direct hit" method. all of which are matched against the tachi. This theory is identical to that of Negishi Ryu. middle Chishin Ryu. 40 . and the sword against sword kata have apparently been lost. middle. 38 to those of Negishi Ryu. fig. too. Top Shuriken of Katori Shinto Ryu. therefore determining whether a blade is more suitable for a short. Tendo Ryu also includes Nito. 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. where the uketachi for the tachi side. These variations in weight balance affect the blades rotation in flight. Ikku Ryu. the weight is to the rear. The ones shown in fig. or long distance throw. Jo and kusarigama. with a long and distinguished history.42.

Figure 41. used with permission) . on display at the Katori Shrine. Authentic Katori Shinto Ryu shuriken. Gruzansky.Figure 40. These blades were offered to the shrine by the school in 1890. Authentic Katori Shinto Ryu Shuriken from the collection of Chikatoshi Someya Sensei. (photo courtesy of Danny Fletcher) Figure 42. Gruzansky. Shuriken of the Katori Shinto Ryu from the collection of the late Charles V. (photo courtesy of Robert C. now in the possession of Yasuyuki Otsuka Sensei.

a double ended blade. so the label is not incorrect for both. and by others a ryobari-gata shuriken. The word teppan means "plate metal".9 kajo (Secret techniques . Someya Sensei depicts the Yagyu Ryu shuriken blade as a 4 pointed hira shuriken. and that in battle it was known to be removed and used as a throwing weapon.8 teachings) 3. Gogyo no shuriken . The Tsugawa Ryu shuriken. According to school documents called the "Mokuroku Heiho no Shinsho". or ryohashi tsurugi-gata shuriken. 44. much like the fletchings on an arrow. Perhaps this is the reason for the unusual shape of the blade. *** Yagyu Ryu A famous kenjutsu style founded by Kamiizumi Ise no Kami Nobutsuna. double pointed spatulate blade. Some groups use teppan to signify a large lozenge senban type blade. similar in shape to Negishi Ryu's "projectile" shaped blades.9 teachings) *** Tsugawa Ryu The blade used by this style is a large.Figure 43. Gokui no shuriken . as it has two points that are similar to the double edge straight sword called tsurugi. and passed through the Yagyu family.8 kajo (Higher techniques . but with the tail end having a star shaped cross-section. a piercing weapon dropped at . Fig. I heard a report that this pattern is similar in shape to a part of the traditional armour. Successive generations of Yagyu lords served the Tokugawa shogunate for many years. and was the basis for the French designed "flechette". as well as a 2nd type.7 teachings) 2. Omote no shuriken .8cm. Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu contains the following shuriken jutsu techniques in their curriculum: 1. This is the style of shuriken that was presented to the French Government on a diplomatic mission during the 1800's. called by some a teppan.7 kajo (Basic techniques . A set of Katori Shinto Ryu shuriken copies. made by myself following the pattern of a blade given to me by Otsuka Sensei. Length has been extended to 17. thickness is 8mm.

(Click to view enlarged) (From Otsuka Sensei's Meifu Shinkage Ryu Shurikenjutsu website) Figure 47. however in Nihon Kobudo's video on shuriken it is referred to as a Ryusei Ryu blade. Type 1 (Click to enlarge) (photo courtesy of Robert C. and achieved a velocity of 150m per second. used with permission) Figure 46. used in World War I. Shuriken of the Yagyu Ryu.height from aeroplanes. This "ju-ji" (Japanese: number 10 shaped) shuriken is listed in Fujita Seiko's Shurikenjutsu book as being a Yagyu Ryu blade. . and the horse he sat on. Gruzanski. The kanji in the top right do not specify Yagyu Ryu either. Figure 45a& b. enough to pierce through body of a man. Type 2. They were dropped in bundles of 3500 to 4000 from an altitude of 2000m. Shuriken of the Yagyu Ryu.

From top left. or shaken from various Ninjutsu schools. Shosho Ryu. 8.Figure 48. Koden Ryu. Yagyu Ryu or Ryusei Ryu.hira shuriken.3. 7. 6. Figure 49. "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). 10 is from Yagyu Ryu and Koga Ryu. or shaken Generally these blades were of Ryu used by the various clans of Ninja. 5. Blades of the various schools . Kobori Ryu. . Some disc or star-shaped shuriken. and 4 are shuriken of the Koga and Iga Ryu. examples 1.

Masaaki Hatsumi. Of interest is the rough rounded black object next to the large centre item. from the collection of the late Charles V.. A variety of shaken. current Head Master of Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu.. Gruzanski (Click image to . A selection of shuriken from the collection of Charles V. Gruzanski (Used with permission. round rock. It is a tsubete which is a flat. Figure 52. Gruzanski) Figure 51.© Robert C. Some throwing stars from various schools and sources. and senban shuriken (top right).perhaps a very early pre-cursor to the shaken. throwing blades from the collection of Dr.Figure 50. including hira shuriken.

There seems to be some dispute over the method of throwing. dating back to the seventh century. The wrist makes a flicking action forward as the arm straightens out in front of the thrower's stomach. Toru Shirai: Founder of Tenshin Shirai Ryu in "Aikido Journal" #108 p. in much the same way as a bo shuriken. 53. 1999 (back) 3. 2" Koryu Books. used with permission) The star and cross shaped shuriken.. Yoshinori (1996). See here for more details on throwing shaken. the blade is held horizontally. and that the blade is held and thrown vertically." 2.enlarge) (photos courtesy of Robert C.43 BASIC PRINCIPLES Wearing the Shuriken . Kono. however. Several shuriken are held cupped in the left hand like a stack of coins. known as hira shuriken. between the thumb and first finger. Shirakami Eizo however. and have multiple points which can make contact with the target. Gruzanski. the latter method can generate much more power. (1) shows an incorrect method Both types of throw are feasible. "One of the earliest schools of jujutsu. Interview with Satoshi Saito in "Sword & Spirit: Classical Warrior Traditions of Japan Vol. (see fig. and are passed to the right hand in rapid succession. that is. shows throwing the shuriken as one would throw a small "frisbee". was called Koden Ryu . below) Figure 53. Much of their inspiration derived from Korea. Holding a hira shuriken of the Ninjutsu schools. as they spin at a rapid rate. or shaken. states that this method is wrong. current Head Master. Dr Hatsumi. Finn: Michael Finn Martial Arts: A Complete Illustrated History . or 34th soke of Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu. parallel to the ground.. use an entirely different principle in flight than do the bo shuriken.

The "direct hit" method. Traditionally. jikidaho or choku-da.(Particularly important in Shirai Ryu) In feudal times in Japan. as the left illustration shows. and each position would offer some advantage over another. angle of the hand to the opponent. The shuriken in flight The shuriken travels through the air to the target in 3 different ways. together like a stack of coins wrapped in a leaf of cotton. and throw. To make better use of this advantage. (see fig. and position of the blade as it comes into the hand. and how the shuriken are worn can either help or hinder your ability to respond to attack effectively. each convenient for a right hand draw in a variety of situations. and also as a short distance throw in the Shirai. this gives one precious time to collect your thoughts and move to better position from which to deal with the attack. involves holding the blade with the point out. 22. shuriken were also worn as hairpins. the blade will fit in the hand ready for a turning or a direct hit. dependent upon the situation. The points of the blade are embedded in the clothing. By momentarily disabling an attacker who could be from 3 to 15 paces away. up to 8 or 10.The shuriken's tactical advantage is it's small size and concealability. depending upon the school. 26. and this enhances its tactical advantage. Samurai did not have the restrictions on wearing such weapons as we do these days. so whether one takes the front or back set. towards the target. Ninjutsu practitioners hold their hira shuriken. a number of points around the hip were used as places to wear the shuriken. and ability for a quick draw which helps one gain the upper hand by using surprise when attacked. Jikishin and other Ryu. This method is employed in the Negishi Ryu. so their blades could have been in view. a thorough understanding of the draw is necessary. great accuracy with the shuriken can be achieved. Wearing the shuriken The illustration above shows 3 positions. due to hand position. With practice. which is then pocketed or secreted in any number of pouches built for that purpose. As mentioned above. or hidden. Figure. grip. below) . in Shirai and Negishi Ryu.

from 1 to 15-18. or dakaiten-da. rather than units such as feet or metres. because distance varies for each individual. with blade. including Shirai. where the many points of the star shaped blade will rotate and have no difficulty piercing the target at any distance. has the blade turning 360 deg. During its travel through the air to the target. and stand in . withdraw the left foot. utilising the "direct hit" method. Each turn in the air is equivalent to 3 steps of added distance. This method is employed by the hira shuriken schools. (up to 18 steps).) Distance Distance from the target. as there is not room enough for the blade to turn in flight. the form is practiced (Manji no kata. A taller individual has a longer stride. This is due to the fact that Shirai Ryu is based upon the principle of the "turning hit" method of throwing.. Figure 23. Standing at the target as before. The "turning hit" method The third way a blade turns. the blade turns 180 deg. or Ikkaiten-da. or more as it flies through the air. so proportionately. The next throwing distance from the target is 3 steps. or 1 turn. 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. especially in Shirai Ryu. as one can only throw from one of these distances. (Not illustrated. "The direct hit" method The second way that the blade turns. but they also have a longer arm reach. 1 step's distance is measured by standing in a right zenkutsu dachi. is measured in steps. however I believe nowadays students of Negishi Ryu also learn the throws and about the blades of other Ryu. which is a kind of limitation. so that the left foot is forward. From this stance. (see fig. throwing distances are multiples of 3 steps from the target. This method is employed by the Shirai and other Ryu. the "turning hit". (about the maximum effective range for throwing a blade). 23. is called hantendaho.Figure 22. below) but not by Negishi Ryu. In Shirai Ryu. the "multi turn" method. then withdrawing the left foot so one is standing in shizentai. and involves holding the blade with the tip pointing into the palm. with the right arm extended forward touching the target with the tip of the shuriken. By taking one deep stride backwards with the right foot. From here. see below). or right forward stance. which involves turning the blade in the hand so the tail is pointing to the target. this process measures the 1st step's distance. take 3 deep strides backwards. or natural stance. This makes standard units of measurement useless as a guide to learning distance. This method is also employed by the Shirai Ryu over long distance throws.

then the right foot slides back. Ultimately. From a left zenkutsu dachi. So it can be said that it is not a weapon that can deal deathly blows. one should be able to judge automatically whether one should hold a blade in hand with the tip or tail pointing out. and various exposed regions of soft tissue. When retrieving the blades from the target. For the remaining distances. and minute adjustments in technique (see below) are made to allow for the minute variations in distance. until they are comfortable with their ability. arrived at in exactly the same way as above for Shirai Ryu. The throw is then practiced. especially the eyes. one should be reaching the limit of their throw. nor does it allow for earlier release. for a further 2 weeks. however it is exactly the same change in distance as a full step. as it is only used for short distance. the next distance is begun. a turning hit. the technique is much more advanced and much more difficult to master. So after 9 months of dedicated training. except that one remains with the same foot forward. this same process is repeated. so only a brief discussion will follow. stride forward counting the steps. It was not meant to pierce armour or to be able to kill with one blow from a distance. and the exposed feet. it is superior to Shirai Ryu. This is why shuriken appears to be have been taught as part of swordsmanship. The technique of Negishi Ryu does not have this problem of turning the blade. the slide backwards is repeated. each day. the reaction time to attack is necessarily much shorter. This action decides the next distance. so throwing at any distance can be achieved. because the principle of the throw is different. However. and the 3rd distance is added to the routine. so one gets a disciplined and repetitive experience of measuring the distance by steps. the left foot slides back so the heel meets the instep of the right foot. the individual at first throws at 1 steps distance. The throw of Jikishin Ryu is only used for short distances. therefore the goal of the training is achieve a quicker draw and throw. as this distance dictates. the individual starts at 1 steps distance. Every 2 weeks. each time turning the blade in the hand. Because it can only be used at short distance. As mentioned above. This is the 3 step's distance. it therefore was targeted at the softer and more vulnerable parts of the body. for another two weeks. and is actually a shuffle. see below). then onto 3. such as the head. . such as the back of a swordsman's hands. as described above with the Shirai Ryu. Judgement of distance is purely by feel based upon experience. usually by sword. After 2 weeks. otherwise a good hit of the target will be an impossibility. according to the Shirai Ryu technique. though technically. and practices like this. weight is transferred to the left foot. The individual practices at this distance for about 2 weeks. Training starts at 1 steps distance. a further backstep is added. More on distance here Striking the target There are many forms of target. with the necessary adjustments made (eg.shizentai. stepping again into zenkutsu dachi. with the tip of the blade always held pointing outwards. Each day. then the next distance back is trained at. as its grip does not allow for a "turning hit" method of throwing. Negishi Ryu solely utilises the "direct hit" method of travel. and from here the "turning hit" method is utilised. rather than the opposite foot. Once again. progresses to 2 steps. the throat. one must train quite severely and repetitively. After 2 weeks of this. The practice of Jikishin is primarily a development in speed. only practiced after each of the shorter distances have systematically been practiced. earlier release. In its role as a distracting weapon. 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. ensuring that mastery of this distance is achieved. To develop this judgement.

Today. whose retreat to the wild had left them without resources. especially by "yamabushi". This type of hit is said to be a "live hit".. or just as it becomes aligned with the direction of the throw. and stomach height. This gives maximum force to the hit. or sheets of cardboard. or even blocks of wood have been developed. and that is as the blade is just becoming horizontal. although more elaborate targets consisting of frames holding various types of material. and turning during flight due to the force of the throw. The shuriken can hit the target in a number of ways. Trees have been often used. Any angle between A and B is ideal.Image temporarily unavailable. tatami. 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. . because as the tip hits the target. there is an ideal moment during the rotation of the blade for it to hit the target. ranging from screens of paper. According to Satoshi Saito Sensei. and penetration by the blade is reduced. with a piece of white paper and a target image drawn on it and pinned to the box would be sufficient. Figure 22 Tatami used as target For this reason. and the ideal is to have the full weight of the blade moving down its length through the point into the point of impact. Traditionally. then the blade should hit the target just as it becomes aligned to the trajectory of the throw. or mountain warriors. targets consisted of two main areas in which the throw was focused. head height. much of the blades force is lost to lateral movement. boards of wood. If the tail is swinging up or sideways as the point strikes. practice with a hard target is not necessary. and it also tends to damage the shuriken. Because the blade is falling due to gravity. representing the face. representing the swordsman's hands while holding the sword. thus is more penetrating. If one were to draw a line from the hand that releases the blade directly to the target. as the blade is still applying force directly to the strike after it touches the target. or straw matting was used. cardboard boxes.

. that combine to form the whole of things that we perceive.Outbreath. All schools and methods stress the importance of "form" when throwing. This is because generation of power in a strike is an outward force. to the point where it becomes a constant. This concept describes how all things in the universe can be represented by two opposing yet inter-related sets of alternating polarities. it is found in our footwork: step with the left foot. thus making our overall performance much more harmonious. power cannot be generated as effectively on the in-breath as it can on the out-breath. distance and swing. so it is a variable we have to account for by adjusting our technique. The principles are very similar to the game of golf. In our body we have In-Yo. and severely limits physical performance. there are also two variables. Breathing The Breath is very important to the throw. How important it is though. distance and the throw. and efficient. In throwing the shuriken. Therefore. there are two major variables that affect the outcome of the throw. In Japanese swordsmanship there is the concept of "In-Yo". It is very difficult for the mind to be able to judge and adjust to 2 variables at the same time. The variability of distance is compensated for by changing between heavier and lighter clubs. the weight at the base of the blade is no longer being transferred to the tip. The extent of variability in the throw can be decreased through training. whereas breathing in is an inward force. it is the swing that has to be refined so it becomes constant. and the trick becomes choosing the right size club according to the distance. Adhering to the throwing form is absolutely necessary for achieving consistent and controlled accuracy. is the obstacle we have to realise and overcome. and other movements to be related to Yo. With our breathing it is: Inbreath . step with the right foot. probably more widely known as "YinYang". great attention must be paid to practice of the form. the only variable facing us in hitting the target is distance.C and D are termed "dead hits" because at the moment of impact. The throw Needless to say. it is not just a matter of throwing the blade at the target. one must coordinate their breathing pattern with the physical movements of the body for the technique to become natural and effective. which we can learn to adjust to through regular training at different distances. and is therefore much less penetrating. and combine them. unite various groups of movement into a unified whole. we can through an understanding of this concept. in cutting with the sword it is raise and lower. but is being carried upwards. The distance we are subject to. as is breathing out. it makes the task of judging 1 variable easier. and the type of breath that should be associated with these movements. To achieve a constant throw. When the throw becomes constant. If we take certain movements to be related to In. and thus becomes constant. laterally to the point of impact. Once the swing is mastered. it is important to understand the physical movements. Breathing in as one exerts force tends to sap power from the body. the throw is the most important aspect of the shuriken art. thus creating a more controlled and accurate throw. In shuriken. Due to the physiology of the body. at the moment of the throw. so by making 1 of these become close to a constant. once the throw has been mastered. its variability has been reduced to close to constancy. minute changes in technique can be made to adjust to changes in distance. In golf.

The method employed to begin learning the basic form of Koso-no-I is called Manji no kata. Koso no I (see below). then observes or remembers how they felt during the throw. If the positions of the blades are observed over a whole session of throwing. to the front. Gyaku-uchi Rear throws consist of ura-uchi Front Throws The Basic Form. indeed all throws. the grouping. Observing and judging the strike At the end of each throw there is a moment of stillness. Side throws consist of also of 3 throws: 1. or the throw. details of the throwers technique and their general state of mind can be observed. Front throws involve 3 forms 1. BASIC FORMS OF THROW In the Negishi and Shirai Ryu. in order to set up the conditions for an accurate hit. and the relationship between each blade in the target can tell you about the state of mind of the thrower at the time. Jikishin 3. one examines the position of the blade in the target. and this kata. its position can tell you about the throw itself.In the ultimate form of throwing a shuriken. the raising. or readiness and observation. Thus the in-breath is coordinated with the raising of the arm. The reason why it is practiced without a blade is to prevent the mind from becoming attached too early to scoring a hit. Even though the form . At this point. drills the body through these steps. there are 3 basic types of throw. Yoko-uchi 3. and how close to or far from perfect it is. Observing the position of the blade in the target can tell you a lot about the throw. One can then judge how their body influenced the blade and its flight. In effect. or form. there are several steps one must go through. and cannot be neglected. On an individual throw. 2. to the side and to the rear. In simple terms. For any throw. and observes the result of the throw. Koso-no-I The method of learning the front throw. then assess what postural and other adjustments need to be made for subsequent throws. which would otherwise distract one's concentration from the form. the results of throwing a blade can be a good barometer for measuring the mental state of the thrower. Koso no I. Uranami. and is practiced for the first 6 months without holding a blade. it can also give an indication of the psychological state of the thrower. there is only two components. and the outbreath is co-ordinated with the lowering of the arm. one must hold their intent with the feeling of zanshin. and the lowering of the arm. If 3 or more were thrown in a row. 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. It is a simple set of 8 movements which form the essence of the constant throw. Hon-uchi 2. is by first going through a series of steps from basic form to advanced form.

3. and allows the correct throwing movement to dictate how the body moves during the throw. 25) is called chokushi no kata. 2. This is an inoffensive gesture. making the movement go directly from "passing the blade" (step 3) to shuriken no kamae. although the Jikishin grip of the blade is different.looks very rigid and the movements seem superfluous. Click here for a picture sequence of the Manji . and simply involves a shortened. . 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). 24) is called Toji no kata. rather than have the untrained body upset the movement of the blade during throw. tails pointing to the right. The third level of Koso no I (see fig. which involves a further shortening of the form. The second level of Koso no I (see fig. this is necessary as it causes the body to succumb to the . or manji is subtracted. holding the shuriken. Between step 2 and 3 of the sequence above. travelling past the side to the rear. The swastika shape. and at this stage the student is ready to hold a blade while practicing the form. Figure 24. The Toji no kata form. Manji no kata then becomes an 11 step form.Kata Once the 8 movements of the form have been absorbed by the body and become familiar. the thumb goes behind the blade while the fingers cover the blade. as having shuriken in the throwing hand would be seen as offensive action. then raises to the position behind the ear (yokomen uchi movement in Aikido). or abbreviated number of steps to the Manji no kata form. The right hand raises to meet the left. to the front of the hara. and the right foot does not step forwards during the throw. The shuriken are carried in the left hand. (step 5). 3 further steps are added. 1. thus hiding the blade from view. The holding of the right arm by the side is subtracted. This arm movement is the same movement used in Jikishin Ryu. Both arms drop to the side together. the form begins to control how the body moves. The arm moves in a round movement. as it now incorporates extra steps which involve passing the blade from the left hand to the right. tips pointing to the rear as you step up to the throwing position. The grip is transferred to the right hand. The left hand is raised.

Over years of training.Figure 25. The Koso no I of Satoshi Saito Sensei. even appearing casual. (see fig. Figure 26. It is used for short distances. The posture is such that the throw is available immediately. It is pure readiness. the shape of the throw becomes more natural. The Chokushi no kata form. current head of Negishi Ryu Jikishin The second form of front throw. the Koso no I. The ultimate goal is to be able to simply look at the target and strike it with a shuriken. Jikishin is really a simplified form of Koso no I. The Koso No I of Shirakami Eizo Image temporarily unavailable Figure 27. without having to adjust before cutting down with the right arm. 28) . is really the essence of the front throw movement. The final level called Koso no I. yet the core movements. rigid and superfluous movements have gradually been whittled and trimmed away. free and smoother. remain internally. even though the large. but its emphasis is on surprise and speed. and uses a different method of holding the blade.

and is the more difficult of the 3. and a surprise. Click here for a picture sequence of the Uranami throw Side Throws Side throws also involve 3 forms. In practice. The Jikishin grip. downwards pointing position. . It is the underhand version of the Jikishin throw. 1. As with all other grips. as it utilises a right forward step as the blade is thrown. and can be thrown as quickly as one can raise their arm. however. Click here for a picture sequence of the Jikishin Kata Uranami The third form of front throw is called Uranami. these throws can be done from standing.. immediate. It is like a softball pitch where the arm swings at the right side. As with the Jikishin throw. 2.. Gyaku uchi (under-arm throw). Yoko uchi (side-ways throw) and 3. the hand is light and relaxed. it is fast. Hon uchi (the basic over-arm throw).Figure 28. the grip does not facilitate a long distance throw. in the traditional Japanese style of sitting on the knees and ankles (see below).it is a simple yet natural grip. "tachi uchi". or sitting in "za uchi". from the natural. the right hand can reach for and take the blade in one movement quite quickly and easily. as if holding a swallows egg. This method of holding the blade facilitates a quick draw. forward to a horizontal angle facing the target. The arm movement on the throw is as though one is cutting with a sword.

Figure 29. 2. and consists of only 2 movements. Yoko Uchi The action of hon uchi focusses on the bending of the elbow. these will be easier to attain. fig. raise and throw. (see fig 29-30 above. Mastery of hon uchi requires practice at various levels of performance. Gyaku uchi (4. Hon uchi. In the second and the third form. Click here for a picture sequence for Hon Uchi The second form. yoko uchi. This final form is the essence of all levels of the over-arm throw. which starts with Manji no kata. while the second form. Yoko uchi. Ura Uchi) Figure 30. if the first form is mastered first. yoko uchi is more difficult. Hon uchi. 31 below) will produce more power and is quicker. despite them being more difficult throws. then to Chokushi no kata. and gyaku uchi being the most advanced. leading to the final form Koso no I. and is not a powerful throw. either right of left. 3. . The latter two are not usually practiced until the hon uchi form is mastered. 1. Hon Uchi Hon uchi is the basic throw. most of the technique is an extension and variation of principles of the first form. The lesson in this form however is the change in hand movement to allow a fast and powerful throw sideways. which progresses to Toji no kata. yoko uchi and gyaku uchi from standing posture (tachi uchi) The first form. which is done completely naturally and without thought.

Figure 31. then the throw is made from a static posture. the right arm raised to the chest. Gyaku Uchi In gyaku uchi. where one steps as the blade is passed to the other hand. and the palm faces to left at right angles to the . the hand stops raising sharply. The end of the yoko uchi throw by Shirakami Aizo. Click here for a picture sequence of Yoko Uchi The Third Form. At this point. the right hand is just completing the throw. the blade is passed hands. The illustration shows to basic form. This throw is different from Uranami. Yoko uchi. The moment the right foot is placed on the ground. and the blade is allowed to depart the hand. and is more difficult than hon uchi or yoko uchi. From shizentai. and the palm is face down in gyaku uchi. whereas Uranami comes from the side. The more advanced form is one movement. Figure 32. the throwing action comes from the shoulder. as one steps sideways. The arm raises with the palm down until it points towards the target. stepping and throwing together. and swung out and towards the target. as the hand raises from the front of the body.

ground. The feeling of the hand when holding and throwing is said to be gentle. 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. and angling the hip more sharply at the end of the throw. 1). Click here for a picture sequence for Gyaku Uchi Rear Throw. and the palm is not facing flat to the ground. (see fig. or inwards to the palm. with a few variations of their own. with a few variations depending upon the type of blade. Ura Uchi Ura Uchi uses a similar throwing action as Gyaku uchi. It is held in the hand by forming a guide with the 1st. the blade is held with the point outwards towards the target. The little finger gives extra support and the thumb holds the blade in place. like holding a swallows egg so as not to break it. and other schools follow suit. but vertical. depending upon the distance to be thrown. but it is aimed at the rear. Shirai Ryu In Shirai Ryu. . Elevation in this throw is gained by leaning the body more forward. 2nd and 3rd fingers.

the blade is always held with the tip pointing forwards.© Robert C. Gruzanski) Gripping the blade in Negishi Ryu In Negishi Ryu. and the thumb locks it in place. and much like the method of Shirai Ryu. for long blades. 2) Figure 3. A variation in the hold of Shirai Ryu. it is held in the hand with the fingers acting as a guide. (Used with permission.Figure 1. Holding the shuriken of the Shirai Ryu Fig 2.(see fig. Holding the shuriken of the Negishi Ryu The Jikishin grip .

Holding the shuriken in the Jikishin grip The grip of "kanime" see Advanced techniques Figure 5. It appears this method of holding and throwing is peculiar to Teihozan Ryu. holding it in place on the side of the curled middle finger. as . forming a kind guide through which the blade exits. The throw is a simple raising and lowering of the arm from the side as a step is taken forward. There are two methods of throwing.Not much is known about Jikishin. index. where the hand is either held in a low position with the palm upwards and throws at targets at above horizontal. while the index finger points out straight. Figure 4. and it is suspected that this is a variation in style of a precursor to Shirai or Negishi 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". In the Chinese arts. which pushes the blade out through the fingers on the throw. a blade of 9-12 cms is used. The index finger then rests on the side of the blade. is regarded as a "metsubushi" (sight remover) attack. The butt end of the blade is placed in the centre of the palm. and/or Mou En Ryu (said to have originated in China). the arm cuts down as if it were a sword. The hand flicks forward to the target. and is also discussed on www. The thumb. and as the Jikishin method involves the same specific method. The major difference to the above throws is in the way the blade is held (see fig 4). yet this is to be throwing at targets below horizontal. or held in a high position with the palm downwards. middle and ring fingertips clutch the sides of the blade. providing support. The "negative" hand (shown in fig. called "positive" and "negative" hand. 6 below). The 3 smaller fingers are curled. The blade sits with its butt in the palm and the thumb applies slight pressure from above. which appears to be run by a practitioner of the NInjutsu arts.mumyouan. it is possible that Kashima Shinto Ryu has in fact preserved the jikishin throw. but the Japanese arts which utilise this type of throw use a longer blade. and holding the tail down as it leaves the hand. as though making a gun shape with the hand. downwards. 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.

Holding a shuriken in the "Chinese Fist" method Concealing blades in the hand As mentioned previously. These same experiments have also shown that covering the back of the hand and fingers with a flat. but also within the hand as a surprise tactic before throwing in battle. thus creating a very small profile as it could only be seen from in front of the tip. dark material not only masks the shape of the hands. or straight. 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. and the tactics one uses are based upon what one is able to perceive. Shuriken can be quickly drawn and deployed. but also makes it difficult for the observer to recognise what a person is doing. . This makes it difficult to see. as opposed to the Shirai or Negishi Ryu basic throws where the blade is thrown from above the head like a sword cut. This idea follows the fundamental principle of Sun Tzu's Art of War. part of the tactical advantage of the shuriken is it's small size and unobtrusive shape. Figure 6. shows him distincly throwing blades in this "Chinese Fist" method. and thus swing the balance of power in an altercation. It is interesting to note that film footage of the late Isamu Maeda Sensei of Negishi Ryu. that of "deceit". Opponents make a visual judgement of each other before engaging. ie. who appeared in the NHK documentary on Negishi Ryu shuriken jutsu featuring Yoshinori Kono targets the eyes. and this surprise change to the battle situation could gain one a valuable few seconds advantage in timing. "Attack the enemy where he least expected and prepared" (Chapter 1. as it leaves the hand is direct. and the shape and movement of the hands can often unconsciously betray our intentions. therefore making it an ideal metsubushi waza. senior of Satoshi Saito Sensei.) The hands are very expressive parts of the body. meaning that it can be concealed quite easily. The path of the blade. not only on the body for carrying. they are used in many human activities. V4.

. the fingers loose and open. using these small facts we know about the way we unconsciously do things. the skin goes a bit whiter than the rest of the parts of the body. however.When we carry objects in the hand. When the arm hangs by the sides of the body without carrying anything. In this way we can see how the body can betray our intentions. and there is no whitening of the skin. due to the contriction of blood from tightening the muscles that are doing the holding. one must project the illusion that the hand is empty. our hand naturally takes a shape and position about the body that we can readily recognise as being the shape used for carrying. Example 1a Example 2a Example 3a In the 3 examples above. in the 3 examples below. the hand is turned to reveal the weapon and the method of holding it. the hand shapes and position do not give away the fact that a potentially dangerous weapon is being carried. In order to carry something in the hand without giving anything away. the muscles are relaxed. The fingers close into a fist.

between the thumb and first finger. or shaken The star and cross shaped shuriken. Our body follows familiar paths of perception. and have multiple points which can make contact with the target. that is. and that the blade is held and thrown vertically. below) . and when situations are changing rapidly. we can hide a shuriken in plain view. Dr Hatsumi. Shirakami Eizo however. we need to make quick decisions based on what we immediately perceive. Hira shuriken. states that this method is wrong. known as hira shuriken. current Head Master. Much like a magician performing sleight of hand. that is. or 34th soke of Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu. parallel to the ground. use an entirely different principle in flight than do the bo shuriken. under stress we act more on instinct or unconscious signals than through carefully thought out decisions. shows throwing the shuriken as one would throw a small "frisbee". decision and action. in much the same way as a bo shuriken. thus giving us a tactical advantage over an opponent. There seems to be some dispute over the method of throwing. we don't have as much time to think or rationalise. (see fig. the blade is held horizontally. as they spin at a rapid rate. The wrist makes a flicking action forward as the arm straightens out in front of the thrower's stomach. and are passed to the right hand in rapid succession. or shaken. 5. so we rely more on signals given by our subconscious.Example 1b Example 2b Example 3b In the immediacy of an engagement at battle. Several shuriken are held cupped in the left hand like a stack of coins. judgement.

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.

Throwing Shaken
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)

Figure 7..
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

and the blade releases earlier in the throw. and even departure called hanare. For a long distance throw. It creates a "grippy" surface on the tail end of the shaft. smooth. the blade has already developed velocity. the head of the blade "falls" forwards. and facing the palm. Early release. so the grip then tends to require more gentle guidance. By turning the hand so the palm faces to the left in relation to the target. from the hand. as though "holding a swallows egg". the hand must facilitate a clean. the hand is really only offering a straight pathway for the blade to depart the hand. By turning the hand so the palm faces the target on early release. the distance is increased. which will enable more pressure to be exerted on the stroking action on the release." The shape of the hand is very important for the trajectory of the blade as it leaves the hand. Early and late releases have different effects on the position of the blade in relation to the trajectory. * Aim . For a late release. and the fingers actually seem to stroke the shaft of the blade as it leaves the hand. If it aligns with the trajectory before striking the target. so that during its travel to the target. so that by the time it is about to align with the trajectory of the throw itself. the blade is pointing upwards. so their departure tends to be more variable (see fig. It seems that the feeling of stroking has less of an upsetting effect. turn the palm for closer throws. 35. there is more weight and support behind the blade. (see fig 35). and practice late release with the turning of the palm. it will continue "falling". the hand is still facing more to the target. Not only does the blade need to be gripped lightly. but it has to be done skillfully else it will upset the smooth flight. but also it creates a drag effect on the tail as it releases. causing the blade not to turn so much. it strikes the target. and earlier releases have a less controlled hold. The thumb catches on the butt end of the blade as it departs.35).Fig. As it does so. as this is the last contact with the body to have influence over the blade's flight. As the student becomes more proficient. it will have become a dead hit already. the blade releases when the arm is still quite high above the head. This is why there is the practice of wrapping the shafts with thin twine. Turning the hand "Face the palm for distant throws. as basic technique (as shown above in Manji no kata). while at the same time. for distant targets 3. and when it strikes the target. preventing the blade from turning excessively before reaching the target (see fig 33) In training. one should start at a close distance. 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. then coating it with laquer.

Figure 37. 36. then the second blade made an unusual sound. This form of training builds up necessary strength and stability in the hips. and try to feel some sort of connection between our centre (the tanden) and the centre of the target. and began to throw shuriken in the dark. * Variations in Training Training can be made more interesting. Fig. by varying the training method. The side throws can also be performed in seated posture.When aiming at the target. and mentioned this to his teacher. The first blade made the sound of piercing the target. One of the basic forms of variation is to train on the knees. Za Uchi. This story illustrates how one can learn the perception of the target by feel. Here the toji form on the knees in tachihiza. By looking at the target. on a more advanced level. (see fig. is still done on the knees. The seated form of the throw is called za-uchi. whereas sideways throws are made in tachihiza with the left leg back. 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 our thoughts are with striking the target. c) where the left knee is forward and the foot on the ground. Rather. by placing our awareness in the navel. Note that the front throw is performed in either seiza. Tonegawa Sensei. we should feel the target. as in a) . 37) . or tachihiza with the right leg back. In several traditional martial arts. (full seated posture). Apparently it had hit the tail of the previous blade. rather than take aim with the eyes. The two of them went to the dojo at night. However. 36) and can be done directly facing the target.b) or in the stance called tachihiza. or to focus on particular skills. training in a number of techniques. Mr Shirakami relates a story of how his teacher felt confused by this concept. above). rather than by relying in sight alone. called suwari-waza. or seated throw. (see fig. and the right knee is back and placed on the ground. the idea is to try and take aim with the navel.26. our focus is outside the body. and also teaches the body movement to be more precise. is illustrated .

. The tendency when throwing at greater distances is to unconsciously add more power to the movement. one must make minute adjustments in their technique to have the blade strike effectively.3 shown from the front. we must overcome our thoughts about distance as being an obstacle. 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. or "still distance" lays the technical foundation for Do no Maai. Note: 1 . jumping and turning. The training method of throwing while running. thus decreasing the obstacle that is always at the back of our mind. yet the blade flew powerfully and struck firmly. The action is a continuous stepping to the throwers right side. Multiple throwing can also be practiced while walking. and also lying down. we are bound by the throw from a static position. at the moment of departure of the blade. Figure 39 shows a method of multiple throwing in time with the stepping of the feet. enabling us to throw a blade and have it stick at any distance without thought. then we take the next step back. we throw repetitively until that distance is mastered. At each step. which is a constraint preventing us from being able to throw at any distance. So arises the desire to be able to throw one step further away. one learns the mechanics of the form. is another such method. or "moving distance". either forwards or backwards. When we count the steps and throw. 38 Hon uchi. Eventually. Figure 39. one is using the form. and training progresses incrementally from 1 step and beyond.5 are shown from the back. By training at static distances. the concept of distance is always at the back of our mind. his movement was relaxed and appeared as though he was throwing only a close distance. By training during movement. When the basic form is practiced. But when moving while throwing. Training at Sei no Maai. the distance is set. Mr Shirakami writes of his teacher Naruse Sensei that even when he was throwing at great distances. However. and while static. we lose the concept of distance entirely. At each distance. our posture and movement has to be adjusted quickly and precisely to allow the blade to strike effectively. To be able to achieve this. This form of training cuts down the time we think about distance. we have plenty of time to think about the distance and achieve this. and merge with the target at the moment we think of throwing. which in fact adversely affects the technique. 4 .Figure.

But we have to be detached from the throw. and the right hand is held in Koso no I.Rapid throwing. The throw is made. closely followed by the 3rd. where the left hand is held above the left eye (see fig 40. A strong or prepared adversary may be able to receive the first blade (ie. 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. which means to throw 5 blades in one breath. This is because we are learning the throw. so passing the blade from left to right hands could be done with the raised throwing arm. in zanshin or readiness. the 2nd blade should be on its way. or commit ourselves to the next action. Because the throwing position of the right hand. and throw the next. 37) where the sword is held as normal by the left hand. (Used with permission. This allows for the rapidity of throwing blades in succession. When we practice the basic form. and to be able to continue our movement without caring if the blade strikes well or not. we are taught to pause and observe momentarily. (see fig. the two weapons can be blended in such a way that they do not adversely affect the movement of each other. The art is in being able to detach ourselves from the throw immediately after the blade has departed the hand.© Robert Gruzanski) Throwing the blade during a sword cut There are also techniques that involve throwing shuriken while holding a sword. then the right hand returns to the sword. Posture for rapid throw. deflect or ignore). There is a phrase from olden times that says "Ikki Goken". Before the 1st blade strikes. so it is sometimes necessary to be able to throw several in rapid succession. There are 5 forms in a kata called Tojustsu Kumikomi no Kata. . Figure 40.). and so on. gripping the handle. There is a certain posture with a technique developed for rapid throwing.

or an arrow. There are stories of famous encounters where swordsmen could deflect the flight of arrows and shuriken in battle. to develop this ability. Thus one could be able to launch 1 or 2 shuriken at the opponent before they are in sword distance. being smaller and lighter. The shuriken. called yadome. can be drawn and thrown much quicker than a sword. but having a blade thrown at you.Figure 41. so it can be said that you can attack inside the rhythm of a swordsman's attack. within the arts there are training techniques designed. Mr Shirakami tells of his . giving you an advantage already. which has a certain timing. such as a shuriken. though this is generally thought of as being the stuff of legends. due to the weight and size of the weapon. The idea is that one develops the ability to throw shuriken quickly while one is drawing and cutting with the sword. Some of the postures of the Tojutsu Kumikomi no Kata Image temporarily unavailable Figure 42. Most swordsmen trained only in the sword know only the rhythm of the sword. This stems from the days of the Samurai where a swordsman would defend himself against attackers throwing or propelling objects at him. However. Receiving a blade. Satoshi Saito Sensei demonstrating shuriken throwing with the sword. so we should not discount the possibility that an individual can perform this sort of feat. yadome An advanced level of training involves not throwing a blade.

or the throwing of the blade is seen as being like the cutting of a sword. because a flat surface allows more grip on the shaft as it leaves the hand. 1999). The principle of "Kanime no Daiji" (eyes of a crab) . This effect hinders the natural rotation of the tail end forwards. acting out the mind's intentions. and therefore generate excess rotation. and create drag in flight for a straight trajectory. 42). to cut as the attacker cuts. in order to apply a small amount of friction as it leaves the hand. however it is not at all clear. with no string or paper wrapping. and that is holding it in the hand and using it as a striking implement. The tip targets vital areas of the body. laquer and/or string is a way of creating a rough surface on the shaft of the blade. Wrapping the blades with paper. while wearing fencers protective face gear. This is because the technique of throwing involves a slight flicking or twisting of the hand.updated There is mention of some Negishi Ryu shuriken being wrapped in paper. After further discussion by email with several people who are training in shuriken. varnish and string . which is for reasons different to that of attaching pigskin hairs to the end of the blade. Some people have suggested this is to adjust the balance of the blade so it is perfectly centred.Using the shuriken as a striking implement There is another method of using the shuriken. The shooting of an arrow. 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. The grip is similar to that of Jikishin. and cut the arrow down. then the body follows. Rather than wait to see the path the arrow is taking. thus deflecting the attack. the idea is to unify yourself to this moment. thus creating a more straighter flight before striking the target. then react to it by trying to block it. is to assist in the smooth departure from the hand.. There is the moment in the attackers mind where they commit to action. it does not matter whether the weapon attacking your centre is a fist. and providing the sense of timing in awase is correct. which applies a slight amount of pressure to the tail end of the blade just before it completely departs from the finger tips. however this seems to serve a different function to that of wrapping the blades. The key seems to be in the mental attitude one takes when faced with such an attack. 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. Here the idea is to match your feeling and movement to that of the attacker's without the thought of reacting to their movement. the idea is to move at the same instant. but this appears not to be the case. but uses the power of the arm and body to create the strike. as well as a simultaneous downward movement of the hip. string and lacquer (Interview with Saito Sensei in Skoss. . This is also one of the reasons Mr Otsuka believes the Negishi Ryu shuriken were hexagonal and octagonal. a sword. So by using awase. the smooth metal surface of the shaft would slip easily from the fingers. The practice of gluing pigskin to the end of the blades with the hairs pointing backwards. correct performance of the technique will protect your centre. If one were to throw a clean blade. I believe this feeling is the same as awase training with sword. whereas a rounded shaft will allow less grip on the shaft as it leaves the hand. an arrow or a shuriken. in Aikido. with the same feeling as the attacker.experiences where he asked his student to shoot arrows at him. it appears that this practice of wrapping the shaft of the blade in paper. but the postioning of the thumb and first finger are reversed (see illustration fig.

there is a variety of Aconite in Japan called Aconitum Aizuense. chicken's blood and oysters. which together contain the broadest spectrum possible of infectious bacteria. the tip is held slightly up with the arm bent at the elbow. I am not sure this is correct. affecting the heart and respiration. Death is caused by severe and fast acting infection from a mixture of horse manure. To do the strike. without raising suspicion. secret instruction to him. Holding the shuriken in order to strike the target with the hand The thumb presses down hard on the top of the blade.. but the focus of the attack is to pierce the opponent in vital areas with the shuriken at close range. and the depression in the throat just above the collar bone. As one strikes. The technique is to be used as a final resort. for which there is no specific antidote. like "the eyes of a crab". the arm is straigthened and the thumb pushes forward. as shown in photo on the right. 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. but also used on many types of edged weapons. the distance has closed between you and your opponent. As a side note. This poison was not strictly limited to shuriken. Substantial doses of Aconite cause almost instantaneous death (2. as fugu poison is neutralised by oxygen after 24 hours. Mention has been made by some that the poison from the fugu. or the Aizu clan. There are two traditional poisons I know of used for this purpose. meaning. That is.Fig.. as shown in the photo on the left. Chikatoshi Someya Sensei. then you would be victorious. and the wrist extends forward. Tipping the shuriken with poison Mention has been made of the use of poison being applied to the tips of shuriken. The techniques appear to be karate-like striking movements. There has been extensive research into fugu poisoning. particularly among Ninjutsu schools. an interesting connection to either the Aizu area. which contains highly toxic and extremely fast acting alkaloids. Mr. and was Master Naruse's final. He illustrates methods of holding 1 and 2 blades in the hand. The active constituent Aconitine causes neuro-muscular paralysis and contractions. thus giving them lethal capability. When you can see the opponents eyes bulging. in his book "Shuriken Giho". making it almost impossible to treat. with the blade tip protruding in various ways. 3). one is the extract of Wolfsbane. The second poison is not so fast acting. Shirakami discusses this strike at length. and demonstrates methods of holding that can conceal the blade from onlookers. the effect of the poison wears off after 24 hours. demonstrates a wide variety of apparently secret striking techniques where the shuriken is hidden in the palm. but nevertheless lethal. The targets for this strike have been listed as the eyes. That is. pushing the tip into the target. 42. . or Japanese Puffer fish may have been used for tipping blades. that you have entered and caught the opponent by surprise. so you can no longer throw the blade. or Aconite (Aconitum japonicum). saying that this technique came from a secret Negishi Ryu document titled "Kanime no Daiji".

Kihon involves training in a strong. I found it interesting that shuriken is part of the technical repertoire of these masters of empty-handed and sword techniques. But outside. and ki-no-nagare. making the effective range of the staff a step greater than the sword. If one has mastered the bow and arrow. Training in empty-handed techniques usually begins with the left foot forward. the teacher of Aikido's founder. 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. then one is able to control an opponent who is in close enough range to hit you with their bare hands. and are not necessarily so important for learning the technique of throwing a blade. one will not be able to control the distance beyond or within the range one has trained in. In Aikido we have techniques trained in 2 forms. Less well known is that he is also a master of Negishi Ryu.Notes: 2. although it is not known which style. Training in jo. and adds another step's distance to the effective range of control. Training in sword is usually done one step back with the right foot forward. In Iwama Aikido. In real terms. the current head of Iwama dojo. or staff. Various weapons have various effective ranges. Distance with various weapons Some martial arts teach weapons after one has mastered empty-handed forms. 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. the closer the opponent the more of a threat. O-Sensei. staff and empty-hand techniques as being 3 essential components of Aikido training. others teach empty-handed forms after one has mastered weapons forms. the further the opponent the less a threat. kihon. If one has mastered hand techniques. Hsu. and this is an extra step in distance away from the opponent. the ones with the most immediate danger. Long Beach. Hong-yen "Oriental Materia Medica: A Concise Guide" Oriental Healing Arts Institute. Selwyn L. 1986 NOTES ON TRAINING The notes on this page in relation to the shuriken throwing art are more theoretical and intellectual. if one has not had the proper training. by learning various weapons. static form where one is already gripped. Morihiro Saito Sensei. the development of hand techniques is seen as a progression from sword techniques. It is also reported that Sokaku Takeda. Angus & Robertson. 1974 (back) 3. Ki-no-nagare training is a flexible. moving form which involves the opponent taking one step towards you to attack. These forms of training gives one the control over the closest combat distances. one also learns to control various distances. teaches sword. Everist "Poisonous plants of Australia" Australian Natural Science Library. or within the ranges of those weapons. With mastery of techniques comes the control of distance. The maximum practical . as the blade can hit an opponent who is further than 1 step away. with the throw of Jikishin. one can control attackers at a great distance. 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. Therefore. one can see there is a well organised and logical plan behind the choice of weapons that a warrior learns. is usually done with the left foot forward. and was once quite famous among the local gangs as being a person not to cross. as the weaker left hand is used for defensive maneuvers leaving the stronger right arm free for counterattacking and controlling maneuvers.

and with greater and unusual ease. and they were adapted from items that were freely and cheaply available in Japan at the time. and these psychological influences can seriously enhance or decrease a persons physical performance. This commercialism goes against the Japanese idea of simplicity. but such ideas have a great influence on the mind of an individual. so one must judge and choose by feel. and tools and weapons do not escape this idea. I feel this is not the true spirit of shuriken. Shirakami makes mention of the practice of finding live blades in his book on Shuriken-do. Because they had a shape which was already close to a comfortable and practical design for throwing. or finding and throwing blades. the spear and the halberd were battlefield weapons. they were simply sharpened and used. so one will find that some blades feel. If one looks at how the blades were made historically. which is half the minimum range of a bow. If a blade feels more comfortable to handle. to achieve the best results. surviving by using one's wits. One builds up a collection of live blades by discarding the "dead blades". finding something suitable for the required task. the square and triangular bodied bo shuriken are so because they were adapted from nails and other materials. be mindful of which blades tend to feel more comfortable. 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. or billiard players preferring certain cue sticks. Whether or not events in the past have given these blades any particular power perhaps can never be determined. Weapons such as the bow. and aficionados report that such blades emit a presence and power that can be felt when handled. This leaves the shuriken to control the distance indoors. While there may be no physical markings or signs to differentiate between the blades. then this blade is said to be a "live blade". there may be differences in their performance. *** Finding a "Live Blade" Mr. rather than the expensive and aesthetic extravagance of perfectly fashioned and beautifully looking blades. the senban shuriken. . Just as a batsmen may feel more comfortable. particularly these commercial sites. By supplementing your Aikido. It was this attitude of looking around at what was available. even perform better using certain bats. and should be kept as one's own special blade that no-one else handles. adaptablility. There are swords in museums and collections in Japan that are so historically valuable they have become designated as national treasures. which are the lozenge shaped blades. one can discover a new dimension to the shuriken art that I think many people overlook. So when making.effective range of a shuriken is 15-18 paces. fly and stick better than other blades. without excess. fashioned into a throwing implement. one effectively adds the potential for control of greater distance. In a number of ways. and seems to strike properly more often. Similarly. or tend to fly and stick better in the target. For example. then doing the minimum amount of work to get it functional that was also a part of the martial spirit. Shuriken are just pieces of metal. thus were not used indoors. *** 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. and doing only what is necessary. and other martial art training with shuriken.

and our focus should simply be to increase the percentages.. The dojo is a controlled training environment. 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. was the idea at the time. and an effective implement that flew well with a bit of practice. The Mental Level . anything that was easily obtained. To develop accuracy. I think one gains much greater satisfaction by constructing the blades oneself. If we measure our ability by a percentage of perfect techniques per techniques performed. To achieve this. We must remember that perfection in the dojo does not equal perfection in the real world. 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. we may not be able to recall that singular moment when we performed the technique perfectly in the dojo.Secondly. we can see that there is no real "perfect design". First. 2. our aim should be to increase that average. What we should be striving for is to achieve accuracy without trying to be accurate. So in effect. Rather than judge your accuracy by your best throw. concealable. Accuracy comes as a result of employing the principles of the throw correctly. this ratio gradually increases. you may experience 1 perfect throw out of 100 unsuccessful throws. on the physical level. different shapes. one must judge accuracy by the average of all your throws. This obviously requires a long time of repetitive training. and modifying and refining one's own design to suit oneself. Constructing the blades by yourself also causes you to develop a deeper appreciation for the weapon and the art. and second is our attitude when throwing. The idea is to raise your average of perfect throws per throw. Part of the development of one's technical skill is in researching different materials. training to develop accuracy. we cannot judge the level of our ability by how well we may have once performed a technique. but practically impossible. is experience. rather than purchase them at a shuriken smithy or similar. which is on the mental level. there are 2 things to consider. however over time. as that is the impressive thing about throwing a blade.. rather. I am sure the ancient ninja. Because of the pressure of situations in real life. and thus when the time comes. 1. and therefore our performance is somewhat contained by this environment.The Physical Level When you have just completed an excellent throw. rather than of trying throw an accurate blade. Our performance in the real world is only going to be a fraction of our performance in the dojo. ronin and bushi made their own such weapons. due to all sorts of factors Nevertheless. where not only did the blade strike the target beautifully. Yet to throw with the desire of achieving an accurate hit is detrimental to actually achieving an accurate hit. For this reason. variable and potentially dangerous. which is on the physical level. should be geared towards repetitive practice. so that you reach 100%. finding out which is better. *** Achieving Higher Accuracy It is natural for us to want to have good accuracy. This of course is theoretically possible. the feeling one experiences is indescribable. it is likely that we will perform poorly. thus rendering all situations unique.. but your throwing action was effortless and natural. Looking at the incredible variety of blades that were used. all one need do is count averages. The real world does not have this controlled atmosphere. As a beginner. easily fashioned into a sharp and practical.

and this can be covered by technical development in training on a physical level. This paradox reflects the Zen outlook on life. to act without desires. which severely limits flexibility and ability to move quickly. as well as a resistance to stress. 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. our ability to perform is greatly affected by our mental state. And when the teachings of a martial art begin to discuss this area. and the upper body. hence you are in a better position to make the necessary changes. thus lower. Many teachings also require the stilling of thoughts and desires. we are able to subtly control the activity of the body. Just as our body chemistry is regulated by hormones produced by various mental states. but there appears to be little in the way of instruction on this in everyday life. There appear to be a number of mental triggers that enable our body to perform to great levels of ability. One of the reasons for this is that our body has not had sufficient physical training in the required activity. and perhaps gain some of the benefits they purport to bestow upon the student. too often it gets passed off as religious dogma. and often. It is all very well to theorise about the connection of the mind and body. So by instituting rules which govern the activity of the mind. By being relaxed. From a physical point of view. so too are our actions regulated by our mental state. but it is also the physical state in which one can better perceive the condition of one's own body. thus bringing the feeling of focus up into the chest. The hip is also the centre of the body's weight and mass. Another factor that influences this hindrance to our physical ability is our "mental state". Stiffness and rigidity are looked upon as being detrimental to natural physical movement. however the best indication that you are employing the principles correctly is that you can actually make it strike well. When we require of our body the performance of actions that utilise fine and complex motor skills. As most martial artists will already know. the centre of our power and movement is in the hip. If you are relaxed. yet the best way to make the blade stick is to have no desire to achieve a good hit. and therefore largely ignored. and although the methods by which these operate may not be fully understood. as the hip both controls the stability of the legs. When performing simple activities that require little motor skill. and can and do influence each other. one has to learn how to control this new-found ability. it is easier to listen to what's happening with the body. or higher. By focussing on the "hara". Over the long term. our body tends to act somewhat predictably and reliably. If we can make the leap of faith in agreeing that the body and mind are indeed connected. and with stability comes speed and power. so in effect. The closer the centre of gravity is to the ground. thus is called the centre of gravity. rather than in the chest. they nevertheless seem to work in the individuals who apply these principles in their training. Once the hip is physically identified as the major factor in improving body movement. or "tanden" the breath becomes abdominal. and the secret appears to be the ability of the body to relax. the body often tends to act less reliably and capably. such as developing fine and complex motor skills to a high degree of accuracy and reliability under situations of stress. the more stable and solid a person. then we can begin to learn what these teachings may have to offer. do something without doing it. as we utiltise these mental tactics to trick our body into . But when we impose strenuous conditions on the body. having a lower centre of gravity is a great advantage. which are now easier to do since the body is relaxed. the body is able to quickly change direction and to fluidly react to changes in its environment. 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. which in turn provide support for the hip itself. which tend to raise the heart rate. Almost of all these philosophical teachings I believe are designed to improve the utilisation of the hip in the body's movement. the reason for throwing a blade is in fact not to make it stick. distractions and external conditions. as well as controls movement in the upper body. Meditation and abdominal breathing bring the minds focus on the body's centre of gravity.One of the intriguing aspects of shuriken is that the reason for throwing a blade is to make it stick. as stiffness usually means a contraction of the muscles.

when we use shuriken in our daily life. b) other people's intentions. this influence can effect an adjustment in the psychological makeup of a person. or have come back to reality. 1. training in traditional martial arts can have a great beneficial effect on the student. When we apply our skill and knowledge to the outside world. and thus all that we have learnt. of breathing abdominally and focussing the mind on the centre. When we leave the dojo and go about our regular business. it becomes "shuriken-do". and are faced with the rules of that reality. we are faced with the real world. This means that in the dojo. and physical performance can increase. 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. To be able to consistently throw accurate and controlled blades. and the ability to achieve a high level of accuracy depends upon a great deal of refinement of this physical process. then methods have become ways. Since the body and the mind are very adaptable organisms. It wasn't explained to me as being 4 types of knowledge as such. at some given stage. c) principles of the art. Likewise for shuriken. so I will write about it here. Our consciousness is molded. stilling the mind of thoughts and desires. distracted or unfocussed. focus their attention on the centre. Shuriken training is the perfect vehicle for such mental processes to be experimented with. but I have had instruction in something which sounds very similar. we begin to realise the benefits of such mental states as being relaxed. that we intend to apply later. Meik and Diane Skoss mention an abstract teaching called shichi. something like moving from "practice" to "doing". *** The Way of Shuriken In their summary of Negishi Ryu in "Sword and Spirit". and accept them as a valuable mental state to cultivate. or "Four Knowledges". the effects of this can immediately be seen in the results of your physical movement. . "do" is done in the real world. settle the breathing from the chest down to the abdomen. not only must one have mastered the technical aspects of the physical movement. Once we see this increase in physical performance. the shuriken's strike of the target. If your mind is unsettled. empty their mind of thoughts and desires. In the real world we need all our skills for survival. in this case.what we believe is better performance. but also mental and spiritual development. In this way. and develop a feeling of oneness and unity between their mind and the surroundings. now comes to use. the influence of the mental state over the body is easily observed in this movement. we are learning and practicing techniques and principles etc. rather like having a skill developed and fine tuned. and d) the "Way" itself. in the context of education. proper shuriken training can offer great benefits in not only physical. or the method of shuriken. it is said to be "shuriken-jutsu". "Jutsu" is practiced in the dojo. Unfortunately I haven't had exposure to those teachings. one must also be able to relax. the body begins to react to this new method of control. or the way of shuriken. When training is at the stage of doing technique it becomes "shuriken-do". those being the exponents ability to correctly understand a) the situation. and cause great changes in the personality. as it is a centre of learning. Because the basic movement of the throw is such a simple and gross utilisation of the body. Long term exposure to this type of mental state begins to influence us on a deeper and more psychological level. In the long term. governed and protected by the rules and atmosphere of the dojo itself. Training When training is still at the stage of learning technique.

the final outcome of the engagement rests solely on the actions of the individual. the instruction on this topic I received was very general. one has learnt specific techniques and principles that govern the use of the shuriken. In effect. 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. and the benefits such practice has to offer begin to shape our experience of the world outside the dojo. decisions have to be made. Wartime is not necessarily an official declaration. one uses the shuriken for self defence. is the Way of Shuriken. For it to have such an influence. one continues practice of their Martial Art. Engaging the Opponent In the dojo. The basic guidelines are simply . In order to achieve this return to peace. To live the way during Peacetime. and apply them to a certain extent. and I have developed my understanding of the application of shuriken based upon my understanding of the martial principles of Aikido. Therefore. Peacetime has its own rules. which involves empty-hand. and did not touch upon the specific use of techniques. During Wartime. 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. During Peacetime. apply them to the use of the shuriken in developing my own method of dealing with an opponent. one must learn how to apply this knowledge in Wartime. This is all the person of Budo is concerned about. such as sword. Wartime. at some level in the shuriken Art. or one is living the "Way" of Shuriken. Elsewhere in an individual's consciousness. Practicing technique can only take one to a certain stage. staff. At some stage. reality contains two parts. and again. In the dojo we learn the rules of War. 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. and spiritual training. the rules of War come into effect and take over the decision making processes. use the unorthodox to wage war". and realisations achieved in order to prepare the individual for engaging an opponent. While an individual's ability to defend themselves when faced with an opponent is greatly enhanced by the study of a Martial Art. one is "doing" shuriken. and that is how to engage the opponent. In my case. Shuriken has largely been taught as part of a "koryu" or a traditional system that involves a number of arts. mental. For example. on a daily basis. or living the "Way". sword and staff techniques. one is "doing" shuriken. The practice becomes a part of the daily routine. The mental focus and concentration. as does Wartime. then the rules of Peace take over. or the Martial Way. after one has studied in the dojo one also continues practicing at home. the practice must be regular. Understanding these differences between Wartime and Peacetime. daily practice of shuriken is a method of controlling both the consciousness as well as the physique.From the perspective of Budo. and one reaps the benefits of such physical. the main art is Aikido. Chapter 57 of the "Dao De Jing" says: "Use the orthodox to govern the state. 2. Satoshi Saito Sensei also will only take students who have been studying another martial art. and that one can take the principles regarding engaging the opponent from that Art. empty-hand and other weapons. and Peacetime. typically kenjutsu. During Wartime. the shuriken is used as a form of protection of Peacetime. the techniques one has learned are used in order to achieve a return to the state of peace. It was suggested that I take the principles of engagement from the Art I was studying and by following a given set of guidelines. and how to apply our shuriken Art to them. Thus training in shuriken is having an effect on one's life in this way. until the state of peace has been achieved. and held with equal importance as other daily activities.

"Angle" is determined by the relationship between the opponents centre and that of of one's own. The weapon is the type of weapon being used to attack. and are more or less vulnerable to certain types of attack than others. Distance 2. This is a very intangible ability that is entirely up to the individual and their application of their training. but it is also the weight or power behind the physical movement that is counted as well. they are closing the distance. both short term and far-reaching. At this point. Intention These 5 things are determined through an understanding of the main art. Momentum 4. "Momentum" is the speed of the opponent's oncoming attack. Various techniques of the various main arts will have varying levels of threat assigned to the various angles of attack.worldly knowledge All actions have consequences. Much of human suffering is derived from the consequences of negative actions. In assessing the level of threat. Decide upon what outcome and its consequences 3. the individual must take a . Likewise. but also shortening the reaction time. and with how much capability. Decide which actions to take to best facilitate that outcome. One must observe the world and develop an understanding of how consequences derive from actions. Assess the level of threat 2.1. "Nature of the attack" is the weapon. the level of threat is less than a similar attack from a stronger structure. if a relatively distant opponent is showing non-aggressive signs by turning the body. the level of threat can be dangerously high if the opponent intends to harm you. "Intention of the opponent when attacking". One must be able to look into the opponents soul and determine if they intend to attack or not. 5 things about the opponent must be observed immediately. one must choose actions that do not lead to such negative consequences. Assessing the level of threat. the level of threat may not necessarily be so great if the opponent does not intend to attack. but their structure is not well grounded. 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. so to allay suffering. "Distance" is determined by number of steps away the opponent is. and thus has a variety of threat associated with each weapon. 2. which would have greater application of power than an attack from a weaker structure. Nature of attack 5. 1. As the opponent takes steps closer. thus increasing the level of threat. it is not something which can be taught systematically. and increasingly limiting defensive options. Angle 3. Understanding of how things work . One's own body has areas which are more and less defensible than others. Deciding Upon the Outcome. then one will be in a better position to know the consequences of their own actions. with how much intensity. Certain angles. if so. Even though the opponent may be at a close distance. 1. at a dangerous angle. by drawing an imaginary line between the two. such as rear attacks are harder to defend than. say a side attack. and the target. focussing away from your centre and not moving. If an opponent is attacking quickly. with considerable momentum towards a particularly vital area.

given to me in 1982 by an old friend "Scriv" who keen weapons enthusiast. to act to the best of one's ability. *** Attaining Mastery The final goal of shuriken-do. Not having much experience with being a master. Is one prepared to kill or to injure in order to protect oneself. one must consider these two factors. However. or one may be forced to act against their principles. then the triangular heads ground and polished to an edge. . what I use. behaviour and recourse to the law. but there also may be opportunities for action. Very often the social situation or the cultural setting will call for particular types of action. 3. or shaken. acco him. or culture. "Attaining Mastery: Using Linguistic Principles to Define a Path of Learning within an Art. taken from a structural . One may be able to act while protected by the requirements of the situation. Within this culture. The silver one really nice and I use it more often than the others. and are not prepared to do. how they were made. authentic dimensions. no matter what the situation is? It is here that the individual's integrity. How one follows. indeed with any art. so it is more worn. is to commit to them fully. and how can people make their own. where they choose what they are prepared to do. Click image image2 for larger view These were my first ever shuriken. 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. and these can be limiting factors in making decisions. what they look like. and here there may be conflicts with one's own morality. Hira shuriken. what kind of outcome you desire. All one is required to do. yet it is here that the individual is judged as a human being. the individual is also part of a society. He made them himself in metal shop at college. once the choice of actions have been made. The circular holes were then drilled wit 13mm bit." SHURIKEN COLLECTION I have had quite a few enquiries about my shuriken. honour and responsibility are tested. to. or is one resolved to preserve life at all costs. is to attain mastery. so I offer my thoughts on the matter here. or make decisions based upon a form of morality or philosophy. Deciding Which Actions Best Facilitate that Outcome This is a logical decision based upon the assessment of the level of threat. so I include here for reference the ones I have and/or presently train with.. and there are both written and unwritten rules that prompt and inhibit action. I can only speculate on what mastery really is.stance. and to be prepared to accept the consequences. and the technical understanding of one's art. there are certain expectations one is expected to abide by. They are just 3mm coated plate steel with the 4 pointed pattern scribed from a template then cut out. and a bit of information on manufacturing them.linguistics viewpoint.

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. this and the following 2 shurike to be authentic. I don't know. the action of retarding the blade's natural tendency to turn in flight. Masaaki H Sensei and Yumio Nawa Sensei. I of these nails in various stages of completion. They were generously given to me by Robert Gruzanski late father. and by all accounts was a formidable exponent of the art. Where he got nails. but I s needs work. ground down 8 inch railway sleeper nail. All 3 blades exhibit very interesting and unusual surface markings. a rougher and courser material which creates good the fingers for the throw. Morihiro Saito Sensei. to provide friction against the fingers as the blade is released from the hand. It's 20cm in length. suggesting authentic origin. but the metal is very hard and heavy. given to me years ago by my friend Scriv. Currently researching good heat-hardening methods. to the exact size and dimensions of a set of Negishi Ryu shuriken given to him late headmaster of our style of Aikido. as is n done. or Jap traditionally smelted metal. obtained these from his teachers. black tamahagane. This one is the most complete. handmade blades made from the heavy. thus allowing the hit method of throwing to fly over gresater distances without turning. modelled on a Bo shuriken given to me in 19 Ryo-kun.I think I needed a much higher tempera what I was producing. Saito Sensei was an e the Negishi Ryu. had as a student. but with handles wrapped in twine. Click here for a larger view I rewrapped them in jute twine. who continued training until late in life. I offer my own detailed description of these 3 blades in a personal here . as it was th manufacture of the blade itself that decided whether it would be for throwing shorter longer distances. Click here Bo shuriken of the Shirai Ryu Click image for larger view These I made myself a few years ago. It is mistakenly believed that these two methods are employed to adjust the balance blade for throwing either short or long distances. These were professionally made on a lathe in a shop. the the shuriken book mentioned at length on this site. one of my Aikido teachers of many y and a shuriken practitioner himself. Another metho providing a friction surface was to soak paper in lacquer and wrap the shank of the with several thickness of material. I tried treating the tip. but this is not the case. tip ground and end rounded by stone. The Negishi Ryu shuriken shown above. and difficult to work with. but it didn't get any harder . both famous collectors and proponents of the shu arts.Bo shuriken of the Negishi Ryu Click image for larger view These were given to me by Mic Marelli Sensei. Charles. 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. a Japanese working-holidayer who was working with me at my teachers c It's 6mm rod steel cut to 16cm lengths. its too heavy and bulky.

. This was given to me by Chihiro Negishi san as mo symbolic gift than one for use. this set of 5 bo shuriken is the standard package that new students acquire commencing training. 6mm thick. note the darkened area below the tip. Authentic Katori Shinto Ryu Bo Shuriken View large Also a gift of Otsuka Sensei. because these blades have still retained their tip.Authentic Japanese Bo shuriken of the Ikku Ryu View large As I mentioned elsewhere. Modern shaken from Japan Click image for larger view An example of the type of shaken available today in Japan. this appears to be a relatively modern handmade blad industrially produced metal stock. e when thrown into timber targets. thickness at its widest point: 7mm. This blade has a very nice. with a symbol embossed on one side. there are examples of double pointed blades that ap predate Mr Shirakami.This example is 21 cms long. Note the Meifu Shinkage stamp on the paper packaging. so this needs some research. The butt is gently rounded and squared off. with a very sharp. The 15.1cm long. clean. square from nails. it is just dependent upon the material round were from needles. and th slight increase in the angle of the taper in the last 7mm of the tip. bevel to remove the sharpness. 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. Overall length 16. 26mm tip. It appears that the tip end ha heat hardened before filing to a point. comfortable feel abo throws very well. Authentic Japanese Bo shuriken of Shirai Ryu View large This blade has a square cross section. Very nice. I am not sure how authentic its design and dimension compared to traditional shaken. Yasuyuki Otsu Sensei. The Ja must know their heat hardening. however. unlike the circular section characteristic of th school.5cm long and thick. however square ones were common. the lengthwise edges have a very slight 45 deg. Ikku Ryu is a 20th Century name coined by Mr Shirakam style of shuriken art. This blade is 18.

as opposed to wrapping in twine as with the ex above.Custom made shuriken from a smith in the US. but I imagine it is thrown in a similar fa (knife grip??) to the ovoid blade. the other two hexagonal. are handmade shuriken by Jeff Adams. to strengthen the tip. These blades ha taper narrowing to the rear. View large. relatively heavy blade that flies very both Shirai Ryu and Negishi Ryu styles. which means they are better suited to attaching the tuft pigskin and hair into a tassel shape. Jeff Adams Negishi Ryu blades (View large) Very nice. a bit sho thin for my liking. and throw in the turning method. The thumb is pla the hole to maintain consistency of the balance. I can get them to stick when thrown in the turning hi method. I am not sure how this blad thrown . They are thrown in the Negishi Ryu style. The lower blade to has a square cross section. a blad and thrower in the US who very kindly sent me these to showcase his craft. clean and simple lines. and for distances within or outside step increments. View large Jeff Adams "Chishin Ryu type" Bo shuriken These 12. and sticks in the target with almost uncanny ease. and hexagonal section are very difficult b throw. but I believe this blade type was not designed for the turning hit. Proportionately it appears to have the correct dimensio would hazard a guess that Jeff was working off a photo to produce these.5cms long and 10mm thick at the widest point. 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. an states that he can throw these successfully at 30ft (10m). it will stick every two paces distance from the target. and is a brilliant blade. placement of the thumb above or below the hole compensates for changes in distance by changing the balance point in the grip. This. It is a good. traditional blades are around the 17-18cm mark.5cm blades with 8mm diameter. chokuda-ho method (direct hit). again.I do not have much success with it. finished with a light san oil. solid. in a tough metal with a nice Parkerised coating. whereas the lower blade has an offset hexagonal profile on the tip. They ar well made. I am not sure how Jeff for it to be thrown. It is simple to th very well. Being a d ended blade. and therefore a bit shorter than the traditional Ts Ryu blade length of 19cms. but I cannot get them to fl properly or stick in target at all. Jeff Adams Ovoid Thrower This particular design is a creation of Jeff's. and the next several examples. and was to accurately judge the scale of the photographed blade. A very easy blade to throwing with. these 3 are not quite identical. but I use it in this grip. The blade resting in top has th octagonal sides following through the entire length of the blade. . The 25mm taper is slightly conv curved. thus giving a more factted appeara These blades are 12. View large Jeff Adams "Shirai Ryu type" Bo shuriken These are 18cm blades. 6mm square in thickness.

This it safe and comfortable to wear inside the clothing without piercing yourself. The shorter blade is 17cms long. which he collects. as well as pie ability. Bo Shuriken by Hozan Suzuki of Mumyouan Made from 8mm hexagonal stock steel. It is attached to a thin ro about 12-18 feet in length. Jeff Adams Shirai Ryu bo shuriken set (View large) These blades are the same as the Shirai Ryu type above. thus giving it cutting ability at any point of contact in the swing. The fla compact shape of these blades permits them to be conveniently secreted in a numb places. and to a square. stacked and carried together as a set. enabling a reasonable direct hit method throw blade is only 12.5cms in length. the rope is let g the blade shoots forward in whatever direction one chooses. The 4 indented rings along the shaft pr very good friction against the fingers. each example providing both weight and a fri surface that aids in retarding the spin as the blades leave the hand. except the tapered tips a straight. a bit short for my liking. (View large) . tips machine lathed to a long taper. An awesome weapon when used skillfully! The weapons is known as a "Chin Rope Dart". Very nice blade feel right. with a he cross section.Jeff Adams Phurba Prototype (View large) This blade is an experiment of Jeff's. with design elements taken from the Tibetan r daggers called 'Phurbas". and the rope prevents blade from escaping the control of the person swinging it. so the Parkerised fin still fresh. Jeff Adams Ovoid Thrower Set (View large) More of the above mentioned blades. 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. When the speed of the swing increases. and they fly well. The lower one brass casing wrapped around the tail. but it appears its usage has been introduced into Japanese Martial Arts Not sure of the Japanese name. This example has 10mm thickness. 11mm thick. with circular cross section. as opposed to the difficulty of carrying a set of longer Shirai Ryu blades. Black tw been wrapped around the tails. The example in the pic has not yet been lightly sanded with oil. both horizontally above the head vertically beside the body. The blade is sharpened to edges. and two have also a leather sheath tightly wrapped glued with a resinous lacquer made from the Japanese Urushi plant. rather than curved. but Jeff finds the shorter bla easier to throw. and triangular blade tip. For the pouch I adapted a mini Maglite belt pouch. 4 sided point. and swung like a lasso. This example is 10cms long. the other 3 are 21cms.

Made from 8mm square bar.. It is a work in progress. one of 16cms length.difficult to carry many in concealment. soft mild steel. Subsequent throws at greater distances were just as easy. I made this one to 18cms length. they are 21cm lon 12mm thick and weight 160gm. Hozan believes that a larger and heavier blade makes it easier for the beg learn the difficult "direct hit" MANUFACTURE DESIGN SHURIKEN MATERIALS MAKING YOUR OWN On this page is information regarding the process of making a blade. Took roughly 5 hours. My first attempt at a Katori Shinto Ryu blade. . so I will add to it as I progress in the craft. was a perfect direct hit that flew and true. but for pract are ideal. They are easy to throw. The only downside is these are big and heavy blades. so I could compare the way it flies to a more trad. Most recent additions are at the top.. July 5th 2004. The butt-end is hollow drilled to affect the weight balance. More info here Mumyouan. I am very impr with these. My first throw with this at 3+ metres. and I find myself in agreement.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.

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. 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



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.

Chishin Ryu
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 [1]

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 [1] [2]

but this needs to be confirmed. or b) longer and closer to the middle of the blade. Notable feature of this style are blades with round shaft. a particular historical pedigree. a feature which this variant retains. although the tail end in that style does not taper. as have with variant b. which may suggest connection or derivation to the earlier Chinese piau. almost like a needle or dart. Whether this demonstrates a higher refinement of technique. there also appears to be considerable variety in the basic shape of blades in this Ryu. which must have required considerably more work to produce than the square or octagonal blades. View enlarged photo of an authentic Shirai Ryu shuriken. View enlarged photos of authentic Katori Shinto Ryu shuriken [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] Below is variant a. or utilisation of a different source material is not clear. Photos of Katori Shinto Ryu blades have included this shape among them. with the thicker part of the shaft to the rear. [1] Katori Shinto Ryu As with Shirai Ryu blades. the blade also has a triangular cross section. so it is assumed they belong to the katori school. In the case of a. . and also a thinner version. which may suggest it is a variant of the Mou En Ryu blade (above). 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).Shirai Ryu There seems to be great variety in length of blades in this style.

If these three blades are found to be all of the Katori Shinto Ryu. respectively. a feature exhibited by Negishi Ryu Ryu blades. with the thicker part of the shaft towards the tip. Here is an accurate plan. which do not have a widening taper towards the tail tend to have an attachment such as a ring. or a hole through which thread or a tassle or animal hair is attached. supplied by a visitor to this site. often associated with the Ikku Ryu variant a shown below. Variant c. and the only such blades I have been able to find are the design below.Below is variant b. As a point of interest. then it may follow the same logic in that the weight of these 2 variants is further back (a) or forwards (b). It is also said that Sokaku Takeda of the Daito Ryu also used a hashi shaped blade. possibly without knowing its origin. although those blades. Will have to confirm this. or "chopstick" shaped. of a Katori Shinto Ryu blade currently . A Japanese shuriken retailer here has this type listed as a Chishin Ryu blade. there is mention in the Negishi Ryu of taping the blades to make the balance either forward or back. but it is thought that he demonstrated skill in Negishi Ryu shuriken. so it is possible this blade is not of the Negishi Ryu. I think that a number of styles now use this blade. Mention has also been made of Katori Shinto Ryu blades being square hashi. making them conducive to longer distance or short distance throws. This variant notably has a hexagonal cross section. changing the centre of gravity of the blade to make them more suitable for longer or shorter distance flight.

Note that the tapering extends the full length of the blade. so I am hesitant to actually call the blades depicted below an example of Ikkyu Ryu. There are also a number of variations in the shape of this blade. and thus called his style Ikkyu Ryu. View enlarged photos of authentic Ikku Ryu shuriken [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] Variant a. Note slight variation of dimensions. because they may in fact be representative of another style altogether. sometimes called ryobari-gata shuriken. . primarily being the length of the straight central shaft in relation to the lengths of the tapers. rather than having a straight. 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. 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. Ikku Ryu Although Mr. Shirakami's innovation. parellel section of the shaft as above. there does appear to be photo evidence of shuriken that pre-date Mr. according to distance. Figure 8 (bottom) .available in Kendo supply stores in Tokyo.

so I include ones that I can vouch for. It would be an exhaustive effort to record them all. Below is my own Negishi Ryu shuriken. or short swords. over that length they are classed as kodachi. extending from the butt to about 7cm up the shank towards the head. Note that the bulb and tail are equal . They are rounded. probably due to ease of manufacture on a modern day lathe. Note that this type of blade should be wrapped with either laquered paper or string around the tail shaft. Japan. This first one is what is currently available in martial arts stores in Nagoya. tanto. thus retain some of the shape. 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.. an exact copy of those used by Saito Sensei and students of the Iwama Dojo in Ibaraki Pref. Negishi Ryu There are many variation in shape and dimension between shuriken of Negishi Ryu. The hole in blade is the hole for the retaining pin that attaches the handle and fittings to the blade. Tanto are classed as blades under 30cm. rather than the characteristic octagonal.Enmei Ryu Tanto-gata are shuriken that are adpated from the short knife.

all exhibit a rough. shuriken were fashioned from pre-existing metal implements. rather than being specially made to design. I have heard that specific construction methods. jutte. It is thought they are adapted from certain parts of the traditional Japanese armour. have been kept secret. a fact which quite probably greatly influenced the overall shape of blades within each particular style. Tsugawa Ryu Rather large. Metal smelting technology was imported to Japan from China via Korea around the 8th Century. manrikigusari. MATERIALS DESIGN SHURIKEN MANUFACTURE MAKING YOUR OWN Traditionally. and relatively easier than the sword metal to produce. and refined over the subsequent millenium. such as shuriken. particularly in the Negishi Ryu. In pre-Meiji Japan. One may notice that many older metal weapons. rough pig-iron that needed further refinement to become the great swords Japan is famous for. They are of the type called "teppan shuriken". The metal was heavy. however it suffered in hardness and tensile strength. which produced a black slag of varying (and low) carbon content. matte black appearance. metal was scarce and its use devoted predominantly to conventional weaponry. as well as many other metal implements such as furniture fittings. (swords in particular). this . and since there appears to be no historical documents extant today on subject.thickness. and the butt is rounded off on a more acute angle. with the appearance of a double pointed knife. easy to work with. however this needs confirmation. which simply means shuriken made from flat plate metal. long flat blades. so what little they did have of the low grade satetsu. called tamahagane. or "iron-sand" required a lengthy and ingenious smelting process (called tatara). Japan was not a great source of iron ore. This product was a black. I guess that is why this Ikkyu Ryu shuriken example #5 has broken points.

each with varying combinations of physical properties such as hardness. simple and dispensable. shape... Objects such as 8 inch railway nails. practically and effectively available to us. heat resistance and conductivity etc. however I am yet to confirm this. there is a great variety of metals produced. with little effort. old carpenters files. the spirit of the art requires that we use whatever is cheaply. chisel blades etc. but by opportunity from pre-existing metal ware. 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. Grinding. far superior to the pig-iron traditionally used for such things. Since shuriken were fashioned not by design.. it seems that what was required was a cheap and easy-to-make weapon. balance etc. one that appeared harmless in that it looked like either a tool. polishing and heat treating technology is more efficient and available to us these days. ie. Micheal Finn. in his 1983 book 'Art of Shuriken Jutsu" writes that shuriken were fashioned in a similar way to that of Japanese swords. I think it proper to search for everday items which can. and yet provide an excellent source of metal.information remains unclear. crude. easily worked into shape. such as size. For this reason. tensile strength. be adapted to create a throwing and piercing weapon that can be concealed in the palm. Providing that it follows the principles defined by the art which determine their use. So rather than attempt to imitate the traditional blade to the point that we use exactly the same metal. Nowadays. can all be easily obtained. construction or carpentry implement. the source of the metal for the shuriken is of secondary importance.