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How to Throw Shuriken

As reflected in the literal translation of the word shuriken itself, learning the proper method of releasing the blade is the most important aspect of shuriken throwing practice.  To begin training with the throwing blades, whether the straight bo shuriken or the multipointed hira shuriken, it is crucial to first get used to the feel of correctly releasing the blade for accurate flight.

For Hira Shuriken Training:
Begin your training by lightly tossing the blade straight into a wooden or Styrofoam target, without any concern whatsoever for distance or power.  In this initial stage, the target itself does not need to be more than three or four feet away.  Distance can be accommodated later, once a proper throw has been developed.  Power will come naturally after that, as a product of experience and competence.

A light tensing of the fingers and wrist at the moment of release will create the proper feel for a straight and accurate throw.  Work on developing the feeling that the blade seems to slip out of your hand by itself, rather than the feeling of flinging or slamming the shuriken into the target with the muscles of the arm.  By allowing the blade to slip from your grasp at just the right instant, you cause the blade to cut through the air with the proper trajectory.

The star-shaped plate shuriken can be stacked in the left and slid off one at a time for throwing with the right hand.  The shuriken are held on a horizontal plane in the palm of the left hand, and the outer edge of the right thumb tip catches in the shuriken's center hole to slide the blade off the stack and send it on its way to the target.  This throwing method creates a rapid-fire succession of blade hits that can "track" the target as it moves toward you.

Straight spike or bar shuriken can be held in a bundle in the left hand and extracted one at a time for throwing with the right hand.  The entire bundle can be lifted slightly with the left hand following the right hand as it draws the blade for each throw.  The long narrow shuriken are held in the hand lightly, with the fingertips gently supporting the spike or bar in place for throwing.

Power and accuracy in shuriken throwing are generated by moving the body along with the throwing hand action.  The body can rock back and forth, pulling back to ready each blade and rocking forward on the knees for each throw, or the rear foot can slide into forward position with the throw.  The feeling of body weight behind the blade throwing action is similar to that of effectively using the body weight in motion to generate power for punches in the ninja's taijutsu unarmed combat method.  Indeed, without a proper grounding in the principles of taijutsu, it is difficult to ever gain a combat mastery of the throwing blades.

The most common mistake encountered in shuriken practice throwing is the use of a flinging arm and a solid stance to project the missiles at their target.  As the arm fans out horizontally across the midsection, the hand must release the blade at precisely the correct degree of the flat arc, with just the right timing, when throwing in this manner.  This is extremely difficult, and can usually be accomplished only by standing in one spot and investing countless hours in unnecessary drill.  In the heat of life-saving action, standing in one spot like a pub tournament dart thrower would most likely be a fatal mistake in tactics.  It is much simpler to learn to throw by projecting the arm in a straight path with the moving body providing power and alignment accuracy, and therefore developing a much more reliable fighting skill with the ninja's shuriken.

The process of throwing the flat shuriken for self-protection is one that blends actions of the eyes, breath, knees and ankles, torso, and, of course, arm and wrist.  The body rocks forward with each throw to provide flying and cutting power to the blade.  Avoid the futility of freezing the body in position and attempting to generate power from the arm alone.  The body rocks back each time a new blade is taken into hand, so that the forward power motion can be set up for the next throw.  Be sure to coordinate your breath with your body action; pull air in with each return to ready position and push air out with each movement forward to release the blade.

© 1985 Stephen K. Hayes


The Bo Shuriken in flight:

The shuriken travels through the air to the target in 3 different ways, depending upon the school, grip, and throw. The "direct hit" method, jikidaho or choku-da, involves holding the blade with the point out, towards the target. This method is employed in the Negishi Ryu, and also as a short distance throw in the Shirai, Jikishin and other Ryu.

The second way that the blade turns, the "turning hit", is called hantendaho, or Ikkaiten-da, and involves holding the blade with the tip pointing into the palm. During its travel through the air to the target, the blade turns 180 deg, or 1 turn. This method is employed by the Shirai and other Ryu. (see fig. 23, below) but not by Negishi Ryu, however I believe nowadays students of Negishi Ryu also learn the throws and about the blades of other Ryu, including Shirai.

The third way a blade turns, the "multi turn" method, or dakaiten-da, has the blade turning 360 deg. or more as it flies through the air. This method is employed by the hira shuriken schools, where the many points of the star shaped blade will rotate and have no difficulty piercing the target at any distance. This method is also employed by the Shirai Ryu over long distance throws, (up to 18 steps). (Not illustrated.)


Be careful: While typically not capable of mortally wounding a person, these weapons can be quite nasty.   You can be fined and put in jail for using these on animals!





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