Almost everyone knows about the Ninjas, and most probably many of you grew up liking them. And yes, they were impressive, brave individuals. What’s more impressive was their weapons. There are a few significant weapons that they used for taking down their opponents. They used swords, specifically, the iconic Katana sword. One pretty interesting weapon that they used is the Ninja Star.
Do you know about the Ninja Stars? Certainly, many of you are not familiar with this tactical weapon.
In this article, I am going to discuss this weapon thoroughly. From its history and types to its traditional and modern usage, I would disclose almost everything you should know about the Ninja Stars. So, let’s begin!
What are Ninja Stars?
A Ninja Star is a specific Ninja weapon shaped like a star.
It is sometimes called a “Shuriken” or a throwing star.
The star consists of a few very sharp edges, typically 4, 5, 6 or sometimes close to 10. These stars were used as the tactical weapons because the purpose behind them was to distract the opponents. Stepping foot on them would cause a serious injury, and that is why Ninjas found them useful, not for killing, but maiming.
The sharp edges on the stars worked as blades as they included points that could penetrate in the feet. This could easily distract them during wars. Hence, they were pretty effective as tactical weapons. One can say that Ninja Stars are the most fundamental and simplest ranged weapons used by the Ninjas.
Origin of Ninja Star
The origin and history of Ninja stars has always remained a subject of debate. There are different opinions among the historians when it comes to their origin. However, there are a few aspects associated with their history, and I’ll be disclosing all of them here.
The origin of these stars dates as early as 600 AD when a Prince of Japan threw a sliced vegetable into a deer’s eyes, which must have been a part of some interesting story.
However, by the 11th century, there are conflicts that the first ever throwing blades were used for a very understandable purpose. These blades had spinning and sharp points are were used for maiming, however, were more intended as discretionary attempt rather than a skilling shot.
Maybe, this is not the use of these stars you may see in the movies and games. So, ignore that use.
Both these types of Ninja stars were adopted by the Japanese assassins and Ninjutsu clans. The reason behind the adaption of this tactical weapon was that this simple weapon was small and could inflict some injury in a combat. These stars were concealed easily and could be thrown without producing a sound. So, this made them a formidable weapon for catching the opponents off guard with.
Coming to Ninjas, and the reason why they adopted this weapon.
Originally, the purpose of the Ninja star was self defense. It has been believed that the mold of these stars was big snails or small knives. Using such a tiny weapon, it was difficult to aim and throw it for killing the opponent with one shot. However, if a strong poison such as aconite was painted on the stars, it could become pretty powerful. Even in case Ninjas had not have the poison, dog or soil droppings that existed all over must be substituted.
Many people believes that throwing star was a specific weapon used only by the Ninjas, but this has been a wrong belief.
Primarily, a throwing star was a weapon which was used like an arrow, sword or spear similar to how a Samurai might have used it. Even though a shuriken was a powerful weapon that stirred the imagination of the opponents, the Samurai came to prevent that weapon. Contrary to this, for the Ninjas, the throwing stars very pretty convenient as they were lightweight and portable. You may think that these stars were just the throwing weapons. However, this isn’t true.
They were also used as tools for hitting the targets similar to spears and swords. However, there is not a single specific story regarding these stars, but there are certain conflicted and debatable theories and established stories about them. In the beginning, amid the warring period in ancient Japan, there existed several combat tactics such as throwing blades at the enemies.
The use of throwing stars were believed to an advanced capability. In addition, in the ancient China, a few people utilized the skills of throwing three nails. Using this approach, at least one of those nails could hit the enemy to do the damage. This particular approach was transmitted to the Japanese and became popular as Shuriken-jitsu. The next such method was the throwing arrows technique which involved throwing big darts. This can be considered an ancestral type of throwing stars.
Hence, you can consider throwing nails as the origin of the Ninja star. These were the methods that led to the use of stars as throwing weapons. Ninjas were aware of these benefits of throwing stars in the combat. They considered them useful to distract their enemies and cause some sort of injuries to them. So, these throwing weapons are more associated with the Ninjas.
Types of Ninja Stars
1- Bo Shuriken
The most common throwing star, a Bo Shuriken has a more spike-like appearance and designed for painful projectiles. It is a throwing star that consists of a straight steel or iron spike. The spike is usually four sided and at times octagonal and round in section.
A few of them also include points on both ends. Considering the length, it ranges from 12 cm to 21 cm while they weight around 25 g to 150 g. Don’t confuse them with kunai, as many do, because kunai is a stabbing and thrusting throwing weapon.
A bo shuriken is thrown in several ways, for example, underarm, sideways, rewards, and overhead. However, in any case, the throw makes the blade slide out of the hand through the fingers in a controlled and smooth flight.
The most significant methods of throwing include turning-hit method and direct-hit method. Both these methods are technically different from each other. The direct hit method does not permit the blade to spin before hitting the target. On the other hand, turning hit method makes the blade spin.
2- Hira Shuriken
This throwing star closely resembles the popular shuriken concept. It is established using flat, thin plates of metal which are derived from different sources, such as carpentry tools, coins, and nail removers etc. They often include a hole in the center along with a thin blade incorporating a sharpened tip. This was advantageous for the users of these stars as they could be dowel or strung into the belt.
The hole also included weighting impacts and aerodynamics which assisted in the blade’s flight. There are numerous forms of this throwing star and are typically determined as per the number of points possessed by them.
Like the bo shuriken, the different shapes of the hira shuriken are representatives of a specific region or school which preferred the use of these shapes. Hence, it is possible to figure out the school by the shape of the blade.
3- Manji Shuriken
Also called hooked style, a manji shuriken determines a star in which four corners are hooked outwards. These may not just assist in providing an additional grip to the star, but also make sure to inflict a vicious and stronger stick onto the enemies. They were also more sharpened for developing a serious cutting impact on the target.
4- Happo Shuriken
These types of throwing stars are usually typified by possessing a pretty solid center and a few sharp points surrounding it. A few also included small holes at the center, however, were still pretty heavy compared to their other counterparts.
5- Juji Shuriken
It is another type of Ninja throwing star in which the defining characteristic is the interesting shaor of the points. The points of this shuriken are shaped like an arrow-head. They are designed to have a severe barbed-like impact of sticking into the target. Removing them is often pretty slow and a very painful procedure.
6- Harigata Shuriken
The Hurigata throwing stars are pretty similar to Bo shuriken in many ways. However, there are certain subtle differences. These stars typically resemble the needles. They have slender, long spikes made of metal that often taper towards the point. They are also easy to conceal and can inflict devastating impacts on the target.
Usage of Ninja Stars
A popular belief is that Ninja stars are used as killing weapons. However, they were in fact the secondary weapons intended only to distract the enemies. The targets for the stars were mostly the exposed areas of the body, such as feet, hands, and face.
These stars were sometimes thrown in such a manner that they slashed the opponent is a glancing blow, and went on and finally lost. The enemies would often feel confused about what has caused the wound. Specifically, the hira shuriken were used in such novel ways. They were embedded into the ground and intended to injure those who stepped onto them.
They were often grounded after wrapping them in fuse to be lit or wrapped in a cloth and covered with a cloud of poisonous smoke. In addition, they were handy weapons in close quarter combat.
There are also instances where the Ninjas used shuriken after coating them with poison. These were thrown or left in a conspicuous place for the opponents to pick up and become a victim of them. Other instances determine the stars were buried in animal feces or dirt.
The historical value of the Ninja stars has enhanced, although they are simple weapons. Because of their expendable nature, they are well preserved as compared to the katana and other Ninja weapons.
Though, Ninja stars were not very powerful, they were handful to catch the opponents off guard. They were accurate and terrifying weapons, enabling the thrower to strike the targets from a reasonable distance. The combatants would throw them to their opponents in order to end the fight before they have any time to react. This is because they often caused some injury to the opponents and hence distract them from the fight.
So, these are the different ways Ninja stars have been utilized in the past. But, what about the modern usage?
Ninja Stars Today
In the modern days, Ninja star may not be utilized the way they were in the past. With guns, knives and other fighting weapons available today, shuriken would be least preferred weapon. However, it does not mean that they are less handful in combat and self defense. They are still pretty useful in close quarter combats. Many people are still eager to buy the Ninja star and use them for self defense.
The advantage of using them for self defense is that they can be thrown from a great distance to distract the attackers and run away from them. If they hit the target, you can easily escape, if don’t you can still distract them and find some time to escape.
The greatest advantage of Ninja star is that they can be thrown by staying far away from the attackers.
Getting close to the attacker is the last thing you would want in a self defense situation. And these stars enable you to avoid getting close to him. So, which way are you looking to use them? Perhaps, as your self defense weapon?