No Spin Shurikenjutsu
Practising no spin knife throwing or no spin Shurikenjutsu is one of the more infuriating throwing techniques to master but is the most effective technique if you put in the hours of practice necessary.
Throwing using the no spin technique forces the throwing knife or bo Shuriken to stabilise during flight so the point is always facing the target and does not rotate. This is done by controlling the trajectory of the knife utilising a variety of factors such as:
- Type of throwing knife or Bo Shuriken being thrown. (9″- 12″ length)
- Distance to the target (3M, 6M, 9M / 6ft, 12ft, 18ft)
- The way the handle of the throwing knife is held (Choking).
- The angle of the wrist when the knife is thrown and the assistance of a supporting finger along the spine of the knife or Bo Shuriken.
- The throwing action you use to no spin throw, this is primarily the arm movement used to generate the momentum to force the knife to the target. (Theirs a few)
- Body positioning and posture, this is mainly with regard to the Kamae (Stance) and how to control your centre of gravity.
- Footwork (Taisabaki) this plays a vital role in generating and controlling the momentum behind your throw so that you can effectively follow through with your throw.
So where do you start?
Its preferable to be able to throw using either the half spin or full spin technique first as this will give you a benchmark to work from to develop your no spin technique.
It would be possible to develop the no spin shurikenjutsu technique as a beginner but it would be a nightmare to take into consideration all the factors necessary to control the trajectory of the knife or Shuriken. Either way you are going to fail a lot at first, everyone does, I spent about a week just learning to control the trajectory of the larger throwing knives in comparison to the far smaller Togakure Ryu Uchi Barai Bo Shuriken i usually half spin throw.
The way i usually explain the process of throwing to a new student is to view the whole process as a cycle starting at the target, then imagine a line trailing from the target to your feet.
Check your Taisabaki (Footwork) and ensure when you step through to throw your foot is pointing towards the target, this enables the body weight to travel forwards over the knee of the leading leg, if the foot is angled it disrupts your body mechanics and musculoskeletal structure so you lose momentum which produces a weak throw. Ken Tai Ichi Jo is important when practising Shurikenjutsu, the body and weapon are used as one in a singular harmonious movement.
The line then travels up from the feet to the knees, keep them bent and control your centre of gravity, You don’t want your hips to raise up as you step through to throw but instead need to keep a stable foundation otherwise your accuracy will be affected by the jump caused by your movement. This could be likened somewhat to the Taisabaki found in Ichimonji No Kata from the Kihon Koshi Sanpo.
The line then travels up to your abdomen so you check your Kamae (Posture/Stance). Make sure that your spine is straight when you throw and your not slouching into it, this changes your distancing to the target and will once again affect you accuracy. Concentrate on the crown of your head and raising it high this will help you to straighten your spine without consciously trying to keep the whole of your back straight.
The line then travels up to the arms and the student aims with the left hand assuming Ichimonji No Kamae. Try to think of using the left hand somewhat like an iron sight on a rifle, your left hand is the mohawk sight and your shoulders the rear sights, when you line your shoulders up with the left hand in the middle of your chest the right hand naturally wants to follow the same path when it falls to maintain balance during the transition in your movement or you will fall to one side as you step through.
Its all about a careful balance of several key factors that lead to successful no spin throwing technique.
The final stage in the cycle is the line travelling down the arm and propelling the throwing knife or Bo Shuriken at the target.
This is where it gets a bit complicated! Their are a huge variety of techniques used by various no spin throwing practitioners not just Shurikenjutsuka (Shurikenjutsu Students), I will outline the two main throwing techniques I use but its important to keep an open mind with no spin as the only way to really gain proficiency in the art is test what’s best for you, their is no definitive BEST technique just amazing no spin practitioners.
We will start with the traditional no spin Shurikenjutsu technique first. When throwing using this technique its important to almost lock the wrist back on the throwing hand at approximately 45 degrees and position the Bo Shuriken between the fore and index fingers supported by the thumb with the point protruding from the fingers. When you step through to throw the Shuriken you bring the hand straight down at speed controlling the trajectory of the Shuriken with the fore and index fingers as it leaves the throwing hand, this should almost feel like your brushing the back of the Shuriken. If you have performed the technique correctly it should feel like the Shuriken just slips out of the hand and flys straight towards the target to stick in, Its important to mention that its not about force but Ken Tai Ichi Jo (Using the body and weapon as one), if you force the throw it will effect the trajectory and cause the Shuriken to rotate or spin and bounce off of the target.
As you become more proficient throwing in this way you wont even need to hold the Bo Shuriken in place with the thumb (Although you should for safety), Its simply a process of positioning the Bo Shuriken in the hand and stepping through to let it slip out of the hand as you throw.
Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu Shuriken
The second no spin throwing technique is done by bending the wrist forwards as you raise the knife into Dokko No Kamae and then throwing the knife by snapping the hand back and propelling the blade forward into a straight no spin throw as you step through. This technique is difficult to explain but is very similar to the technique used by IKATT practitioners. The snapping action of the wrist over the shoulder as the knife is thrown forces the blade to fly straight at the target somewhat like an arrow rather than judging the trajectory over a set distance.
I personally think this is the best technique for no spin throwing but its also the most difficult to be consistent with as your margin for error is incredibly narrow, You also can’t physically use a point of reference like your left hand to aim when throwing, you develop accuracy through practice and gap throwing.
The trick with no spin throwing is to keep at it! Don’t give up! Its incredibly difficult at first, you may well throw 200+ times and not stick a single no spin throw for days but it will happen.
One of my students recently said that learning no spin throwing has been incredibly difficult but the point when he started to realise how to do it was when he stopped thinking about what he was doing or how he was throwing and just listened to what his body what telling him.
This is the key to no spin throwing, its instinct backed up with legitimate technique.
No spin throwing is often referred to as “Black Magic” amongst members of KATTA (The Knife And Tomahawk Throwing Association) because its a feeling within the throw when everything clicks into place and you know before the knife has hit the target that it was a successful throw
The KATTA way of no spin throwing is very similar to the technique i outlined previously used by IKATT except you bring the throwing knife around and behind your head to generate enough momentum to control the trajectory of the knife when you throw.
As previously stated the only way to really understand no spin is to feel it in your technique when you throw, so get practising!
Safe range set up should always be observed regardless of where you are training, this also enables you to designate a safe area to play with various distances when no spin throwing. Use a guide rope, planks or peg markers to mark out set throwing distances such as 1M, 2M, 3M, 4M and 5M and then once you can throw comfortably at 5M increase accordingly. I’ve heard of people accurately no spin throwing at competitions up to a distance of 19 metres!
When you start playing with distancing and accuracy choking the throwing knives will have to be taken into consideration. Choking is basically holding the throwing knife at a specific point on the handle to enable increased control over the trajectory of the knife over longer distances. Some throwing knives come with markers known as choke points that are little indentations at approximately 1cm spacings along the spine of the handle. If you find that your knives are slightly tipping forward when hitting the target but not sticking in, you adjust your hand positioning down one choke point and this should compensate for slight tip, sticking the knife straight into the target.
This is something that has to be experimented with as it largely depends on the type of knives you are throwing and will differ according to shape and geometry. Bo Shuriken don’t have any choke points unless they are custom made.
In conclusion successful no spin throwing technique is developed through continuous practice, the throwing knife or Bo Shuriken doesn’t do the work but you do as the Shurikenjutsu practitioner.
Knife and Shuriken length does however have a significant impact on the distancing, It’s easier to no spin throw Bo Shuriken and Throwing Knives between 9″ – 12″ in length. This is largely due to the increased weight enabling the Knife or Shuriken to develop more velocity once thrown towards the target and the increased length makes it easier to control the trajectory during flight.
If your throwing smaller throwing knives or Bo Shuriken approximately 4″-8″ then the distancing changes again, you need to be closer to the target, throw a lot harder and have far less room to choke the Shuriken.
Personally i tend to use the smaller throwing knives and Bo Shuriken for half spin throwing and the larger Bo Shuriken and throwing knives for no spin throwing.
Koga Ryu Tantogata
Togakure Ryu Uchi Barai