Shurikenjutsu Basics

Shurikenjutsu Basics

Principles of Shurikenjutsu and Distancing
Shurikenjutsu is one of the disciplines practiced in the Bujinkan that can sometimes seem almost impossible to obtain proficiency in. It is important to understand that the throw is generated from the ground up and that their are several key factors that contribute to developing proficiency in Shurikenjutsu but none of these can be controlled without the proper foundations. I often explain Shurikenjutsu as a primary example of Ken Tai Ichi Jo (using the body and weapon as one) and utilizing unified motion to generate power through correct technique and not simply through force mechanically throwing or flinging the Shuriken at a target. I will explain the principles of Shurikenjutsu as follows:

First start off by observing the target and working out your distancing as this is the first major factor, the general rule is that the Shuriken rotates every six feet travelled so if throwing within 6 feet the Shuriken/knife will usually be thrown holding the handle with the blade protruding from the hand, just outside of 6 feet the Shuriken is held blade first with the handle protruding out of the hand to allow for the necessary rotation while travelling towards the target. When the Shuriken/Knife is being thrown from 12 feet it flips over in the hand again so that the handle is being held and the blade is protruding and then the same action again when throwing from 18 feet flipping the blade to hold the blade with the handle protruding. In the case if Hira Shuriken (Throwing stars) as opposed to Bo Shuriken (Throwing Spikes) or TokenJutsu (Throwing Knives) the above guideline isn’t as relevant although it still maintains some importance for effective penetration at distant with Hira Shuriken.

Secondly the Tori pays close attention to his Taisabaki (footwork) and Kamae (Posture). It is important to ensure the body weight travels forward when throwing Shuriken so the feet must be positioned pointing towards the target to enable the momentum of the body to move forward via the path of least resistance. Also allow yourself enough room to step into the correct distance to throw the shuriken,

Thirdly it’s important to make sure that the spine is straight and good posture is maintained whilst throwing, keep the head up looking directly at the target.

Finally Tori should now be positioned in Kamae with the correct Taisabaki and posture to throw, Tori finds the balance point of the weapon and positions it so that the Shuriken is running along the inside of the forefinger then Tori steps forward and using the momentum of the step and body travelling forwards. This pushes the Shuriken rather than throwing it to allow it to rotate and hit the target effectively. It is important to emphasize the fact that the throw is a pushing motion and not a lobbing folded arm throw, the wrist flicks at the end of the throw just before the Shuriken is released as if pointing at the target. As previously stated it is a good example of Ken Tai Ichi Jo where the body must be moved in a unified motion to perform the technique effectively and as always requires a lot of practice. It is also important to remember that the Shuriken travels in a curvature when thrown and not in a straight line due to gravity so you must release the Shuriken slightly above your intended target.

San Shuriken Gata – Three Throwing Forms

  • Ichimonji No Kamae –Vertical Throwing – Ichimonji No Kamae to Dokko No Kamae throwing from Ichimonji.
  • Jumonji No Kamae – Throwing Across Body – Jumonji No Kamae with step throwing with Ura Shuto
  • Shizen No Kamae – Natural Throw – Shizen No Kamae stepping and throwing with Shi Tan Ken.

Note: Their were also a variety of Shuriken including Bo Shuriken (Straight Pencil Shaped), Juji Shuriken (4 Pointed Shuriken), Senban Shuriken (Diamond Shape/Moon Star), Happo Shuriken (8 Pointed), Nagare-en Shuriken (Coins).

It is important to practice throwing from varied distances, start just outside of six feet and then progress from their but do not become complacent and simply throw from one distance. Also vary and switch between throws to determine the most effective combinations whilst utilizing effective Taijutsu.

Utilize Aruki and reposition between throws rather than remaining a static target. Develop your awareness so that you can assess and determine your distance from the target at a glance.

Try to think of the system of positioning outlined above like a flowing circle of energy, with the energy coming from the bottom of the target (Distance/Positioning) hitting the feet (Taisabaki/Footwork) traveling up through the hips and spine (Low Kamae/Posture) up to the arms (Kamae/Positioning) to step through and throw (Ken Tai Ichi Jo) returning the energy back to the target. It is also worth mentioning that with all things it is worth experimenting and working with free flowing movement, I have seen practitioners throw Shuriken from Kaiten and from laying on the ground and even throwing Shuriken around obstacles.
Hira Shuriken are generally carried in sets of nine and are thrown horizontally in a backwards spinning motion in quick succession to shock and confuse an attacker. Hira Shuriken were also used in a manner similar to Teppan to assist with the applications of locks such as Omote Gyaku and could also be held utilizing one of the corners of the Hira Shuriken to hook and tear into sensitive areas of the body.

The techniques are listed below:

Nagaru Waza – Throwing Skills

  • Sei Jo Uchi – Side of the head throw
  • Yoko Uchi – From stomach throw
  • Gyaku Uchi – Throw from the hip