Posts Tagged ‘Hira-shuriken’

If Professor Xavier were a ninja, What would he throw?

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Now, clearly Ninjas are awesome. But how would a ninja fare against Professor Xavier from the X-Men? My rational mind clearly and logically argued that a ninja wouldn’t stand a chance. But lo and behold, the ninja fanboi in me tried to argue, that Professor X would get pwned. In the resulting mental struggle, I was forceed to rip that stupid fanbois arms off, and beat the sense back into him with his own limbs.

Now as a side note, this should be a clear warning regarding how much I dislike fanbois. I do not even tolerate my own. So for future reference, don’t tempt me. You’ll just make me home sick.

Anyway, my inner nerd ran across something he thought might redeem him. Take a look.

X-WAR Throwing Stars

X-WAR Throwing Stars

Well, I’m no genius, but those look a little to me like X-Men themed hira shuriken. And (of course) my inner nerd argued that Professor Xavier could just as easily be a ninja.

Well… No. He can’t. you see, one of the trademarks of a ninja is their physical agility. And Professor X, you see, well, he can’t walk. Thus, he could not be a ninja. He objected to this line of reasoning, and I actually had to pick up his dismembered arm again to get him to shut up. I also had to point out that if Professor Xavier were a ninja, the question of who would pwn whom would be pointless, because he would be a ninja, and he couldn’t very well fight himself.

However, I did cede that *IF* Professor Xavier were, in fact, a ninja, he might use something like this. And he would be awesome, because he could throw them using his mind… 😀

Wait wat? Dagnabbit nerdboi! Don’t make me go in there and rip out one of your legs…!  >: {

X-War Throwing Stars – [True Swords]

Pauls Problematic Projectile.

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Today, while doing a little pic gathering for a future post on shuriken, I ran across a sweet triple razor thrower I thought you all might like to see. And no, regardless of any similarity the description may have to any number of commercial disposable razors, it is, in fact, a hira-shuriken style thrower, designed by Paul Ehlers:

Paul Ehlers - Triple Razor Throwing Star

Paul Ehlers - Triple Razor Throwing Star

Now I have to admit, this is a nice looking thrower. A good 5.25″ of heavy gauge swirling steel blades. The three blades are adorned with a set of three equally wicked looking scallopped edges/points on the inside of each razor arm, accompanied by a neat cross drilled pattern. And at the end of each arm a large sweeping razor edge, looking for all the world like thier sole purpose in life is to sever the jugulars of whichever unfortunate happend to be in thier path.

If ever there was such a thing as an evil hira-shuriken, this would be it. For many reasons. Which I will, of course, expound upon shortly. No, you may not go to the bathroom. Hold it. This will only take a minute. Sissy.

Anyway, in case it isn’t obvious, this weapon is designed to kill you. Yes. Say what? No, not the person it is being thrown at, but the person who threw it. Yeah. Really. I mean look at it. Reeeaaally look at it. Do you think those absolutely sinister edges on the inside of the shuriken are intended for the target? No, I didn’t think so. And have you noticed how conveniently shaped everything is so that it would guide your fingers right to said inside edges/points should you not be paying attention even slightly? Yeah… You see that now don’t you?

And did you know there is a reason why shuriken use points instead of blades? No, it’s not really for safety, though that is a good byproduct of the design. It’s because the smaller the impact surface area, the better the penetration. A point just sticks better than a blade. So why, exactly would someone use a blade on a shuriken? Yes, I see a few neurons firing and the light bulb clicking in some of your skulls out there… Yes… That’s it. It’s so they can cut the thrower! (Yes, that means you dufus.)

So yes, this blade is wicked. Evil. Sinister. Diabolical even, in a beautiful, sexy and lethally attractive kind of way… Errrmmm… *cough* Where was I? Ah. Homicidal tendencies. Yes. As I was saying, sure, get it, if it suits your fancy, but just don’t think for a second it has your best interests in mind. And whatever you do, do not bequeath anything to it in your will. Just put it up on a wall. A plaque. A pedestal, whatever, and worship it from afar. Trust me, you will live a lot longer that way.

Paul Ehlers Triple Razor Thrower – [True Swords]

Folding Throwers: Convertible Hira Shuriken?

Friday, June 8th, 2007

It is a fine Friday afternoon here in the Realm of the Dark Blade, and I thought I would write another post on the topic of small, star-shaped throwing implements. Due, in part, to an intriguing throwing star design that I have been seeing quite frequently of late. Essentially, fancy hira shuriken with folding blades. Hmm. Now the idea kinda makes sense, at least in theory, but under further examination, some fundamental weaknesses are painfully evident in the practical implementation of these weapons. Following are two examples.

Cyclone Thrower Black - Open

Cyclone Thrower Black - Open

As you can see, these throwing stars have the unique distinction of having points, (blades, in fact,) that fold. What is really kickin’ is that besides looking sleek and stealthy, the cyclone thrower can be thrown in the closed position, and will open itself in mid flight! Pretty cool. Except that both designs introduce other weaknesses and/or problems.

Dragon Twister White - Closed

Dragon Twister White - Closed

First, while folding blades allow for a smaller overall diameter, these designs are often three (or more) times thicker than a traditional throwing star. So I could store a couple of these in a smaller diameter pouch, but I’d only be able to fit 2 where I could originally fit 6, in a flatter, (albeit larger) pouch. I dunno if it’d be worth it.

Dragon Twister Black - Open

Dragon Twister Black - Open

Then of course there is the issue that more parts means more points of failure. Each hinge or blade pivot point adds another possible point of failure. Failures that would almost certainly occur under conditions of extreme duress; most likely when it would be terribly inconvenient for a failure to occur. Yeah, I agree. I hope Murphy burns in hades too. But you’d be b0ll0xed either way.

Cyclone Thrower White - Closed

Cyclone Thrower White - Closed

And most notably, in the stated scenario, with, let’s say, a Dragon Twister design where your blades don’t open by themselves mid- flight, who, on Gods green earth, would have the time to sit there and open all 5 blades before throwing it? I can just see it now, just as your determined foes are about to fall upon your pathetic little self…: “Well gosh, I’m sorry, could you hold off on killing me for a second? I just got the third blade open…” Uh huh. Brilliant survival strategy.

Nonetheless, I actually like the basic design of these throwers, especially the smooth lines of the cyclone thrower. When closed it forms a very neat little circle, no points to jab you in uncomfortable places while being carried, and the fact that it can be thrown closed and opens in mid-air just ranks it astronomically high on the cool scale. Another cool toy to add to my little black bag of tricks…

The Cyclone Thrower (Black) – [True Swords]
The Cyclone Thrower (Silver) – [True Swords]
The Dragon Twister (Black) – [True Swords]
The Dragon Twister (Silver) – [True Swords]

The Mighty Shuriken!

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

Since I have been running into so many interesting throwing weapons lately, and I’ve already posted an expose on the enigmatic kunai, I thought it would only be fair to give you all a deeper look into another one of the oft-toted ninja weapons of stage and screen. The ubiquitous shuriken! ‘Cause the etymology of shuriken is just about as interesting as that of kunai. Not to mention that there are a lot of Hollywood induced misconceptions about shuriken. So here goes nothin’!!

Contrary to what you might think, the term “Shuriken” is not restricted to throwing “stars”, but rather refer to two general forms of small, hand held throwing implements. The first form is basically a throwing spike called the bo shuriken. The second, more commonly seen shuriken type, the throwing star, are called hira shuriken, aka “Shaken”. Each requires a different throwing technique, but are equally effective. The history of these shuriken is quite interesting.

Bo Shuriken

Bo Shuriken

Back in the times of feudal Japan, Ninjas were perhaps best known for being skillful and wily assassins. Their greatest abilities were their stealth and resourcefulness. A common ninja practice was to hide in plain sight, as farmers, peasants, monks, etc. However the incognito assassin faced a tough challenge. How to carry the tools of the trade, as it were, in an inconspicuous manner. Generally, “farmers” and “peasants” did not routinely tote big, black ninjatō around. Kinda a dead giveaway, if ya know what I mean. The ever resourceful ninja often circumvented this troublesome little issue by disguising their weapons as commonplace items, like walking canes, flutes and such.

Hira Shuriken

Hira Shuriken

But the clever shinobi warrior could do even better: turn common items into weapons! Sickles become kama, flails turned into nunchaku, etc. Shurikens evolved in much the same way. In fact, shuriken was often sourced from some random building material, most commonly construction nails, pressed into duty as bo shuriken, and roofing washers, into hira shuriken. And of course these items being of plentiful supply in farms, constructions and so forth, were easy to find.

In some traditional shuriken designs you can see the influence of thier original forms. Many traditional bo shuriken often had square or triangle cross sections, mimicking the shape of the large nails of the period. Similarly, both square, triangle and sharpened ovoid style hira shuriken replicate the shapes of coins, roofing washers and other construction pieces, sword guards and so on. True to the ninja style, they probably palmed whatever was available, sharpened them on a rock, and held on to them for when the need arose. Did I mention they were really resourceful? The little kleptos… As the use of shuriken grew, clans began designing their own special flavor of shuriken.

Traditional clan-specific Hira Shuriken Design

Traditional clan-specific Hira Shuriken Design

A common misconception was that shuriken were used for killing. Yes, they could be used to kill someone, but they were hardly the ideal killing tool. Unless they were poisoned. But then again, back in the day, there were few acting poisons that could cause instantaneous death in very small quantities, and I rather doubt that any self respecting shinobi warrior would hang around just to see if their particular brand of poison performed in accordance to the advertised claims. I’m sure the victims family would get most suspicious of the “friend” in black that showed up unexpectedly to supposedly pay their respects.

Rather, they were used for distraction, deterrence and disruption, to hinder the movement of the enemy, or discourage pursuit. A shuriken to the face, or in an extremity, might not have killed an attacker, but would certainly be enough to delay an enemy long enough for a shinobi warrior to escape. Similarly shuriken could be thrown in the ground as makeshift makibishi or punji sticks, slowing down pursuing forces. They could also be used as push daggers in a pinch.

A Contemporary Hira Shuriken

A Contemporary Hira Shuriken

The shuriken changed a lot over the years. Many Japanese clans redesigned them to meet their specific needs. But even today, their basic simplicity belies how truly effective they were. They may not be the lethal universal weapons pictured in the movies, but they still hold a place of honor in the historic halls of weapons of stealth and efficiency, which, if I haven’t mentioned it yet, makes them just my kind of weapon…

6 Point Hira Shuriken – [Gung-Fu]
4 Point Classic Hira Shuriken – [Gung-Fu]

Read more about shuriken here: Practical Shuriken Design

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