Which ninja weapons were used historically by ninjas and which of them are a product of modern fiction?
Let’s look at some popular ninjutsu weapons and find out!
Shuriken (Throwing Star)
The throwing star of movie legend! The shuriken is a four-point blade that’s covered in charcoal to prevent rust, make poison adhere to it easily and provide a better grip for throwing. They were great for distractions, use as a knife, hiding in clothing, or poisoning the enemy.
The Bansenshukai (Book of Ninja) even references a torch that could be used as a shuriken.
Shuriken: Fact, but we’re unsure of how popular it was with the majority of ninjas.
Katanas weren’t as popular with ninjas as we’re often led to believe. The ninjato is often cited as the favorite sword of the ninja, but there’s no physical evidence of its use before the 1900’s.
Also, if a common person was caught with a samurai sword, they would often be put to death.
However, some samurai had high class men as ninjas or lacked volumes of armies so used the art of ninjutsu to gain an advantage. In fact, the Bansenshukai (Book of Ninja) mentions ways to use a “sageo” cord off of your sword for self-defense.
Katana: Fiction for a lot of ninjas. Some carried them, but not the majority.
The blade is unsharpened, soft iron. It’s a digging tool used in farming and self-defense. For the ninja, the kunai was also extremely useful for digging, climbing, prying open doors, cutting things, stabbing, throwing at the enemy and gouging holes in walls.
A traditional Japanese weapon that originates from a horse bit, has a Chinese name origin, is two sticks linked together by a chain and is good for developing quick movement and good posture. The sticks should be equally balanced and the same length. The chain should be long enough to hang across your palm. It’s used in kobudo martial arts and was developed as a self-defense tool when warlords took classical weapons from the common people.
Nunchaku: Fact, especially near Okinawa.
Bow and arrow
A ninja weapon of choice! It was lightweight, could be used to hunt for food, snipe, poison enemies and set fire to strongholds. “Yumi” is the Japanese word for bow and “ya” means arrow. These were important weapons for the samurai as well. There are many mentions of bows and arrows in the Bansenshukai.
Yumi and ya: Fact!
There’s so much more I could say about each of these awesome weapons, but I’ll have to leave it at that. I hope you enjoyed learning which weapons were fact and which were fiction. Did the truth about some of them surprise you?