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SHURIKEN

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Shuriken (手裏剣; lit: "hand hidden blade") is a traditional Japanese concealed weapon that was used for throwing, and sometimes stabbing. They are small, sharpened, hand-held blades made from a variety of everyday items, such as needles, nails, and knives, as well as coins, washers, and other flat plates of metal. Shuriken were mainly a supplemental weapon to the more commonly used katana (sword) or yari (spear) in a warrior's arsenal, though they often played a pivotal tactical role in battle. The art of wielding the shuriken is known as shuriken-jutsu, and was mainly taught as a minor, or more correctly, a secret part of the martial arts curriculum of many famous schools, such as Yagyu Ryu, Katori Shinto Ryu, Itto Ryu, Kukishin Ryu, and Togakure Ryu.

Shuriken are commonly known in the west as "throwing stars" or "ninja stars". This term hardly does justice to the weapon, however, as the pointed "star" shaped form is but one of many different designs the blades took over the centuries in which they were used.

The major varieties of Shuriken are the bo shuriken (棒手裏剣) and the hira shuriken (平手裏剣), or shaken (車剣, also read as kurumaken)

Contrary to popular belief, (video games, Hollywood, etc.) shuriken were not intended as a killing weapon, but rather as a secondary weapon that sometimes played a supportive role to a warrior's main weapon, usually the sword or spear. Shuriken were primarily used to cause either nuisance or distraction, both being tactical methods to gain advantage over the opponent in battle. Generally the target was the eyes, face, hands and the feet.

They were also used, especially hira-shuriken, for a wide variety of other uses, such being embedded in the ground so as to cause pain to those who stepped on them, or to have a fuse wrapped around the points of the blade, to be lit and thrown in order to cause fire, or to be used as a handheld striking weapon when used in close quarters combat with an opponent. There are reports of shuriken being coated with poison, directed at either the person the blade was being thrown at, or to whoever may pick them up when left lying around in conspicuous places. Other reports indicate that shuriken may have been buried in dirt or animal feces and allowed to harbor the anaerobic bacterium Clostridium tetani; if the point penetrated a victim deep enough it would impart the bacteria into the wound and cause a then-incurable deadly tetanus infection.

Shuriken were a simple weapon, but their value was in the wide variety of applications they could be used for, and the ready availability of material in which to fashion the weapon from.

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