Copyright by Manuel Flory Bujinkan Rheinlandpfalz, Honbu Dojo (Hatsumi Sensei) and Matthias Bind
History of SHURIKEN
The word shuriken, composed of the letters " shu ", " ri " and " ken ", is literally translated as " hand-hidden blade ". The character " ri " is composed of the morpheme (meaning component) " i " as in clothing, in the sense of covering, as well as the phoneme (sound component) " li " which together represents the idea of " backwards, or covered ". Ri (the on yomi reading) is also read as ura in kun yomi, which we martial artists would know from expressions like "ura waza" as opposed to "omote waza". When combined with the first letter, "shu-ri" suggests "hidden in the hand or palm." "Ken" means blade and is the same character as in bokken or shinken, i.e. "hand hidden blade". However, there is occasional use of the character "ri" meaning separate or release, and this has sometimes led to shuriken being translated as "hand release blade". Why this usage occurs is not clear at this time, although it could simply refer to the swiping of blades such as tanto, kodachi, or even katana, where it is not necessary to hide the blade in the hand. The other possibility is that people in feudal times were not very educated, and they simply used any figure that sounded right. Mou En Ryu documents, the Mou En Ryu Shu Ri Ri Ken Goku Hi, kept in the library of Kyoto University, contain a particular example of this usage. During the Sengoku Jidai period (Warring States period, 1482 - 1558), shuriken were also once known as shiriken, meaning "rear end blade," because the weapon was the small utility knife (kozuka) held in the scabbard of the long sword thrown from a hilt that held the tip of the blade in the palm of the hand (so the rear end of the knife pointed outward toward the target). Of course, kozuka was actually thrown as a weapon, but they were not the only ones thrown. As we will see, there were many types of blades and items, small enough to be carried concealed on the body, but heavy and sharp enough to be thrown as a tactical weapon.(Kakushi Buki) Basic Shuriken Types There are two basic types of shuriken, Bo shuriken (), which are long, thin and cylindrical, with varying thicknesses and shapes, and Shaken (), which are made of flat metal plates.