How to Throw a Shuriken

Posted 07 Jun 2011 in star throwing, tutorial

Ready to figure out how to properly throw your ninja stars? The technique can be a little tough at first, but it doesn’t take long to get used to. The good thing about throwing stars is that they are really easy to use compared to other sharp things you might like to throw. Actually, it is kind of hard to not stick your star to your target, or the wall, if you missed. With that being said, you probably want to know how to be an accurate thrower with your shuriken and not wreck your walls (too much), right? And I don’t think you would mind knowing how to put a lot of power behind your throw either. So, lets get started.


There are two common ways to throw a ninja star: horizontally or vertically. You can throw a star like you would any baseball or a frisbee, and you’ll notice that it will fly and stick into something most of the time. You will also notice that you have trouble controlling where your shuriken flies, or that it might not hit the target with much power. The techniques for horizontal and vertical throwing are similar in some ways to throwing a frisbee or a baseball, but there are important differences you need to be aware of.

Throwing vertically is easier, and much safer for beginners. So we’ll talk about that way first. I know, I know, this looks like a lot of reading, but bear with me. There’s no shortcut to learning and it doesn’t get much easier than how I’m about to lay it out. The horizontal throw will have a much shorter explanation since you’ll be using pretty much the same concepts as in the vertical throw.

Vertical Throw

The Grip

This is the way you hold the star, and it is very important to how your star flies. There are many different types of grips for a ninja star. An easy one for beginners is holding the star between your thumb and index finger, using only the tips of the fingers. You can also hold it in a similar fashion, but extend the index finger and have it run along the side of the star.

Depending on the shape and size of the shuriken, you might want to grip it closer or farther from the center. If it has eight points and is very large, you should definitely not try to squeeze it into your hand to hold it closer to the center. Gripping the star by one of the tips will make it easier to throw it and add more power, but it will be a less accurate. Gripping closer to the center makes it easier to be accurate, but needs extra power put into the throw which can be more difficult to do. Whatever type of star you may have, try to get a feel for yourself with which type of grip is more comfortable, and what positioning of your fingers on the star works best for you. You should hold your ninja star for a bit before you throw it,  just to get used to the weight and feel of it.

The Motions

We’re not quite on to the actual throw, but don’t lose your patience yet! This is important. Now, for a vertical throw your starting position will be with the star raised a bit above your head. If you are holding the star with your right arm, stand with your left leg forward, and vice versa. Bend your knees slightly, and relax. Don’t over-think things and don’t tense up. You are going to be swinging your arm and wrist downwards for the throw, and it is very important when you do, you are holding the ninja star vertically.

The Throw

The throwing motion is extending your arm forward and downward from the position above your head. When you release your shuriken, your arm should be straight out in front of you. That’s the easy part. The trickier and most important part to throwing a star is flicking the wrist upon release. When your arm is swinging down, your wrist should be cocked back a bit, and when you are just about to straighten your arm, flick your wrist downards as fast as you can and release the star so that it flies on target in the trajectory you want it to. Shift your weight to your front leg as you throw; your weight should be on your back leg when you start. You do not need to follow through with your arm after release.

If you happened to give that a shot before you read this next part, I know you’re saying “but Mister Ninja Star Teacher Man, that’s much easier said than done!” I know. It will most likely feel very funny for your first bunch of throws, and it might be hard to time the release of your star just right, get the proper flick of the wrist, or just to coordinate yourself in general. That’s what practice is for.

Do not chuck the thing as hard as you can. That is one principle of throwing a baseball that does not apply to us here. Also, keep your shoulder still. The power in a ninja star comes from the very important wrist flicking motion, not from the arm. The wrist can move very, very quickly and put a ton of spin and acceleration on your star. If done properly, the star will actually continue to accelerate for a bit after you have released it. So that is why I would like to stress that coordinating your wrist snap with the proper timing of your release is the most important part of this whole technique. Otherwise you’re just tossing a pointy star. When instead you should be launching a deadly missile of ninja destruction. Anyways, that about sums it up for vertical throwing. Horizontal throwing is a bit more difficult, but follows a lot of the same rules.

Horizontal Throw

The grips are the same, and personally I find it easier to use the fingertip grip than the extended index finger grip. The throw is just a horizontal version of the vertical throw (go figure). The reason I would hold off on trying this as a beginner is that the consequences can be more serious if you time your release wrong. Not as much can go wrong if you release too high or too low on a vertical throw since your friends or other fragile/living things will probably not be floating in the air or standing in the ground in front of you. It is a lot more likely that there will be breakable things or living creatures (or breakable creatures) on either side of you.

Ok, time for the motion. This time, if you are throwing with your right arm, you will want to have your right leg forward. Keep the elbow of your throwing arm close to your body, and swing your arm when you throw. Your arm pivots at the elbow, as it should in the vertical throw too. Remember to shift your weight from the rear to front leg. Do the same wrist flicking motion when your arm is fully extending. Make sure you are holding the star horizontally. You can angle your elbow upwards so that the star shoots higher if you are going for longer distances.

That’s All There Is To It

Not too bad, right? Of course, it takes a lot of practice to get the motions down, but it’s really rewarding when you do.  Now, this was all basic technique. When you get the hang of it, try throwing from greater distances and throwing multiple stars as fast as you can while staying accurate. And, if you really feel brave, try throwing with your other hand. Much, much easier said than done, but you do want to be that ninja that throws stars as fast as lightning from both hands at once…right? Go practice and good luck.

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