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Did Ninjas Use Throwing Stars? A Conversation About Ninja Realities

An authentic master of ninjutsu martial art, Kazuki Ukita poses in Ninja costume at the Ninja museum's Ninja residence in the small ancient city of Ueno. i i

An authentic master of ninjutsu martial art, Kazuki Ukita poses in Ninja costume at the Ninja museum's Ninja residence in the small ancient city of Ueno. Toshifumi Kitamura /AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Toshifumi Kitamura /AFP/Getty Images
An authentic master of ninjutsu martial art, Kazuki Ukita poses in Ninja costume at the Ninja museum's Ninja residence in the small ancient city of Ueno.

An authentic master of ninjutsu martial art, Kazuki Ukita poses in Ninja costume at the Ninja museum's Ninja residence in the small ancient city of Ueno.

Toshifumi Kitamura /AFP/Getty Images

Our friends at On Point had a fascinating discussion today with the author of a new book about ninjas.

Here's what Sam Gale Rosen, On Point's producer, told us:

"We spoke to John Man, author and historian, about his new history of ninjas: Ninja: 1,000 Years of the Shadow Warrior. Real ninjas apparently didn't quite match the picture that has been painted in popular culture. No nunchucks, no throwing stars, and it was more about spycraft than fancy footwork."

"There are shuriken, the throwing stars," Man told On Point. "But even these are contentious. I asked lots of questions about these: How did you actually use them? They're terrific things to use, I expect you've thrown one, a lot of people have them. They go into wood with a very satisfying clunk, and they look extremely dangerous, and they have these star-shaped blades. But when you think about it: How do you carry them? How do you whip them out in dark? Supposedly they were sometimes poisoned, but I'm not sure how you'd risk using them if they actually had poisoned tips and poisoned blades. I couldn't get to the bottom of this."

We'll leave it at that and let you listen to the rest of the conversation if you're interested.

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