CombatDocket logo
Boxing / Striking
Buying Guides
The Combat Docket
A collection of MMA events, where to watch and where to get tickets.
CombatDocket logo

Ninja Weapons Explained: Names, Uses, and History

Robert Green
Published: July 11, 2023
Updated: July 11, 2023

* If you click a link on this page and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.


In this article, we will dig deeper into the fascinating world of ninjas, the elusive, stealthy mercenaries of medieval Japan, by exploring their iconic tools of the trade.

From lethal projectiles like the Shuriken to the versatile Kusarigama, we will delve into the history, usage, and often the techniques associated with these weapons.

Now, brace yourself for an exciting journey through the myriad of ninja weapons, their quintessential shadows in the rich tapestry of medieval hand-to-hand combat.


The Katana is arguably the most famous Japanese weapon, known for its distinctive curved, slender, single-edged blade with a circular or squared guard.

Samurai and ninjas alike favored the Katana for its cutting ability and versatility. Its creation was a time-consuming process, often involving several swordsmiths.

Katanas were typically used for open combat, but ninjas might have used them for assassinations.


Shuriken, more commonly known as Ninja Stars, were secondary defense weapons in a ninja’s arsenal. They were primarily used as a distraction or to disable opponents. Shuriken comes in various shapes and sizes, the most iconic being the four-point star.

For a tool that appears simple, the technique needed to correctly throw a Shuriken is quite complex and requires extensive training.


The Kunai was a multi-purpose tool for ninjas. Originally a farming tool, the Kunai was repurposed for climbing, digging, breaking, and of course, combat.

The Kunai has a leaf-shaped blade and a handle with a ring on the end for attaching a rope. It was also used as a throwing weapon and sometimes even as a short sword for stabbing.


Nunchaku is one of the most iconic ninja weapons thanks to popular culture. It consists of two sticks connected by a short chain or rope.

Originally a farming tool used to thresh rice, Nunchaku was repurposed for combat, showing the ninja's resourcefulness. The technique of using Nunchaku involves swinging, striking, and blocking, requiring excellent hand-eye coordination and precision.


The Kusarigama is arguably one of the most versatile weapons in a ninja's arsenal. It consists of a kama (a type of sickle) on a metal chain with a heavy iron weight at the end.

The weapon can be used in close combat with the kama and for striking or ensnaring enemies at a distance with the chain. Mastering the Kusarigama requires great skill, dexterity and patience.


The Tanto, a short knife or dagger, was an essential part of the ninja's weaponry. Often used for close combat, the Tanto was perfect for quick, effective strikes.

Ninjas also famously used it in stealth missions for assassinations. Like the Katana, the craftsmanship behind the Tanto was intricate, reflecting the weapon’s importance.


The Blowgun, or Fukiya, was used by ninjas for long-range attacks. Typically, they would blow dartscoated with poison through the blowgun, aiming for their target's face or exposed skin. Its simplicity and the art of camouflaging made the blowgun an effective weapon for covert missions. Mastering the blowgun was a balance between breath control and sight accuracy.


The Tekko-Kagi, or hand claws, were used by ninjas for both offense and defense. They were gloves with attached iron or steel claws, extremely useful for parrying sword attacks. The Tekko-Kagi also doubled up as climbing tools, proving handy in scaling fences or walls.

Wolverine, anybody?


The Kyoketsu-Shoge is a hooked knife attached to a long cord with a heavy ring at the other end. This unconventional weapon was used to strike or ensnare enemies from a distance, or for pulling enemies closer for an attack. It was also used by ninjas as a climbing tool.


The Yumi, a traditional Japanese longbow, was part of the ninja's arsenal often used for long-range attacks. Ninjas used a smaller version of the yumi for better mobility. The art of Kyujutsu, or Japanese archery, was an essential discipline for ninjas, driving their focus on precision and discipline.


Makibishi are small sharp objects intended to slow down pursuers. Spread behind as they fled, they could easily pierce through the thin soles of Japanese footwear, causing injury and hindrance. They were often made of iron or hardened rice, making them an easily disposable yet effective tool against enemies.


The Kama is a farming tool turned weapon, used singly or in pairs. It resembles a sickle and is effective in close combat due to its sharp blade. Sometimes, a chain was attached to it to extend its reach and make it more versatile as a weapon, creating the aforementioned Kusarigama.

Bo staff

The Bo Staff is a long wooden staff often seen affiliated with both ninjas and samurai. It is a versatile weapon used for a variety of strikes, thrusts, and defensive maneuvers. Training with the Bo Staff required immense physical strength, coordination, and spatial awareness.


The Sai is a traditional Okinawan weapon, consisting of a short dagger with two long, forward-curving prongs projecting from the handle. It is traditionally used in pairs and could be used for stabbing, trapping other weapons, or defense against attacks. Its unique design and multiple functionalities showcase the inventive nature of ninja weaponry.


The ninja's weapon arsenal was predominantly versatile, demonstrating the stealthy assassins' resourcefulness and adaptability, which distinguished them from other warriors of their time. These weapons were not just tools of their trade but also reflections of the ninja's discipline, training, and strategic thinking.

The study of these weapons provides us not only an understanding of their skills in combat but also an insight into the way they trained, planned, and implemented covert operations.

Each weapon, from the classic Katana to the multi-functional Kunai and the unique Kyoketsu-Shoge, tell a tale of innovative battle techniques and intricate craftsmanship, all designed to give the ninja the upper hand in combat.

In the discourse of war and stealth, the role of these weapons and the ninjas who wielded them brilliantly has firmly etched its place.

It's a testament to the ninjas' place in history, showcasing how the elements of surprise, deception, and creative adaptability could often overcome the sheer brute strength and force. As we look back at these weapons, we do more than just appreciate their clever designs and lethal efficacy.

We marvel at the tales they tell us about the brave and elusive ninjas who have captured our collective imaginations for centuries.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

We love comments, and we appreciate the time that readers spend to share ideas. We are always happy for feedback on our content! That said, all of your comments will be reviewed by moderators before they're allowed in order to avoid spamming or promotional messages from getting through.


* If you click a link on this page and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

cross linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram