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This article needs additional citations for verification. Japanese concealed weapon that was used as a hidden dagger or metsubushi to distract or misdirect. The edges of shuriken were often sharpened, so they could be used to penetrate skin or open arteries. Shuriken are commonly known in the West as throwing stars or ninja stars although they were originally designed in many different shapes. Bo-shuriken are throwing weapons consisting of a straight iron or steel spike, usually four-sided but sometimes round or octagonal in section. Some examples have points on both ends.
They should not be confused with the kunai, which is a thrusting and stabbing implement that is sometimes thrown. Bo-shuriken were constructed from a wide variety of everyday items, hence there were many shapes and sizes. The bo-shuriken is thrown in a number of ways, such as overhead, underarm, sideways and rearwards, but in each case the throw involves the blade sliding out of the hand through the fingers in a smooth, controlled flight. The origins of the bo-shuriken in Japan are still unclear despite continuing research. This is partly because shurikenjutsu was a secret art and also due to the fact that throughout early Japanese history there were many independent exponents of the skill of throwing long, thin objects.
The earliest-known reference to a school teaching shurikenjutsu is to Ganritsu Ryu, active during the 17th century. Miyamoto Musashi is said to have won a duel by throwing his short sword at his opponent, killing him. Hira-shuriken generally resemble the popular conception of shuriken. They often have a hole in the center and possess a fairly thin blade sharpened mainly at the tip.