We’ve known them from a lot of movies and anime adaptations. They were among the ancient warriors who are portrayed by pop culture as the most efficient human spies who move in stealth, hide from the shadows, and attack swiftly as the wind.
They are generally known as the ninja (忍者), or in a more specific, traditional Japanese term, “shinobi (忍び).” Compared to samurais (侍) and feudal lords who fought at the forefront of many battles, these shadow warriors in real life worked at the back scene, working like our modern day intelligence agents who gather enemy information in secret.
But unlike what we see in anime such as Naruto where ninjas fight with extraordinary techniques (jutsu – 術) to overthrow superhuman enemies, in real life, ninjas are people. They fight hand-to-hand combat, get hurt, and no, they don’t use shadow clones (kage bunshin – 影分身). Their success in battle and surveillance is a combined effort of their physical and mental strength plus a full set of mobile weapons they carry all around. And today, we’ll look into 11 of the most deadly ones they use in combat. Starting with…
They come in one package, with Fukiya as the sharp dart and Fukizutsu as the blowgun used to fire it. The former is made sharp enough to pierce through human skin and do considerable bone damage if used by a really skilled ninja. The blowgun, on the other hand, is highly compressed, to increase the projectile range of the Fukiya when blown.
The chigiriki is a threshing tool used as a weapon. It’s a sturdy wooden weapon with an attached chain and iron weight at the end. Its advantage comes mainly from the fatal damage it can cause to enemies even with little control.
They’re the shorter version of the long scythes we usually see being carried by death gods in anime. This weapon, however, comes in pair and is perfect for close combat where ninjas could maneuver crescent slashes to cut down an enemy. The blade is about 11 to 12 inches long with shorter handles.
This weapon resembles long fingernails and is used as an attack or defensive weapon.
It’s a combined sickle and chain. The tool comes in handy when engaging in one-on-one close combat while fleeing pursuers. Ninjas use the chain to entangle an opponent, finishing them off with a fatal stab using the sickle.
This literally translates to “ninja sword.” While swords are popularly used by samurais, ninjas have come to use the tool for their advantage too. Besides, a ninja’s killing move using the sword is more like of a stabbing motion rather than a slashing one like the samurai’s.
Also, the scabbard of a ninjato usually has a hollow compartment used to store medicines, poison, and other small weapons.
It’s a powder used to impede the vision of the enemy by throwing it to their direction. Its contents have varieties like sand, dirt, and ashes. Other alternatives include ground pepper and explosives to increase its efficiency.
It’s a metal ring worn in the middle finger with protruding parts dipped in poison. Ninjas could strangle the enemy and stab them with the ring without leaving much evidence. It’s one of the favorite weapons for a fast and clean kill.
A chain-like weapon with added weights at both ends. It’s one of the most portable ninja tools as it can easily be concealed with the hands and even worn as a sash. In the hands of a skilled shinobi, this tool can serve both as an offensive and defensive weapon, wielded by swinging it towards the enemy. A direct hit from the weights can be real fatal, while the chains are very effective in trapping the enemies by the feet as they escape from battle.
This is basically a dagger type weapon with saw-like spikes around its edges. It’s handy like the popular dagger (kunai) and lightweight, making it a convenient weapon for the highly mobile shinobis. The spikes around its edges also increase its fatality factor upon direct hits.
Among the weapons we have on this list, this could perhaps be the one that can easily pass as a fashion accessory especially when used by kunoichis in disguise. It’s a folding fan with an iron frame and is used to hit the enemy hard. One variation includes adding sharp blades on its edges for the ability to cut.
There are tons more of ninja weapons, but these 11 are considered as the most deadly in combat. Accessory items like the popular kunai and shuriken also come in handy most of the times.
At present, Japan still has recognized schools that teach the art of ninjutsu. And if you want to take part of it, it’s best to at least have the basic knowledge of the weapons that the ancient shinobis used. If you’re given the chance to be a modern day ninja, which of the 11 weapons would you include in your arsenal?