The MythBusters The MythBusters

MythBusters Episode 109: Return of the Ninja

Premier Date: October 15, 2008

A ninja can catch an arrow in mid-flight.


The MythBusters first tested the speed of an arrow and showed that an arrow maintains its speed as far as 70 feet because of its aerodynamic design. Then they brought “The Arrowcatcher” Anthony Kelly onto the show and had him perform various tests. Anthony proved that he could catch tennis balls traveling at 85 miles per hour (breaking a world record in the process). They then had him try and catch an actual arrow, and Anthony succeeded in catching an arrow. However, at Anthony’s request, the arrow had been fired below full strength and directly in front of Anthony. The MythBusters decided to redo the test by firing arrows at full strength from multiple directions. This time, Anthony had much more trouble and could only catch the arrows when he knew which direction they were coming from. Since Anthony was unable to catch the arrows in full combat conditions, the MythBusters considered the myth busted.

(This myth was originally tested in Walking on Water. It was revisited due to fan complaints that the arrow was travelling too fast because the bow was too close to the arrow-catching rig. Fans also pointed out many people who could catch an arrow on camera and wanted the MythBusters to bring one on the show.)

While charging their target, a ninja can use their sword to deflect an arrow and kill the archer before he can reload.


Anthony declared that it was unlikely a ninja would be cornered by three archers and proposed a one-on-one battle. During the demonstrating, Adam fired an arrow at Anthony. Anthony deflected the arrow with his sword and was able to close the distance and “kill” Adam before he had time to fire his second shot.

A ninja hiding underwater can hit a target with a blowgun and use it as a breathing apparatus.


The Build Team first tested to see how long a ninja could last underwater before succumbing to hypothermia. Tory submerged himself in a cold water tank and managed to stay in the tank for an hour. Kari, being the most accurate shooter, tried firing her blowgun from underwater. Though she initially had problems due to refraction, Kari was able to hit the target with her third try. The Build Team then combined all of the elements of the myth. Unfortunately, when loading their darts, water entered the blowguns and weakened the shooting force. When they tried it with the darts pre-loaded and breathing with clenched teeth, they succeeded in “assassinating” their target. With all parts of the myth possible, the Build Team declared the myth plausible.

A ninja can knock out a person with a punch from one inch away.


The first had Jamie test a full force conventional punch and measure the force. Anthony, who was trained in the use of the one inch punch, performed it. The one inch punch had half the force of Jamie’s punch, and the three inch punch had two thirds the force. Anthony further demonstrated the power of the punch by using it to break only the last of three wooden boards, a feat that Jamie was unable to match. The MythBusters concluded that with the right training, a person can use the one inch punch with enough power and expertise to knock down a person.