Martial arts movies dwell in their own little fantastical universe that obeys the laws of physics about as well as a drunken mule obeys Miss Manners' guide to restaurant etiquette. Most of what you see in a kung fu flick could not happen in real life, but every once in a while those outlandish feats you see up on the screen contain a bit of truth ...
(Martial arts aren't the only thing more badass than you've been lead to believe. Buy our De-Textbook and learn why the ancient Samurai were closer to mercenary pro athletes than suicide-happy servants. And as for ninjas? They preferred cunning disguises to black pajamas. Your favorite book sellers are now accepting pre-orders!)
5 Grabbing Arrows Out of the Air
One of the more common ninja myths involves seemingly superhuman martial artists plucking real arrows out of the air. Obviously that's ridiculous -- arrows are effective solely because they're too fast to dodge. They're like a bullet's slow-witted, well-endowed cousin: not quite as quick, but just as effective where it counts. But Anthony Kelly, who calls himself a "reaction man," begs to disagree: He holds the Guinness World Record for being able to catch the most arrows in two minutes. So what is that -- like, two arrows, with his torso?
Nope. Kelly snatched a total of 33 arrows out of the air.
Kelly says he started catching arrows in 2000 as part of an annual "martial arts night" he put on at his New England Martial Arts Center. (Because when you think "hotbed of ninja activity," you think "New England.") From there, Kelly became the go-to guy when it came to grabbing sharp things out of the air for martial arts demonstrations, county fairs, and drunken boasts. He was even brought in by the MythBusters to test a whole slew of ninja myths. And when it came time to catch the arrow -- fired by trained shooter Jamie Hyneman (of course he's an archer; just look at that mustache) -- Kelly plucked it out of the air like a pro, right there on camera.
If you want to try the stunt yourself, just follow these three easy steps: First, find a professional and accurate bowman to fire the projectile. Second, snatch wildly at the arrow hurtling at you faster than the human eye can see. Third, bleed profusely.