Someone recently sent us a question through Best Self Defense Weapons Mailbag which asks, “It is possible to catch an arrow in mid-air like the ones they portray in movies? What particular martial arts teaches this?”
As impossible as it may seem, someone was able to achieve the feat of catching arrows in mid-air. Anthony Kelly, was able to accomplish that in previous demonstrations. In fact, he currently holds the world record of catching the most number of arrows in two minutes using his hands.
Kelly’s success in catching arrows is presently listed under the Guinness World Records. The total number of arrows that he caught in a span of two minutes was 33.
Although Kelly’s martial arts training may have a hand in developing his quick reflexes, there are no specific martial arts that I know of which concentrates on teaching how to catch arrows being shot to a person. The move is more of a circus act or a stunt that only a few trained individuals like Kelly can perform.
Use of the Art of Catching Arrows in Actual Combat
In a Mythbusters episode, Kelly was asked to replicate the stunt of catching arrows. However, it was revealed that he only asked the arrows to be fired at a rate lower than a full shot’s strength. Apparently, he specifically asked for the arrows to be fired at only three-fourths (3/4) strength. In addition, he instructed the shooter to only fire the arrows directly in front of him.
Kelly was able to intercept the arrows shot to him using his hand under his requested conditions. But when the archer tried to shoot the arrows in full strength, he wasn’t able to catch them anymore. The same result happened when the archer tried firing from different directions.
Based on the experiment of Mythbusters, we can therefore say that the art of catching arrows is in fact nothing but a staged stunt and not applicable in full combat situations.