The Ancient Art of Kyudo Takes Aim
In the land of the rising sun, there exists an ancient martial art that embodies centuries of history and discipline. There is also another side – Japanese Archery or Kyudo as a Competitive Sport. And it is with some surprise that our Japanese Archery video, from our movie One Shot. One Life has over 70 Million views on YouTube. And this took a matter of weeks not years! First here is some background to this revered Japanese art.
Kyudo, often referred to as “The Way of the Bow,” is a traditional form of archery that has been practiced in Japan for centuries. Kyudo, with its origins dating back to the 12th century, has a rich history that intertwines with Japan’s warrior class, the Samurai. In Japan today there are two paths for this traditional Budo (way of martial art) – one embraces spirituality and self-improvement. while the other offers Japanese Archery or Kyudo as a Competitive Sport. When the civil wars in Japan ended and Samurai looked to other endeavors instead of conflict and battles, Yet, training in martial arts was uppermost
The practice of Kyudo is characterized by its emphasis on form and precision. Unlike Western archery, which focuses on hitting a target, Kyudo practitioners pay particular attention to the fluidity and grace of their movements. Each step, from the initial bowing ritual to the release of the arrow, is meticulously choreographed, ensuring that the archer achieves a state of harmony with the bow, arrow, and target. This emphasis on mindful execution elevates Kyudo to an art form that demands both physical and mental discipline. The steps must be perfect through each of the eight phases, shown below and known as Hassetsu. If these steps are done correctly, one can guarantees the arrow will hit its intended target.
- Footing: Called ashibumi, this is where the archer steps onto the line, or shai, and faces the kamiza, or target. They position themselves in such a way so the left side of the body faces it. This is where the archer sets up their stance.
- Correct Posture: The archer finishes “forming the body,” known as dozukuri. They verify their balance and check that the pelvis and distance between the shoulders is parallel to the line set up during Ashibumi. Ideally, this will prevent the archer from hitting their own face with the bowstring.
- Preparing the Bow: There are three phases to preparing the bow, or yugamae: gripping the string with the right hand (torikake), positioning the left hand on the bow’s grip (tenouchi) and an archer’s gaze at the target (monomi).
- Positioning the Bow: Known as uchiokoshi, or raising the bow, the archer places the bow at forehead level in preparation of drawing it back.
- Drawing the Bow: This is when the archer brings the bow down and simultaneously spreads their arms while pushing the bow with the left hand and subsequent pulling of the bowstring with the right. The Japanese word for this is hikiwake.
- Securing the Draw: At this point, the archer continues the previous phase, called the “full draw,” or kai. When they achieve the full draw, the arrow will be right below the cheekbone or level to the mouth.
- Releasing: Called, hanare, this is when the archer lets go of the arrow with the right hand as the right arm remains extended behind the archer.
- Continuation of the Shot: There are two aspects to this final stage, zanshin (or remaining body/mind) and yudaoshi (lowering the bow). This is more important than hanare, it’s when the archer holds their position and sends their spirit forth long after the arrow has hit its target.
With its elegant movements, strict codes of conduct, and focus on mental fortitude, Kyudo continues to captivate and inspire both practitioners and spectators alike, wether it is to connect with their cultural heritage or as a competitive sport.
Reviving Japan’s Competitive Kyudo
Today Kyudo is flourishing in Japanese high schools, where young adults can not only embrace traditional Budo but engage in Kyudo as a competitive sport. that compete with more Western pursuits like baseball and football. However, the path to becoming a skilled Kyudo archer is not an easy one. It requires years of dedicated practice, unwavering discipline, and a commitment to self-improvement. Beyond physical strength and technical prowess, Kyudo emphasizes the cultivation of a focused mind and a calm spirit. Practitioners must learn to silence the noise of the outside world and find inner stillness, allowing them to shoot with intention and purpose.
This can be beyond high school students and in the domain of adults, who must show years of dedicated practice, unwavering discipline, and a commitment to self-improvement. The Japanese call it Ikigai, meaning ‘that which gives your life meaning.’ This is especially beneficial to older people in retirement who wish to stay healthy, agile and keep their mind sharp.
Kyudo on YouTube with more than 70 Million vIews!
In May this year, we posted a video on YouTube titled: Kyudo or Japanese Archery as a Competitive Sport. Since then, this short 30 second video, from our movie One Shot. One Life has received more than 7,000 comments and a staggering 72 million views!! More than 4 million views each week. This is a testament to the global reach that traditional martial arts has when that skill cannot be achieved in one’s own lifetime. This seeking perfection continues to fascinate an audience. Our own channel on YouTube just reached more than a half million subscribers. Yes, 500,000. Read our recent post for more details,.
As Kyudo gains recognition and popularity worldwide, it serves as a reminder of the enduring power of ancient traditions. By embracing the art of Kyudo, individuals have the opportunity to delve into a world steeped in history, philosophy, and self-discovery. The practice of Kyudo not only hones archery skills but fosters a sense of tranquility and mindfulness that transcends the sports arena. In a fast-paced world where distractions abound, Kyudo provides a space for inner reflection and personal growth, reminding us of the importance of finding balance and serenity in our lives.
Witness the incredible impact of discipline, mindfulness, and self-mastery. Join the quest for excellence and meaning in our movie “One Shot. One Life.”