Kyudo - the Japanese art of Archery

Kyudo (弓道), literally meaning way of the bow, is the Japanese art of archery. It is a modern Japanese martial art and practitioners are known as kyudoka. Kyudo is practiced in many different schools, some of which descend from military shooting and others that descend from ceremonial or contemplative practice. Therefore, the emphasis is different. Some emphasize aesthetics and others efficiency. Contemplative schools teach the form as a meditation in action. The yumi (Japanese bow) is exceptionally tall (standing over two meters), surpassing the height of the archer. Yumi are traditionally made of bamboo, wood and leather using techniques which have not changed for centuries, although some archers (particularly, those new to the art) may use synthetic (i.e. laminated wood coated with glassfiber or carbon fiber) yumi. All kyudo archers hold the bow in their left hand and draw the string with their right, so that all archers face the higher position (kamiza) while shooting. Unlike occidental archers (who, with some exceptions, draw the bow never further than the cheek bone), kyudo archers draw the bow so that the drawing hand is held behind the ear. If done improperly, upon release the string may strike the archer’s ear or side of the face ! Resulting from the technique to release the shot, the bow will (for a practiced archer) spin in the hand so that the string stops in front of the archer’s outer forearm. This action of “yugaeri” is a combination of technique and the natural working of the bow. It is unique to kyudo [ref]. The pictures below were taken during a demonstration at the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo for the New Year 2012.

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first published on 3 January 2012 - last viewed 5 days ago for a total of 1,613 views - permalink