The Way of the Japanese Bow
Kyudo is a traditional Japanese Discipline that uses the performance of shooting a bow and arrow as a means of cultivating the personality. It differs from other forms of archery, which tend to be purely utilitarian in approach, in that it places greater emphasis on the psychological and intuitive relationship towards the shooting.
Consequently, performance and accuracy on the target are considered simply as evidence of the correct balance between technique and the psychological state of the archer, rather than a goal in itself.
In the process of achieving this, negative attitudes and reactions, which are an obstacle to natural and sincere shooting, must be recognized and confronted. In this way, the practice of Kyudo gives a different perspective on one's attitudes and reactions in daily life.
At the beginning of training, the student must learn the basic form to shoot the bow correctly. If the training is pursued with diligence and sincerity the accuracy in the shooting will increase as evidence of one's progress.
While acquiring this level takes some time, learning the basic form to make a safe and adequate release is learnt fairly quickly , enabling the student to enter fully into the challenge of shooting on the target at an early stage of the training.
Having learnt the basics of the shooting form, and having been introduced to the target, the beginner then learns to shoot in a group using a synchronized sequence of formal movements, which harmonize the shooting procedure. Formal shooting is part of the long ceremonial tradition based upon the concept of ‘Rei’ (etiquette) in which the archer, through all his movements demonstrates respect for others and the ability to harmonize with the world around him.
Sport or Not?
Whilst Kyudo could not be considered a competitive sport in the western sense, competition is an essential part of its history and practice, it serves to challenge the student and test attitude. Through competition Kyudo has a social context, excitement and challenge that all add to its enjoyment.
There is an annual UK competition in which members of Manchester take part, there is also a bi-annual European Competition where again our members join other UK archers in the team and individuals sections and we hold competitions within our Group at monthly intervals.
The present form of the bow and arrow has changed very little since its development in the thirteenth century. Keeping to the essential and traditional form of the equipment accentuates the purpose of Kyudo, which is to realize balance within the constraints of the equipment and shooting. The archer must challenge and change himself/herself rather than modify the equipment.
The group holds a good supply of bows, shooting gloves and other items of equipment to introduce beginners into the practice without them having to buy the things before they start. The purchase of members’ own equipment is then spread over many weeks.
All of our equipment is sent mail order from a known supplier in Osaka. It is all good quality and reasonably priced. We have a catalogue in the club and make orders as a group to reduce postage and packing.
Seminars and Grading.
Through membership of the national association, The United Kingdom Kyudo Association (UKKA), members of the group have access to the European Federation (EKF), and a yearly Seminar and Grading led by Japanese Masters of the ANKF. The teaching and grading by Japanese Masters ensures that the purity of the Art is retained.
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