Japanese Kyudo Archery

The Way of the Bow

Japanese Culture Kyudo Archery

Japanese Kyudo Archery

The world "Kyudo" derives from the Japanese meaning of "The way of the Bow". Archery is a sport that is considered one of the most natural of sports. Many many years ago in Japan archery was more of a way to wage war and hunt as well as competitive reasons. It was both a daily necessity and a hobby. Back in ancient times, the warrior who practiced archery practiced what was referred to as "Kyujutsu". Some of the same ancient traditions and ways of archery that existed in Japan all those years ago don't really have a place in society today, yet some of the traditions taught by some still live on, although not nearly on as large of a scale as back then. Those who practice Kyudo today do so for mental and physical reasons, to achieve a higher level of being and personal enjoyment.

Although no one can say for sure when the phrase "kyudo" began being used, by the time of the 19th century it had become widely accepted because of the popularity and recognition it had gained. The three things that modern archers in Japan strive for are truth, beauty, and what is called "The Good".

"The Truth" in archery in Japan consists of taking aim of what is considered to be justified and natural. There are three things that made up the harmony one experiences when participating in Kyudo. They are movement, attitude, and technique. Getting into a somewhat philosophical point of view, in Japan, when you shoot for the right thing, you are shooting not at the center of the target, but what is already there.

The beauty is considered to exist within the bow itself and also within the archer him/herself, all part of the tradition of Kyudo. The Japanese archers believe that beauty is the life-force that gives birth to the spirit and therefore ultimately the meaning of life itself.

"The Good" is basically all the aspects of what is right in the human body and spirit, including kindness, politeness, and harmony. All of these things (the goodness) comes into being by the archer always doing the right thing under all circumstances. Advanced kyudo archers are considered to be those who have grace and keep their calm through anxiety and problems.

While Kyudo is not in and of itself a religion, there are different religions that have contributed to some of its basic principles. Zen teaches that to completely comprehend kyudo, you be open to all things at all times and you must also keep in mind that archery plays only a small part in the world. Proof of this is that every archer is different and goes about shooting differently. It remains to this day a very sacred and important part of many people's lives in Japan and holds a deeper meaning for them than it does for most people in other parts of the world.

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