Kyūdō

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A Japanese archer with targets. Ink on paper, 1878.

Kyūdō (弓道?, way of the bow) is a Japanese form of archery. It is a martial art.[1]

History[change | change source]

Kyūdō is based on ancient archery (kyū-jutsu).[1] Archery in Japanese began in the Jōmon period; and it developed in the samurai or military class. At the beginning of the Meiji era (1868-1912), the samurai lost their position because the Emperor Meiji replaced the Tokugawa family, the samurai, as a ruler of the nation. Therefore, all martial arts, including kyudo, declined. Before the Meiji Restoration, only the military class was allowed to do Kyūdō. But after it, ordinally people could also do archery, so it spread outside the military class and it became an amusement. Now, All Japan Kyudo Federation plays a role in the promotion of kyudo as a sport.

Style[change | change source]

There are many styles, but most of kyudo players are learning the technique ruled by All Japan Kyudo Federation (Shaho-Hassetsu). In most cases, style means the kind of movement (called Taihai).

Ogasawara style[change | change source]

This is a major style and is known as the style of mannar. Most of the kyudo players play based on it.

Heki style[change | change source]

This style places importance on hitting and power.

Honda style[change | change source]

This style is derived from Heki style and Ogasawara style.

Yamato style[change | change source]

This style is derived from Heki style.

Technique[change | change source]

There are the Eight Stages of Shooting (Shaho-Hassetsu); which is a fundamental movement.

  • Ashibumi; placing the footing
  • Dozukuri; forming the body
  • Yugamae; readying the bow
  • Uchiokoshi; raising the bow straightly (Ogasawara and Honda style) or slantwise (Heki and Yamato style)
  • Hikiwake; drawing apart
  • Kai; the full draw
  • Hanare; the release
  • Zanshin: "the remaining body or mind" or "the continuation of the shot"

Equipment[change | change source]

The equipment of kyūdō has evolved from ancient times.

Bow[change | change source]

Yumi (?) is the Japanese term for the bows used in kyūdō.[2] Yumi is traditionally made of bamboo, wood and leather. But, recently, many yumi are made from fiberglass and carbon fiber. They are cheaper than those made of bamboo. Generally, there are two sizes. One is nami and the other is nobi. Nobi is longer than Nami.

Arrow[change | change source]

Ya (?) is the Japanese term for the arrows of kyūdō.[3] The arrow's shaft is traditionally made of bamboo. Recently, many shafts are made of aluminum or carbon fibers. The traditional fletching is made with three fins or vanes of eagle or hawk feathers. The modern ya may be made with turkey or swan feathers.

Clothing[change | change source]

People wear special clothes called Kyūdōgi when they practice kyudo or play a game. In a formal place, people wear Wahuku.

Yugake (弽、弓懸?) is the glove worn on the right hand. It is typically made of deerskin.

References[change | change source]

The art of archery in pre-modern Japan
  1. 1.0 1.1 Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Kyudo" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 588.
  2. Onuma, Hideru. (1993). Kyudo: The Essence and Practice of Japanese Archery, p. 37.
  3. Onuma, p. 52.

Related pages[change | change source]

Media related to Kyudo at Wikimedia Commons