Japanese Kyudo: Zen in the Art of Archery

Kyudo, literally means “way of the bow”,  and is often referred to as tachi-zen (standing meditation), and in essence is a personal search for truth, virtue and beauty.

I started practicing Kyudo several years ago, thinking that it would be something like western archery I had practiced many years ago while I was in college. I thought the goal was to hit a target. I could not have been more wrong!

Kyudo has been practiced in Japan virtually unchanged since the 12th century. It is a solitary practice, and is only martial art in which there is no opponent. In other words, your opponent is “the enemy within.”

In kyudo, hitting the target is a result of righteousness of mind, adherence to correct form and taking proper care of one’s equipment. And your road map is three principles:  Shin (truth,) Zen (goodness) and Bi (beauty.) Being lucky does not count.

The practitioner is taught correct posture, calmness of mind, humility, respect and supreme care for his or her equipment.

If you like to learn more about Kyudo, read “Zen in the Art of Archery” by Eugene Herrigel. It one of the best books ever written in English on the subject and you can get it from Amazon for a few dollars.

There is probably a dojo near you. Stop by for a visit if you can. You will not be disappointed.

Yoshi

Yoshi

Yoshi is a contributing editor for Miyazaki Whispers. She holds a 5-dan rank in Japanese Kyudo Archery, and has lived and worked in Japan, UK and US in global marketing and as an IT localization professional. Yoshi's interests are Japanese and western cuisine and kimono art.
Yoshi

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Yoshi

About Yoshi

Yoshi is a contributing editor for Miyazaki Whispers. She holds a 5-dan rank in Japanese Kyudo Archery, and has lived and worked in Japan, UK and US in global marketing and as an IT localization professional. Yoshi's interests are Japanese and western cuisine and kimono art.
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7 Responses to Japanese Kyudo: Zen in the Art of Archery

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  2. Liz says:

    I’ve been interested in archery since middle school and I’ve always wanted to learn but its been on the back burner because of school now that I’m out of hich school I want to learn something that none of my other family members have ever done before and when I read all about kyudo from kyudo.com and saw videos I became interested. I also prefer the Japanese long bow to the ugly metal western bow that is usded here in America. Unfortunately I don’t think the Texas Kyudo Renmei/Kai is not active anymore and the current president Mark Wegmann is virtually unreachable. I’m not even sure if sending him a letter will work. Without a kyudo dojo or a certified instructor how am I to learn this beautiful art?

    • Tidbits Tidbits says:

      Kyudo is a never ending search for unity of mind, body and all which surrounds us. The principle is called “San-mi-ittai” and is at the core of all Japanese martial arts, flower arrangement (Ikebana,) and Japanese tea ceremony (Chado.) In the absence of a “kyudojo” (not kyudo dojo) in your area for the time being, you will be well served if you can find a master who is willing to teach you any of these arts. And if you ever decide to travel to Japan, send me a note. I will be more than happy to help you in any way I can.

  3. JM says:

    It’s always nice to find another Kyudo friend. Thanks for the post!

  4. Ai says:

    I used to do kendo, but always thought kyudo was a lot more graceful and elegant. My boyfriend’s mother (she’s full Korean) started kyudo about 2 years ago, and is now 2dan or 3dan!!!

    Great blog 😀

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