Kyudo Question

Discussion in 'Koryu Corner' started by Xue Sheng, Mar 17, 2009.

  1. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng Sr. Grandmaster

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    I must admit I have been rather intrigued by Kyudo for sometime now and I just discovered that there might be an actual teacher in my general vicinity. I might just contact these people to see what it is about.

    Does anyone know anything about this organization

    And can anyone give me any info on Kyudo itself
     
  2. JadecloudAlchemist

    JadecloudAlchemist Master of Arts

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    I imagine finding a Kyudo teacher is hard to find outside Japan and I don't know how many westerns in Japan practice it.

    I don't see anything that raises red flags from the Zenko site.

    Kyudo is archery. However Kyudo is more like Spiritual archery in the same sense as Iaido. The Bow used are huge compared to the more modern Western bows.

    There are books in english on the subject.
    Most likely the best book on the subject:
    http://www.amazon.com/Kyudo-Essence...bs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1237302149&sr=8-1
     
  3. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Have the courage to speak softly

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    I wouldn't draw too close a comparison between kyudo and iaido in terms of the spirituality. Kyudo has lost almost all of it's martial content if practised as many would like it to be taught.

    However, if approached as the martial art it was before the Second World War came along then it should be as rewarding as any other archaic art :D.
     
  4. JadecloudAlchemist

    JadecloudAlchemist Master of Arts

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  5. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Hey Xue go give it a look over and see if it is for you. [​IMG]
     
  6. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng Sr. Grandmaster

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    Well you know.... I would... if I could just convince my wife we need a horseĀ… and samurai armor :D

    I have seen that in video and it is pretty impressive.
     
  7. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng Sr. Grandmaster

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    I was actually going to send them an e-mail today but then I realized I had absolutely no idea what to ask.
     
  8. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Hi,

    Kyudo is, as stated, a less-than-martial expression of traditional Japanese archery. There are four main versions still in existance, the Heki Ryu and the Honda Ryu (on foot), and the Takeda Ryu and the Ogasawara Ryu (mounted - yabusame), taught in a number of branches. The Heki Ryu is probably the more common, and is characterised by being on foot, as well as having a more formal approach, whereas the Ogasawara Ryu and Takeda Ryu (primarily focussed on mounted archery, but including kyudo from the ground as well) take a more practical look at the art.

    The object of kyudo is not perfect targeting, but the perfect draw and shot (I think this is where the comparrison to Iaido comes in - the perfection of an action rather than necessarily the destruction of an enemy). The entire action has a number of aspects to it, including : Ashibumi (footing), Dozukuri (placement of the body), Yugamae (the attitude of the bow, in three parts - the right hand [on the bow string], the left hand [on the bow itself], and the turning of the head), Uchikosi and Hikiwake (raising the bow, and drawing the bowstring back), Kai (the draw, again subdivided into 2 parts), Hanare (the release of the arrow), and Zanshin (awareness after the shot).

    There are some inportant distinctions between Kyudo and Western Archery, if you have some experience in the latter, it's a good idea to be aware of these. To begin with, the most obvious. The bow. Unlike Western bows, even the giant English longbows (damn impressive things to try to use, if you get the chance!), the Japanese bow is constructed very differently. the overall length could be anywhere from 6 to 8 feet tall, and the handgrip is placed, not in the centre, but 1/3 of the way up from the base. This is unique amongst bows, and allows a great deal of power to be stored in the bow, without requiring the kind of draw strength a typical longbow would.

    Next is the grip itself. As opposed to Western archery, where you pull back with the fingers of your draw-hand, the Japanese bow is drawn back with your thumb (hence the Yugake (glove) having a toughened section on the thumb pad. This allows the next major difference, which gives the Japanese bow it's accuracy. A Western full draw has the drawstring brought back to beside the archers ear, meaning that the sight of the arrow is across the archers body slightly (off-centre). In kyudo, a full draw begins above your head, and the drawn bow forms a full circle back past your own head, allowing the arrow to be in perfect line with your target.

    For that reason, though, the method of selecting the correct sized arrows is also a little different, and highly personalised. For Western archery, you have set lengths of arrows, however for kyudo, you select your arrows based on your own personal body measurements. To find your proper size arrow, measure from your shoulder down to the tips of your fingers, then add 10-15 cm (4-6 inches). When released, the bowstring doesn't impact the inner forearm as it does in Western archery, either. It should actually spin around to hit against the back of your forearm, which indicates a proper grip (not too firm, nor too loose... it has been compared to holding a small bird, not too hard so you injure or kill it, nor so loose that it gets away. Takes a fair bit of practice...).

    When first starting, you will not get a bow, let alone an arrow for a while, though. The most common way to start is with a piece of elastic, which you use to get the proper form for the full draw as described above. Then, after it has been determined that you have the necessary skill, you are given a bow with "practice", blunted arrows, and you may be allowed to shoot into a target (about 6 feet away). As you progress, you will eventually get real arrows, and a disant target. And, if Yabusame is taught, the opportunity to experience that as well.

    As said, authentic kyudo is rare outside of Japan, if you have the opportunity to experience it, I personally would not want to let it get past me! Hope that wasn't too much info there...
     
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  9. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng Sr. Grandmaster

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    Thank You Very Much

    I do have some experience with Western archery and I was wondering about the things you are talking about. I was actually looking at a picture of someone with the bow drawn and the very first thing I noticed was the complete lack of an armguard and how it appeared to be a bit longer draw. And then of course all I could think of is that sting hitting my arm, been there done that and it was not fun.

    You have also giving me an idea of what to put in my e-mail

    Again thanks
     
  10. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Xue, you are of course most welcome. This was just a basic introduction, of course, but expect it to be quite different from what you are used to. Enjoy!
     
  11. pgsmith

    pgsmith Master Black Belt

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    Very nice synopsis of today's kendo Chris! Unfortunately, I can't rep you for it. :(
     
  12. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Not a problem. Glad you liked. You did mean kyudo, though, right..?
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2009
  13. pgsmith

    pgsmith Master Black Belt

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    Dang! That's what I get for commenting when I'm in a hurry! :)
     
  14. DuskB4Dawn

    DuskB4Dawn Green Belt

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    I have been practicing modern archery for a while now with a compound bow. the bow that have the draw strength is very strong but when you hold it full it locks in place and is easy to hold. the arrows I use are fiberglass and the weight of the arrows helps a lot. I practice outdoors and the archery range. with the modern bows there is so much less drop than traditional and the arrows travel so fast that it is very easy to hit the target accurately

    kyudo is completely different and I have seen videos of them taking about 5 min to shoot one arrow and they shoot at a very short range sometimes less than a meter away! its all about the zen aspect and getting the perfect shot.

    Japanese archery on a horse shooting something vertically while moving is completely different and would take amazing skill and perfect timing!

    kyudo is something very interesting. I would love to have the chance to study it one day. so many martial artist martial artist have taken some kind of deeper meaning from kyudo and has apparently helped them gain a new perspective in the martial arts they train in.
     
  15. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Yes, very different! The shooting from close distance is part of the development of the archer, later practitioners get to shoot from a greater distance. It's part of Kyudo's focus on always moving towards the perfect shot, with your spirit and body in unison, rather than just "hitting the target".

    Here's a clip on Kyudo (looks to be Heki Ryu to me, but not sure). In it you'll see both the ranged targets, and a close one for working on the details of form:

    [yt]cedl57qWdS4[/yt]

    For mounted archery (Yabusame), here is a clip from a British TV show featuring the Ogasawara Ryu. If you watch the background near the end, you will see the "training horse" used in this art:

    [yt]FSrUC1Ir9OU[/yt]
     
  16. DuskB4Dawn

    DuskB4Dawn Green Belt

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    I watched both these vids the first one on Kyudo I have seen a while ago already the second one on Yabusame was very interesting.
    one thing I noticed is they shout eee yoo before shooting the arrow. the guy said it means dart light. it kind of like a kia.

    and I saw the wooden training horse apparently the master didn't let his student use a real horse untill 5 years! thats a long time to wait!

    few things that shoked me was how the closed the blinds on the spectators or peasants lol and how only men are allowed to practice unlike Kyudo.
     
  17. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    The cry actually means "dark and light", rather than "darting light".
     

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