About the Introductory Video of Kyudo
This video titled “KYUDO – Mariko Satake/Interview – IS JAPAN COOL? DOU” is created by the ANA Global Channel as part of a video series introducing traditional Japanese art and martial arts.
This video focuses on the introduction of Kyudo (弓道), including an interview with a master of Kyudo- Ms. Mariko Satake, and some techniques, forms and manners of Kyudo.
Ms. Satake in this video is more than 70 years old, but you’ll be amazed at her breathtaking posture, physique and quiet, unwavering aim.
Following the video, we introduce Kyudo in this article.
Kyudo - A Traditional Japanese Martial Art
Kyudo is a traditional Japanese martial art in which archers shoot an arrow with a Yumi (弓) (Japanese bow).
Originally, Yumi were used to hunt game, but gradually came to be used in shinto rituals as well. In the Edo period (1603-1868), Kyudo was practiced as a martial art for a samurai’s physical and spiritual training.
A series of correct forms is important to hit the target; The basic concept is called “orthogonal hit,” which means that an arrow shot with the correct form will definitely hit its target.
Kyudo archers wear Kyudo uniforms for practice and competitions, and they wear Kimono during examinations to achieve higher ranks and titles.
Kyudo is mainly divided into Reisha groups (礼射系, Reishakei) and Busha groups (武射系, Bushakei). In addition, there are many schools, such as the Ogasawara School (小笠原流, Ogasawararyu), the Heki School (日置流, Hekiryu), the Honda School (本多流, Hondaryu), the Yamato School (大和流, Yamatoryu) and more.
Some Kyudo archers (弓道家, Kyudoka) don’t belong to any schools, but almost all archers learn the shooting method defined by the All Nippon Kyudo Federation.
According to the rules of Kyudo, each target is 36 centimeters in diameter and located 28 meters from the archer.
If archers succeed in hitting the target, they will get one point. If they miss it, they will receive zero points.
At 0:25 in this video, Ms. Satake explains how "...for many practitioners, kyudo is a means of spiritual and physical self improvement."
Kyudo lessons are also quite popular in Japan; There are many Kyudo classes and training institutes. Most schools in Japan have a Kyudo practice area for the school Kyudo club.
These places enable people to learn and experience Kyudo from the beginning, and we can refine our mind and body.
Moreover, the All Nippon Kyudo Federation hosts the Kyudo national tournament, so Kyudo is also taught at schools as a sport.
Currently there are about 130,000 Kyudo archers in Japan, and the practice has begun to gain traction overseas as well.
Outside of Japan, there is also a sport called archery; It is similar to Kyudo in that bows are used.
However, unlike archery, practitioners of Kyudo refine their mind, whereas archers in archery only focus on improving their aim.
The Instruments of Kyudo
In order to practice Kyudo, archers need a Japanese bow, arrows, Yugake (bow strings), Kyudo uniforms and a Hakama.
The bow is very long and beautiful; and has long since been deified due to its unique Japanese form.
From 1:40 of this video, Ms. Satake says that it is important to draw the bow while listening to its voice.
Bows are made of bamboo or carbon, and arrows are made of bamboo, carbon or duralumin.
Strings are stretched over the bow. Sometimes a string may break, so archers need to prepare several strings.
Yugake is a glove made of deer leather. Archers wear it on their arrow drawing hand. This plays a very important role during the match.
Makiwara is the target archers use during their practice.
You can get to know these Kyudo items in more detail from 0:50 this video.
The Eight Stages of Shooting in Kyudo
Shaho (射法) is a basic movement in Kyudo and there are eight basic movements that go into firing a single arrow: Ashibumi (足踏み), Dozukuri (胴造り), Yugamae (弓構え), Uchiokoshi (打起し), Hikiwake (引分け), Kai (会), Hanare (離れ), and Zanshin (残心).
Each move has an important meaning.
From 6:02 in this video, you can see Ms. Satake’s beautiful shooting process from beginning to end for about two and a half minutes.
Please look at her elegant form when she shoots!
Overview of Kyudo, a Traditional Japanese Martial Art
Some people practice Kyudo to refine their mind and body.
Ms. Satake also says in this video that Kyudo archers are strictly taught, “Shooting is the shadow of your heart,” which means archers can see their everyday lives through their shots. She regards this teaching as very important.
During her interview, we can see that she practices the teaching, “All of your actions shape your body for Kyudo.”
Take a look at her awesome form while shooting in a tense atmosphere.