Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Japanese Archery – Kyudo

Kyudo – in fact both vowels are long: kyuudou – literally means the way of the bow. There are more than 130,000 people who practice archery in Japan. They are called kyudoka. Though some sources mention that the Japanese bow was inspired by the Mongolian one, I think it may be much older, even from the BC times. The Japanese bow is longer. It is called yumi, and it may stand even more than 2m tall. Its strings are traditionally made of hemp. It was the weapon to fight the Portuguese when they arrived in Japan at the mid-16th century. Since it is so long, it requires balance of the body and concentration to use it. Like any other type of martial arts, kyudo is a spiritual practice, where man and target become one. In its most refined form, it may represent the contemplation of the target until one identifies with it – then the interior and exterior merge, and the arrow aims at the center of the target. In a way, it is like aiming towards the centre of one’s own being.

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