KYUDO - ZEN ARCHERY
Kyudo-the Way of the Bow-is the oldest of Japan's traditional martial arts and the one most closely associated with bushido, the Way of the Warrior.
Originally a samurai discipline, kyudo integrates technical skill with the development of a completely focused and disciplined mind. Influenced by Shintoism and Zen, kyudo is a path of self-development and meditation that requires the archer to cultivate precision, a clear mind, and freedom from fear.
Japanese martial arts are famous throughout the world, especially karate and judo, but Japan is home to many other martial traditions that are less well-known, and one of them is kyudo. Literally meaning the ‘way of the bow’, the roots of kyudo lie in ancient Shinto tradition, which has ritualized the use of bows and arrows for over 2,000 years.
For much of Japanese history, archery was considered to be the most important skill of the samurai, more important than the swordsmanship with which they are nowadays more closely associated. The importance of bows and arrows in Japanese warfare began to decline after the Portuguese introduced matchlock rifles to Japan in 1543. With the bow losing its place as a weapon of war, it increasingly took on a ceremonial role, leading ultimately to the highly ritualized form of archery that is kyudo.
For most practitioners, kyudo is an art and not a sport, and an archer’s attitude and dignity are often considered more important than actually hitting the target. A kyudo practitioner advances to the shooting place with slow and graceful
Like with many other martial arts, practitioners can gain
Kyudo is supposed to develop the character of its practitioners, not only in relation to archery
Perhaps surprisingly for a martial art, one of the key benefits attributed to kyudo is that it helps its practitioners to avoid conflict and to refrain from aggression. A kyudo practitioner is expected to show courtesy, compassion
The principles of kyudo are sometimes summarised as ‘truth, goodness and beauty’, where truth relates to shooting with a pure mind, goodness to a person’s character, and beauty to gracefulness and the refined etiquette of kyudo. For some practitioners, kyudo comes close to being a religious observance, while for others it’s much more about skill and target practice, but it’s the philosophical and ritual elements that really distinguish kyudo from other forms of archery.
The Spirit of Kyudo (Zen Archery)
"Because the practice of kyudo involves little in the way of hard physical activity,
~ from "The Spirit of Kyudo"
Anything can be Zen
“If you understand
~ Suzuki Roshi
Our Guest Kyudo Teacher - Rick 'Jyozen'Beal
Our guest teacher of Kyudo at the Pine Mountain School of Zen Arts is Rick 'Jyozen' Beal (aka Budo Rick).
Rick describes his life as follows. "I began training in the Japanese Martial Arts in 1966.
But the real transformation began with Hirotaka Okubo, my first Kyudo teacher;
he also taught me Japanese Culture, Kendo, Kendo Kata, and Iaido.
My kyudo teacher after him was Rev. Hirokazu Kosaka, a Shingon Buddhist Priest, who I still study with today.
Another great influence was my Zen Master, Rev. Ryugen Watanabe.