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Kyūdō facts for kids

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Japanese archer 1878b
A Japanese archer with targets. Ink on paper, 1878

Kyūdō (way of the bow) is a Japanese form of archery. It is a martial art. Kyūdō is based on ancient archery (kyū-jutsu). Archery in Japanese began in the Jōmon period; and it developed in the samurai or military class.

At the beginning of the Meiji era (1868-1912), the samurai lost their position because the Emperor Meiji replaced the Tokugawa family, the samurai, as a ruler of the nation. Therefore, all martial arts, including kyudo, declined.

Before the Meiji Restoration, only the military class was allowed to do Kyūdō. But after it, ordinary people could also do archery, so it spread outside the military class and it became a pleasurable pastime.

Japan Kyudo Federation plays a role in the promotion of kyudo as a sport. The equipment of kyūdō has evolved from ancient times.

Style

Kyudo archers
Kyudo archers

There are many styles, but most of kyudo players learn the technique ruled by the All Japan Kyudo Federation. In most cases, style means the kind of movement.

  • Ogasawara style: This is a major style and is known as the style of manner. Most of the kyudo players play based on it
  • Heki style: This style places importance on hitting and power
  • Honda style: This style is derived from Heki style and Ogasawara style
  • Yamato style: This style is derived from Heki style
Sonoma Mountain Zen Center - 09 - Awaiting the shot
Sonoma Mountain Zen Center - A young monk waiting for the Kyūdō master to finish his shot

Technique

There are the Eight Stages of Shooting (Shaho-Hassetsu); which is a fundamental movement;

  • Ashibumi - placing the footing
  • Dozukuri - forming the body
  • Yugamae - readying the bow
  • Uchiokoshi - raising the bow straightly (Ogasawara and Honda style) or slantwise (Heki and Yamato style)
  • Hikiwake - drawing apart
  • Kai - the full draw
  • Hanare - the release
  • Zanshin - the remaining body or mind or the continuation of the shot"

Equipment

Arceri Kyudo
Kyudo archers

Yumi is traditionally made of bamboo, wood and leather. But, recently, many yumi are made from fiberglass and carbon fiber. They are cheaper than those made of bamboo.

The arrow's shaft is traditionally made of bamboo. Recently, many shafts are made of aluminum or carbon fibers. The traditional fletching is made with three fins or vanes of eagle or hawk feathers. The modern arrow may be made with turkey or swan feathers.

People wear special clothes called Kyūdōgi when they practice kyudo. In a formal place, people wear Wahuku.

Yugake is the glove worn on the right hand. It is typically made of deerskin.

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