"Kyudo - The Way of the Bow" or "Zen while standing"

Kyudo - literally "the way of the bow" - is the oldest of Japan's traditional martial arts and is most closely linked to the classic term "bushido" - "the way of the warrior".
Historically, Kyudo developed from the classic archery technique used in combat, which the Samurai, the Japanese warrior caste, refined into the "art of archery" through the influence of Zen philosophy from China. This resulted in a more introverted form of exercise without any major, spectacular external action, which is no longer intended to serve as a military confrontation, but rather allows the practitioner to engage in a profound examination of themselves - in Japan, Kyudo is referred to as spiritual training, the aim of which is the development of the personality. In the arts of the Far East, the possibility of mental exercise and development through the exercise of the body, through movement, has been taken for granted for centuries. On the one hand, Kyudo trains concentration and composure and requires the shooter to be extremely attentive and dedicated at every moment, but on the other hand, it sharpens body awareness and feeling and has a positive effect on posture, balance and movement coordination.

In order to practice Kyudo, you do not have to be athletically trained, as it is not the muscle strength used that is crucial, but the sensitive coordination of movements represents the real challenge. Kyudo differs fundamentally from western sports: the result of the hit is not the decisive criterion for the quality of the technique or the maturity of the shooter. In Kyudo, the hit is worthless if the technique is not correct, i.e. if the shooter's movement and posture do not correspond to the prescribed form. But the shooter's inner attitude is also subjected to a new test with every shot: without real dedication, total concentration and the renunciation of pretension, even a high hit rate remains of no value. "Every shot is a life!" is the famous saying of a Kyudo master, which is intended to illustrate this demand on the practitioner.
The Japanese bow - "yumi" - is unparalleled worldwide. It is unique in many senses: it is exceptionally long - over two meters - and asymmetrical - the handle is located in the lower part of the bow, which gives the bow a particularly elegant shape when extended. And it is still made today from the same simple materials - namely bamboo and wood - as it was four hundred years ago.


The Yumi perfectly embodies the essence of Japanese culture: it is simple and elegant and deeply rooted in tradition.
The Kyudo beginner is recommended to use a fiberglass bow that is cheaper and easier to maintain. An archer's other equipment primarily includes arrows made of bamboo (traditional) or aluminum and a leather glove with a reinforced thumb to protect the right hand that pulls the string. The traditional exercise clothing consists of a long black culottes ("hakama"), a white short-sleeved shirt, a wide belt and white socks. Today there are two main techniques in which Kyudo is taught: on the one hand, the most widespread form of Kyudo in Japan with central raising of the bow (Shomen style) and on the other hand, the Heki style, which is closer to the old martial technique of archery with lateral lifting.