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thanks yllwynog for bringing this community to my attention! I look forward to learning more about kyudo in this online forum; there is a dojo that practices about an hour from where I live (outside of Philadelphia, PA, USA), but I've never attended one of their meetings. I have never actually practiced kyudo; I discovered information about it online a few years ago, thanks to my interest in meditative arts (which started when I first learned a t'ai chi form). The idea of kyudo struck a chord with me because I had practiced western archery for several years, but I was always interested in it for the spiritual meanings I drew from the practice (similar to what yllwynog said in a comment here recently, that kyudo is "more about spiritual perfection than just techniques"). I could never really join up with other western archers because they had such different aims. So, I was very pleased to discover that a whole group of kyudo-practicing people had found similar meaning in the art of shooting an arrow toward a target. Anyway, so, i'm much less than even a novice at kyudo, but I'm looking forward to hearing what everyone has to say here. thanks!
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My attention was called to this community by a comment/invitation posted by Kasuinogitsune in my Livejournal, for which I am rather greatful.

Though I am quite interested in Kyudo, I am afraid that I will have very little to contribute to this community, aside from my penchant for questions. Though I have been practicing martial arts (Budo) for some time now, I have rarely in my life had opportunities to practice Kyudo, and when I have, it has been for very brief periods by instructors who themselves are quite inexperienced. But I can well assure you that it is not out of a lack of desire that I have not practiced Kyudo to a deeper degree. Kyudo truly fascinates me.

At present, I find myself in front of a keyboard only about once a week. I live in Mexico in a cabin in the woods without electricity. Literally. For now, anyway. So when I am on, I spend more time reading and catching-up than posting.

As I said, I am afraid that I will be able to contribute very little to this community, but at least I am very pleased to be here and to read what does get posted.

And I know that this is off-topic... but I would like to say a few words regarding my Livejournal for any whom may wonder about that way in connection to this community. I am a student of Mythology and Archetypal Psychology. My Livejournal is a space which I have allowed for myself to freely express what may not often have a space for expression. To put it simply: it is my "darkside" and/or my "silly side", and it tends only to express these aspects of me, which are inherent and important parts of who I am, but certainly does not represent me fully. So feel free to read, if you wish to do so... it is a public journal after all, but just be warned.
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from the chapter "THE MAJOR MARTIAL ARTS: The Art of Archery

(note that archery is listed on top of major martial arts and not because it starts with "A" :-))):

For centuries, the bow and arrow was "the chief weapon of the fighting man in Japan" (Captain F.Brinkley "Japan", 9 vols. Boston: J.B.Millet Co., 1902). Even after the introduction of firearms and the extended period of enforced peace under the Tokugawa had greatly reduced its strategic relevance, archery was still considered a noble art. Known generally as shagei (accomplishment in archery) or, more specifically, as kyujutsu (the art, or technique, of the bow), it was a fully developed art with a complex system of practices and techniques, as initially wide variety of styles which slowly merged into a few major ones, and a deep theory linking the art to the very birth of the Japanese nation. Inspired as it was by the mystical, esoteric dimension of that culture, it is not surprising to learn that, in the twelfth century, as Lidstone observes in his Kendo, "people in high positions were delighted when their ability as archers was acclaimed but made every endeavor to have their prowess with the sword hushed up" (R.A.Lidstone "An Introduction to Kendo". Surrey, England: Judo, 1964). By the time the Tokugawa had unified the nation under the sway of their centralized, military dictatorship, kyujutsu had evolved into a discipline of mental and spiritual coordination, known and practiced far from the battlefield, under the austere guidance of teachers who acted more in the capacity of spiritual counselors than masters of arms. The name given to this discipline of spiritual development was kyudo – the way of the bow and arrow. As such, Japanese archery is still practiced today, although in a somewhat modified form. In feudal Japan, indoor and outdoor archery ranges (matoba, iba, yaba) for target practice (kaka-uchi) were to be found in the central houses of every major military clan. Archery equipment, that is, the bow and arrow (kyusen) and the characteristic bundle of straw in a barrel which was used as an elevated target (makiwara), were common sights on the grounds of most military mansions, as were the cylindrical stands (yadate) which held the arrows ready for target practice. Arrow cases (ya-bako) and bow stands (chado-kake) were also prominently featured in the houses of high-ranking bushi.

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Just asking for informed opinions here:

I am looking at buying a yumi from Asahi Archery. Does anyone out there know of any advantages or difference (other than price) in opting for a fiberglass bow over a traditional bamboo style?

Thanks for any input.
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I hope this isn't spam, but i thought i would announce a local kyudo practice session just in case any new people happen to read this.
I probably should be the last person posting this since i've been rather lax & haven't come to practice in ages. :3

This is for the Austin, Texas area:

Kyudo class this upcoming Saturday at 4:00. ASMC. RSVP :CraigTom@aol.com::: (remove the colons; they are for spambots)

How to get to ASMC:

http://austin.txshambhala.org/map/



~ Kit
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In Feudal Japan archery was always considered as probably the most important martial art. In the book "Secrets of the Samurai: A Survery of the Martial Arts of Feudal Japan" by Oscar Ratti and Adele Westbrook, we see the first mentioning of archery in the table "Bujutsu in Feudal Japan", where archery (kyujutsu, kyudo, shagei) labelled as the top of major martial arts and a little bit later it's also classified among indispensable arts of war. Later again, while talking about educational system for buke ("military class", considered to be the upper rank of warriors), the authors mention the centers of instruction frequented by the buke and talks about one of these centers, the Nisshinkan in Wakamatsu, which was primarily concerned with the literary and physical education of the provincial lords, higher retainers, and leading administrators of the ancient Aizu clan. The archery was a very important part of the education: "At thirteen they [the boys] began to study archery, swordsmanship, and spearfighting, which they would henceforth practice regularly throughout their lives". Not only it was important, it was also obligatory, that's why the educational centers always had indoor and outdoor shooting ranges for archers. Major schools of Bujutsu in Feudal Japan with archery specialty were Hioki-ryu, Kajima-ryu, Nichioku-ryu, Nihon-ryu and Soken-ryu.

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from the chapter "Bugei: The Martial Arts":

The earliest Muromachi compilations of kojitsu are those devoted to archery, especially those compiled by the Ogasawara. In Yoshimitsu's era, for example, Ogasawara Nagahide supposedly wrote the Kyuuba mondou (Dialogue on Mounted Archery) and collaborated with Ise Mitsutada and Imagawa Ujiyori in compiling the Sangi ittou ousouji (Outline of the Unified Three Teachings), so called because it brought together the traditions of mounted archery etiquette. Indeed, the Ogasawara and the Ise became the primary repositories of warrior kojitsu practices in Muromachi times, when the current head of the Ogasawara family of mounted archery specialists claimed a descent from thirty generations earlier*. (*Although the Ogasawara were intimately involved in mounted archery competitions in the fourteenth century, their designation as official kojitsu specialists and archery instructors to the shogun came in fact in the era of Yoshimasa in the next century. Similarly, the Ise really established their leadership in the mid-Muromachi.)

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from the chapter "Buke kojitsu" (buke kojitsu, "warrior customs", refers to correct behavior for carrying out the warriors' main functions of preserving law and order, maintaining weapons, and training in martial arts and strategy):

With the rise of the bushi in Kamakura times, a warrior version of courtier ceremonial, called buke kojitsu, developed as men of the provinces showed concern for maintaining their own customs, especially military practices. Buke kojitsu was not yet highly developed, although certain families specializing in military practices were favored by Yoritomo and his successors. The Ki and Tomo were especially skilled in mounted archery (kyuuba), for example, and were charged with preserving that tradition*. (As noted by Ishioka Hisao, archery was one of the "six accomplishments" (rikugei) of the gentleman mentioned by both Confucius and Mencius and was so understood in ancient Japan ("Kyuudou," in Nihon budou taikei, 9: 125-66). Chapter 43 of the Li Chi (Book of Rites) on "The Meaning of the Ceremony of Archery" states: "Archers were required to observe the rules. With minds correct, and straight carriage of the body, they were able to hold their bows skillfully and firmly; and when they did so, they might be expected to hit the mark. In this way (from their archery) their characters could be seen" (James Legge, trans., Li Chi: Book of Rites, 446). Archery never lost that ceremonial quality in Japan. In fact, archery was intimately related to character development and etiquette long before the introduction of Zen, which has so transfixed Western authors that they refer to Japanese archery as "Zen Archery.")

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In "The Origins of Japan's Medieval World: Courtiers, Clerics, Warriors, and Peasants in the Fourteenth Century" the editor Jeffrey P.Mass collected fifteen essays on fourteenth-century Japan and one of them, written by G.Cameron Hurst III, is named "The Warrior as Ideal for a New Age", wherein the archery is mentioned many times as an essential part of warrior's life. So in this post and several others, I'll cite everything that essay has to tell us about Japanese archery in the XIVth century.

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Archaic period: Kashima-ryu

Nara period: Taishi-ryu, Sagami-ryu

Heian period: Ki-ryu (of Kino), Tomo-ryu (of Tomo Kazutake)

Kamakura period: Itsumi-ryu (of Itsumi Kyomitsu), Henmi-ryu (of Henmi Kiyomitsu), Takeda-ryu (of Takeda Nobumitsu), Ogasawara-ryu (of Ogasawara Nagakiyo)

New schools (since XVth century): Heki-ryu (of Heki Danjo), Hioki-ryu (of Hioki Danjo), Honda-ryu (of Honda Toshizane), Yamato-ryu (of Morikawa Kozan). Many schools and branches come from Heki-ryu (look below).

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It's impossible to talk about kyudo without talking about kyujutsu. Kyujutsu ("technique/method of the bow") precedeed kyudo and had many branches the most important of which were the mounted archery, ceremonial archery and military archery. Eventually,  with the use of fire-arms, kyujutsu left place for kyudo... But before talking about kyudo, let's take a glimpse at the origins and history of kyujutsu.":

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KYUDO The Essence and Practice of Japanese Archery by Hideharu Onuma with Dan and Jackie DeProspero
Probably the most popular book on kyudo. I have it both in English and French translation. This book can be considered as a complete guide, filled with descriptions, illustrations and nice photos. A must have.ILLUMINATED SPIRIT: Conversations with a Kyudo Master by Dan and Jackie DeProspero
...description to come...KYUDO The Way of the Bow by Feliks Hoff
This book is written by a German kyudo practioner. It's as complete as the book above, also has good descriptions, illustrations and photos but keep in mind that this one is written by a non-Japanese practioner. Not that it's important but some may consider the Hideharu Onuma's book more authentic.Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel
...description to come...ONE ARROW, ONE LIFE Zen, Archery, Enlightenment by Kenneth Kushner
...description to come...ZEN IN MOTION: Lessons from a Master Archer on Breath, Posture, and the Path of Intuition by Neil Claremon
...description to come...KYUDO The Japanese Archery by William R.B.Acker
It's very small and can be used as a pocket reference book or a reminder but it's hardly a full guide.L'ARME DE VIE: L'art traditionnel du samouraï by Jérôme Camilly, Jacques Normand (in French)
...description to come...


more to be added...

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弓道 (kyudou/kyuudou), literally "Way of the Bow", kyudo – Japanese art of archery

kyudoka – archer
yumi – bow
ya – arrow
haya – male ya (the first arrow)
otoya – female ya (the second arrow)
tsuru – string
yugake – glove
zasha – kneeling form
rissha – standing form
kai – full draw
shai – shooting position
mato – target
kyoshi – teacher's title
shin-zen-bi – truth, goodness and beauty

more to be added...