The art of Japanese archery has meditative aspects. Discipline, attention, concentration and inner peace are the four most important mental skills that you need or should learn to practice Japanese archery. Kyûdô (Kyû means bow, Dô is the way) is one of the ancient classical Japanese martial arts and is considered the most effective ranged weapon of the samurai. Actually intended for warlike purposes, the exercises have gradually become an artful discipline that promotes body and mind alike. Through practice, concentration and coordination are trained and body awareness and body feeling strengthened.
No high tech, but highest skill
In contrast to the Western European bows, the Japanese bow is simple, asymmetrical and does not require sighting or arrow rest. In addition, there is a ceremonial process of shooting and the traditional clothing that developed from the trouser skirt and the jacket of the samurai warrior.
The bow is usually made of bamboo or wood and about 2.25 meters long, with a draw weight of 10 to 20 kg. The most important difference to other bows is the asymmetry: The arrow is shot not in the middle of the bow, but between the lower and middle third. He is stretched with the tendon to about 15 cm in height. Mastering it perfectly requires lifelong learning - incidentally a feature of all Japanese arts: not the device is perfected, but man develops on it.
The Kyudopfeil is traditionally made of bamboo, but often you will find the approximately 100 cm long aluminum arrows. A kyudo glove, usually worn over the right hand, is made of leather and has a reinforced thumb with a notch across the inner root.
The right kyudo technique
As simple as the bow may be, the technique of shooting has it all. Because the main difference between kyudo and western archery forms is the "dynamic" shooting of the arrow by the left hand. The shooting technique is related to the asymmetry of the bow: The bow is grasped with a special grip with the left hand. The arrow is clamped and lies on the left thumb root. The tendon is hung in the thumb groove of the glove.
Now the bow is stretched to the full arrow length, so that the tendon rests behind the right ear of the shooter, and the arrow on his cheek. The shot is fired when targeted muscles in the back and throughout the body are strained, while at the same time the left hand presses and turns and the right hand performs a reverse rotation. The release is therefore not passive only by releasing the tendon, but actively brought about.
Kyudo: The shot of the arrow
During the launch, the bow turns out of the arrow trajectory and the arrow is thereby accelerated freely in the air. The bow can "run out" and rotate almost 360 ° in the shooter's hand. Due to the active firing technique, the arrow speed (about 200 km / h) is increased considerably. The flexibility of the bow hand and the precision of the pull hand is only possible if the shoulders are loose and relaxed. This can only be achieved by persevering practice under guidance and full concentration.
Body posture and tension must be precisely coordinated over eight well-defined phases of motion - including standing, stabilizing the body, lifting and opening the arch. Mastering and refining these movements is an essential goal of the practice. Fear of failure leads to cramping, the arrow misses its target. So shooting with the Japanese bow becomes a training of inner peace.