Kyudo: Japanese Archery

One Shot One Life

The pursuit of excellence through the art of Japanese Archery or Kyudo – ‘the way of the bow’. Over six years ago we posted a kyudo video which received many comments, most of which focused negatively on the master archer missing the target. For many people it is hard to seperate success from not hitting the target. In our new film, One Shot. One Life, one of the kyudo masters is very accurate… he simply never misses the target. Yet he states: “The techniques for facing and hitting the target are quite simple. I used to be a national team member, and at that time I had to hit the target no matter what, practicing until my hands turned black. Eventually all that technique became obsolete in exchange for the ability to express myself through the bow.”

In our film this master archer prepares for the extremely difficult 8th dan grading, whose pass rate is below 1%. But for all his ability to hit the target, can he pass this strict examination? We leave you with more quotes from our film that offer insight into the art of Japanese archery…”Even if we dedicate a lifetime, we will not be able to master it. If we keep this in our mind we can continue further. This is one of the things I was taught by my Sensei and I will not forget. I strive to practice everyday feeling like a beginner.

My Sensei often said “when we face the target we are facing ourselves as a mirror”. It is wrong if we do not face the target in this manner.
Ultimately, no technique is left, no form is left, nothing but the archer’s humanity remains. For the observer, this is very beautiful. It makes you feel admiration for that person’s handling of the bow.”

A scene from the documentary, One Shot. One Life. Here is the opening chapter at Enma Dojo which is in the grounds of Engakuji Temple in Kamakura. If there was proof required that Zen and Kyudo are opposite sides of the same coin then Enma dojo would be the evidence. You may notice two bows displayed on the wall of the dojo… they belonged to Eugen Herrigel, author of ‘Zen in the Art of Archery’. Beautiful experience to sit among the flowers and listen to bird songs while watching the archery… very meditative. In this setting one can truly ask “Is hitting the target all there is?”….One Shot.

This is a scene from One Shot. One Life documentary. Here sensei Takeuchi Masakuni, 7th dan Kyoshi, talks about his upcoming Hanshi or 8th dan examination which will take place in Tokyo at the Meiji Shrine Dojo. In all Japanese martial arts, the 8th dan rank is the holy grail and the most difficult to pass.

This is a clip from The Empty Mind Documentary. This is a rare opportunity to see the great archers of the Japan Kyudo Federation. This demonstration took place at the All Japan Kyudo Championships. The Location is the Meiji Shrine.

IKYF Kyudo Seminar – Hitotsu mato sharei – Tokyo 2010
Part 1

Part 2