The practice of Kyudo is deceptively simple. Neither age, nor
sex, nor physical strength has any significance. Beginners receive instruction in the basic form, the "Seven Coordinations" also known as Shishido. After the initial training, practice begins by
shooting at a straw target only a yumi’s length away. When a degree of proficiency is attained, the practice expands to include “hitote” or long distance shooting at 28
Working within the precision of
the form, a natural process gradually unfolds in which the practitioner has the opportunity to see his or her mind. The target becomes a mirror that reflects back to the practitioner the quality of
the mind at the moment of the arrow's release. This distinguishes Kyudo from sports archery, where competition to hit the target is the goal. To practice Kyudo in this way, one must have a teacher.
It cannot be learned from books. It is verbally passed on for centuries from teacher to pupil in the sense of Shu-ha-ri.
There are currently four main
schools of Kyudo in Japan (Ogasaware-ryu, Honda-ryu, Yamato-ryu, and Heki-ryu). Kanjuro Shibata XXI is the head of the Chikurin-ha branch of the Heki-ryu school. Kanjuro Shibata XX, established
and named the Boston area Kyudo group the Byakko, or "White Tiger" Kyudojo. The dojo, one of several in the United States, Canada, and Europe, is part of Zenko International, a non-profit
organization devoted to supporting Kyudo practice.