Kyudo is traditional Japanese archery. Compared to other popular budos of today, kyudo has evolved very little from its original form. The focus of the Kyudo practice is on cleaning the mind rather than on marksmanship. The target becomes a mirror reflecting the quality of one’s mind at the moment of the arrow’s release. Byakko is a non-profit organization in the Boston area that under the guidance of the Shibata family has been continuously practicing Kyudo since 1985.
The Practice of Kyudo
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 meters.
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.
The Kyudo path begins with taking "First Shot", where the student will be familiarized with the equipment (bow, arrow, glove) and shooting technique (seven coordination steps known as Shishido) before being able to release their first arrow. Taking the First Shot is a prerequisite to practice at Byakko Iba. From time to time Byakko Iba offers a First Shot training program. If you haven't completed the First Shot program we encourage people to come in and observe a practice. If you visit the Iba, we can answer your questions directly. For people that are genuinely interested in Kyudo we could arrange one of the senior instructors to go over Shichido with you. After completed the First Shot program you are welcome to join Byakko Iba for practice.