Japan Travel and Culture Guide
japanese martial arts
posted by John Spacey, Japan Talk, May 29, 2012
Kyudo (弓道) is the Japanese way of the bow — the Japanese art of archery.
Kyudo is an ancient martial art that's been around since prehistoric times in Japan. There are an estimated 500,000 practitioners of Kyudo today. Most are Japanese students who learn Kyudo at high school or university.
Kyudo is a dangerous martial art that requires maturity. It's generally not taught to anyone younger than 15 year of age in Japan.
Archery skills most likely peaked in Japan in the Edo-era. Reliable stories from this period indicate that samurai once had archery abilities that are unheard of in recent times.
For example, at the 1827 Toshiya archery competition an 11 year old named Kokura Gishichi successfully hit a 121.7 meter (400 foot) target 995 times out of 1000 in quick succession.
Samurai also could hit a target with a bow while riding horseback at full speed. This is a related martial art called Yabusame (traditional Japanese mounted archery). It's still widely practiced throughout Japan today. Demonstrations are held at various festivals such as the Aoi Matsuri at the Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto.
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The Toshiya festival started in 1606 when a Samurai gave a demonstration of his archery skills — shooting 100 arrows in rapid succession the entire length of Sanjusangendo Temple in Kyoto (121.7 meters). |
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