updated September 30, 2016
Instructors Training, Barnet VT
Photo by Marie-Antoinette Crivelli

Meditation Archery 

at Miyako Kyudojo 

of  Washington, DC 

Click the Fan for
Local Events

What Is Kyudo?

Kyudo is traditional Japanese archery -- the "zen art of archery." In this case, however, "zen" doesn't mean the Zen school of Buddhism, but rather "meditation." For hundreds of years in Japan, Kyudo has been considered the highest form of samurai training. Deeply rooted in a warrior tradition based on principles of harmony, dignity, and genuineness, Kyudo is not a sport. At Miyako Kyudojo, it's "standing meditation."

Starting with the precision of the movements, working with the body's energy in the draw, and peaking with the power of the arrow's release, a process unfolds: Hesitation, fear, and other conflicting emotions subside, allowing serenity and strength to co-exist. The practitioner has the opportunity to see his or her mind, pure and spacious. This experience then continues into everyday life. To practice Kyudo in this way, one must have a good teacher -- a master.

Who is our teacher?

Kanjuro Shibata XXI

Kanjuro Shibata, Sensei is such a teacher. Since the early 16th century the Shibata family has maintained an unbroken lineage of master archers and bow makers for the shoguns and warrior families of Japan. In 1877 the 18th Kanjuro Shibata received appointment to the post of official Bow Maker and Archer to the Emperor. Since then, the 19th, 20th, and 21st Shibata lineage holders have continued to make bows for dignitaries, official functions and for the practice of Kyudo. The 20th Kanjuro Shibata was recognized as a "National Living Treasure of Japan."

In 1980 the 20th Kanjuro Shibata (1921-2013) established his first kyudojo in the west, in Boulder, Colorado (USA), at the invitation of the Tibetan meditation master Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Together, they founded Zenko International with the vision of propagating a culture of enlightened warriorship. They were aided by Sensei's long-time student, Zen master Kobun Chino, Roshi (1938-2002). Now, since October 2013, the 21st Kanjuro Shibata continues in the leadership of Zenko International, and of this style of Kyudo, the Bishu Chikurin-ha branch of the Heki-ryu school.

Since 1980 Zenko has expanded to over 30 locations in North America and Europe. For more practice locations, see the Zenko International site. For more about lineage, see the Boulder, CO site.

                 Some quotes from Kanjuro Shibata XX:

Kyudo is meditation. The main point of kyudo practice is to polish your heart, deeply.

Trying to master hitting the target is the way of desire. Not helpful. That’s a road for people who want to defeat their perceived enemies.

When someone hits the target, you can sometimes see happiness. In kyudo, you cut this happiness. That’s merely the enjoyment of ego. Whether you hit the target or not, whether you have a beautiful form or not, this is not the true measure of your practice.

In kendo, karate, judo, all these forms of fighting training, victory comes from cutting someone else. Kyudo is completely different. You cut yourself, your own ego.

Busily running around in little circles, this is not kyudo. Come to a stop. Enter a big circle. [i.e., Wa, harmony, is not a little circle. It is] Mushin, empty heart. This is kyudo. This is high quality practice.

In this way, we can begin to create a peaceful world. We can make a big international WA, a circle of peace the whole world over. That is victory!

-- Kanjuro Shibata XX

Kanjuro Shibata XX


Photo ©Martine Bouman, 
Barako KyudojoNetherlands

Open Your Heart With Kyudo!

The practice of Kyudo is deceptively simple. Beginners can receive instruction in the basic form in three or four classes, but the real value of "Mind Kyudo" comes from regular practice. Neither age, sex, nor physical strength have any significance, so anyone can do it. For information about our practice times, where we are, costs, and how to start, read our Frequently Asked Questions.    Come join us!

More Resources:

Here are two videos: The first one is "Master Archer," produced by National Geographic in 1987, of our root sensei, Kanjuro Shibata XX (1921 - 2013). The second video is one made 22 years later, of Sensei XX in 2009 at Dechen Chöling, the Shambhala land center in France. We recommend you watch the "Master Archer" video first (it's only 11 minutes), and after that, the 18-minute 2009 video.

And here is a presentation of  teachings from Shibata Kanjuro Sensei XX. The title of the page is "Ten Years, One Step"-- meaning we can't just use our Western linear thinking to learn Kyudo in one weekend. What we are doing here is cultivating our hearts.  

Click here for Miyako  Kyudojo in the Washington Post (March 2002)  

Stand-up Sit-down Zen! - an interview from the Lotus Garden Buddhist Retreat Center in Stanley, Virginia, June 2006. (Miyako has been teaching Kyudo there every year since then, except 2013.)

People who are students of Shambhala Buddhism might find interesting an article written by Carolyn Kanjuro, the wife of Sensei XX: Kyudo Is Not a Shambhala Art, in the Shambhala Times Communtiy Magazine, May 9, 2012.

Miyako Kyudojo Events

Regular Practice and Beginning Instruction                  at  Miyako Kyudojo  of  Washington, DC  area
You are encouraged to come observe our practices.                  Every Sunday 11:00-1:00

For directions to "the Field," our usual practice location --Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page, which gives directions and other helpful details. About once a month we also practice in the back yard of one of our members, Vivi Spicer. See below for a schedule of practice locations. You can also get on our email list for announcements as the schedule changes. Contact info for Ken or Vivi is at the bottom of this page.

Our practices are always outside. If the weather forecast is borderline, Ken will often go to the site and actually check how it looks. But if you're coming from afar or taking public transportation, etc. -- you'll want to be more conservative than that. Here's our weather policy.

October  2016  Practice  Schedule:

Wow, it's getting cool, now. We're so used to the heat of summer, that these pleasant autumn days actually seem chilly. But this is good for Kyudo -- we'll be getting into the sunny Indian Summer.

Last month Ken was in a meditation retreat, and Vivi had to take up a lot of the slack, but practice for October will be back to the usual routine, with three practices with Ken in the "field," and one with Vivi in her back yard, Oct 16.

Both venues (Vivi's and the field) are outdoors, so if the weather's bad, we usually cancel without notice. Here's our weather policy. If the forecast for the field is borderline, Ken will often just go to the field and check how it looks. -- For example, Sunday, June 5 was a classic borderline case: The chance of rain was 50-50, BUT, June 5 turned out to be a fine day for practice. So this is a good example why Ken will go to the field anyway, to have a look. Of course, if you're coming from afar or taking public transportation, etc. -- You'll want to be more conservative than that. Be sure to wear appropriate protection, bring water, hat, and so forth. Sometimes the ground can be soggy, so please do use appropriate footwear. And, of course, dress in layers etc.

Our Frequently Asked Questions page gives directions to the field and other helpful details.

  • Oct 2 and 9:  -- 11:00 to 1:00 -- will be with Ken  in the Field,
    and it'll be the usual practice, weather permitting.  Here's our weather policy.

  • Oct 16: -- 11:00 to 1:00 -- in Vivi's back yard
    Practice at Vivi's is outdoors, so be sure to check the weather for Silver Spring, zip 20910.  
    We use the same weather policy at Vivi's as we do with the field.
    For directions, check with Vivi Spicer (301) 588-8396.

  • Oct 23:  -- 11:00 to 1:00 -- will be with Ken  in the Field,
    and it'll be the usual practice, weather permitting.  Here's our weather policy.

  • November:  -- will likely be the usual schedule, having
    three Sundays with Ken in the field,
    and one Sunday in Vivi's back yard.


--As always, stay tuned to the hourly weather. Here's our weather policy.

Other  Events

There were three programs in North America last August and September,
and three or four last June and July, but none seem to be planned for this fall.
Usually programs can be searched for, starting at the following three sites:

For other possible events, see Zenko Kyudojo in Boulder, CO
-- Or Zenko International.
For European events, see the Oko Kyudojo site.

-- And then check the websites at the event locations for the latest information.
Schedules are subject to change. Check with host location before making travel plans.

Questions?  Talk to Ken Rawie (301) 649-4990 or Vivi Spicer (301) 588-8396 .



Here's three other, even cooler Kyudo sites:

Zenko International has a list of Kyudo practice locations, events, etc.

Zenko Kyudojo in Boulder, CO  has lots of pictures, and great info about Kyudo

The Oko Kyudokai site has all kinds of info for Kyudo in Europe.


Please direct all comments, improvements, criticisms to Webmaster Wannabe