Instructors Training, Barnet VT Photo by Marie-Antoinette Crivelli
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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?
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.
|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. Thats 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. Thats 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,
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!
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:
Is Not a Shambhala Art, in the Shambhala Times Communtiy Magazine,
May 9, 2012.
--As always, stay tuned to the hourly weather. Here's our weather policy.
|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:
-- And then check the websites at the event locations for the latest
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