Earlier I have written about Iaido as modern form of training that derives from ancient traditions. Another Japanese Budo is “Kyudo”, the “Way of the Bow”. On the surface, it is a merely a formal method of shooting arrows at a target; but beneath that surface lies a profound study which the practitioner can explore.

Like Aikido, Kyudo emphasizes self-discipline and self-realization. I have not practiced it myself, but I saw fine demonstrations of its grace and power in Japan. Below are some quotations from an excellent book entitled “Kyudo: The Essence and Practice of Japanese Archery” by Hideharu Onuma. (There is also a companion volume, “Illuminated Spirit: Conversations with a Kyudo Master” by Dan and Jackie DeProspero.)

“Only when one has acquired a certain level of grace and dignity can one truly understand kyudo.” (p..xi)

“”The practice of kyudo requires only that you align your body with the target, stand straight, fill yourself with spirit, and shoot with a pure heart and meaningful purpose.” (p. xiii)

“…the Japanese bow long ago lost its practical value as a weapon. Today, kyudo is practiced primarily as a method of physical, moral, and spiritual development.” (p. 1)

“We stop making excuses when the arrow fails to it the target, and we show no resentment towards those whose shooting is better than our own. Instead, we look for what is missing in ourselves, and, once discovered, spare no amount of time or energy to correct the deficiency.” (p. 5)

“…the reward comes not from the attainment of perfection, but from is unending pursuit.” (p. 9)

I would suggest that much of this applies to Aikido also. However, I believe that Aikido can and should retain some practical self-defence aspects.

Also worth reading are:

“Karate-Do: My Way of Life” by Gichin Funakoshi

“Three Budo Masters” by John Stevens

I have chosen Aikido as my path but I know many fine people who pursue other martial ways.

Leave a Comment