But since 1676, on the initiative of King Charles II of England, archery began to be seen as a sport. It then grew as a sport throughout the world, including in Japan.
In Japan, archery is called as “kyudo”, which means “the way of the bow.” Kyudo itself grew in Japan because of the influence of Chinese culture. Kyudo is the oldest martial art in Japan.
In the past, kyudo was used as a weapon of war. The purpose of studying kyudo is to develop one’s personality both morally and spiritually. Today, kyudo is taught in Japanese high schools and universities for different purposes, including hobbies, military and for certain ceremonies. Both men and women do kyudo. To learn kyudo, one must spend months in the workout room (Dojo), then learn how to use kyudo equipment.
Here is the equipment used in the Kyudo:
- Kyudo-gi : White upper clothes
- Hakama : Black under clothes – Hakama is traditional clothing for men, used to cover from the waist to the ankle. It’s usually used for formal occasions, such as the tea ceremony or wedding party.
- Muneate : A leather chest protector. Used only for women and available in black and white
- Tabi : Socks made from white hard material.
- Yugake : Deer skin gloves, used to protect 3 fingers (thumb, index finger, middle finger) so that the right hand fingers are not injured while shooting.
- Giriko : A powder that is used on the gloves, so the thumb will not tuck when shooting.
- Tsurumaki : A container that’s used to treat the strings of the bow. Tsurumaki is round, made of woven rattan. Before and after using the string, it must be rubbed with tsurumaki, so that the strings remain strong.
- Tsuru : String
- Yumi : Arrows or bows used in Kyudo. There are several kinds of yumi, depending on the materials, such as bamboo, wood, fiberglass or carbon fiber. Yumi are easily broken and has a weakness against moisture and temperature. If exposed to temperatures that are too hot or too cold, the bow can curve. To take care of yumi, you should wipe it with a dry cloth before and after use.
- Ya : Darts. They have little resistance to moisture so they should be cleaned with a dry cloth, then stored in a dry place. In the past, darts were made of wood and bone. Today, darts are made of plastic, carbon and synthetic material or a mixed material.
- Yazutsu : Container for darts. Good quality yazutsu are made of woven rattan.
- Target : The target
Kyudo is most favored by Japanese youth. It is a pride for the young if they are able to play kyudo. Now kyudo is expanding outside Japan, although there are not as many enthusiasts as in Japan. But in some countries there are organizations or clubs that teach about kyudo, such as IKYF in America http://www.ikyf.org/member/usa.html and White Rose Kyudojo in England http://www.japanese-archery.org.uk/.
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