Strength Through Awareness
Kyudo Archery
An archer, dressed in elegant, traditional Japanese garb, holds a bow and arrow at a perfectly calculated angle. Gracefully, she moves her arm backwards, her stance as poised as a dancer, her gaze completely centered and secure. Calm and yet powerful, she represents the spirit of Kyudo, the Japanese practice of archery which means "the way of the bow." A martial art form that combines athleticism, technical skill and a spiritual path, Kyudo trains practitioners to put the analytic mind to rest and enter a state of consciousness known as mushin - literally, no mind. There the ego is stripped away and the true nature is revealed. It is through achieving this state that you can begin to balance your character, crafting a spirit that is potent and precise.

Archery has been a part of Japanese culture since ancient times; but it was not until a period of civil peace in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that Kyudo evolved into a spiritual practice, highly informed by Zen Buddhist and Shinto traditions. Practitioners wear elegant costumes, derived from Shinto tradition and are committed to maintaining composure even in times of great stress. Kyudo Master Hideharu Onuma, a late Kyudo master who together with Dan and Jackie DeProspero wrote Kyudo: The Essence and Practice of Japanese Archery, emphasized the role of building a strong spirit in the practice of Kyudo. He taught that if the spirit is strong, one will appear like a deep-flowing river, calm at the surface but with stores of hidden power.

According to the practice of Kyudo, a strong spirit is nurtured through diligent attention to your own movements and the environment that surrounds you. You must be aware of each action, concentrating not on the arrow ultimately hitting its target, but on remaining focused in each present moment. Being aware of your gaze, your posture and your stride will help engender the kind of effortless grace that leads to fluidity of mind and body.
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