Kyudo - The Way of the Bow

“Kyudo is meditation. You don’t have to belong to any particular religion or organization to practice meditation. Everyone is welcome to practice here. There are three main styles of meditation: sitting meditation, standing meditation, which is kyudo, and walking meditation.

“All the hopes of ego - wanting a good car, a good husband or wife, money, a nice house - in kyudo, we learn to cut this, so that our deep hearts are completely clear. But it is a continual process. If you use kyudo merely to build your ego, you will not have real perseverance. You will likely be a three - day monk and quickly give up. Most important: never forget your beginner’s heart.”

----Kanjuro Shibata XX, Sendai

Disillusioned with the direction of much of today’s kyudo practice in Japan, with its emphasis on hitting the target, rank, and prizes, Sendai found a kindred spirit in Tibetan meditation master Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who first invited him to the West. Together they shared the vision of kyudo practice as a form of meditation and training in the principles of enlightened warriorship. Sensei continues to hold this view, teaching without any ranking system or any particular emphasis on hitting the target.

Shibata Sendai began training in the arts of bowmaking and kyudo at the age of eight under his grandfather, the 19th Kanjuro Shibata. In 1959, upon the death of his grandfather, he officially became Kanjuro Shibata XX and assumed the duties of Onyumishi, or Imperial Bowmaker. Duties include making 59 ceremonial yumi (bows) every twenty years for the Ise Shrine, the highest Shinto shrine in Japan. This role has now been passed to Sensei’s adopted son-in-law, Kanjuro Shibata XXI.

Using traditional, bamboo and wood yumi (bows) and bamboo ya (arrows), students begin by learning seven co-ordinations, the seven basic movements involved in releasing the arrow.