Kyudo: Ancient Wisdom, Modern Practice

Kyudo directly translates to ‘the way of the bow.’ For Jessica Gerrity, it is a blend of various elements, offering a path to introspection for some and a sporting pursuit for others.

Traditional Japanese archery in a modern setting

Nick: Well, let's dive into this love you have for Kyudo. So would you like to explain Kyudo and then maybe also touch on, specifically, do?

Jessica: Explaining Kyudo can be quite tricky as it depends on what it means to, you know, each person, they take it a different way. However, in essence, it's using a bow and arrow to shoot targets which are 28 metres away.

So it's Japan's traditional archery taken into a modern setting, so that's when it becomes the do. After the Meiji restoration, and war, and everything had subsided, it was made into do so Kyudo. Kyu means bow, so ‘the way of the bow.’

Or how can we say, just looking after ourselves, that's quite an introspective thing. It's also a sport, so people do competitions. It's a mix of a lot of different things. So it's very like in with yourself and it's a community — it's very tricky to explain.

However, there is a large sort of stereotype that it's like Zen archery. So thanks to the book You, Me and Zen, which I'll stop, after I just say this little piece, but You, Me and Zen, I have a few feelings about it. However, it's not everything. And it's not all about Zen and standing meditation and that kind of thing, as you can imagine. But yes, it came from the Meiji restoration that has its roots in samurai archery, and horseback archery, the shape of the bow. And it's very fun.