My first kyudo shiai in Japan (and in general :P )



Going to a competition together is either a train ride or a bus ride. In this case it is a 4 hour bus drive, which is why we left around 5 in the morning. So as you can guess, this trip starts like any other school trips, with sleeping on the bus. 😛

Lets start with the fact that I am not a good shooter. (Yet :p) So you can imagine my surprise when the first thing besides welcome the students in the kyudo club told me was that we have a competition on Sunday was quite a bit unexpected and a little shocking. I had a week to get used to the idea and now after this day trip I can tell you more about how a university kyudo competition looks and feels like.

This was a Naka Kanto area competition between universities at the Dokkyo University kyudojo.

It is a very interesting kyudojo. It is with the usual earth azuchi (target area) and open roof but with a green material instead of grass between the shooting area and the azuchi and it’s on the second floor . It is made to be used for competitions with hitboard and a small viewing area too. Speaking of viewing area, since its tiny basically very few people can watch the actual shooting at the same time. The two teams who are competing, the next two sitting behind them and a some others from the side. Most of the teams are somewhere else, resting, talking, shooting makiwara (Shooting form practice to close distance).


Speaking of teams, it was a team competition. A team consists of 5 kyudoka (archer) and we shoot in renmei taihai style. Four arrows a turn. Two times two arrows in the hand. The dojo style is to do this in the sitting style, so after every arrow you have to go to seiza and wait for your next turn.

You can see the shooting of one team below:

As with many japanese martial arts there are many schools (ryu) in kyudo too. And to have a common ground between all of them there is the renmei style which is in a way neither, but developed from the others. This way the different schools can participate on events together. Also nowadays most of the people around the world are shooting only in this style. Like in Chiba it seems. I was the only shamen shooter as far as I can tell.

I did better then I expected, found new things to correct in my form and exited the dojo at the wrong place 2 times :p
But 2 out of 8 was a hit and maybe with the help of the sensei I am getting to know some of the problems why I miss a lot. Left shoulder is still weak and breaks out backwards to the side, left hand is still not strong enough and I am working on the new right hand movement I have started to learn recently. All in all, it is a lot better then even a week ago.

So how did we do at the end?

From 25 teams we ended on the 12th place. Not enough to qualify for the next round, the prefecture tournament but it was a good start.

Next tournament end of April 🙂