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Kyūjutsu
(弓術)
Kyujutsu01.jpg
Focus Weaponry - Bow
Hardness Non-competitive
Country of origin Japan Japan
Creator No single creator
Parenthood Historical
Olympic sport No

Kyūjutsu (弓術 ?) is the traditional Japanese martial art of wielding a bow. Although the samurai of feudal Japan are perhaps best known for their swordsmanship with a katana (kenjutsu), kyūjutsu was actually considered a more vital skill for a significant portion of Japanese history. During the majority of the Kamakura period through the Muromachi period (c.1185–c.1568), the bow was the symbol of the professional warrior, and way of life of the warrior was referred to as "the way of the horse and bow" (弓馬の道 kyūba no michi ?).[1]

Development and practice

One of the earliest formal schools of kyūjutsu, teaching a scientific approach to shooting the bow, was the Ogasawara-ryū, founded in the 14th century. In particular, the practice of shooting a bow while riding a horse at full gallop (yabusame) was developed and trained extensively.[2]

The bow (yumi) itself was fairly unusual in its asymmetrical shape and extremely large size; a little under six feet to just over seven feet long and gripped only one third up from the bottom. At the height of their use, bows were made from a combination of wood and bamboo, and many different arrowheads were created for different applications. Training involved the shooting of 1000 arrows per day, and the techniques developed for their use were ritualized with systematic focus on the various stages of shooting and the mental attitude required for each. Additionally, many specialized tactics were developed for regiments of bowmen.[2]

Decline and modern practice

Once firearms were introduced to Japan in the mid-16th century, emphasis upon the skill of kyūjutsu gradually began to decline. Kyūjutsu was eventually developed into the modern "way of the bow" (弓道 kyūdō ?), still practiced today.[2]

References

  1. ^ Mol, Serge (2001). Classical Fighting Arts of Japan: A Complete Guide to Koryū Jūjutsu. Tokyo, Japan: Kodansha International Ltd.. pp. 70. ISBN 4-7700-2619-6.  
  2. ^ a b c Draeger, Donn F.; Smith, Robert William (1980). Comprehensive Asian Fighting Arts. Tokyo, Japan: Kodansha International Ltd.. pp. 106–108. ISBN 0870114360. http://books.google.com/books?id=_o73NOjb4p4C&pg=RA1-PA106&lpg=RA1-PA106&ots=cBLhT-BZ7i&dq=kyujutsu&output=html&sig=OVHIwGWQIZl5aYxtl35pJrYn7PU.  
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