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Once one of the traditional martial arts of Japanese warriors (samurai), the bow increasingly lost its military significance when firearms were introduced in the 16th century. During the long peacetime of the Edo period (1603-1868) archery based on technical skills (kyu-jutsu) became a major spiritual exercise of the samurai, the "way of the bow" KYU DO (KYU = bow, DO = way).
The simple elegance of the movement, the beauty of the bow and the arrows and the dignity of the shooter exert a great fascination for many people.
From the outside, Kyudo just seems to be just archery. Tightening the bow and then aiming at a target resembles a skill exercise, but Kyudo is not a sport.
The technical process (the "Seven Coordinations") can be learned in a few weeks. The increasing mastery of form, its deepening and refinement into art, opens up an exciting and exciting development of one's own personality over the years. Over time, you learn mindfulness, concentration and achieve inner peace.
In our dojos Kyudo is practiced at the school "Heki-ryu Bischu Chikurin-ha" according to the teachings of the family Shibata from Kyoto / Japan.
Kyudo can equally be practiced by women and men from about eight years and without age limit. Physical strength is irrelevant to the exercise.
The history of the Kyudo school "Heki ryu Bishu Chikurin ha" starts around the year 1600. The name refers on the one hand to Heki Yazaemon Noritsugu and therefore to the tradition of Heki on the other hand to the true founder of the school, the monk Chikurinbo Josei. (see: Chikurinbo Josei)
Originally Heki ryu Bishu Chikurin ha was native in the area of Nagoya, whereon the name part “Bishu” refers to.
Kyudo has envolved partly from a military discipline which was used in wartime and partly from a strictly formalized ceremonial archery which was practiced already in the time of Konfuzius in China. Still until today there exist many style elements – particularly in the school Chikurin ha – which refer directly to the ancient combat situation.
The foundation of the Kyudo practice are the seven coordinations which exist since the very beginning of the school. They define the whole shooting process. The student strives for perfection to perform them as precisely as possible.
The point is not to reach an identical form of all students, in limits they are allowed to show their individual character and this is even desirable.
Chikurin ha is not member of the International Kyudo Federation (IKYF) because it has no system of degrees, there are no exams to attain a Dan. Advanced students support the beginners on their way.
The Dojos in Europe are structured in the umbrella organization OKO. Sitting meditation is practiced in many Dojos additionally to Kyudo.
More than 20 Dojos exist in Europe, namely in Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands, Spain and Czech republic. Additional Dojos exist in US and in Canada. In Japan Chikurin ha is only rarely represented.
The bowmaker family Shibata practices this Kyudo tradition since 21 generations. Current head is Shibata Kanjuro XXI, Sensei (see: Shibata Kanjuro XXI, Sensei)
The Japanese word Oko translates as European Tiger (O = Europe, Ko = Tiger) and is the generic term for all practitioners of Heki Ryu Bishu Chikurin ha in Europe. The name was given in the early 90s by Kanjuro Shibata XX, Sendai Sensei. At that time there were relatively few scattered students in Europe. Larger groups existed at that time in Vienna, Bern and Bonn. Until the year 2016 all dojos (= practice groups) of our school were Tiger groups (group name and -ko). Kanjuro Shibata XXI, Sensei also introduced the dragon tradition (Ryu) in 2016 with the dojo Soryu.
On June 5, 2002 - meanwhile, there were a number of dojos in various cities that had received names from Sendai Sensei and were organized as independent associations - representatives of these dojos met near Marburg and decided to join together in an umbrella organization.
This is called Oko Kyudo umbrella association e.V. and is a non-profit association under German law. In this most of the European Dojos are united, which have received a name from Sendai Sensei or Kanjuro Shibata XXI, Sensei and are organized as a club.
For all dojos that are not organized as an association and therefore can not be a member of the umbrella organization and as a substitute for the many individual scattered in different countries living practitioners was founded in parallel, the association Oko Kyudojo eV, in which these practitioners can become a member and his turn as Association is member of the umbrella organization.
The central task of the umbrella organization is to promote and disseminate the kyudo of Heki Ryu Bishu Chikurin ha in Europe. This means in practice u.a. promote communication between individual dojos and coordinate dojo-wide activities. The umbrella organization coordinates and organizes the visits of Kanjuro Shibata XXI, Sensei and other experienced students and organizes the annual program in Dechen-Chöling (Buddhist center near Limoges, France). In addition, he supports local dojos in their construction. This can be done in the form of subsidies for the construction of a dojo (practice place) or, more frequently, the support with material: Yumis (Japanese bows), Yas (arrows) and Kakes (gloves).
- We never reject any applicant who wants to practice with our school.
- We never hinder anybody to leave our school.
- We have no religious background and no dogma in our school.
- There is only one teacher in our school namely Shibata Kanjuro XXI, Sensei. This means that there is no other person who is above the students. There is no hierarchy.
- Most important is that the students love to practice Kyudo and have pleasure with the practice.