1 What does traditional Japanese martial arts mean?
It can mean many things, some obvious and some not so obvious. A few of the major aspects of a traditional dojo include: a verifiable lineage in a recognized historical style, a respectful atmosphere as well as observance of basic formalities and decorum, as well as active membership and training with Japanese Budo organizations and teachers.
2 Is there a ranking system in Kyudo?
Yes. We belong to the International Kyudo Federation. As such, the IKYF tests students every year at various locations throughout the world for those qualified individuals wishing to test (Shinsa). Testing may not be for everyone and is not necessary for continued practice.
Dan rank has 10 levels: Shodan (1st Dan) to Judan (10th Dan) and Shogo titles has 3 levels: Renshi, Kyoshi, and Hanshi.
3 Does Austin Kyudo hold examinations?
The All Nippon Kyudo Federation (ANKF) and the International Kyudo Federation (IKYF) are the only official bodies to hold grading examinations. We encourage all members to take part in the examinations and seminars every year as soon as they are ready, and will assist members for registration and preparation.
4 Is Kyudo Physically Challenging?
Yes and No. While executing the movements with proper form and mindfulness can be challenging, Kyudo can be practiced by just about anyone. Strength and stamina are not real issues when learning Kyudo. Even people who have knee, back, or shoulder problems can practice and excel in Kyudo. Each bow is tailored to the archer and thus will accommodate their physical ability. While the standard form in Kyudo is to sit in Seiza (traditional Japanese formal sitting on the floor, with the legs folded underneath the thighs) as a Zasha archer, the acceptable standing form is also practiced here called Rissha.
5 Does Kyudo have different Schools or styles?
Austin Kyudo study group practises the standard kyudo from the All Nippon Kyudo Federation (ANKF) in shomen style.
Technically, styles can be divided into two broad categories, shamen and shomen. Shamen archers predraw the bow at an angle to the body and fix their grip on the bow before raising it. Shomen archers raise the bow straight over the head and fix their final grip on the bow in a predraw above the head.
6 Who teaches the classes?
As a study group we have no actual sensei in site, but we are sponsored and guided through the South Carolina Renmei by Aaron Blackwell sensei 7th Dan Kyoshi, twice a year or more he held seminars to improve our technique.
7 Are you accepting new students?
Yes, we have open enrollment and no previous martial arts experience is necessary to join.
8 What are the minimum and maximum age for Practice?
Although we do not have a maximum practice age, we currently only accept applicants over 15 years of age. Students under 18 years of age will need parental consent.
9 What would I need to start?
Beginners will be taught the kihontai (fundamental form) and shaho-hassetsu (eight stages of shooting) in the first sessions. Some other knowledge about practising kyudo, including kyudo equipment and dojo protocol will also be covered. Kyudo training requires commitment. As such, the introductory sessions are only meant to provide a general introduction to allow you to decide whether if you want to commit to this practice.
The additional coordinated movements (Tai Hai) and shooting of Kyudo will also take some time. You will then spend the rest of your life getting good at Kyudo.
10 Is it possible to come and observe?
Yes of course and if you want you can take the first free class, just call, fb message or e-mail to schedule a visit.
11 How much does Kyudo cost?
We are a non-profit and our Kyudo program is very affordable and operates on a flat fee monthly tuition to help maintain the dojo equipment. Students are required to pay the flat rate monthly fee regardless of how many classes they choose or are able to attend each month.
The first month of instruction costs $40. After that it's a membership issue $20 per month.
Taking care and maintaining kyudo equipment is part of the practice. As such, all members are required to own the appropriate clothing and their own kyudo equipment. Members may consider acquiring these in various stages to help with the costs. Initially equipment such as yumi (bow), makiwara ya (unfeathered arrow) and kake (leather glove), can be borrowed from the dojo.
All members (once completed the beginners' training sessions) should own the appropriate clothing. This includes a kyudo-gi (white top), hakama (traditional skirt), obi (cloth belt) and tabi (split-toed socks), as well as muneate (chest protection) for female members. Members are also required to purchase a shita-gake (cotton under glove) to protect the leather glove from sweat.
We consider the kake to be a crucial part of the equipment, the glove is used for pulling the tsuru (bow string). We don't recommend buying a yumi for at least a year. It'll take that long for your form to stabilize enough so that you will neither break nor outgrow your new yumi. We have some class yumi for you to use until you're ready. Regarding ya (arrows) because we shot short distance in our dojo using the makiwara ya, you probably won't need to buy any of these for a while, until you start shooting long distance.
12 Where can I find a uniform and the appropriate equipment?
Our facility will provide basic equipment for new students until the student is ready and decides to invest in their own equipment as recommended. We will assist you in acquiring the Kyudo uniform and equipment costs vary and a senior member will advise before purchase.