• Man is doing archery.

    Shooting an arrow in the air – Archery as a peaceful meditation.

    Follow your own intuition and learn to let go with one of the oldest tools mankind knows.

    Text: Claudio Rimmele

About art and tradition.

It is a grey autumn afternoon in southern Japan. In a small locality, which can only be reached with difficulty by slow train, there is a monastery that teaches the art of Kyūdō, traditional Japanese archery. During the introduction the teacher lists the rules. The right breathing, the right stance, the right letting-go. There are instructions for everything, and they cannot be learnt in this brief introduction. But every rule is told with such a poetic visual language that it’s fun to listen. “The release of the bowstring is like rain suddenly pouring down on a little village,” he explains to the students. There are many Europeans and Americans visiting to receive instruction in the philosophy and art of archery. An art that has nothing more to do with the martial techniques of the past, but instead offers a path towards absolute freedom of thought.

Man walking through doorway carrying bow.
Man kneeling on floor holding bow.

From martial technique to meditation technique.

The bow and arrow are among humankind’s first tools. In Japan, Kyūdō emerged as a Samurai discipline in the XII century. With the introduction of firearms, bows and arrows were no longer adequate weapons. But instead of being given up, the tradition evolved into a religious meditation practice that is still actively cultivated today. Traditional or intuitive archery has in the meantime become established in Europe and America as meditation in movement. In this meditation the archer must become one with the arrow, the bow and the target. Depending on how much you engage in this meditation, it can be a wonderful way to experience yourself and cope with stress.

  • Archery.

Calmness in action.

The positive effects of the practice of archery on one’s mind and health are manifold. Firstly it is a wonderful training for the thorax muscles, which are strengthened and at the same time extended. In addition archery is an intense exercise for balance. Only with the correct body equilibrium can the arrow meet its target. Regular exercise also improves the hand-eye coordination and basically the coordination of all movement sequences.

But the most exciting aspect is surely how archery affects our capacity for concentration and our ability to focus. Exercising not only produces a clear mind for the tackling of everyday issues, it also strengthens psychological health and mental well-being. Having a concrete goal in view and seeking to reach it, no matter in what form, can help people who face their own lives without perspective or orientation.

Man is doing archery.

The goal before your inner eye.

We live in a time of permanent distractions. The procrastination spiral made from distraction and guilty conscience is something all those who work with a computer or even simply own a smartphone are familiar with. Achieving a stronger focus through archery can therefore be most helpful in dealing with the burden of our stimulation-rich environment. You don’t have to journey all the way to Japan in order to experience an introduction in this meditation technique. That’s because under the search term “intuitive archery” you will be able to find local and regional courses and workshops offered. In the Japanese monastery, after the introduction, the pupils are allowed to have a go at shooting an arrow with the large bamboo longbow. The first attempts are comical rather than elegant. The arrows land everywhere, except near the target. However, after a few shots, one begins to get a feel for the sequence of movements. For the last exercise on this introduction day the teacher asks the students to close their eyes and imagine, before their mind’s eye, that they are shooting an arrow at the target. And then they can try once more. And for the first time, a student hits the target.