The practice of Kyudo is deceptively simple. Students can receive instruction in the basic form, 'SHICHI-DO', or seven coordinations, in as few as 5-6 classes or during a weekend intensive. After the initial training, practice begins by shooting at a straw target only two meters away. When a degree of proficiency is attained the practice expands to include 28 meter shooting.
Working with the precision of the form, a natural process gradually unfolds through which the practitioner has the opportunity to see the mind more clearly. The target becomes a mirror which reflects the qualities of heart and mind at the moment of the arrow's release.
At Zenko Kyudojo in Boulder, Colorado we practice a style of Kyudo with a very long name, 'HEKI RYU BISHU CHIKURIN-HA.' Perhaps a bit easier, the name of our school is Zenko Kyudojo. 'ZEN' means "meditation" and 'KO' means "tiger." So, "meditative tiger" when the two are put together. KYUDOJO is a contracted form of two words, KYUDO meaning "the way of the bow" and DOJO meaning "place of learning" or "school." So, KYUDOJO means "archery school."
Our school was founded by Shibata Sensei XX in the 1980s when Sensei moved to the United States from Kyoto, Japan after retiring from being 'ONYUMISHI' or Imperial Bowmaker to the Emperor of Japan since 1959.
Above: A little snow doesn't stop us from practicing kyudo. Here a student sits in Tate-hiza or "half-raised" position while meditating before shooting at a 14" diameter target 90 feet away.
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Disillusioned with the direction of much of today’s Kyudo practice in Japan, with its "sport-centered" emphasis of target hitting, rank attainment, and prizes, Shibata Sensei moved to the United States upon the invitation of a Tibetan meditation master who shared Shibata Sensei's vision of Kyudo. Sensei viewed Kyudo practice as a form of meditation and training in the principles of enlightened warriorship. Sensei taught this view for many decades, teaching without any ranking system or any particular emphasis on hitting the target.
Unlike many archery schools in Japan that use modern materials like fiberglass, we here in Boulder practice Kyudo using traditional, bamboo wood bows or YUMI and bamboo arrows or YA. Students begin by learning SHICHI-DO, the seven co-ordinations and basic movements involved in releasing the arrow.
Shibata Sensei XX passed away in late 2013. He is succeeded by his son-in-law, Shibata Sensei XXI. However, since Shibata Sensei XXI lives in Kyoto, Japan and only visits the Boulder school 1-2 times each year, the preponderance of the instruction at Boulder is carried out by Shibata Sensei XX's senior-most students, some of whom have been students for over two decades. The operations and oversight of the school are executed by Shibata Sensei XX's grand-daughter, Aki Shikami.
Our archery school or KYUDOJO is presently accepting new students. We have year-round open enrollment and no previous martial arts experience is necessary to participate. If you have an interest in learning this fun, empowering, and challenging meditative art, call (720) 446-0857 or e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a visit
Celebrating 30 Years of Tradition in Boulder, Colorado, USA
Over 30 years Kyudo experience
Alex began his Kyudo training in 1980 under Kanjuro Shibata Sensei XX in Boulder, Colorado. He is the one of the longest training student in Zenko Kyudojo. Alex has taught Kyudo programs in Vermont, California, Texas, and even France. He has traveled to Japan on several occasions to visit the Shibata family residence and bow-making shop in Kyoto.
Alex has been a member of the Boulder Shambala community since 1972 and he is a practicing attorney in Boulder.
Over 15 years Kyudo experience
Scott has been a kyudo practitioner since attending a beginner's seminar taught by Kanjuro Shibata XX in the year 2000 at the Boulder dojo. Having had a literary introduction in high school to kyudo through the book Zen in the Art of Archery, he could not pass up the chance to practice under a true kyudo master after discovering he lived close to the school.
Having already developed an interest in Zen philosophy through his practice of aikido, Scott recognized the spiritual and mental benefits that kyudo has to offer. Though the breadth of his martial arts practices has been curtailed by his career as a practicing veterinarian in Boulder, he tries his best to keep up his own practice and assist others in the pursuit of theirs.
Aki - Dojo Cho (i.e. School manager)
Grand-daughter of Shibata Sensei XX
Aki began learning the art of Kyudo from her grandfather over twenty years ago. She is a graduate of the Kyoto Ryori Gakko culinary school in Kyoto and has lived in Colorado since 2008. Aki was a kitchen chef at Sushi Matsuri in Lyons, Colorado for five years.
Upon the passing of her grandfather in 2013, Aki became the caretaker of the Kyudo property in Boulder, Colorado and general manager of the archery school or Kyudojo.
Over 12 years Kyudo experience
Matt began training Kyudo under Kanjuro Shibata Sensei XX in the early 2000s. Matt spent more than 6 years as an 'UCHI-DESHI' or "live-in student" training under Shibata Sensei XX and taking care of the archery school grounds. He lived in Japan for part of his college years and graduated with a minor in Japanese language.
Matt leads the weekday evening Kyudo classes and serves as treasurer to Zenko International, the non-profit branch of the Shibata-style Kyudo organization with more than a dozen affiliate schools throughout North America.