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Thread: Kyudo/Kyujutsu Koryu

  1. #16
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    Are you referring to the techniques used by mounted archers, or against them? Sorry, it's late..
    David F. Craik

  2. #17
    Aaron Fields Guest

    Smile

    The Japanese exposure to Mongol mounted tactics was minimal, as the invading armies were not largely composed of Mongols (they were conscripts.) Them there Mongols were at home doin' Mongol stuff, which is not sailing. “Why walk, when there is a horse?”







  3. #18
    ben johanson Guest

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    Stephen,

    First of all, mounted archery was almost none existant on the battlefields of the Sengoku period, so there really aren't any tactics to speak of during that time. In fact, when Shimazu Toyohisa carried a bow with him into the battle of Sekigahara in 1600, it was considered so unusual for the time that a chronicler of the battle took particular note of it.

    That said, I have to ask the same question as Soulend: which tactics do you mean? Those used by mounted archers or against mounted archers?

    I do know that by the Mongol invasions the Japanese were given an impetus to rely more on fighting on foot. Their antiquated tactics of mounted archery proved rather ineffective against the Mongol armies, forcing the samurai to dismount and engage them in close hand-to-hand combat. Many scholars believe that the Mongol invasions were really what jump-started the developement of swordsmanship because the sword assumed a much more important and expanded role in the sruggle than it ever had before.

  4. #19
    Meik Skoss Guest

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    As Aaron (hi, Aaron! Are we gonna meet at Kagami Biraki in January?) says, most of the invading forces in the Mongols' army were Chinese and Korean conscripts. Yes, some Mongols came along, with their horses and bows 'n arrows, but most of the other guys were forced to participate.

    If you're interested in mounted archery, probably the only thing to do is look at yabusame. It's not really *tactics*, so much as it is *technique* for shooting from horseback. I rather doubt that there's anybody doing formation shooting these days, at least while mounted. Dismounted yumi guys're training down in Kumamoto, moving and firing in formation, but it's a completely different style of shooting. Withal, it's really neat stuff. The name of the style was Nihon-ryu if I remember correctly; it's been a good fifteen to twenty years since I saw it.

    So, for mounted archery, Ogasawara-ryu. For archery on foot you probably want to look at the old-timey Heki-ryu guys if there are any still around. Most of the Heki-ryu is pretty much the same as standard kyudo nowadays, with little or no effort being made to preserve "battlefield" techniques.

  5. #20
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    Thank you all for your replies. What I meant by tactics, was simply the way in which the mounted archer would have been used historically. For exemple would they have been used as front line troops, or more as skirmishers to harass the enemy lines?

  6. #21
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    Meik:

    The bows `n` armor guys down in Kumamoto are the Satsuma Heki Ryu. Their school is originally based on the teachings of Issuiken Insai (originally Yoshida Genpachiro Shigeuiji), founder of the Insai-ha of the Heki Ryu. As you say, seriously cool stuff. According to what I was told when I went down and visited them, their use of organized formations and alternating volley shooting was instituted by the lord of Shimazu (Nariaki, I think) about 200 years ago and is based on European battlefield musket drill (French, I think).

    Their technique consists of two distinct elements: "sashiya", or long distance shooting where the archers lay down a covering barrage to allow their spearmen to advance on the enemy, and "koshiya", close distance shooting, where the archers form ranks and advance on the enemy as they fire in turns, eventually reaching the enemy lines, where, after firing their last arrows, they use their bows, the upper tips of which were apparently fitted with something resembling a spear point, as thrusting weapons.

    Yabusame is presently practiced by the Ogasawara Ryu and the Takeda Ryu.

    I have never heard of the Nihon Ryu. Draeger mentions it in his first book, but I`m fairly certain that he was referring to the Yamato Ryu (written with the characters for Nihon, but read as "Yamato"), which, according to what I have read, is one of the names for a semi-mythical ancient school for which there is no hard historical evidence.
    Earl Hartman

  7. #22
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    Originally posted by Stéphan Thériault
    I've read a few of the Osprey military books dealing with the samurai, as well as some of Stephen Tunrbull's books. And I have to ask, what tactics did they used for mounted archers? I am especially wonderering about the Sengoku-jidai period. None of these books really ever get into the types of tactics used. I am wondering; considering their earlier experience with the mongols, wether there mounted tactics were influenced by them in any way?
    The combination of weak bows, sturdy armor and arrows carried in numbers too few to permit any to be wasted forced the early samurai to shoot only at very close range-usually ten meters or less-and to target with precision the gaps and weak points in the armor of specific opponents. The combination of puny mounts, awkward, weighty armor, and the rarity of open terrain would have precluded the sweeping charges and feigned retreats favored by the warriors of the Asian steppe--such as the Mongols--even if the samurai had wished to fight that way.

    Instead therefore, Japanese warriors developed a distinctive, somewhat peculiar form of light cavalry tactics that involved individuals and small groups circling and maneuvering around one another in the hopes of getting a shot at an enemy from an angle at which he could not return fire.

    The angle of approach was, in fact, a key consideration, because the bowman could shoot only to his left side, along an arc of roughly 45 degrees, from the ten or eleven o'clock to about the nine o'clock position. Attempting to shoot at a sharper angle to the front would result in either bumping the horse's neck with the bow or bowstring, or spooking the mount when the arrow was released and flew too close to his face. Attempting to shoot at a sharper angle to the rear would have twisted the archer right out of his saddle. And shooting the lengthy Japanese bow to the right of the horse's neck would have called for the flexibility of a contortionist.

    Accordingly, the tactics for combat between mounted samurai bore an intriguing resemblance to those of dogfighting aviators. In this sort of fighting, horsemanship often counted for as much as marksmanship, as Oba Kageyoshi's report of his encounter with Minamoto Tametomo during the Hogen Conflict (1156) illustrates:

    "Tametomo was a bowman without peer in our realm. . . . For this reason when . . . I found myself facing his left side and he attempted to draw his bow . . . I galloped around to his right side and rode past him, below his bow sights. Thus the arrow he meant for my body struck my knee instead. Had I not known this trick, I surely would have lost my life. A stalwart needs only to be expert at horsemanship."

    The political structure and the composition of armies in early medieval Japan further determined the tactical options available: Heian and Kamakura era armies were temporary, irregular assemblages, constructed through complex private military networks. Warriors knit together needed forces by calling on the members of small core bands of fighting men, subordinate allies, and (unless the conflict was a purely private affair) military officers of provincial governments. This arrangement offered commanders few, if any, opportunities to drill with their troops in large-scale, coordinated group tactics, and mitigated against fielding disciplined and well-articulated armies.

    Instead, tactical cooperation devolved to smaller units and components. The fighting men who composed these monadic organizations lived and trained in close proximity to one another, honing their skills through a variety of regimens and competitive games. Hence they were able to coordinate and cooperate on the battlefield, and to harmonize their actions to those of close associates with an impressive degree of discipline and fluidity. The result was that early medieval battles tended to be aggregates of smaller combats: melees of archery duels and brawls between small groups, punctuated by general advances and retreats, and by volleys of arrows launched by bowmen on foot, protected by portable walls of shields.

    Light cavalry dominated the warfare of the tenth to thirteenth centuries. But by the sixteenth century it had all-but disappeared from Japanese battlefields. By this time samurai armies were built around light infantry augmented by heavy cavalry and heavy infantry. The sequence and timing of the evolutions that led to this very dramatic shift has become a topic of wide-ranging debate among a handful of scholars. To date, very little has emerged by way of new consensus, but the broad outline of developments does seem clear enough to permit the conclusion that mounted archery began to fall out of favor with politically-determined changes to the composition and organization of armies and the objectives of war.



    Karl Friday
    Dept. of History
    University of Georgia
    Athens, GA 30602

  8. #23
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    Thank you mr.Friday, that pretty much answered all the questions I had.

  9. #24
    shinchaku Guest

    Default Length of string on a yumi

    I have just recieved two unstrung yumi. Could someone give me an idea of the lenght of string, and where I could purchase them from.

    Thanks

    J.Wagner

  10. #25
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    Default Yumi in kyudo same as yumi in early times?

    Is the length and size of the yumi used in kyudo the same as the yumi used as the samurai's primary weapon in the early times when mounted archery was the norm on the battlefield? Or has it undergone structural changes after being used for some time in a more 'philosophical' manner?

    I was just looking at a picture in one of Draeger's books and was struck by how inconveniently large the yumi used today in kyudo must have been on horseback. This prompted me wondering whether the yumi in earlier times was smaller, closer to the size of the Mongolian bow. But then, not being a professional archer I guess I really wouldn't be entitled to an opinion... ^_^
    James A. Crippen

  11. #26
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    Cool Here's something for you...

    Hi sir.
    I am not one who trains in one of the Bow arts from Japan, however...a point that I would like to make is that the Bow size is STILL used from horseback as in performances like the Yabusame demonstrations held at festivals still..The size of the bow DOES perhaps look 'excessive' but causes no hinderance to the Horsebacked archers..Indeed it was designed so that most of the length of the bow is above the arrow arm (Approx. one third).
    An excellent book to read on the subject of the Sword and the Bows use in Japan is "The Armed Martial Arts of Japan" by G.Cameron Hurst..There are large sections devoted to the histories of both and the developments in them along the timeline;

    "Archery came to be practised for spiritual purposes and physical improvement and eventually became a sport. This was NOT a radical transformation for archery, which had since ancient times served both martial and sport functions."

    "One change in shooting style..during the Muromachi period was the introduction of 'Yumigaeri', the rotating of the bow upon release of the arrow"

    There are many good quotes from the book...But it is best read in context. However, I have not found anything suggesting that the actual length was changed from its original form, although just about everything else about the art was at one time or another..
    One small possible change is mentioned in reference to the practise of Toshiya or 'Dosha'; (Temple shooting..Archers took shots indoors along a set distance to a target requiring a low, straight shot without hitting the roof beams...)

    "Toshiya shooting differed from earlier forms of archery in that contestants shot arrows while sitting along the veranda, rather than standing. This required the use of slightly different equipment. Bows were shortened by about 4 inches to allow seated shooting as well as to accomodate the new 'sashiya' arrow, a special arrow for gallery shooting, pointless and thinner than arrows used during the Sengoku period."

    However it does not mention that the bows were left shortened for the standing or riding demonstrations so I assume that it was standard to use a 'usual' sized bow for these and a 'specially shortened' variant for the seated shooting.
    Structurally the modern bow was apparently strengthened;

    "One critic noted that real archery 'Shajutsu', practised by such earlier heroes as Minamoto Yoriyoshi, involved using a weak bow and shooting strongly. The archer had to co-ordinate his entire strength with the bow and arrow. In Toshiya, by contrast, the archers "Prefer powerful bows and light arrows; the bow and arrows are constructed so they shoot for distance. This is not archery"....The difficulty of Toshiya shooting was underscored in a television special in December 1987, in which Ashikawa Yuichi, a skilled fifth degree archer with 13 years experience in Kyudo tried his hand at Sanjusangendo (Shooting hall in the Rengeoin, a Heian Shingon temple used for Toshiya) after assiduously preparing for several months. Shooting slowly and deliberately, he was able to score only nine successful shots out of one hundred, not clearing one until his sixty-second shot!"

    (By a contrast, a Yoshida Okura managed to hit 1,333 in 1623 and this was raised to 4,312 clearing arrows by Nagaya Rokuemon in 1637!!! )
    Sorry for the lapse there...I love that story But I think that the short answer is that in all essentials the bow has remained unchanged now and more or less dependant upon personal choice and ease of individual use as regards the power and length etc..
    Hope this helps..
    Abayo..
    Ben Sharples.
    智は知恵、仁は思いやり、勇は勇気と説いています。

  12. #27
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    Japanese bows have always been long, but the construction of the bow stave has evolved quite a bit over the centuries. Stone arrowheads unearthed by archeologists suggest that bows and arrows have been used in Japan from as far back as 10,000 BCE. During the Jomon era, the bow appears to have been only a hunting tool, but skeletal remains make it clear that it was being trained on more sapient game by the Yayoi period, when fighting and war became frequent and widespread. Slings, used to hurl fist-sized rocks or spheres of clay shaped roughly like miniature rugby balls, also appeared during the Yayoi period, distributed in a geographic pattern that suggests mutually exclusive regional preferences for the sling or the bow.

    Compound or composite bows of the sort favored on the continent--made by laminating together layers of wood, animal tendon and horn--were known in Japan by the late ninth century, but never widely adopted. Instead, without ready access to supplies of bone and horn, the Japanese fashioned their bows from wood or from laminates of wood and bamboo.

    The earliest designs were of plain wood--usually catalpa, zelkova, sandalwood, or mulberry--made from the trunk of a single sapling of appropriate girth (marugi yumi) or from staves split from the trunks of larger trees (kiyumi), and sometimes lacquered or wrapped with bark thongs. Most were straight when unstrung, but some were steam-bent into arc shapes, and strung against their curves, an innovation that greatly enhanced their power. Simple wood bows of this sort were limited in range and penetrating force, but they were also easy to draw, and therefore well-suited to repetitive shooting at short distances. For this reason they continued to be used for ceremonial and competitive archery, for hunting, for some kinds of training, and even on the battlefield throughout the medieval period and beyond.

    The first compound bows, called takefuse yumi, featured a single strip of bamboo laminated to the outside face of the wood, using a paste (called nibe) made from fish bladders. Sometime around the turn of the thirteenth century, a second bamboo laminate was added to the inside face of the bow, to create the sammai yumi. In the fifteenth century, two additional bamboo slats were added to the sides, so that the wooden core was now completely encased, producing the shihochiku yumi. The higo yumi used for Kyudo today appeared sometime during the seventeenth century. It features a core of three to five bamboo slats, with additional bamboo facings laminated to the front and back edges, and strips of wood laminated to the sides. To protect the glued joints from moisture, which could cause the bow staves to delaminate or lose springiness, takefuse yumi and later composite bows were lacquered-usually in black or vermilion-and bound with thongs of rattan, birch bark or silk.

    Simple wood bows will not bend very deeply without breaking, and over-flexing wood-and-bamboo composites stresses the adhesive and makes the laminations separate. To achieve significant power, therefore, wood or wood-and-bamboo bows must be long. And medieval Japanese bows were long--some over two and a half meters--which would have made them impossibly awkward to use from horseback but for their unique shape, with the grip placed a third of the way up from the bottom, rather than in the middle in the manner of European longbows.

    Some historians have speculated that this unusual grip was adopted to facilitate the use of the weapon by mounted warriors, but there is evidence that the shape of the bow predates its use from horseback. Other scholars argue that the lopsided proportions were originally necessary to balance the bending characteristics of the wood: Simple bows, produced from a single piece of wood, were made from young trees, using the root end of the tree for the lower part of the bow stave. The branch end of the tree is, however, springier than the root end. Thus the grip needed to be located closer to the bottom of the bow-the stiffer end of the wood-in order to balance out the elasticity of the weapon, so that it would draw evenly, without over-stressing either end.
    Karl Friday
    Dept. of History
    University of Georgia
    Athens, GA 30602

  13. #28
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    Regarding the below-center grip of the Japanese bow, a scene on a Yayoi-period dotaku (ceremonial bronze bell) excavated from Kagawa prefecture shows an archer using a bow which clearly shows the below-center grip. As Dr. Friday says, this feature of the Japanese bow is of very ancient origin, and is also mentioned in 4th century Chinese chronicles.

    The toshiya is one of the things that led to great changes and advances in kyudo equipment and techniques. Advanced higo (laminated) bows, the stiff-thumbed shooting glove, and different shooting techniques are all a result of it. However, contrary to common belief, the bows used in the toshiya were not that strong: weaker ones were in the 17 kilo range, about 35 lbs. The special flight arrow used in the toshiya was extemeley light and had a barreled shape (muginari), making it more aerodynamic than a war arrow, which was extremely heavy at the tip and carried a heavy, armor piercing point. Also, the toshiya shot required no penetrating force. In my discussions regarding the toshiya, I have been told that the archer would start out using a weaker bow, but as he got tired and his technique became sluggish, he would use progressively stronger bows to compensate for poor technique. The toshiya bow had a somewhat different shape than a regular bow and the grip was set even lower than was usual. The all-time record for the toshiya, 8,133 successful shots out of a total of 13,053 shot over a 24 hour period, was set by Wasa Daihachiro of the Kishu domain in 1686.

    It is not surprising that the modern kyudo archer mentioned upthread was unable to do very well at the toshiya. The toshiya has not been actively practiced on a large scale since the Meiji period. Nobody really knows how to do it anymore.

    Also, shooting technique has changed greatly over the years. Although the Japanese bow never reached the strength of its Mongol counterparts, for instance, war bows during the Sengoku period had to be powerful enough to penetrate armor using a heavy war shaft at ranges of >50 yards, so they certainly were more powerful than the bows commonly used today in modern kyudo, which are in the 17-22 kilo range. Shooting technique was dictated by armor; pictures of Heki Danjo Masatsugu, the reputed father of the ryu which bears his name, show him drawing the string to the chest, not the ear as is done nowadays. Drawing to the chest or the chin allowed the archer to avoid catching the string on the fukikaeshi on his kabuto. Also, the stiff thumb glove used today in modern kyudo was invented specifically for the toshiya and was unknown before the Edo period, so far as I know. Shooting gloves used in battle were simple deerskin gloves, with the inner part of the thumb (which drew the string) reinforced with rawhide, which served the same puropse as the thumb rings used by the Chinese. In war shooting, the "yugaeri" (not yumigaeri) was not used, as recovering from it would take too much time.

    Also, Dr. Friday is right about the length being partially determined by material considerations; laminated bamboo bows will break if they are overdrawn. Not only will the glued joints be stressed, the bamboo itself will give if it drawn beyond its capacity. There are different bow lengths for longer or shorter draw lengths. One of the interesting developments in modern kyudo is the appearance of extremely long bows made specifically to accomodate the longer draw-lengths of taller foreign archers, some as long as 8 inches over the standard length, which is already over two meters.

    A brief discussion of the history of kyudo (part of a discussion of Herrigel) can be found here:

    http://www.ic.nanzan-u.ac.jp/SHUBUNK.../jjrs/jjrs.htm

    Click on the "List of essays and book reviews", scroll to the Spring 2001 issue, almost at the end of the list, and click on entry #586, "The Myth of Zen in the Art of Archery" by Yamada Shoji. You will need Adobe Acrobat to read the PDF file.
    Last edited by Earl Hartman; 2nd April 2002 at 21:44.
    Earl Hartman

  14. #29
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    Wow. I'm awed by your respective detailed posts. Thank you for so much information.

    Someone should archive these somewhere... Like in the articles at koryu.com...
    James A. Crippen

  15. #30
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    Hello,

    You could try contacting the folks over at Bugei Trading Co., their site is at:
    http://www.bugei.com/

    They don't seem to have any tsuru(strings) on their site, but I know from an old print catalog I have that they used to sell them. And since they still sell bows they might still be able to obtain them.
    "See what cost a victory. The blood of our enemies is still the blood of men.
    True glory lays in sparring it."
    Louis XV to the Dauphin after the battle of Fontenoy(11 mai 1745).

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