1. How much does it cost to do Kyudo in Australia?
Kyudo in Australia is not a low cost art. Aside from the initial equipment costs students need to pay monthly range and mat fees to cover venue costs. Unlike Japan where grading and advanced training is easy to access, students in Australia can only grade at international grading events held annually (often in Japan, but in 2017 in New Zealand). Each year WA holds at least one advanced seminar with a 5th DAN or higher instructor. other seminars are held at different venues around Australia. To progress in the art students will necessarily need to attend some or all of these events.
Equipment and uniform initial cost approx $1000
Range and venue costs $60.00 per month (1 month included in beginners course)
Annual membership to state and national associations $100 per year (included in beginner's course fee)
Annual membership to Budokan (the club you train at) $20 per year (included in beginner's course fee)
OPTIONAL to advance in the art beyond 'beginner' status and attain DAN grade levels:-
Usual cost of an interstate 3 day seminar (excluding travel and accommodation) $FREE to $200
Usual cost of an international grading and seminar (excluding travel and accommodation) $400 to $500
2. Do I need to buy all the equipment right away?
No. Budokan academy keeps a number of sets of equipment for its members to use until they acquire their own personalised equipment. However, The bow (yumi) and arrows (ya) as well as the glove and uniform are all custom made for a persons height, arm length, hand size, strength and experience, so to train properly we encourage students to acquire their own equipment as soon as possible. Senior students will help you select the correct products if you have trouble working out your own requirements. We advise students to purchase the beginners package from ASAHI ARCHERY. Simply follow the instructions on the website - it's easy and the staff are very helpful with any questions you may have.
3. How do I learn Kyudo?
We hold a few beginners events every year. Each course runs for 8 lessons and at its completion most students attain a level of understanding sufficient to determine if the art is right for them. After the beginners course, like in Japan, learning is mainly done by observation of senior students and one way feedback from instructors. After 12-18 months of regular training most students can challenge for their 1st DAN grade at an international seminar/grading with a reasonable expectation of success.
4. How do grades work, do the coloured belts (obi) show rank?
In Kyudo, like many traditional Japanese martial arts there are no external displays of rank. The belt (obi) colour and design is the personal preference of the student and should be reserved in its colour and decoration. Indeed, in Kyudo, Kyu, (coloured belt grades), are not awarded in Australia. The first rank attained is Shodan (1st DAN) until then you are Mudan (no DAN).
5. What if I just want to shoot arrows and am not really interested in progressing in the art or learning the ceremonial aspects of Kyudo?
Prospective students are advised to spend a few lessons simply observing what happens during classes prior to joining a beginners course or joining the club. Kyudo is not like western archery with regular competitions being the focus, it is an art, the way of the bow. Although initially there is a thrill and excitement in hitting the target and perfecting one's shooting and accuracy students should aspire to the higher goals of Kyudo. If you are honest with yourself and simply want to do target shooting then an archery club would be better suited to your needs.
6. How old do you have to be to do Kyudo?
The short answer is that it varies widely, but here are some of the issues to consider when a child wants to study kyudo.
Kyudo is a very slow, meditative art. Performing it takes a LOT of attention to detail and there is little obvious ‘action’ to engage an audience or participant. There is a LOT of repetition of the same actions over and over again to practice it.
As such, it’s necessary for the individual to have a good solid attention span for learning kyudo. While that specifically does not exclude children from studying kyudo, it does limit it to those with greater-than-average-for-their-age attention span.
There is some variation in the sizing of the equipment, but not much. As a club, we are not able to provide loaner equipment in all possible sizes, so we try to provide for the most common adult sizes available. Smaller children will not be able to shoot a bow until they are large enough to use the equipment we can provide.
Adolescents are changing rapidly and that often makes them awkward in using their limbs. Kyudo requires a lot of control over the arms and upper body, and that is often difficult for teens who are in the midst of one the biggest growth spurts of their lives.
In the end…
All of that being said, if you think that your child would be able to stick with it long enough and still enjoy the activity, we’re willing to give it a go. We require that children under the age of 15 also have a parent attend the full practice time, although the parent does not need to register unless he/she intends to practice along with us.
If you have questions or concerns, you are always welcome to contact us! We also allow observers at any of our practices as long as you contact us in advance of attending.