The practice of Kyudo is deceptively simple. Neither age, nor sex, nor physical strength has any significance. Beginners receive instruction in the basic form, the "Seven Coordinations", in a few classes. Working within the precision of the form, a natural process gradually unfolds in which the practitioner has the opportunity to see his or her mind. The target becomes a mirror that reflects back to the practitioner the quality of ones mind at the moment of the arrow's release. This distinguishes Kyudo from sports archery, where competition to hit the target is the goal.
To practice Kyudo in this way, one must have a good teacher - a master. It cannot be learned from a book. There are currently nine main schools of Kyudo in Japan. Kanjuro Shibata Sensei is the head of the Chikurin-ha branch of the Heki-ryu school. Kanjuro Shibata, Sensei established and named the Boston area Kyudo group the Byakko, or "White Tiger" Kyudojo. The dojo, one of several in the United States, Canada, and Europe, is part of Zenko International, a non-profit organization devoted to supporting Kyudo practice.Since the 16th century when the first Shibata Kanjuro moved to the city of Kyoto, the Shibata family has maintained an unbroken lineage as master archers and bow makers for the Shogunate and daimyo families.
Kanjuro Shibata XX, as bow maker to the Emperor of Japan, holds the title of "Onyumishi". His family has held this position for the last 130 years. The "XX" in his name indicates that he is the twentieth generation Kanjuro Shibata, in a family of yumi-shi (bow makers) that has been making yumi since 1540.
Since then the 19th and 20th Shibata lineage holders have continued to make bows for the Emperor, aristocrats, foreign dignitaries, as well as for practice. The Onyumishi responsibilities include making the Goshinpo Yumi or sacred bows used for the purification and re-consecration of the Ise Shrine, Japan's most important shrine, every twenty years.
Sensei was born in Kyoto, Japan on December 29, 1921. At the age of eight, he began his training in both archery and bow making with his grandfather, the 19th Kanjuro Shibata. By the age of 20 he received the highest-level teaching certificate. Now Sensei's son, Kanjuro Shibata XXI, is continuing with the family's duties to the Emperor while Sensei devotes more time to teaching internationally.