We recently have been given a good opportunity to learn and review the history of the taihai that we have been practicing since we first started our kyudo lessons. We usually do not pay much attention to how the current taihai was choreographed and who choreographed it about 50 years ago. We, as ANKF kyudo practitioners, need to know about the history of the taihai which is a large part of the conduct of shooting today. We believe such a history helps us to view and understand what ANKF Kyudo is all about. We also can learn through the taihai history how much thought, consideration and passion all the senseis brought into today's "Shahou". We will find how hard the senseis from the different schools worked together to reach consensus to establish the ANKF Shahou. It was definitely not something made up by one person but it was truly and enthusiastically collaborated on by many teachers at that time. We are fortunate to have obtained old material that tells us some of the stories of the taihai infant era. Such material and correct information should be shared with those who are keen to learn what today's kyudo means to us.

January 25th, 2001
Yoshiko Buchanan, Renshi 5th dan
E. Clay Buchanan, 5th dan


The word taihai means all movements associated with the act of shooting except the eight steps of shooting itself. How to bow in, bow out, walk, sit and stand are governed by the rules of taihai. The purpose of the ANKF taihai is stated in the English version of the kyudo manual in the section entitled The Importance of Standardizing Ceremonial Shooting:

"However, when a number of people from different schools perform ceremonial shooting at the same time, it goes against the true objectives of courtesy and etiquette for each archer to adhere to his own original form from his particular school. That is why it became necessary for a standardized form to be established." (emphasis taken from the original text)

With many traditional archery schools still existing in Japan, and with each having their own shooting style and ceremonies, some nationally recognized taihai standard for the licensing of teachers, conducting of seminars, and awarding of ranks is essential for any national archery body in Japan. As the English kyudo manual points out, such a standard is needed to even allow archers from different schools to shoot together at all.

The standardizing effort we detail here is not the first. In 1933 the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai (Great Japan Martial Art Virtue Society) formed the first standardization committee and published the Kyudo Yousoku (Important Rules of Kyudo) as the Dai Nippon Kyudo Kyohon (Great Japan Kyudo Manual) in 1935. But in addition to taihai, that standard also included a Shahou (shooting method) standard which mandated one, and only one, way to raise the bow during uchiokoshi (step 3). This new, unified bow raising method incorporated elements from several traditional archery schools, some of which performed shamen uchiokoshi (raising the bow at an oblique angle) and some of which performed shomen uchiokoshi (raising the bow straight up). This new standard was universally resisted or, as the English kyudo manual states: "However, these directives went out of use after only a few years because they met with unfavorable public opinion within the Kyudo world."

Today's shahou allows for both shomen and shaman uchiokoshi to be used for rank tests and tournaments. In fact, a common written test question is for the candidate to list the different ways of raising the bow to insure the the student is aware of styles other than his own. This sharing of information and practice between archers from different schools is the primary purpose of the modern ANKF taihai and its value should not be underestimated. Additionally, there is another purpose for the modern ANKF taihai and Shohou. The modern Shahou has the purpose of the "democratization" of modern kyudo as explained in the Popularization of Kyudo section of the English version of the kyohon:

"Amongst these changes is the democratic organization of Kyudo that has the purpose of making Kyudo available to all. Also in our attitude of mind there should be an openness that reflects the democratic spirit. However, mere outer democratization of the structure without any inner change in attitude ignores the principle aim of Kyudo that is moral training. No democratization of Kyudo can be without the moral attitude that should be its foundation."

One of the purposes of the ANKF taihai is to make kyudo available for study by all Japanese not just a small elite, and by extension, study by non-Japanese as well. With this spreading of kyudo practice to the common person the primary benefit of kyudo, which is moral training, also becomes available to everyone and in such a way kyudo becomes an active benefit to society and the world. In war devastated Japan, in 1953, discussions of the future of Kyudo and Japan as a whole were not just idle philosophical arguments but expressions of heartfelt concern by senior martial art teachers. This context should be kept in mind when reading Chiba sensei's preface to the kyohon written in June of 1953:

"I think that concerned people of like mind have recognized that there has been a period of moral collapse and confusion on both the spiritual side and the side of practical technique, ... Although this tendency in the Kyudo community was evident in the past, it is especially prominent in our present Kyudo world."


The first ANKF kyudo manual was published in 1953. The kyudo manual was supervised by the Establishing Committee. The committee members were:

Chiba Tanetsugu, Hanshi
Uno Youzaburou, Hanshi
Urakami Sakae, Hanshi
Kaminaga Masakichi, Hanshi
Takagi Tasuku, Hanshi

The ANKF kyudo manual was first published in August, 1953 and it has been revised and amended three times to date: it was revised in April, 1956, May, 1971 and it was amended in September, 1981. The English kyudo manual was published in 1994.

We would like to introduce a few episodes that tell us about how the sensies studied "Taihai" based upon the first kyudo manual. One of them is the memories of Nakano Keikichi, Hanshi 10th dan, from the Hakone Dojo training. The other material is the postscript of the first kyudo manual that was published in 1953.


"The president, Chiba sensei, enthusiastically strived for the publication of the Kyudo Manual. He actively worked for several days continuously at the Saineikan kyudo dojo in the Imperial Palace. Especially when photographs of the Shahou and Sharei were taken he coached the models of the photographs, directed them, and also supervised them. More than five hundred shots were photographed and about half of them appeared in the manual. Chiba sensei's effort was enormous.

Even if it looked complete there was always something to add. If the pictures were not well enough because of the lighting angle or some other reason they were rephotographed. There were uncountable numbers of difficulties which occurred behind the scenes.

In order to establish the Shaho it has been repeatedly said that the intention is not to create something new but to put what has been practiced in the past in order. However, even though it is made up of many elements that have been practiced before, it is not vague at all and is yet consistent with its principles. It is being given as the best shooting style for the Shaho today and for which the significance of the establishment of the Kyudo Manual should be recognized.

As long as kyudo is something related to the everyday life of human beings, it is needless to say that its basic movements should be correct. It is for that reason that this Shaho recognizes the importance of the basic movements. The basic movements are based upon reasonable and rational principals of human movement when sitting, standing, advancing and retiring. And it does not depend on traditional customs and manners. Even the shaho sharei have been distilled by studying the origin and extracting the essence of the classic ryu and ha traditions which are still respected today. Because of this, it is not unified control. That unified control shouldn't be done was taken into consideration during the establishment of the shaho sharei.

Those committee members and editorial members who were dedicated to the establishment of the today's shaho were:

(for the members of The Establishing Committee on the Principles of Shooting,1953, see the list earlier in this document)

Editorial Members, 1953

Murakami, Hisashi
Takeuchi, Joei
Ishioka, Hisao

All the pictures of the kyudo manual were taken over several days as stated previously. We express our deep gratitude to those who worked as models for the pictures:

Suzuki, Hiroyuki
Kubota, Shintaro
Morito, Yasuyuki
Saito, Tomoji
Kitamura, Issei
Kobayashi, Masao
Saito, Matsuo
Itakura, Tetsuo
Kitajima, Tsuyoshi
Inagaki, Genshiro
Hirooka, Shinzo
Suzuki, Takio
Students of University kyudo clubs
Watabe, Yoshiko
Urakami, Hiroko
Sano, Torii
Kurabara, Shingeyo

We express our deep appreciation to the members of the kyudo club and Imperial Police Headquarters which allowed us to use the Seineikan Kyudojo for the pictures.

The pictures were taken by Mr. Manji, Terajima, from PhotoPress Inc., and he is well known in his field and we also thank Mr. Goro, Tanaka of PhotoPress Inc. who dedicated himself to the publication of this kyudo manual.

Editorial Committee
Showa 28, June.


(The memories of Nakano Keikichi sensei, Hanshi 10th dan, former ANKF president)

Being led by Chiba sensei, the study and physical training based on the Kyudo Manual, Volume I, took place with thirty other senseis. Holding an iron fan, Chiba sensei scolded and encouraged the thirty senseis practicing everything from walking to bowing. Chiba sensei loudly commanded "repeat" and "reset your position" whenever the training sensei's movements were not coordinated with their breathing. We wondered if our body could survive for a week and we wiped our tears in the toilet. One sensei wrapped his scraped and wounded knee with his tenugui to continue his training. I was truly and deeply moved to see this sensei.

That one week passed with no accidents. Thank Heaven! We did feel relieved and at the end of the training Chiba sensei said "These seven days must have been hard for you. However the fruit of this training all depends on you dedicating yourself to spreading kyudo in your own region after you go home. Wether you do that or not will decide the "Life" of the Kyudo Renmei. I am counting on you to get this done. You must take care of yourself and cherish your health." His words are an unforgettable thing in my life.

I always keep this "Kyudo Manual by my side as a canon of my life. I also engrave one of the kyudo teachings: "It begins with Rei and ends with Rei", in my mind and strive to execute "Shooting is Living".

( from page 14 and 15 of the 4th volume of the ANKF Kyudo Manual)


After the publishing of the first kyohon Chiba sensei traveled thru Japan to give instruction to the local kyudo instructors. During these travels, Shintaro Kubota sensei accompanied Chiba sensei helping to demonstrate the new ANKF taihai.

Shintaro Kubota sensei himself recalls the time he moved to Mukojima in Tokyo in his memoirs published in the ANKF Kyudo magazine on the occasion of his receiving an award for his dedication to budo:

"Mukojima era:

My dojo was burned down in an air raid. And then the two years following the end of World War II budo was prohibited by GHQ. However, perhaps because kyudo was not a combat budo it was permitted relatively quickly by GHQ. Although it was a time of food rationing students gradually started coming back. We built a dojo on a burned out field in Asakusa. But, to avoid all the noise we moved to the quieter area of Mukojima and built a new dojo.

About 14 years after the war ended I had the opportunity to accompany and help ZNKR President, Chiba sensei, all over Japan to lecture which gave me a tremendous amount of personal study. Again I express my deep appreciation to Chiba sensei and to the passion and hard work which he put into his life's work of establishing the kyudo kyohon to develop kyudo."


The current standardized taihai should not be considered a static, unchangeable form. Taihai naturally reflects the form and etiquette of everyday life. As society and values change the taihai must change also. A good example of this is the publishing of the woman's tasukisabaki (kimono sleeve tying) form in 1985. At the time of this writing a recent article in the kyudo magazine mentions a standing form tasukisabaki is being investigated along with possible changes to the mochimato sharei (individual target ceremonial shooting).

This process of change is expected and even encouraged. As the kyudo kyohon says:

"Although the actual content of ceremonial shooting is unchanging and truly profound, the passage of time will bring changes requiring further revision and correction to the presently established aspects of the form. This must be fostered more and more in the future by the enthusiasm and effort of practitioners of Kyudo."


We would like to gratefully acknowledge the kind help of the following people but emphasize that all opinions expressed in this document are solely those of the authors:

Mr. Koya Shishime, ANKF Assistant Manager
Fumiro Kubota, Kyoshi, 8th Dan, Head of the Kubota Association for the Study of Archery.


ANKF Kyudo Manual, Volume 1 (revised edition) English version.
ZNKR Kyudo Manual, Volume 1 (revised edition 1956) Japanese version.
ZNKR Kyudo Manual, Volume 1 (amended edition 1981) Japanese version.
ZNKR Kyudo Manual, Volume 4 (first edition 1984) Japanese version.
Kyudo Commemorative Book for Nakano Keikichi Hanshi, 1993, Japanese.
Personal correspondence of Fumiro Kubota sensei.

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