Kyudo, the Japanese martial art of archery, is a practice focused on precision, technique, and spirituality. And while that's definitely all true, it's actually much more than that! It is also a form of physical exercise that can provide numerous benefits for the body and mind.
From toning the muscles to improving focus and concentration, Kyudo offers a unique workout experience that goes beyond the traditional gym routine.
In this article, we explore the question: is Kyudo a good workout? Let's delve deeper into the physical and mental benefits of this ancient art form.
Is Kyudo Good for Weight Loss?
Kyudo, or Japanese archery, is certainly a physical activity that requires strength and stamina. However, it also requires focus and discipline in the mind.
Practitioners must constantly train to maintain proper form and technique in order to hit the target accurately. In this way, Kyudo can be considered both a physical and mental workout.
A big part of the beauty of Kyudo lies in its universal appeal. It's a sport that can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of their age, gender, or ability.
Although, it's true that a fair amount of physical exertion is still involved. Contrary to popular belief, drawing a bow isn't at all easy, and it requires a great deal of strength to perform, especially if your goal is to do that consistently.
During the 2012 Olympics in London, The Economist conducted a study comparing the calorie expenditure of Olympic gold medalists with that of other activities like dancing, snorkeling, sweeping, and vacuuming.
Incredibly, male archers burned around 1,084 calories on their way to Olympic victory--a mere 747 calories less than female marathon runners, and over 1,054 calories more than men competing in the 100-meter sprint.
Of course, the timeframes are different, but the comparison is still worth mentioning.
Does Kyudo Build Muscle?
Archery doesn't quite do that much for your lower body--it's not like you can shoot an arrow with your feet, after all--but it does offer a comprehensive upper body workout, with an emphasis on specific muscles.
The latissimus dorsi, trapezius, and rhomboids of the upper back are primary targets, receiving similar exercise to traditional handheld weight routines like upright rows, back raises, shrugs, and single arm rows.
The deltoids, or shoulder muscles, also receive considerable attention in archery practice. Side raises, front raises, back raises, military presses, and upright rows can all be replicated by drawing a bow and releasing an arrow.
In addition to the upper body, archery also benefits the chest muscles, or pectoralis muscles, through a similar motion to front raises.
The biceps and triceps of the arms also receive decent stimulation through the act of drawing the bow and releasing the arrow, much like with upright rows or single arm rows.
Almost surprisingly, archery also challenges the core muscles. A firm posture is required to maintain aim and balance while shooting the bow, resulting in a core workout that may leave you feeling the burn.
With regular practice, you can expect to see increased strength and tone in your abs--maybe even just in time for beach season!
How Many Calories Can You Burn Doing Kyudo?
Kyudo is not a very physically demanding sport. It's primarily focused on mental discipline and precision. However, a typical 1-hour Kyudo session can burn about 180 calories for a person weighing 155 lbs.
During tournaments, archers typically cover around eight kilometers (five miles) per day and can burn anywhere from 100 to 150 active calories every 30 minutes.
I know that's a fair bit hard to believe. Drawing a bow in archery seems like a simple action, after all. And while it's definitely not as intense as a sport as, say, muay Thai, it still requires its own fair share of hefty physical effort.
It engages core muscles like the chest, hands, arms, and upper back, as well as non-core areas like the rotator cuffs. Repeating this movement correctly and consistently strengthens these muscles over time.
But Kyudo is not just a physical exercise. It also requires intense mental discipline and focus.
Archers must maintain concentration and avoid distractions like wind, distance, noise, and other competitors to achieve a perfect shot. Intense focus and skill can transfer to other areas of life, as well.
In archery, every shot is a combination of precise steps that must be ingrained in muscle memory and become almost instinctive.
The coordination of all these movements must be flawless to achieve a high level of accuracy. With all this in mind, I think it's pretty fair to say that even though the number of calories you burn isn't quite that high, Kyudo is still an excellent way to improve both your physical and mental abilities.
After exploring the physical demands and benefits of practicing Kyudo, it should be evident to us that this ancient Japanese martial art is not only a good workout, but also an excellent way to cultivate physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
The meditative focus required to master the precise movements and stillness of Kyudo can lead to improved posture, balance, and flexibility.
And on top of that, the continuous repetition of the bow-drawing technique can help build strength and endurance in the upper body.
But Kyudo offers more than just physical benefits. It can also enhance mental focus and discipline, while promoting a sense of calm and relaxation.
So to sum things up, Kyudo is a wonderful way to challenge and improve oneself, both physically and mentally, while also connecting with the rich cultural traditions of Japan.