Kyudo Japanese Archery
[The French team has become the first-ever world champions of Japanese archery after the squad overwhelmed their rivals with their outstanding shooting skills.
The First Sekai Kyudo Taikai (First World Championship of Japanese Archery) was held at Tokyo's Meiji Shrine with teams and individuals from 18 countries and regions taking part.
The French team won the inaugural tournament to become the first world champions of kyudo, or Japanese archery, while Japan lost in the qualifying round despite expectations that it would dominate the competition.
Kyudo is popular in Europe, the U.S. and other countries. Japanese expatriates and non-Japanese citizens who used to live in Japan and have experienced the art of Japanese archery have contributed to the promotion of kyudo, and helped establish the International Kyudo Federation about four years ago. Currently, it has 16 member countries besides Japan.
During the team competition, national and regional groups consisting of three players, male or female, competed on the number of arrows that hit the target, with each archer shooting four times. The French national team received a standing ovation from the audience when all the members hit the target on all 12 rounds during the semifinal.
The members of the winning team, who had won the preliminary contests in their own country and made the national squad, were Michel Dupont, Marc Bertin, and Patricia Stalder.
Dupont, a 50-year-old truck driver who was captivated by the art of kyudo, which he saw in Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai at the age of 18, started the sport about 30 years ago. He explains its attraction, saying "Kyudo is the pursuit of spiritual, technical and physical perfection."
Bertin, a 35-year-old computer engineer who has been doing archery since 2006, is a former karate fighter and says he started practicing kyudo because he "wanted to further enhance his inner strength," while Stalder, who started kyudo in 1994 and is the only female player on the team, says she thinks the discipline of kyudo is beautiful.
Meanwhile, the Japanese team suffered a crushing loss in the qualifying round, contrary to expectations.
Commenting on Japan's defeat, one of the executive board members of the All Nippon Kyudo Federation said, "In foreign countries, Kyudo is regarded not as sport but as a discipline. Japanese team members might have been distracted by the pressure that they must serve as an example to other teams. It feels like we have been taught what kyudo is about by foreign participants."
The competition will be held every four years」.