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Asian Archery Exchange draws an enthusiastic crowd in its first year


October 16, 2013
With more than 45 in attendance at the first day of the first annual Asian Archery Exchange, local Korean archery instructor Heon K. Kim was more than pleased to see such an enthusiastic crowd.

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About 45 people came to get a crash course in traditional archery from the Far East. Photos courtesy of Rodney Williams
In fact, Mr. Kim could hardly help himself from getting ready for next year.

"We want to add more, maybe Tibetan and Manchurian archery as well," he said. "We want to make more friends and have them come out so we can introduce our culture. We started small, but we hope to keep growing."

The event, hosted by Mr. Kim at his home just off of Lilac Road, featured presentations by instructors in three Asian archery traditions — Japanese, Chinese and Korean.

Those in attendance were treated to insightful seminars that covered the deep historical connections between Asian culture and archery and the different forms it took on in different parts of Asia through the years. The group also participated in lots of practice time, as the instructors worked patiently with all those who wished to try their hand at a new form or archery.

Among the instructors was Rick Beal, a Zen monk who took to Japanese archery after studying martial arts for nearly all of his life.

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After his sword teacher introduced him to an exercise that mimicked the drawing of an arrow using an elastic band, Beal and a friend were both drawn to the practice of archery through a one-time trip to a Japanese archery class that turned into an ongoing practice.

That was in 1983, and just shy of 30 years later, Beal continues to teach with great passion and enthusiasm.

As Beal teaches the Buddhist traditions of Japanese archery, he was joined by Marcus Bossett, an instructor of the Samurai traditions in Japanese archery.

Bossett was on hand Saturday afternoon to give a demonstration in the Samurai tradition, including the full garb of a Japanese soldier of the time. The demonstration showed how the common foot soldier dressed, shot, and moved forward during battle.

Bossett set up three wooden targets in a line and fired at each in succession, moving forward as each target fell. He also showed the difference in how a Samurai fired with a sword on his belt versus how an otherwise unarmed archer would fire.

And teaching the Chinese tradition was Justin Ma, who grew up practicing Chinese martial arts and was a member of the US National team before finding a passion for archery.

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"When I got away (from martial arts), I found that I craved something martial in character, and all signs pointed to archery," he says.

He began studying Chinese archery four years ago, and despite the limited resources available for those pursuing such a tradition, he managed to scratch and claw — "I hurt myself in so many different ways," he says with a chuckle — his way into a deeper passion and understanding of this ancient skill.

As the event went on, Mr. Kim bustled about the target range, helping his own Korean archery students with the long-range shooting, making sure everyone had enough refreshments, and introducing himself and the other instructors to all the newcomers.

In the end, the group enjoyed a fun-filled day of enlightening seminars, insightful instruction and practice with a timeless tradition.

"It's a great event, I'm happy I came," says Fred Kim, one of the attendees. "You can learn a lot, and it's a family event, like a picnic. It's a win-win."

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    Asian Archery Exchange
    October 18, 2013 | 06:26 PM

    I was sorry to see the article about the Asian Archery Exchange did not say more about Heon Ku Kim's expertise. He is truly a master and a valuable asset to the community. He has done so much to create a site where meaningful training can occur.

    Kay Koppedrayer
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