Manchu Archery

Studying the archery methods of Qing-dynasty China.

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While Great River does not offer a regular group class in Manchu archery, a group of students meets regularly each week in the Northern Virginia for shooting practice.  In the short video to the right, Center Director Scott M. Rodell demonstrates the traditional archery technique practiced at the center.

Those interested in private lessons should contact Scott M. Rodell at 703-846-8222 or for more information.  

Lessons in Manchu Archery Series

Mounted and Foot Archery Illustrated (Ma Bu Tu Shuo) by Liu Qu, 1722

Translated by Scott M. Rodell with Meilu Chen-Rodell, copyright 2012.

Notes on translation: There is no perfect translation of a classical text like this. In fact, the notion that there is one to one correlation between words in different languages is a translation fallacy. Also when reading a text such as this, there are often terms or phrases that one may understand perfectly well in the original, that simply cannot be express as succinctly in English as they are in Chinese. And, naturally, every translator comes with his or her own personal perspective. Therefore, every translation, by its very nature, is an interpretation.

The translation presented here is based on over four decades of experience in martial arts, including years of full contact combat with weapons, as well as years of bow hunting experience. Many of the ideas recorded in this manual, are reminiscent of training in internal martial arts. One example is the text?s description of eyeing the target, which has the same flavor as the moment one sights at opening for a cut in free swordplay. In combat, one is joined to the target in a quite different fashion than the way a casual target archer observes his or her target before drawing. When one faces an opponent, who is looking back with the same intentions, one is focused in a different fashion than when there is no opponent. This text reads differently to one that has swam such seas, than for one who has never had their target shoot back with an intent to cause real harm.

With any translation there is the question of the style in which to render the work. Some translators endeavor to translate a text into the best English possible. Personally, I prefer to keep the translated text to be as close to and parallel with the original, often terse, Chinese as possible. This may mean that the English version of this translation is less than “prefect” English, but when rendered in this fashion, hopefully it is closer to the original in flavor and thus intent.

For those unable to read the original Chinese text, it is strongly suggested that after reading this translation, you also read Stephen Selby’s translation of this same text in his book, Chinese Archery.

Scott M. Rodell practicing Manchu horseback archery at a Sword & Bow Retreat in Germany.