Hojutsu (the art of gunnery) (砲術)

Hojutsu (the art of gunnery)
1. The Japanese traditional art of firing matchlock guns, Japanese artillery, or burning arrows
The following is a detailed explanation.

2. The Western method of firing artillery
This definition derives from the part indicating "Japanese artillery" in the definition No. 1.

Japanese traditional art of gunnery
In 1543, the Portuguese introduced the art of gunnery into the Tanegashima Island.

Its secrets of the art consisted of three points: (1) Develop a mind void of all ideas of good and evil; (2) Straighten one's posture to keep spirits up; (3) Close one eye and aim squarely at the target.

Since Koshiro SHINOKAWA, a retainer of Tokitaka TANEGASHIMA, learned this art, he had never missed the target.

Matchlock guns were inferior in an accuracy rate and quick firing to archery, so that experts in shooting (a gunner) in the Sengoku period (the period of Warring States) invented Hojutsu, the art of shooting, in which accuracy and quick firing were highly valued. In the Edo period, the art of underarm firing of Japanese artillery, which was unique to Japan, was included.

The feature of this art was the emphasis on accuracy. In the book of secrets, which part of the target to be aimed at in different shooting ranges is shown with illustrations; various 'shooting postures' for different purposes, how to distribute power of each part of the body in each shooting posture, and how to take a breath are also described; the desirable state of mind at sighting a target is expressed with a skillful metaphor as Kanya bunso (mental concentration that one can even sense the frosts coming in a winter night). When aiming at a distant target, not only a front sight and a rear sight (Saki meate, Mae meate) but also a small sight device laid between them were used. There was also the art of shooting in which the secret attachment of a gunsight called 'Yagura' was attached to the rear sight to give an elevation. The combination ratio of gunpowder that varied with the distance, caliber, or season was introduced as another secret of the art.

During the Tenpo era, Western firearm strategy was brought by Shuhan TAKASHIMA; after its demonstration conducted in the open military drill held in Bushu Tokumarugahara (present-day Takashimadaira, Itabashi Ward, Tokyo), it was adopted as 'gunnery of Takashima school' by the Edo shogunate and the southwest strong domains, and spread quickly. Unlike the existing art of gunnery, emphasis was placed not on a hitting accuracy but on a mass attack strategy like a heavy barrage of fire; it was characterized by the tactics plus gunnery for the use of firearms with a perfectly coordinated teamwork performed by 'Gorei,' which was absent in Japan by then (It was said that not 'Gorei' [a word of command] but 'Meirei' [order] existed in Japan). It spread quickly to coincide with a time when Japan suffered from pressure of the allied western powers and internal disturbances in the last days of the Tokugawa shogunate. The Edo shogunate and the southwest strong domains translated the English and the French military drill handbooks independently and published them as "Eikoku hohei renpo" (英国歩兵練法) (English-style training method for infantry) or "Furansu hohei sorensho" (French-style infantry training text), which responded to the progress of small arms and military strategy. The musket troops' were reorganized into 'the infantry corps' and 'the musket corps;' the Japanese-style gunnery disappeared as the expert gunners of the Japanese-style gunnery restudied the Western-style gunney. However, some of the schools remained as festival features in the Meiji period; demonstrations of gunfire were conducted by using blank shots. Reportedly, live shots were fired toward the sea in Fukuoka City until the early Showa period. After the World War II, the gunnery was prohibited like other martial arts; however, many events were restored in the process of Japan's postwar rehabilitation; in the opening ceremony for 'target shooting' in the Tokyo Olympics, the traditional demonstration of gunfire by the 'musket troops' in Yonezawa City, which dated back before the war.
After that, musket troops were established in various areas for the purpose of 'community development.'
Many of them claimed to be certain schools of gunnery; they were restored based on the books of secrets written in the period of domain duties.

[Original Japanese]