It's true if the guide books claim that Yogyakarta captivates the curious! Within the city is a world rich in history, culture and arts where deep traditional practices permeates almost every aspect of daily life. Once you get to know Yogyakarta from the inside, you'll soon find out that this is where ancient Javanese traditions that are on the brink of extinction come to thrive and flourish. Thus it is no surprise that the ancient Javanese art of Archery or locally know as Jemparingan, is still practiced by a small community of people who live in Langenastro, a small village bordering the walls of the Kraton - while outside of the community, Jemparingan is virtually unknown.
Jemparingan, (jemparing literally meaning "arrow') is unlike any archery you might have come across. The first unique feature is the cross-legged seating position archers must adhere to. We believe Katniss Everdeen from Hunger Games would have been just as surprised to learn this. Next is the target itself - measuring just 30-35 cm in length and about 5 cm in diameter is the Pendulum, a cylindrical shaped target. As you will notice in the picture, the red and white rod like shapes are the actual target, yes, no bulls eye here, you either hit or miss - aim small, miss small as they say. And finally, every archer must where the traditional Javanese attire before practicing Jemparingan.
However, what defines Jemparingan most is that it is a uniquely passive form of the sport. Where you would otherwise imagine archery to be about hitting the target, being fiercely competitive and perhaps even war like, it is quite the opposite with Jemparingan. People who practice Jemparingan think of it as being a meditative activity where the process of sitting cross legged, taking aim and releasing the bow with the slightest flick of the finger helps one to be calm and focused. And so it is in life that this principle can be applied as Mr Wintoro, the president of the Lagenastro Jemparingan community puts it, 'Life's goals cannot merely be reached with physical abilities, it takes a clean and focused heart to live'.
First practiced by knights and nobility of the kingdom, Jemparingan today is embraced by the local community of Langenastro with a lot of gusto and they're thrilled to be able to host guests from all over the world. Come and join us in this unique heritage where our host community will introduce you to Jemparingan and the philosophy behind it, followed by a meditation and warm up before you get introduced to the technique. Once familiar with how to shoot in the unique style of Jemparingan, you're all set to take aim and release some arrows - gently of course.