- Title: HUNGARY: Traditional art of horseback archery enjoys revival
- Date: 9th August 2011
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Hungarian) HORSEBACK ARCHERY CHAMPION, LAJOS KASSAI, SAYING: "Today we need to bring the children closer to the animal, even the animal is another planet for today's children. We need to show them that the horse is a living creature with feelings, with incredible strength and instincts. Every year we have to take the children to the horse from more and more of a distance, and this is why I fear that there will be serious problems with the rising generations."
- Embargoed: 24th August 2011 13:00
- Location: Hungary, Hungary
- Country: Hungary
- Topics: Sports
- Reuters ID: LVAE5Q4E1ERD2P77UA8G9CMB141N
- Story Text: Wearing the costumes of the ancient Hungarians who once conquered the Carpathian Basin, actors are practising horseback archery skills for an upcoming horse theatre show called "The Conquest". They are being trained in the Kassai Horseback Archery School ran by world champion and founder of modern horseback archery Lajos Kassai.
Hungarian tribesmen once kept Europe in fear with their fierce horseback archery - "God save us from the arrows of the Hungarians" went the saying in the 9th-10th century. But later the art of horseback archery all but disappeared in history.
At the end of the 1980s, Kassai reconstructed the bow from the time of the Hungarian conquest in the 9th century and started its production. He also created the code of competition rules for horseback archery, and from the beginning of the 1990s started to spread the new sport first in Hungary, then in Europe, the USA and Canada.
Kassai won all home and world competitions and set four Guinness Book records. In 2006 with changed horses he practised horseback archery for 24 hours non-stop.
"For some strange reason, the horseback archery which once created and crushed empires had been forgotten till I revived it. The modern age history of horseback archery began in this valley, this is where I started to get deeply involved with the martial art of our ancestors, Kassai said.
His horseback archery school is dedicated to preserve horseback archery as a cultural heritage, a martial art and a sport. It currently has 300 students not only from Hungary but also Romania, Spain, Germany and Canada among others. The interest is growing each year, Kassai says.
But training young people is getting harder every year because the general physical condition of the new generations is deteriorating, Kassai added. They need to start the training at the very basics.
"Today we need to bring the children closer to the animal, even the animal is another planet for today's children. We need to show them that the horse is a living creature with feelings, with incredible strength and instincts. Every year we have to take the children to the horse from more and more of a distance, and this is why I fear that there will be serious problems with the rising generations," Kassai said.
During the training Kassai teaches his students special techniques necessary for being able to shoot from horseback as well as how to get to know and to feel the horses For many students, horseback archery is much more than just a challenging sport. It is a matter of national identity and pride, a way of continuing ancient traditions. Matyas Kovacs is one of them.
"The main thing is that we should not try just to imitate what our ancestors did but we should do exactly the same and then we can become like our ancestors and this is what really sticks to our mind and this is what we can follow" Kovacs said.
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