Lajos Kassai (born 16 September 1960), is a Hungarian bowyer, archer and equestrian. He is primarily known for his work reviving the traditional art of horse archery, including adapting it into a modern sport. For his work he received the Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary.
Lajos Kassai originally worked as a mechanic, and only made bows as a hobby until the mid 1980s. During this time he reconstructed the Hungarian composite bow from the time of the Hungarian Conquest. Eventually bow-making became his primary profession, and he became the first in the world to mass-produce this style of bow. Besides Hungarian, Kassai makes other types of traditional bows, including Scythian, Magyar, Hun (asymmetric type), Avar, and Mongol.
|“||Follow not our ancestors, but what they followed||”|
|— Lajos Kassai, |
Kassai created the competitive rule system of horse archery in the late 1980s, and started to propagate this new sport, first in Hungary, and from the 1990s in the rest of Europe, the United States and Canada. He made himself familiar with Zen-archery in Kamakura, Japan, and travelled to Shao-lin in China to study.
He founded the center of Hungarian horse archery, Kassai-valley, near Kaposmérő. Horse archery centers based on the Kassai-school are currently operating in fourteen countries, and organize world cups regularly.
In 2011, the University of Physical Education accepted the education practice developed by Kassai and began horse archery training. Hungary is the first country in the world where one can get a teaching diploma in horse archery.
His life and work was dramatized by Géza Kaszás in the film A lovasíjász (The horse archer), which premiered in January 2016.
To this day, he has won every single horse archery competition he entered. He set four Guinness world records: in 1998, by constantly riding on relay horses during a 12 hours competition, he rode through the 90 meter long horse archery range 286 times, and shot more than 1000 aimed arrows. In 2002, on a record run that lasted from 6 AM to 6 PM, he shot over 3000 shots collecting 7126.05 points in 323 rides, greatly surpassing his previous record. On 10 June 2006, he again surpassed his two previous 12-hour world records by competing in horse archery for 24 hours continuously. From Saturday 7 AM until Sunday 7 AM he rode 661 times shooting 5412 arrows and collecting 15,596.43 points overall, for an average of 212.35 points per ride.
He set his last record with his disciplies in the Budapest Sports Arena on 5 December 2009. He shot 12 thrown up discs with 30 cm diameter under 17.80 seconds from the back of a racing horse.
- Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary (2003)
- Hungarian Heritage Award (2012)
- Middle Cross of the Order of Merit of Hungary (2016)
Kassai is married and has one daughter.