Esteban Martinez was born and raised in Puerto Rico and began training in Aikido in 1995 at the age of 13. His first dojo was Goshinkan Dojo in Bayamón, PR; it was there that his interest in Shodo (Japanese Calligraphy) started.
In the summer of 1998 he traveled to Chicago, IL to train in Aikido and Zen at the Aikido International Foundation Summer School (Kenshusei Program) at Tenshinkan Dojo led by the late Fumio Toyoda Shihan. At the end of his training at Tenshinkan, Toyoda Shihan handed him a calligraphy. Before he left Chicago to return home, Esteban went to a Japanese store near the dojo and bought a few Japanese calligraphy supplies and a Japanese kanji book. With Toyoda Shihan’s calligraphy on one hand and his new supplies on the other, Esteban would spent the following years trying to copy Toyoda Shihan’s calligraphy.
In 2008, after 10 years of self study and practicing Shodo on his own, Esteban met Japanese Calligraphy instructor Maki Narita-LaBonte in Providence, RI. Under Maki Sensei he received a series of personal lessons in Shodo (書道 calligraphy), and Shuji (習字 penmanship). With Maki Sensei, Esteban learned the basics and fundamentals of Shodo. It was Maki Sensei who taught him the 8 basic strokes, composition, balance, and the rules of writing.
Today, Esteban’s calligraphy is a reflection of years of copying Toyoda Shihan’s calligraphy, Maki Sensei’s teachings, and Hitsuzendo (筆禅道ーMethod of Zen Calligraphy developed by Zen Master Omori Sogen Rotaishi from Daihonzan Chozen-ji, Honolulu, HI). His calligraphies can be found all over the world displayed on dojos, offices, homes, and other businesses. He’s also been commissioned to brush calligraphy for company logos, martial arts rank certificates, and Japanese woodblock prints.
Esteban launched Gohitsu Shodo Studio on November 2010 with little expectations. It was a slow start at first, but it quickly grew and expanded immensely. Today, Gohitsu Shodo Studio lives at the intersection of Shodo, Aikido, and Zen serving as a place for students to learn the fundamentals of Japanese Calligraphy (through video tutorials, blog posts, and more) and explore the benefits of Aikido training and Zen practice.
He continues his Aikido and Zen training at Zenshinkan Dojo, in Worcester MA where he is a senior instructor and a member of the Board of Directors. He holds the rank of Yondan (4th degree black belt) with Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo, Japan. When he’s not at the studio or dojo, Esteban teaches Culinary Arts at Bristol Community College in Fall River, MA.
He currently lives in the Ocean State with his wife, Rachel, and kids, Jasper and Madeline.
Esteban can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Gohitsu_Shodo. He also writes a weekly newsletter about all things Shodo, martial arts and Zen. Want to receive the newsletter in your inbox? Sign up below.