Japanese Calligraphy is an old art. Its origin can be traced back to as early as the 7th century. Throughout the centuries the technology for Shodo practice had been simple; paper, ink, and brush.
Things haven’t changed much. Even today, that is basically all you need to practice Shodo.
Interestingly though, today, only about 30% of everything I create for the studio is made with brush and ink. The other 70% is made with, well, modern technology.
What I love the most about the studio is that it lets me straddle between two worlds. One foot set on the ancient tradition of Shodo practice integrated with Zen and martial arts. It lets me immerse myself in pure practice– the simplicity of action and awareness of movements. The silence, the focus, the mindfulness of using nothing but simple tools. The other foot set in the modern world of high speed wi-fi connections, smart phones, computers, cameras, websites and social media.
I’m not a tech geek, but I enjoy a variety of tech toys; anything that enables me to share my views and tell a story. Since a very young age I liked films and story telling. As a kid I always said I wanted to be a filmmaker. I never pursued this dream when I was young. Fortunately, however, technology reached the level where I now have the tools to make any movie I want.
My YouTube Channel serves two purposes; to share what I’ve learned about Japanese Calligraphy with the hopes that I can inspire more people begin Shodo practice, and to scratch my itch to make movies. With YouTube I have found the perfect venue to combine these two worlds.
I haven’t always been up to speed with the latest technology and trends. It wasn’t until relatively recent that I was able to merge these two worlds.
Let me take you back and tell you how I got to where I am today with technology.
My father had a dot matrix printer. Nobody could sleep at night if he was using it because of the insanely loud high pitched noise of the impact printing. We would print banners just for fun, and the occasional school work, although at the time a typewriter was often preferred.
My father was fond of computers. Although we couldn’t afford the latest and greatest, he would manage to work on the systems we had to make them perform better. I remember the first time we installed Windows 95 and how cool it was.
But the real breakthrough came with the now infamous sound of the dial-up modem connecting to the internet. All of a sudden the world was connected, we had email, information was at our fingertips.
My first attempt at online content creation happened around 1998 when I created the website for my first dojo, Goshinkan. The internet was blooming that year. We had a family email address, and a dial-up connection, which we were only allowed to use after 9:00 pm because if someone try to call the house the phone call would not be able to make it through. My uncle had been playing around with HTML code and told me of a website that taught basic HTML. I learned that I could make a website simply by writing some code in a text editor. Every night, after 9:00 pm, I stayed up and played around with it. Soon enough I was able to put together some basic pages. I wanted to publish a website and the perfect opportunity to do so was to create a webpage for my dojo. I pitched the idea to Sensei Ruiz, she agreed, and a few weeks later Goshinkan Dojo was online.
In 2001 I moved to Rhode Island to attend college. This was not an easy year. My grandmother passed away in February, Toyoda Sensei passed away in July, and the terrorist attacks in New York City happened in September. It was the first time I was away from home for such a long period of time. My English was broken, I was afraid I was not going to pass Biology. I didn’t have many friends. The only home I had was my new dojo: Shoshinkan. When I told Toyoda Sensei I was moving to Rhode Island he sent me to train with Gallo Sensei at Shoshinkan Dojo. I trained every night. It was the only place I felt comfortable. During the next two years I was somewhat disconnected. I didn’t own a cellphone. I didn’t have a computer. Technology was moving forward but I was still stuck in Windows 95 and HTML codes. I knew things were changing but I was intimidated.
In 2002 I moved to Cape Cod and worked all summer cooking at a restaurant. I was making some money and spending none of it. I bought my first cellphone, a Nokia 3310, and at the end of the season I spent most of my money on my very first computer: the HP Pavillion notebook.
Back in school now I had a laptop and ethernet connection under my arm. Proficient in Windows XP I catapulted to a new digital era. I was downloading music, videos, movies, and reading all over the internet. I had all this technology around me but I wasn’t creating anything, I was strictly consuming. I consumed the internet for two years until I graduated from college in 2004.
I left Rhode Island and went home for a brief period of time. But in 2005 I returned back to Rhode Island determined to become a chef. I worked two jobs, trained in Aikido, and began a serious romantic relationship.
I was about to enter another period of time where technology kept moving forward and I was left behind.
to be continued on “If there is a will, there is a way”