I launched the site, Gohitsu Shodo Studio, for the first time in November 2010. Since then I’ve updated it every year with better layout and content. In 2012 I started a YouTube Channel demonstrating calligraphy as well as posting short instructional videos on Kanji Writing and Shodo techniques. In 2013 a Facebook page was launched and has over 350 likes so far. I think that in just 3 years the Studio and the Website had grown beyond my expectations. I have sold calligraphy to many places in the US and even shipped one to Australia. My calligraphies are being displayed in homes, dojos, and even used as a company logo.
But today I want to reflect upon where it all began, and how my passion and interest in Japanese Calligraphy was born and nurtured.
It all started with one of the greatest Aikido Masters of our time, Fumio Toyoda Shihan, whom today, July 4th 2013, marks the twelfth anniversary of his passing.
For 12 years on this day, I’ve taken a moment of my day among cook outs and fireworks from the American Independence Day celebrations to light an incense and a candle to him and remember the two big things he gave me that changed my life: a lifelong training in Aikido, and inspiration to learn Shodo, a form of art so embedded in martial art training.
I was never lucky enough to receive instruction in Shodo from Toyoda Shihan, however when I finished my Kenshusei (intensive live in summer training) with him at his dojo in Chicago in 1998, he called me downstairs to the basement kitchen and presented me one of my biggest treasures in the world. He had gone there shortly after teaching a class and learning I was completing my training in just a few days to brush a calligraphy for me. He read it and translated there and told me “did you enjoy it here?”, to which I replied ” yes Sensei.” “Are you ready to go?”, “yes Sensei”, again I replied with a half smile. He smiled back, “I’ll see you in December”. It was custom for him to teach a seminar every December in Puerto Rico.
This calligraphy became my first inspiration. Before I left Chicago I ran to the Japanese store a few blocks down form the dojo, and bought a brush, an ink stone, and a bottle of sumi ink. I spent almost ten years trying to copy this calligraphy, which to this day I haven’t been able to do as good as his. Everything in this calligraphy has been a lesson for me, from composition, to style, signature, and seal placements. I’ve also gone and study other calligraphies from him that I’ve seen around from other students, dojos, and websites, to the point of understanding his style.
This video I made to honor him. The video gives a close look at the calligraphy as well as its translation.