Calligraphy by Bailey Sensei.
Shodo is as much meditation as art.
The brush moves under the master’s touch.
Proper posture, relaxation, and breathing are all required.
Students start simply, then build into more complex strokes.
Originally, only right-handed brushing was permitted. That's no longer the case.
Focusing on the work, time passes quickly.
Bailey Sensei often includes mini-lectures in the shodo classes.
Shodo is an embodiment of spirit.
The “uniform” for shodo at Itten Dojo is samue — traditional working clothes.

Shodo

There is a saying dating back to the time of the samurai: “Bunbu Ryodo” — “The Dual-Path of Writing and Martial Arts.” During the Edo Period (the reign of the Tokugawa Shogunate), Bunbu Ryodo was actively promoted on the premise that the warrior class, to be complete as individuals, should be as adept in cultural and artistic endeavors as they were in military pursuits. In modern Japan, the term and concept persist and have morphed into an emphasis in public education on a balance of academics, sports, the arts, and afterschool activities.

For the student of budo, there is great benefit in the practice of shodo, the “Way of Japanese Calligraphy.” Shodo is the artistic expression of kanji, the traditional characters.

From a physical perspective, all of the same attributes desired in budo apply and are actively trained: Proper posture, relaxation, breathing, elimination of extraneous movements, and fine motor control of direction, pressure, and rhythm. 

Mentally, the practice of shodo is a form of meditation, with profound effects. As described by H. E. Davey in his book, Brush Meditation: A Japanese Way to Mind & Body Harmony, “In Japanese calligraphic art, as in living your life, you cannot go back, though in the beginning many novices lack the mental focus to paint the characters decisively. Every stroke must be delivered like the slice of a razor-sharp samurai sword, yet the brush must be handled in a serene manner. Gradually, the student’s mental condition is altered through regular training. This transformation of consciousness can be carried over and applied to your daily life as well, even to academic and vocational pursuits.”

Ultimately, the goal of training in shodo — as in the classical martial arts — is a composed and focused spirit.

Our shodo classes are taught by Rie Hashimoto Bailey, a master-level instructor awarded the 7th-dan by the Tonan Shodo organization in her original home of Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. In addition to teaching our class calligraphy, Bailey Sensei includes instruction in sumi-e (ink painting) and often presents mini-lectures addressing Japanese language, philosophy, and culture.

Shodo classes are held twice monthly, usually on the second and fourth Saturdays, from 10:45 to 11:45 a.m. Persons applying to train in shodo must be aged 14 years or older. The recommended class “uniform” of samue (traditional working clothes) and required equipment can be ordered online — we will provide recommendations and sources.

Call or email today for an appointment and come see for yourself — visitors are always welcome!