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Japanese Shodo Calligraphy 

There is great freedom and spirituality in brushwork. When practicing with a brush and sumi-ink, ideograms impart vast depth in artistry. It is through this artistry that will benefit us eventually by allowing us to develop a great understanding; an understanding of the depth in philosophical understanding and the range in beauty and artistry of Zen.

In ancient times, communication using ideograms (characters) through writing began with the use of pictographs and petroglyphs, and has continued through current times in many forms (pens, brushes, electronic devices). Yet, under certain circumstances when using a brush, artistic and philosophical expressions emerge from us. 

Shodo is defined as the Japanese study of calligraphy. 

  • sho = writing 
  • do = way 


To create sho as an art form requires both physical and mental preparation. You, as the creator, must learn breathing control and how to concentrate energy or Qi in the lower part of the abdomen. In comparison, since ancient times martial arts disciplines of Asia have required the same centering of a person’s Qi in the lower abdomen. 

By concentrating and internalizing energy, you, the creator, can then pick up a brush and in a matter of seconds execute an ideogram.

Does your creation need to be ‘perfect’? No. 

In Shodo it is considered sacrilege to go back and touch up your work. Any adjustment or touch-up would be apparent and interrupt the Qi. Thus, the work you created wouldn’t be an honest representation of your energy and your personality. You want your work through Shodo to expose your personality.

Constant practice though is the key to perfecting the artistry of YOUR personality, allowing an ideogram creation to emerge with spiritual beauty instead of just visual beauty. Impact the person seeing your artistic creation- reaching their heart and soul with the potential power of opening up or expanding their understanding. 

In order to appreciate the creation process, one's heart must be pure and receptive, and then the ancient calligraphy of Shodo will speak to you.

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Author: Erick