Oct
20

“The Power of Photography,” by Josh Gold

How can we extend the spirit of a martial art
outside our practice environments?

 

This is the second article in a three part series. The unifying theme of the series is this:

How we can extend the principles, values, and benefits of the martial arts to a broader part of society?

If you’ve not read it, the first article in the series is “The Power of Shodo“.

If you’re reading this fine martial arts publication, you’re probably a martial artist, and likely a very experienced one. You’ve almost certainly had first hand experience with the unique combination of elegant beauty and devastating power that comes from the technique of a great master. You’ve probably been deeply moved and inspired by seeing beginners break through the barriers of ego, complacency, and pain, to blossom as martial artists and human beings.

The world loves martial arts. In any given year, the majority of the top grossing movies contain some form of martial arts. Today’s films contain wonderfully produced action scenes, and a few are able to successfully convey the spirit of the martial arts.

Unfortunately, this is the only type of exposure the vast majority of society has to the martial arts. What remains largely unseen is the real technique, drama, and personal growth that happens inside the local martial arts training halls across the world.

How can we extend the inspiration and wisdom of the arts we practice to a broader segment of society? How can we capture, preserve, and share the essence of an art, or a martial artist, outside of our practice environments?

One technique we can use is photography.

The Art of Peace from Ikazuchi Design on Vimeo.
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Oct
09

“The Power of Shodo,” by Josh Gold

“How can we make the spirit and wisdom of the great
martial arts masters accessible to more people?”

Some of us have been fortunate enough to learn from a great martial arts master. We may have experienced something profound through a magical moment in practice. We may have the opportunity to study continuously under a mentor. Some may have even had the rare experience of training as an uchi-deshi (live-in student).

Being published in Aikido Journal, many of the people that read this article have had these experiences, and know the profound, positive impact they can have on our lives. But these experiences are extremely rare, almost legendary, when viewed broadly across our society.

How can we make the spirit and wisdom of the great martial arts masters accessible to more people? How can we receive inspiration, and even gain personal knowledge of a mentor after his or her death? There’s no single answer but we can look to two exceptional masters for one insight.

O-Sensei loved shodo (Way of the brush). Uniquely, he began his practice when close to 70 years or age, under one of his aikido students, Seiseki Abe. Abe Sensei (10th dan) had a unique relationship with the founder of aikido. For over fifteen years, the master of aikido and the master of shodo followed each other as teacher and student in their respective arts. The humble, seeking spirit of these two great men can inspire us all.

Beyond the insight we can gain from the wisdom of the principles reflected in the calligraphy, both O-Sensei, and Abe Sensei believed that through shodo, one can directly experience the ki of the artist. They believed the essence and spirit of the artist is channeled through the art.  I believe it too.

I have the privilege of viewing great original shodo pieces every day. Their visual power and underlying meaning serve as daily inspiration. Having exposure to these great works creates mindfulness of the principles embodied in the art, and serves as a reminder to actualize the principles in daily life.
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