I have recently been revisiting the Jushinden blog which provides an insight into the teachings of Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu. This man created the style which led to the school of sword we practice – Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu. You can visit the site yourself and I would strongly recommend you do so.
It is a great read, as well as Iaijutsu (Jūshin Ryū), the blog owner, Jack, also practices Shodo, so I reached out to ask him a few questions about his practice and how his Shodo impacts on his Iai.
Do you find there are actual physical similarities between Iaijutsu and Shodo? I have you read your site with interested but wanted to understand if there were physical not just academic benefits of practicing both.
In terms of physical benefits, studying shodō definitely has a positive effect on ones Iai. It’s very focussed, so the mental aspect is very similar to the mindset of Iai training. In other words, learning to control ones body in order to write the characters in specific styles helps one to control ones body for the finer movements in Iai, especially the fingers and wrist. Tenouchi is just as important with the brush as it is with the sword, as is a stable centre.
Historically does Shodo fall into Ryuha like Iaijutsu? What I mean is are there definitive techniques used by certain schools. Or is Shodo simply Shodo?
That’s a difficult one. There are a number of main styles in Shodō, which refer to how a character should be written. These are then manipulated by the individual, and subsequently become know as that authors style, as opposed to a style unique to a family/clan/area as Ryūha used to be.
If so, is this apparent in anyway? Style of writing or within syllabus scrolls?
As mentioned above you can definitely see various Sensei’s character styles come out in the writing. However I don’t think it’s dependant on the scrolls, more the author of them.
How is your practice?
Practice is going well, thank you. I’ve got an Etsy store up for my calligraphy and paintings, and hopefully will be able to take custom orders once family life settles.
You can find Jack’s Etsy Store here:
Anything else you would like to add…
Sadly, the physical and mental benefits on Shodō and swordsmanship seem to have lost importance to the modern Japanese population. Calligraphy is great to help handwriting for those in school or going for job hunting in a fairly big company, and Iai seems to be unknown to the majority of the population bar a few references in cinema. But the two are engrained into the Japanese culture, with references to one or both being made in Kotowaza, or Japanese proverbs, and everyday language, whether the speaker is aware of it or not.