In November 2007, my Japanese calligraphy study commenced. My teacher would write a model using orange ink and I would spend a few sessions trying to duplicate her work. About the end of 2008 with my interest growing, under the pressure of a friend’s encouragement, I joined the Japanese Calligraphy Society. Monthly magazines, models to duplicate, and other support come from the society. Under my teacher’s guidance I practice works each month and, at the end of the month, submit one or two clean copies for evaluation. Judges in Kyoto send my works back with orange mark-ups on where I should improve.
Each month there is also the chance to move up to a higher rank. As our levels increase, so do the expectations; hence, the promotions become more rare. Upon entering the society I set an aggressive goal of fifth dan, at which level one receives the highest teaching license. Early success buoyed me up, but sometimes life throws challenges which interfere: being struck by a car; getting married; trouble with the tax man; death in the family; all manner of things have taken priority over study. Regardless – in life – we have to choose to move forward if we want to succeed. Setbacks are natural, but giving up means an end to progress.
Last Saturday, my teacher’s announcement lifted my spirits as I have now achieved third dan. Reviewing my high level works, I can see there is a significant difference in the overall balance of the current work. Additionally, third dan is a gateway to the higher levels; from this level we may study reisho, tensho, and Kampo sho styles. Reisho (隷書) has been my primary motivator lately, as I have wanted to practice it for a long time. I will post some explanation of it as I study.
My teaching license will now be upgraded to Advanced Level Teacher (高等師範) labeling me as qualified to instruct adults up to second dan.