The Art of Budo
The Calligraphy and Paintings of the Martial Arts Masters
by John Stevens
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Pub Date 06 Dec 2022 | Archive Date 06 Dec 2022
Shambhala Publications, Inc., Shambhala
Beginning with the legendary samurai Miyamoto Musashi, nearly all of the great martial arts masters left a legacy of calligraphy and painting. Their artwork—Zenga and Zensho (“Zen pictures” and “Zen calligraphy”)—was not only an extension of their Zen practice but also reflected their deep spiritual commitment to the budo ethos, the perfection of self through martial arts training.
This book presents a concise history of this tradition, with works from such samurai as Musashi, Takuan, Yagyu, Motusgai, Rengetsu, Tesshu Deishu, Kano, Morihei, and others. Aikido master John Stevens is an expert on Zen and budo art, and he provides a fascinating introduction to the tradition and biographical details on each of the warrior artists, and brief, illuminating commentary on each piece.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 1 member
My thanks to both NetGalley and the publisher Shambhala Publications for an advanced copy of this book featuring works of art from martial arts masters and teachers throughout history
Creating art is a spiritual experience both for the creator and for the observer. The artist must dig deep, find their center and bring forth energy for creation. This is the same for the martial arts, calligraphy, or simple pen stroke paintings. One must be comfortable with oneself to find what makes them strive to create, be it a strike towards victory or a strike on paper that completes a work. Discipline helps, as does practice, but a true master a true artist knows what will happen before a fist is raised, or ink put to brush. The Art of Budo: The Calligraphy and Paintings of the Martial Arts Masters is a collection of works by many masters throughout the eras, compiled with commentary by John Stevens, Aikido master and zen art expert, art that gets to source of their abilities, and their ability to concentrate and focus their will.
The book begins with an introduction by the author, discussing the history of brush work in East Asian culture and how the strokes can revel much about the artist's inner life and abilities. This is followed by a short history of some of the masters, stories told about them, the importance of art in the martial arts, and the development of style. Readers are then introduced to the art, with beautiful reproductions of calligraphy, ink tracings and more. Some are simple a small sketch, a brief poem or haiku. Some are quite elaborate telling a story. A few are funny, which is sometimes bit unexpected. And a few all very moving.
The pictures all have commentary about the artists, a brief description, an explanation of how or why the picture was made with notes on the technique, style and other facts. The commentary is quite informative, revealing quite a bit and not lecturing the reader. Art is sometimes hard to share and interpretations tell more about the interpreters than the art. Stevens however is quite good at sharing and keeping the reader engaged. The book ends with a longer biographical section about the artists, and other books for those who wish to learn more.
A very beautiful book, perfect for both artists and martial artists. The text is very informative and extremely well written. The art is something that should be seen, and contemplated. A unique gift for the right person.