Tuesday, April 9, 2013


 I've previously listed my “displeasure” with the use of Japanese (terminology) during the instruction of our (or for that matter “any”) martial art. I feel that the majority of instructor's aren't familiar enough with the language to use it, at least correctly (much less the poor student's who don't have a clue what the majority of it means).
 That being said, because I practice “Shodo”, I am approached to create (brushed) certificates for various people/schools in regards to to the creation of those Certificates (for rank, special training etc.) and occasionally for “Seal Stones”.
 The fact that I disagree with the use of Japanese in the instruction of a class, does not mean that I don't think that the brushed version of the language isn't beautiful (when done well). And I happen to think that a brushed certificate just looks cool (I know, I'm a “geek”). Evidently a lot of other people do so as well (hence the reason I'm “hit up” to brush projects for people).
 Whenever I say that I've done those projects (and have mentioned it somewhere), I (inevitably) get letters/comments about how “I” am illegally producing certificates. To begin with, I only produce “certificates” for an individual school (not to replicate any “system's” recognized certificate). There is NO “official” place, association, corporation, committee, group, government entity (blah, blah, blah...) that oversees or dictates who/what/when/where ANY certificate is issued. Within a (any) certain system, they may only recognize a certificate that is issued by their organization. But rarely will anyone else recognize it.  Hence, they can/do make you start over, as a white belt if you begin training with them, often if in the same system(?). So quit trying to make a Big Freakin' Deal out of your certificates.
 The value of a certificate, ONLY amounts to what it means to YOU, and from whom you received it. If someone comes to us (to train), we will recognize their (stated) rank, regardless of whom issued it. Rank requirements vary between schools (even within the same system). The individual's knowledge level will become evident as they train (and if lower than what your system would consider appropriate, they will eventually “catch up” anyhow).
 In regards to the creation of a certificate, there do exist certain criteria (placement of the kanji, signatures, stamps etc.) that need to be met (to look “correct”). There exists (a number of) sites that offer these generic certificates for purchase, and some, do a pretty decent job (“esthetically” speaking). These will range in price from $25, to (over!) $250, which is a little “pricey” (at least to myself), after all, it IS just a piece of paper, with some foreign language “scribbled” on it, LOL.
 At our school, we have Shodo (basic) listed as one of our rank requirements. What's offered (for the belt requirement) will not make the student a skilled calligrapher, but should (at least) have them able to recognize a “cheesy” (or Fake) certificate (which can say a lot about the recipient's training). Granted, a poorly done certificate doesn't mean their training was done equally “poor”, but it does indicate the level of detail considered acceptable by the instructor. (ie. If the certificate is a piece of trash, then the instructor either doesn't care, or isn't knowledgeable enough to know better. There by implying, Is their instruction of the “martial art” that they teach any better?).
 If an instructor doesn't know how to read (or translate) an “issued” certificate, then they should use one that is totally written in English (or what-ever Language that they are fluent in). There's been a few which were offered to me (to use as “examples”) that were simply ridiculous (in their translation). Those, I have had to (completely) re-write, which (in turn), means that I have to present them (to those that requested the document) with what the original had actually “said”, and then provide them with a translation of what “I” had provided to them (so far, no complaints, LOL).
 Although what we (in our school's requirements) offer, will only familiarize the student with the how (to do it) and the what (to look for) in regards to what's correct (or at least “common”). The instruction will none-the-less, provide the student with some basic knowledge as to what and how the kanji should be done.
 If one of our students should wish to pursue further study, I refer them to the Japanese Calligraphy Association, of which I am a member, and a licensed (by that association) instructor. Our hope, is that combined with what we show them, and the personal instruction we provide, they will have an easier time with the lessons they receive from there. All of the association's lessons are in Japanese, with some (limited) English translations provided.
 I was fortunate enough to have an instructor to guide me through the (very) basics (which HELPED immensely). Our instruction will hopefully also provide that basic amount of instruction.
 And No, their certification does not mean anything, to anyone, except to the one “learning” from them. “Endorsement”, “Certification” or “which-ever” terminology you prefer, is “only” relevant to the receiver of that awarded documentation.

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