January 2018

Before moving to Germany I made sure that I could still practice my two favourite pastimes: Aikido and Shodo. Joining a new dojo here meant of course to meet (and adapt) new aikidokas, but also - in my case - to have to approach a different Ryu. And this, of course, will mean in turn you will have a new Shihan.

In my specific case, Pierre Congard. He is an expat like me, except he hails from Brest, France and he moved to Germany way before me.

In fact, he is celebrating the opening of his German dojo 25th year anniversary in a few days. As the local calligraphy expert I decided to add one of my own works to the list of gifts he will receive from his students.

Especially in a case like this I try to find something that has a special personal touch as a subject. As explained elsewhere I often opt for looking to the Japanese equivalent of the actual meaning of the recipient's name.

Pierre (just like Piotr, Peter, Pietro, Petra, Pedro...) all share a common Latin root that means stone. On top of this, Pierre (male personal name) in French is written exactly like ... "pierre" which in the non-personal form is female and literally means "stone".

Armed with this little nugget I started looking for something like Stone Warrior or Stone Master (in the sense of Expert, Teacher) but this proved a bit inconclusive... the nice people at Stackexchange tried to help, but it looked like what I wanted to accomplish would be strained at best.

On the other hand, is a nice ideogram which has a lot of uses in Japanese and Chinese. So I went looking for some 4-word idioms and finally struck gold (or a semi-precious stone, at least)

Specifically, I found this:


Let's break it down in details:

The first character (電) is an ancient Kanji for "Lightning" even if now is mostly used in electricity-related compound words.

The second is "光" is light. So together they represent the flash of lightning.

Kanji #3 is - in fact, "Stone"... which, together with #4 (火: Fire) means "Flint".

And the whole means "Quick as lightning" - which I believe an appropriate way to describe Pierre's techniques.

As a final personal touch, I decided to use a different combination of brush and ink just for doing the "Pierre" character…

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"石" was written using one of my trusty bamboo brushes with a special ink with gold particles in it.
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As usual I devoted a bit of effort to the actual calligraphy too - here is one of the many mockups I prepared.

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And here is the completed work.

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Giving it to Pierre