Hey!!  Read this if you like, but be prepared, it goes in a direction I promise you that you weren't expecting.

  You might not understand or appreciate it, but that's how it is, that's how this tat came to be, and this is my dang page, so deal with it. took me four years.  I started designing a tribal in MS Paint for the back of my neck.  Starting as the tear-drop crest on top, it grew into what kind of looked like a dragon.  Literally hundreds of hours of working on this thing pixel by pixel.  I began to like it more and more, and work on it more and more.  I designed over forty sets of eyes, to give a rough scope of how particular I was about it.  I researched Japanese mythology about dragons: wisdom, strength, and courage...perfect.  I took design ideas from classic manuscripts.  You get the picture.  See, the tattoo idea started when I had seen my Sensei's tattoo of the kanji for Jiujitsu on his shoulder.  I had always wanted a tattoo, but had never had anything worth permanently marking my body with.  But Jiujitsu... that would be perfect.  The fact that it was a kind of unofficial tradition at the dojo made it even more appealing.  But just the kanji? Well, I wasn't going to just do the characters, I was going to design an entire piece of art to house the kanji for my body (always and eternally the extremist).  The hours were spent, the time was put in, and the dragon was finally ready.  Now was the time, I had to find an artist that would be able to realize my vision, who understood what this meant to me, and who had the skill, patience, and time to do the deed.

  This was when the dread set in.  "This thing is HUGE!  Do I really want my body to be marked in such a dramatic way?  What would my Mom think?  Would my family be ashamed of me?  What about "Jiujitsu" was so central to my being that I had to have it permanently embedded into my flesh, on the most pronounced, central area a tattoo could possibly be?"  My answer took a while, but it finally came.  Though Jiujitsu is a central component in my is only a companion on my path through this life.  It is the medium through which I better myself, it helps me visualize and attain my goals.  But what are those goals?
  People begin to hear about "Bushido" very early on in their training in the traditional martial arts.  It simply means "the way of the warrior".  Bu means war, shi is roughly translated as man-of-high-standing or knight, and do means the way.  This is about as far as most martial artists take it.  It sounds cool and it makes you sound knowledgeable.  But there is so, so much more to it than that.  Unfortunately I cannot begin to get into it with as much depth or emotion as I would like.  But I have to let you understand, so Bushido, much like European chivalry, is associated with a number of virtues.  These are things like honor, honestly, courage, respect, benevolence, and loyalty.  Loyalty was always a huge one, the premier one even.  We hear about the 47 ronin of Ako, and how they were all allowed to commit seppuku (ritual suicide) after avenging their masters death.  We hear the stories of samurai who willingly die for their masters honor, for something that would seem trivial to most of us.  For some reason, I always had a weird problem with this notion.  "Modern people don't have masters they need to be loyal to."  I mean, loyalty to ones family, or a sensei, never had that kind of unquestioning resolution to it.  These people that you think of being loyal to do not actually command you in any way.  You are not entirely in their service, completely putting their will above yours.  You are not first and foremost, their servant.  And this virtue was most prominent in the traditional writings I had researched, it soured the whole Bushido thing for me. day....epiphany.  I do have a master, just not a worldly one.  I pray every day that I live my life the way God intends me to.  I pray that I walk the path He has set before me, exemplifying all of those virtues I mentioned above.  And the great thing was, loyalty (seen from this new perspective) is the most important thing to me as well.  How can you go wrong if you are completely loyal to God?  The answer is, you can't.  So, I exchanged the kanji for Jiujitsu with the kanji for Bushido.  Easy as that. find that artist.  With new zeal, I set out to see all the tattoo artists on Long Island (map quest + is a great combo - thanks Abby).  Me and Abner spent about 4 days visiting tattoo places.  From the real shady places (ask me about the speed freak or the midget porn place) to old bikers trying to earn an extra buck, we saw them all.  "There are a couple not listed on 25," I said to Abby.  "One's down by the Commack dojo, I've driven by it a ton of times".  Most of you reading this are going "that one?!?"  Yep, that one.  And so we rounded the hill and saw the plain white sign with red letters "PAT'S TATTOO."  Well, I figured I'd give it a go, checked a ton already, one more couldn't hurt.  Walked in...decent place, clean.  Started talking to a younger guy about the tattoo, and he seemed interested.  Not in the prospect of the cash from a big back piece, but rather by the intent of the tattoo.  His eyes lit up a bit when I said "Japanese" and "kanji".  I simply can not think that it was coincidence that he was reading 
Bushido: The art of the Japanese tattoo. I had actually just finished the book about a week before  ;)  His name was Noel, and he was up for it.  He was confident he could do the work in one day (the day the dojo closed for a week so I wouldn't have to miss any training while it healed).  He gave me a fair price and after looking at his portfolio, it was decided.  Abby agreed.  The day came and I got there at about 1pm.  I took my shirt off and straddled the chair.  Nine and a half hours later we were done.  A couple 5 minute breaks was all the down time.  I thought Noel had gone crippled, his hand was curled into a twitching claw and he was holding it.  "I know you said one sitting, Joe...But I didn't believe you. are not normal."  Well, if you know me, then you know that gave me a mischievous grin.  Noel was awesome, he has become a good friend and I really appreciate all the patience he has had with me.  He will be my tattoo artist from here on in and I definitely recommend him  to anyone who is considering getting some ink (hint: Jay).  When we were done, I was told to go home and put some Lubriderm- "Seriously Sensitive" on the tat.  B a d   i d e a, come to find out, there is alcohol in Lubriderm and when my whole back lit up like a gas fire, I almost put a hole through my apartment.  A&D ointment for a couple of days, then DEEP breaths when the Lubriderm hit.  It healed well, itching like a fiend at times, I couldn't have made it through that w/out Abby gently slapping my back for me.  The pic is from 5/22, the day I got my digital camera, all healed up nice.  Oh, don't steal my you can see I put a lot into it.
                  Well, that's it.  The funny thing that I have "Bushido", I've been designing a "Jiujitsu" tattoo for my left calf...
                                      to get this August....
                                                                     when the dojo closes again.  :)   

"Jiu Jitsu" tattoo begun, just the kanji at this point, more to come when the dojo goes on break -click here


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