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The Art of Saltwater Recovery

Gyotaku is where trophies meet art, where celebration meets reverence. John led our guys in a new kind of experiential—less pulse-pounding and more thought-provoking—making Gyotaku.

More than a hundred years ago, fishermen in Japan developed a specialized printing technique to record their prized catches called gyotaku. The premise is fairly simple: dab ink or paint along one side of a fish’s body and press rice paper against it.

Gyotaku became a way for anglers to settle disputes over fish, but also grew into an art form all its own as the practice focused more and more on understanding the physical subtleties of each animal and memorializing them with reverence and appreciation of their sacrifice.

We fish a lot with our guys—off-shore, underwater, and even from our dock—and they all share in their catch, eagerly posing for pictures and debating over how to prepare the fish for their dinner.

As the men work their way through early recovery, they’re learning to be more present, to look for joy in their activities, and to thoughtfully consider themselves and their environment.

The most beautiful and intricate gyotaku are the product of reverent contemplation of the animal—its coloration, the shape of its body, and its strength and movement in the water. We learned that by adding more or less ink to the fish’s body we could capture it as we remember it: scales gleaming in the sunlight, muscles straining in the fight, fins slicing through the water.

Learning gyotaku is just another extension of the lessons they’re learning in the group room. Because the practice can be very simple, or it can be very elaborate. Each man is left to contemplate his own experience of the catch and express that through his art.

We think the results are stunning.

New to recovery, it’s hard for most guys to imagine they’ll be able to enjoy themselves without drugs and alcohol. And that’s why our experiential program is so much fun—we show our guys that an awesome life in recovery is within their reach.

The practice of gyotaku fits seamlessly with our approach because it focuses on slowing-down and the contemplating the details of that man’s experience and of the fish’s role in that experience.

Call us anytime to learn more about how we help young men get clean and find their passion (772) 245-8345.


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