If it’s true that the pen is mightier than the sword, it’s especially true when Jake Weidmann (’08) is the one doing the writing. Not only is the recent Biola graduate on track to become a “master penman” — a title reserved for just a handful of the world’s top calligraphers — but he’s also a bodybuilder who can bench press 400 pounds. He told Biola Magazine about his unusual combination of hobbies.

My appreciation for calligraphy began when I was very young. My mom has always had beautiful handwriting. I remember admiring her notes that she would write to me and so I took it upon myself at a very early age to work tirelessly on my own handwriting.

During the first semester of my junior year I began searching the Internet for calligraphy styles and I found The International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting (IAMPETH). It was through this association that I discovered the methods of script calligraphy and thus began my love affair with the pointed pen.

I attended my first IAMPETH conference last summer and had the pleasure of meeting some of the most talented penmen in the world. Since the average age of the penmen at this conference was around 50 years old, I felt more than a little out of place as a young college student.

After the invention of the typewriter, and the computer after it, writing by hand has become nearly obsolete. The art of pointed pen calligraphy has been nearly lost and survives only by the few penmen who still take pleasure in this vintage art. Only nine master penmen remain in the world.

I am currently one and a half years into the minimum five-year time period required to become a master penman.

I have heard of several penmen working for stationery companies, high fashion, signmaking and even in movies to recreate historical letters and documents. The White House has three penmen on staff year round to create menus for state dinners, invitations to world leaders and various other tasks.

During the golden age of penmanship, calligraphy pens were beautifully and delicately handcrafted out of exotic hardwoods and often inlaid with ivory. Today you are lucky if you can find a plastic one at an art store.

After becoming very frustrated with these pens, I decided to take it on myself to learn how to create my own pens on the lathe and incorporate hand-carved designs and even inlay hand-carved, pre-banivory onto my pens. I have since become overwhelmed with orders for custom pens.

I am currently working on a pen for the calligrapher to the White House, which will be called the “presidential pen.”

It is my hope that anyone who views my art may see beyond the art and myself as the artist and be enlightened to the glory of God in His creation.

If you were to meet me, you would probably not think me an artist and especially not a calligrapher. One of my other pursuits in life is bodybuilding.

I competed in my first bodybuilding competition at Venice Beach during my sophomore year at Biola. My greatest bench-press record is 405 pounds and I can leg press over 1,000 pounds. People often ask how it is that I can do such delicate work with arms that are 19 inches around, but I have found it to help me greatly with muscular control and good posture when writing.

Initially I thought that I had to be the only bodybuilding penman in the world. But then I met my mentor, John DeCollibus, who is now 62, has been bodybuilding since he was my age, is 6 foot 5 inches tall and is starting his own personal training business. I found it ironic to be discussing the golden age of bodybuilding, Arnold Schwarzenegger, workout plans and diet at a penmen’s conference. Needless to say, we hit it off really well.