Chinese Calligraphy, or Shufa, is a great tool for focusing and calming the mind. Taiji practioners can use it to practice sensetivity as well.
One of the essential 'gentleman's' arts, Chinese calligraphy or brushwork is for both visual artists and martial artists alike. This discipline allows the student too focus on brush, ink, paper and composition proving a unique approach to sensitivity with both the visual and the physical art. Visual artists will learn a traditional approach to applying ink to paper through pressure alone. Martial artists will develop an eye for detail, intense focus, and a high sensitivity for pressure and transmitting energy to external presence.
Students learn calligraphy by trying to exactly replicate Chinese characters. The workshops use models sent out before each workshop. These models include the English, pinyin with tone marks and stroke order. A list of the characters used in the past can be found at the bottom of the page.
LaoMa was introduced to the art of Chinese calligraphy in the New York Chinatown studio of Taiwan artist Ho Tit Wah in 1964. Later on that same day, he had his first experience of the art of Taijiquan in the nearby Training Hall of William C.C. Chen. Though he began formal training in Taijiquan first, study of Shufa followed a few years later while earning a Master's Degree in Asian Studies.
Not only have the two arts been closely connected in his own life, but in Chinese culture the two art forms are considered complements to each other, and there is a long tradition of transferring the principles of one to the other. The beginning Chinese calligraphy student will be introduced to the "Four Treasures" -- the ink stick, ink stone, brush, and rice paper. In the introductory seminar, their first task will be to make their own ink. The grinding of stick on stone is the all-important, meditative warm-up process of brush work. Next comes instruction on holding of the brush in a unique 3 finger/thumb grip. The student will then learn the five basic strokes used to create a substantial number of Chinese "picture words". These basic strokes; dot, horizontal, vertical, left and right sweeps are also used in traditional Chinese painting themes of "Bamboo," "Orchid," "Plum Blossom" and "Chrysanthemum".
The Introductory Seminar concludes with character formation combining the 5 strokes, using the sequence "left to right, top to bottom," on an underlying grid to create the beautifully balanced and graceful system of Chinese Shufa...Beautiful Writing.
Throughout the Seminar an added benefit for the Taijiquan student is exploring some of the principles that unite the two arts, from breathing to posture to whole body movement!