Calligrapher, Associate Professor, Beijing Institute of Graphic Communications; Chief Editor, "Print China" publishing house
Calligraphy is a writing art. There are numerous amateurs in China. On the one hand, due to its calligraphy artistic charm, it takes root in Chinese culture and has an extremely rich connotation, it is the essence of Chinese culture. On the other hand, also due to its utility function, it may tone the body and cause the individual to become healthy and live a long life, more and more people are joining the field of calligraphy. Here, I briefly talk about the relation between calligraphy and fitness, a healthy brain, longevity of life and so on.
Calligraphy can adjust breathing and maintain mental tranquility.
A human being′s health lies in exercise, exercises may improve one′s health. The posture of finger, palm, wrist when holding a pen, suspending the wrist and arm in the air when writing, the movement unceasing forward and backward, left and right, and the curving movement up and down, not only can it adjust the arm′s muscles and nerves, moreover, the finger, the arm, the shoulder, the back, the waist and the legs can also get practice. This kind of exercise is leisurely, moderate and also very dedicated. Calligraphy manifests this kind of moderate exercise, which is similar to the Qigong method “swing the physique, moves the Joint”. When practicing calligraphy, discarding worries and doubts, with total concentration to start the first strength point of the writing brush, expresses the inner breath and calm of the mind. Thus, it has a certain adjustment and exercise function to a person′s psychological and physiological health, people will feel refreshed.
Writing can adjust the breath; it can also promote smooth breathing. It is same as Taijiquan boxing that “exercises body movement outside and promotes the spirit and soul inside”. The study of Taijiquan boxing often disassembles the fist types, practicing every gesture and motion, calligraphy skill is the same. Hide the first stroke and protect the last stroke, modulation, all should study one by one. Taijiquan boxing is specialized in wearing away the rock with water, slow but quickly sometimes, practicing deep breathing, interacting between real and unreal situations. We must let the mind control our breath, let the breath control our fingers when writing, but cannot let the fingers control the writing brush, no matter what the writing brush smudges. It is necessary to use all our strength, interact between the hard and soft, use the center of the writing brush, every stroke needs a vigorous handwriting style. Therefore, writing and Taijiquan boxing are both necessary to practice breathing and increase the strength of the body.
When practicing calligraphy,we should concentrate completely, our thoughts should maintain purity, indifferent to fame or gain, the mind is not disturbed by outside circumstances, the inside Yin and Yang circumstances should be balanced, guaranteeing the steady state of the body, delaying our cell′s division cycle, the inside vitality changing in minimum, metabolism is relatively slow. Calligraphy can maintain mental tranquility, maintaining mental tranquility can practice soul and mind, effectively reducing or avoiding physiological disturbance from psychology, making all distracting thoughts beyond the highest heavens, its function is similar to the practice of qigong or Taijiquan boxing. Everybody knows, after practicing qigong or Taijiquan boxing, people will feel spiritual and refreshed, breathing is calm, and after earnest writing, the feeling will be so.
Calligraphy may strengthen the brain and enhance our observation ability.
Humanity′s perfect brain is good at rhythm, tempo, drawing, imagination, they are Chinese character calligraphy essential factors. Calligraphy requests changeable lines, structure symmetry, even form, rhythm and tempo. The perfect brain excels in all these contents, at the same time; it is certainly what the brain pursues. Therefore, Chinese characters have experienced official script changes and changes in standard type of regular script, pictograph consist of basic points and strokes which experienced patching and disciplining unceasingly in the brain, it is also the most suitable composition to recognize Chinese characters, then forms unique Chinese graph writing standardization. This is the foundation of Orientalism (Chinese culture) the overall thought, they are also the culture established on the base of Chinese cultural character.
To view, namely look; to observe, analyze. The ability of observation refers to the overall thought reaction capacity to the object shape, characteristic, nature, relations, rules and so on which forms and manifests in the process of a person’s observation activity. The author discovered that when teaching students who study calligraphy they cross the threshold quickly, have better observation ability; at the same time, after studying calligraphy, the majority of students“ observation ability had a great enhancement.
Writing is a process which combines the hand and brain’s activity, outstanding calligraphy works have extremely slight fine structure, the study process of calligraphy is the process to enhance the observation ability, and it can make one to be more careful. The study of calligraphy needs one to copy the copy book, it is quite important to observe carefully before taking up the writing brush to copy. Calligraphy is the angle image and model which consists of fundamental elements like the point, line, surface, black and white space, character radical and other visible image, model is incised by the linear, the line rule and the line joints and breaks, students should observe carefully when copying. The more carefully they observe, the more accurate analysis and understanding will be. Thus, we can perform better when start to copy. That is to say, copying is not only how to begin a stroke, move the writing brush, finish the last stroke and make various hand skills and so on, what’s more important is the enhancement of the observation ability. In the preliminary stage of writing, we start with bad habits difficult to remove. Only through careful, patient, target-oriented observation and contrast can we make progress.
People who begin to practice writing often write the characters which are difficult to satisfy entirely as desired because of the existing question in the copy book of detailed observation and writing technique utilization, however, after a period of exercise time, they could find the style of the copy book and basic characteristics of standard shape, fully motivate his/her thoughts, carry on with more careful analysis, differentiate changes of front, size and a revealing in a different calligraphy copybook.
Generally, people’s observation method for a copy book is one plane, single track, but a well-trained calligraphy amateur can bring three-dimensional changeable observation to the copy book. When observing the same copy book, they can do so more carefully than others.
Calligraphers Tend to Live Long Lives
It is absolutely not a false rumor that calligraphy can make people healthy and live long lives through the ages. Ancient and contemporary calligraphers all enjoy longevity of life, for example, the famous four regular script calligraphers Ou, Yan, Liu, Zhao, each one lived over 70 years. At that time this was a very long life. Yan Zhenqing enjoyed good physical health when he was 76 years old, he might have lived even longer if he hadn’t negotiated with the revolting bandit by himself alone and was killed brutally. Calligrapher Wen in the Ming Dynasty lived 89 years, Calligrapher Liang Tongshu in the Qing Dynasty lived to 92 years old, the contemporary calligrapher Sun Mofu even lived to 100 years old, Shu Tong lived to 93 years old, Su Juxian lived to 110 years old and Dong Shouping lived to 94 years old. Qi Gong: The Chinese contemporary calligraphy field master, former chairman of Chinese Calligrapher Association, he created the contemporary Qi Gong script, lived to 95 years old.
Everybody knows that the eminent monk often lives longer in ancient dynasties. According to the research introduced, making a comparison between the renowned painters and calligraphers (calligraphy and painting is interlinked) and the eminent monks in the Ming and Qing Dynasty, amongst 28 people, the painters and calligraphers averagely lived 12.7 years old more than the eminent monks, it is manifest that calligraphy and painting can keep people in good health compared to the eminent monk” training. Mr. Li Zhen, is at present a 76 year-old “General calligrapher”, having heart disease and insomnia. After practicing calligraphy, his heart disease was relived and he no longer worried about insomnia. He said deeply-experienced that “When time comes by, one certainly can obtain something. The “achievement” is not only in the calligraphy, but also especially beneficial to the health”. Obviously, practicing calligraphy is firmly a health-care activity; Provided that one is persistent, “calligraphy” can be “the way to keep in good health”.
Practicing calligraphy can make people live a long life, Chinese medicine thinks that if one′s liver is in good condition, the body is healthy. A newborn baby’s liver is in the best condition, full of vitality, newborn babies tend to make a fist with their hands, the thumb in other four fingers and closely grip. If one is in good health, he can make a fist tightly and have strength. People who make a fist frequently, he will have better condition of the liver, it is also good means to keep in good health. The practice of calligraphy needs physical strength, the hand must grip tightly, thus can write good characters. Therefore, calligraphers exercise the body when writing. It is the reason why calligraphers live longer.
Practicing calligraphy is also the most practical study.
The most basic activity of calligraphy study is writing characters, while the most important goal in writing is to record events and exchange sentiment, the minimum request is to write the characters in a standard, neat, clear way, making people feel comfortable and glad to accept. If you write the characters chaotically and with one′s wish, the reader may recognize it as “a book from heaven ” and unable to identify with it,finally lose its utility value. Not only does this not gain the respect of others but it also gives a bad impression to the readers. In our daily life, there are trademarks, advertisements, slogans, antithetical couplets, calligraphy and painting, scrolls and so on everywhere which are related to calligraphy, only the good works will have a good effect. Taking another actual example, at present, there were many people taking part in the test of a civil servant, two person’s scores were completely the same, but they just enrolled one of them because he can write characters better than the other one.
Calligraphy art can be spread from generation to generation.
Chinese characters are different from foreign languages in their stroke, structure and shape. They change subtly, various shapes, sharp difference in meaning. Through various changes in intensity, density, thickness of point and line, the exquisite article layout consists of the fluctuant changes in content and sentiments, the character shape, the space between characters, and the distribution of lines. Some resemble carved jade dragons, some resemble peaks tower magnificently, some are graceful and pretty, some are full of momentum, and all these making the written characters bear intensely artistic colour. Calligraphy is a fresh flower in Chinese art which will be open forever; relaxed and happy, fancies occur one after another, one can experience its spirit manner, the soul and mood, the interesting things in life, aesthetic pursuit, the trend of the times. Calligraphy is art which can make people feel soul-stirring when looking at it, can appreciate the subtleness, and it is worth seeing countless times, how could it not be spread from generation to generation!