Practicing calligraphic brush strokes is the same as practicing martial arts movements. Most people think of Chinese brush calligraphy as handwriting or an art form. Actually, the principles of these two training are the same. We use our arms, our wrists and fingers, legs and stances to accomplish a finished form with the aid of our breathing and the strength of our Qi. It is a training for mental focus, physical strength, correct postures as well as managing space and distances.
Recently I saw a video at the National Palace Museum in Taipei about the evolvement of Chinese ideograms. It clearly demonstrated how the final shape of the word evolved from human form and its multiple moving and thinking actions. Each Chinese character is composed of individual shapes, with connectivity of action, emotions, meaning and background stories. It is not a dead picture but a moving and comprehensive communication tool.
With martial movements, we also convey strength, intensity of our focus. With our body language we can tell our opponent or audience about our philosophy and our standards.
Bajiquan is a martial art form which my mother demonstrated during a martial arts event in 1976. It is a martial arts form transmitted to her when she was a young revolutionary soldier during the Northern Expedition against the War Lords in China. She referred to her master as Taochan Shanren, 逃禪山人- the mountain man who was a recluse. It is customary for martial arts masters to not reveal their real name in the old tradition. My mother left me her hand written notes on Bajiquan. After she passed away in 1996, I began translating the Chinese text into English and consulted with my friend, Deng Ming Dao, a martial artist, writer/artist, to identify and codify the movements of this unique and ancient form.
In the last few years, we have slowly introduced this form to a selected group who shared an interest in traditional healing practices. For more information: www.taochanbaji.net