Grounding Brush Practice
Sitting upright - head connected with the sky, neck extended -feet solid on the ground, shoulder-width apart.
Joining heaven & earth - vision & practicality - in the body.
Holding the brush
In the center of the handle the thumb pushes away to the north.
First finger pulls to the south counterbalancing.
Third finger hooks and pulls to the east.
Fourth and Fifth fingers come around on the right of the handle and push to the west.
Fingers are full, even in strength.
The palm of the hand is empty.
The grip is firm, without tension.
The forearm is parallel to the table.
The elbow hangs relaxed.
The wrist is cocked like a foot in the stirrup.
The spine of the body and the brush are vertical throughout.
The turning comes from the center of the body -
six fingers below the navel - the Tan Tien - is the source of the movement.
Making the Line - horizontal
Turn to the left - 70% weight on the left foot and left seat -
30% on the right - the left hand rests on the edge of the paper.
The brush tip makes contact with the page, moves to the left and then folds up and over to the right and the hairs bend, activating about 3/4 of the brush, settling into the "saddle".
Waist begins to turn and brush follows across the page -
In the middle of the line the weight is 50 / 50, at the end of the line the waist has turned to the right and the weight is on the right foot and right side of the seat.
Steady - slow - in contact - penetrating - centered over the core of the brush .
At the end of the line, draw the brush back up to the tip and lift off with a small twist. Re-form the point in the cup of water. The beginning and the end of the line are hidden within.
Begin again - setting an interval between the lines and moving the paper up on the table so you are making the stroke the same distance from the body each time.
Making the Line - vertical
Hold the brush 1" away from the top of the page in the center of the body, aligned with the spine.
Move the brush tip away from the body, then bring it up and over (like the folding at the beginning of the horizontal line). When the brush is "in its seat" begin to pull it towards you , keeping the handle vertical.
The body moves with the brush, maintaining the same distance for about half the line. Then the lower back and pelvis begin to curve and soften as the line come to the end (1" from the edge of the paper) and the brush lifts up into the center of the stroke and off the page.
Move the paper so that you are making the vertical line directly in front of you each time.
From Professor Cheng Man'ching
The power of the brush comes from the waist turning and the two feet planted. This is the basis for your calligraphy. The Chi of your Tan Tien from the center goes right into your fingers.
The practice of calligraphy is a way of expressing one's character - cleansing and educating one's basic nature.
It is the process of leveling off - sitting upright - getting stable - feeling secure - becoming sincere - wanting to learn.
From Ed Young
The emphasis of the exercise is the process of making the line, rather than the line itself. How it looks on the page is not important except as a true line, a reflection of the person's state at a particular point. There is no disguising it. You cannot pretty up a line. Therefore it is the process not the product. The intent is to discover where the person is at, to discover the self, continually discovering the self at every moment.
Every line is good because it doesn't lie.
Every line is different, just as every breath is different,
every word is different, every hour is different.