The Beauty of Chinese Art

The one thing I greatly admire in the two great chinese arts – calligraphy and martial arts – is the skill of applying pressure, and yet be relaxed at the same time.

To be forceful and yet relaxed? Doesn’t that seem like a contradiction?

Initially, yes. How can one be relaxed, yet be able to apply some amount of force? Being relaxed suggests that there is zero force/pressure that is intentionally applied.

That’s where the Chinese Arts come in and show that these two concepts are not contradictory but consistent! It is the skill of self-mastery – of knowing how much force to apply, and yet to be relaxed while doing so at the same time.

Not too much, and not too little, and yet enjoying every single moment of serenity that passes by.

Take calligraphy for example. To write well, one must hold the brush with just the right amount of pressure – too much or too little, and the results will be terrible. Yet, for most people who start out at it, it seems impossible to be relaxed while trying so hard to apply just the right amount of force on the brush. But the lack of this relaxation results in bad calligraphy as well. The hand becomes too stiff for fluidity of action in writing. It is only when one’s hand becomes relaxed while still applying just the right amount of pressure on the paper that beautiful calligraphy is produced.

This is something that I really hope to master. To know how much pressure/force to apply in everyday things, and yet be relaxed and calm so that there is fluidity in one’s motion and thinking, rather than stiffness due to tension.

It kind of reminds me of bamboo.

On one hand, it is stiff and hard, yet on the other hand, it is flexible. The bamboo knows very well when it needs to be firm, and when it needs to be flexible.