Thursday, 15 January 2009
books, calligraphy and martial arts
One day my grappling teacher, who is a master in Aikido, judo, ju-jitsu and God knows what else, mentioned a practice called Hitsuzendō which is some kind of meditational calligraphy session before the practice of the sword. This relation of calligraphy and sword practice is also shown in the film Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, which is by the way in my top ten favourite films of all times.
Since then I made my own version of Hitsuzendō, and for years I've filled pages and pages copying chapters of the Tao Teh Ching. Even one day I had the audacity of teaching my students a bit of calligraphy as they were about to start learning the sword form. It was a mess and ink everywhere. Fun though.
This morning I copied a chapter I particularly like, number 33. And it says:
He who knows men is clever;
He who knows himself has insight.
He who conquers men has force;
He who conquers himself is truly strong.
He who knows when he has got enough is rich,
And he who adheres assidously to the path of Tao is a man of steady purpose.
He who stays where he has found his true home endures long,
And he who dies but perishes not enjoys real longevity.
The Tao Teh Ching, my friends, was written in the morning of the human race, and still bears the freshness of the morning upon it, says the translator. Cool, huh?
I'm starting to practice Arabic calligraphy too. It's as beautiful and relaxing, and forces my hand to get out of its comfort zone. First lesson: Arabic, like Hebrew and Aramaic, is written from right to left and its alphabet consists of 28 consonants. Short vowels are represented by signs above and below the letters.