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Writing from the shoulder


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#1 Pulsewidth

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Posted 21 April 2009 - 19:41

I was never taught how to write correctly. I hold the pencil hooked tightly under the first joint of my thumb, and I hold my arm rigid and move only my fingers. This makes writing painful, so I avoid it as much as possible. This isn't usually a problem, but I am teaching myself Japanese and I find handwriting helps me memorize it. I can't write for more than about 30 minutes before it becomes too painful, which is limiting my progress.

I read that you are supposed to write using the shoulder muscles. Writing Japanese characters requires more precise stokes than English characters, so is it possible using shoulder muscles?

Attached is a sample of my handwriting in both English and Japanese, using correct and incorrect techniques. I'm not aiming for perfection, only a writing technique that is fast, legible and painless for both languages. Should I persevere with writing from the shoulder, or is just correcting the grip sufficient? My muscles naturally twitch more than average, so I'm not convinced I'll ever be able to write complicated Japanese characters using my shoulder muscles.

Attachment: handwriting.jpg (1200x799)

EDIT: Sorry about the large image, it didn't show up in the preview. How can I attach an image without it automatically being displayed?

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  • handwriting.jpg

Edited by Pulsewidth, 21 April 2009 - 19:43.


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#2 MattN

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Posted 21 April 2009 - 19:53

Correcting your grip will probably make the biggest difference in terms of the pain. If I'm understanding your grip correctly, it seems like a position that would be quite incompatible with finger-controlled writing, and I'm not surprised that it gets painful quickly. Correcting your grip should, in the short term, allow you to write for longer periods of time without discomfort. Shifting control to the shoulder muscles will improve your comfort further, but I think even writing with your fingers would be much more comfortable with a better grip.

#3 asaylor

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 01:55

There have been a number of discussions about finger/wrist/arm/shoulder writing. You might want to check this link for some good ideas.

Alan

Edited by asaylor, 22 April 2009 - 02:01.


#4 Pulsewidth

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Posted 25 April 2009 - 21:51

I decided against writing from the shoulder, but I persevered with correcting my grip, and now I can write just as fast and almost as legibly using a conventional grip. I still tend to grip the pen too tightly, but I switched to a fountain pen (old Parker model, whichever was their cheapest about 15 years ago) which helps stop me putting excessive pressure on the paper. Writing is now much more comfortable, so it was certainly worth the effort.

#5 Daosus

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Posted 26 April 2009 - 09:37

As someone who's experimented with the shoulder writing, I can say this: your shoulders are surprisingly precise. There are some serious disadvantages to shoulder writing, though. First off, you tend to write in very smooth motions, which makes great English cursive, but would make terrible Japanese characters. Second, and more important, it absolutely requires you to be sitting down comfortably. If you want to write in an easy chair or standing on a train or any other weird position, you have to use finger writing. I tried it, liked it a bit, but ultimately found it wasn't worth the payoff.

#6 Randal6393

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Posted 26 April 2009 - 13:50

Not sure shoulder vs finger writing is the primary problem. My experience with writing Japanese suggests that most Japanese characters -- having originated from brush writing -- should be written with a "jab-twitch" motion while the writing instrument is held almost vertical. Quite a different motion from the "pull along the paper" stroke that is used in Western alphabets. And Western alphabets are written with the pen at a 30-45 degree angle to the paper. So not much in common -- had to completely re-educate my hand and eye to function with Japanese.

Guess that's why Japanese call English "that funny alphabet that's written sideways". Anyhow, practice in other scripts does pay off in greater control and understanding of our native alphabets. Keep up your studies and practice. And practice relaxing your hand as you write. That did me more good than any other bit of advice I received.

Best of luck to you,

Yours,
Randal

From a person's actions, we may infer attitudes, beliefs, --- and values. We do not know these characteristics outright. The human dichotomies of trust and distrust, honor and duplicity, love and hate --- all depend on internal states we cannot directly experience. Isn't this what adds zest to our life?
 


#7 WendyNC

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Posted 26 April 2009 - 14:02

Finger writing, arm writing and shoulder writing are not in any way mutually exclusive. As Daosus pointed out, different situations require different movements. Maybe it's my early training, but what I have found is that when I'm writing cursive while sitting in a comfortable position at a table/desk, as I concentrate on releasing the "death grip," my wrist, arm and shoulder become increasingly involved on their own.
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#8 wykpenguin

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 13:33

Having shorter strokes definitely requires a bit more finger movement, but the more shoulder movement you can put into it, the more comfortable it will be to write for long periods of time. Imagine taking 3 hour exams finger writing.

The shoulder-wrist-finger problem is just movement vs control, similar to what you would encounter in manysports, e.g. tennis, badminton, bowling, etc., of course the swing is done by your arm but the spin is controlled by the wrist. Same with writing, I aim to produce the majority of my pen movements with my shoulders but parts like the hooks in 色 or 越 are better produced by a flick of the pen using the wrist or fingers.

#9 Russ

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 01:40

I have spent months unlearning my business-like writing style which requires a nearly vertical pen, tight grip, and short, quick motions. I finally moved to a dip pen, learned to lean it waaaay back, brush the paper gently, and let my arm / shoulder take over. It has been very difficult to achieve, but now I can write uniform, attractive cursive. It even feels good to write it. So rhythmic. So graceful. Take your time. Don't give up. Keep at it. Enjoy it. You'll get there.



#10 nparik1

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 03:49

I have been trying to read up on the different threads and articles and the words arm, shoulder, forearm, wrist, fingers are soo mumbled that I can't keep the story straight smile.gif Are there a set of videos that show good techniques or have good guidelines??

Sorry if this has been discussed or mentioned earlier in a different thread.

Niket
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#11 Randal6393

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Posted 10 May 2009 - 19:59

QUOTE (nparik1 @ May 4 2009, 11:49 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I have been trying to read up on the different threads and articles and the words arm, shoulder, forearm, wrist, fingers are soo mumbled that I can't keep the story straight smile.gif Are there a set of videos that show good techniques or have good guidelines??

Sorry if this has been discussed or mentioned earlier in a different thread.

Niket


Best set of videos for writing in general -- especially styles of alphabets -- are Caliken's videos. Also, IAMPETH website has a variety of Copperplate/Spenserian videos available. Not sure how many show the whole arm in motion, most are focusing on the pen tip. But best of luck to you and keep on hunting.

Enjoy,

Yours,
Randal

From a person's actions, we may infer attitudes, beliefs, --- and values. We do not know these characteristics outright. The human dichotomies of trust and distrust, honor and duplicity, love and hate --- all depend on internal states we cannot directly experience. Isn't this what adds zest to our life?
 


#12 sirksael

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 09:01

I am currently in the process of switching over from hooked writing position to shoulder writing, and I keep a blog about it that I update from time to time. It's a long and slow process, but there is some progress.
There are also some links there to articles about writing position in the first few posts that might interest you

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#13 Cessna811

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Posted 06 June 2009 - 14:59

smile.gif Where are those Nuns when you need them? Did anyone go to Catholic Grammar School? How many hours did we spend in penmanship classes? The nuns always told us to write using our entire arm or perhaps they meant "from the shoulder" which I always found difficult and uncomfortable. Grammar School Penmanship class was where I had my first encounter with fountain pens. Oh no. Showing my age. rolleyes.gif

Edited by Cessna811, 06 June 2009 - 16:58.


#14 zhiyuan

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 09:20

QUOTE (Pulsewidth @ Apr 21 2009, 08:41 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I was never taught how to write correctly. I hold the pencil hooked tightly under the first joint of my thumb, and I hold my arm rigid and move only my fingers. This makes writing painful, so I avoid it as much as possible. This isn't usually a problem, but I am teaching myself Japanese and I find handwriting helps me memorize it. I can't write for more than about 30 minutes before it becomes too painful, which is limiting my progress.

I read that you are supposed to write using the shoulder muscles. Writing Japanese characters requires more precise stokes than English characters, so is it possible using shoulder muscles?

Attached is a sample of my handwriting in both English and Japanese, using correct and incorrect techniques. I'm not aiming for perfection, only a writing technique that is fast, legible and painless for both languages. Should I persevere with writing from the shoulder, or is just correcting the grip sufficient? My muscles naturally twitch more than average, so I'm not convinced I'll ever be able to write complicated Japanese characters using my shoulder muscles.

Attachment: handwriting.jpg (1200x799)

EDIT: Sorry about the large image, it didn't show up in the preview. How can I attach an image without it automatically being displayed?

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#15 Jamesiv1

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 15:10

Lot's of good information on the IAMPETH site regarding movement:

http://www.iampeth.c...amp;sa.y=0#1118

This would be movement as it relates to American handwriting styles such as Spencerian, Ornamental script and American Business Script (Palmer, etc)

I believe you will find that back in the day, most professional penmen used a combination of all three types:

1. finger movement - for many if not most of the minuscule letters
2. muscular movement ("bouncing" on the forearm muscle) - for the joins, ascenders and descenders
3. whole-arm movement - for the capitals, especially ornamental/flourished capitals

James

Edited by Jamesiv1, 19 June 2009 - 15:18.

Interested in pointed-pen calligraphy and penmanship?

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#16 Mojibacha

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Posted 03 June 2017 - 05:15

Pretty old forum, but in case anyone sees this, here's a pretty great guide on how to correct your form so you can write from your shoulder: http://www.paperpena...andwriting.html








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