Why is the stroke order of Chinese characters important?

If you’ve learned to write Chinese characters from a native,  you would’ve know that they pays particular attention to the stroke orders. So why does the Chinese makes such a fuss to stroke orders? Is it really that important?

Below are a few good reasons:

1. It helps to build a solid foundation to your Chinese writings

It’s like building a house, only if you set a good foundation right from the start, you can then build a stable house. Chinese characters are structured forms, they required to be written in a systematic way, so that a character will look like a character.

2. It sets a standard for the writings

Chinese characters are often being compared as to drawings, so let’s take drawing as an example. If you are asking a group of people to each draw a stick man, 8 out 10 will come up with a different version. Just imagine, there are more than 50,000 Chinese characters in this world, if everyone decide to write in his or her own way, how would it be possible to reach a common understanding of how the characters should look like? and how would it be possible for one to read the writings of another? Especially when it comes to cursives, by knowing where is the beginning and end of a character will definitely make the characters more readable.

3. It acts as a mnemonic system and help you to build associative connections of characters

Not only for the fact that the right stroke orders will put you into logic thinking and help you to memorise one Chinese character, it also helps you to make associative connection of how other characters can be written. Same to solving math problems, when you are familiar with the steps of how one problem is being solved, it becomes easier to solve similar problems; or as to baking cakes, when you remember the steps of how to bake one type of cake, it becomes easier to bake other types of cakes.

4. For aesthetic reasons

Chinese uses square boxes to practice writings, we call these boxes ‘田字格’ for the fact that they look like the character 田. Chinese characters are all designed to look square shaped and to fit into these boxes. Because of this, it is of importance to write the characters in the right stroke orders so that they would look clear and concise, and nicely fit into these boxes.

5. It really helps to train up one’s self-discipline

As a culture largely influenced by Buddhist ideology, the Chinese sees self-discipline as an invaluable virtue, one must restrain themselves in order to reach greatness. Strictly following stroke orders is a way of training up one’s self-discipline, and it will also develop your endurance, patience, and logic thinking.  In an even wider concept, as everything is connected to everything else, it might even unconsciously sets your life in better order, and help you to build a better spiritual life.


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