A Breath of Fresh Air

Breathing is a vital part of an authentic martial arts practice.  There are a variety of different types of breathing that martial artists employ.  Most of these different types of breathing are individually specific to the context of their application.  Following are the four most prominent types of martial arts breathing matched with the way they are best used:

1)      The first includes an emphasis on steady and rhythmic breathing.  This type of breathing supports stamina, keeping the body fueled with a constant supply of oxygen in order to be able to keep pace.

2)      The second is a type of “punctuating” breathing.  This type of breathing emphasizes synchronizing an exhale at the moment of extension or the execution of a particular technique.  This relationship ensures contraction of the diaphragm, protecting the internal organs.  It further concentrates focus of the execution of technique as the simultaneous breathing requires great presence.  Lastly such breathing affords the martial artist the opportunity to “ki-op” (“spirit-yell”) along with the technique creating expression of power with the capability to interrupt and demand reception.

3)      The third type is “ki” or “chi” breathing – slow, intentional breathing for the purposes of cultivating energy for specific upcoming use.  This breathing can be likened to “charging the batteries” with “life force” energy, as basic fortification or in preparation for extraordinary feats.

4)      And the forth type is deep breathing – slow, deliberate breathing used primarily to revitalize the system – either raising the baseline energy of the martial artist in preparation for a hard workout – or – as a reprieve and re-charge after a burst of energy expenditure.

Become aware of the martial artist in you as you employ each of these primary types of breathing…

Steady and rhythmic breathing is useful to keep you going strong throughout your day!  Take notice every hour on the hour.  Check in with yourself.  If your breathing is short and/or irregular – then see if you can re-establish rhythm in your life by developing a rhythm in your breathing.  Once you do, you will notice your “baseline capability” rise commensurately.

“Punctuating breathing” can be used for concentrated tasks requiring great tasks.  Ironically, most people tend to hold their breath in order to concentrate more.  Intentionally breathing, during moments of great concentration, causes and fuels forward movement and progress.  Sharp thinking, keen perception and the ability to communicate with increased clarity are greatly increased with the intentionality of this type of breathing.

“Ki” or Chi” breathing is generally fortifying, physically, psychically, emotionally and spiritually.  While there are a variety of protocols that are prescribed for “Chi” breathing, the details are much less important than the intention to cultivate and draw upon the energy that is all around us at all times — and store a healthy dose.  This type of breathing stimulates all the body’s healthy systems, oxygenates the blood and facilitates the release of endorphins in the brain – a sure-fire, short-cut recipe for a strong spirit, strong immune system and a no-cost “natural high”!

Finally deep breathing can be used to quickly wake-up or recover from over-stimulation and facilitate the beneficial processing of the input from such stimulation.  A couple of deep breaths several times a day will keep productivity high, systems working efficiently, energy up and give opportunity for mental and emotional organization and relief!

Now as you contemplate these thoughts, review your own tendencies, and plan your strategies for implementing these breathing techniques….take just a moment….and …