Shorin-Ryu Karate U.S.A.

Thought For The Week

By Shelley Schlossberg-Gucker, Ik-kyu Director
Denver Shorin-Ryu Karate Club

As karateka, we all know the importance of breathing. Or do we? Maybe the significance goes even deeper than we normally discuss.

Through our training, we recognize the need for strong breathing and the connection it has to the physical practice of technique. Master Nagamine refers to breath while describing attitudes for karate training. "Karate requires a harmony between breath and action. Therefore, we must learn to adjust our breathing until we reach the point where each breath coincides with each of the movements during practice."

We also know that breathing is a very important part of the Zen, or spiritual aspect of our martial arts training. Tanden is breathing, tanden is ki. Anyone who has struggled to do those last ten deep knee bends they thought they couldn't do, knows very well how breathing may help one just get through anything.

Yet, there are also significant health benefits from correct breathing. A student brought to my attention a study that was done on the importance of oxygen to cells. Cells were removed from two sets of frogs. The cells from the first group were deprived of oxygen and the cells from the second group were placed in a "normal" oxygen rich environment. The cells were then reinserted into the original frogs. Those cells which were stored in the oxygen rich environment were reincorporated by the neighboring cells once back in the frog and those cells which were stored in the oxygen "deprived" environment developed, in nearly every case, into a cancerous growth rather than being reincorporated by the neighboring cells. As Taisen Deshimaru states in the Zen Way To the Martial Arts "Air contains the energy and life from the universe which we receive through our lungs and every cell in our bodies, and so it is important to know how to breathe."

So just keep breathing!

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