Kyoshi's Technique of the Week

June 4th , 2017

This weeks technique is submitted by Tytus Michalski
Sandan, Shihan Ueshiro Harbour Karate Club
Shorin-Ryu Karate USA

Breathing

Breathing is a technique that is always with us and we're fortunate that our traditional style has a deep and practical understanding of this topic.

The Green Book discusses breathing during the first chapter: "Deep breaths, inhale all the way in until you can't breathe in any more air, then exhale all the way out until you can't breath out any more air."

It continues to give a detailed visualization of peaceful breathing with an empty mind: "As you breathe out, you breathe out tiredness and weakness. With every breath in you inhale strength, exhale weakness and tiredness."

Later on, the Green Book returns to the topic under a section titled "Breath of Life": "Breathing technique comes under the Tanden section because we breath naturally from our abdomen, ballooning the belly out as we breath in and gently pulling the stomach in as we breath out."

"The breathing is synchronized in training for the purpose of better complimenting the blocks or strikes."

There are specific insights about breathing when blocking: "In Kata practice the ideal method of breathing is to inhale through the nose during the defensive blocking techniques, blowing up like a blow fish, bursting into and taking over your opponent's space, thereby blocking both physically and mentally to your maximum capability."

There are also details about breathing when attacking: "The offensive moves are best executed while we breathe out through the mouth. The breath may be a burst or normal expelling of air. The timing must be reflexive in nature."

Those quotes are just a sample of the full discussion in the Green Book about breathing.

Scientific research is also catching up to karate training, as evidenced by this research paper. It's a dense read, but the key conclusion is that relaxed breathing, specifically as done in mindfulness meditation, has multiple benefits for both physical and mental health.

Switching back to the arts, here is another perspective on breathing from Yo-Yo Ma: "The idea of music, it's not just storytelling, but it's about breathing."

This video of Yo-Yo Ma performing shows him applying relaxed breathing on stage:

Breathing is something we can and should train every single day. Karate, science, and music all agree about the benefits for our physical and mental health. It's very easy to overlook and we must pay extra special attention to remind ourselves.

The best time to train is always now, so go ahead and take a deep breath.

Domo Arigato Gozaimasu,

Tytus Michalski
Sandan, Shihan Ueshiro Harbour Karate Club

Under the direction of Hanshi Robert Scaglione