Martial Arts Breathing Techniques

The main function of your respiratory system is to rid the body of carbon dioxide and to replace it with oxygen. The respiratory system is the most important system to the body. Breathing is the primary fundamental technique that keeps us going. We can survive without food for weeks and water for days, however without air, you’re a goner. It’s no surprise that when our lives get stressful, we do not always breathe as we should. When our air supply is interfered with, the whole body quickly suffers. Gradings, tournaments and even celebratory graduations can have the most trained martial artists relying on short, shallow gasps of air instead of deep, long, relaxing inhaling and exhaling breaths. If the respiratory system is not used to its maximum function and kept in good working order, the heart has to pump more blood to make up for this insufficient ventilation of the blood and this throws great strain on the heart.

For the majority of us our training will be conducted indoors and that’s just a fact of life. If windows can be opened to allow the air to circulate it will encourage the occupants to enjoy greater benefits from their efforts while confined to indoor training.

If you want an extra benefit, and a healthy one at that, practicing outdoors has a lot of advantages, especially if the air quality is reasonably good. The goal of training outdoors is mainly to get better results from our efforts and enjoy a lot more energy during, and especially after, a workout. I would strongly recommend deep inhaling and exhaling breathing exercises for increased respiratory efficiency at the commencement of any physical exercise programme. The Chinese tell us that air or life force is known as Chi. Ever get a hint of envy as you see lots of Chinese practicing T’ai Chi exercises, where outdoor practice is openly encouraged and socially accepted and all together enjoying a communal workout in the park? I don’t think the same would go down too well somehow if I donned my uniform and started kicking my legs about in Lord Street Car Park.

Metabolism

When we eat food we are fuelling our bodies. Cells in our body break down the food into simpler components, giving us energy, producing water and also waste and toxins. This is metabolism at work. If you want to enjoy a healthy metabolism, you will need a healthy bloodstream. When we inhale air fills our lungs and the air we breathe in (oxygen) is absorbed into the bloodstream. Simultaneously the waste air we had in our bodies (carbon dioxide) now passes from the blood into the lungs to be exhaled. The bloodstream is the system that not only carries the inhaled breath (oxygen) but also the nutrients from food we eat to all cells in the body. The inhaled breath therefore oxygenates the bloodstream returning to the heart and then is pumped by the heart to all parts of the body.

So inhalation gives you an oxygen rich bloodstream and when you exhale, an exhalation gives you oxygen depleted bloodstream.

Caution

You may have studied breathing before reading this so you are aware of how important is this simple, abundant, never-ending, free supply commodity. Perhaps because we don’t pay any price for oxygen we fail to place such a great value on its importance. It would be wise therefore to value it highly if you want to have a healthy circulation system and live a long and healthy life.

Another word of caution is to begin breathing exercises slowly. You must never hold an inhalation so long that it gives you nausea, dizziness or headaches. Build your lung capacity slowly day by day. Okay, you’re sitting down, reading your MAI so let’s start this minute. If it’s sunny, take yourself outdoors. Breathe in deeply through the nose and expand your lungs, hold it for a few seconds only at first, then exhale deeply. On the exhalation push out the carbon dioxide (waste air) as much as possible.

Do this about five or six times and that’s the beginning, you can do this anytime, anywhere. Once you’ve done this basic exercise, move onto the next, breath through your nose for a slow count of five or six. Try gently, very gently, pushing the breath down into your chest and abdomen. Hold this breath for four times that of The main function of your respiratory system is to rid the body of carbon dioxide and to replace it with oxygen. The respiratory system is the most important system to the body. Breathing is the primary fundamental technique that keeps us going. We can survive without food for weeks and water for days, however without air, you’re a goner. It’s no surprise that when our lives get stressful, we do not always breathe as we should. When our air supply is interfered with, the whole body quickly suffers. Gradings, tournaments and even celebratory graduations can have the most trained martial artists relying on short, shallow gasps of air instead of deep, long, relaxing inhaling and exhaling breaths. If the respiratory system is not used to its maximum function and kept in good working order, the heart has to pump more blood to make up for this insufficient ventilation of the blood and this throws great strain on the heart.

For the majority of us our training will be conducted indoors and that’s just a fact of life. If windows can be opened to allow the air to circulate it will encourage the occupants to enjoy greater benefits from their efforts while confined to indoor training.

If you want an extra benefit, and a healthy one at that, practicing outdoors has a lot of advantages, especially if the air quality is reasonably good. The goal of training outdoors is mainly to get better results from our efforts and enjoy a lot more energy during, and especially after, a workout. I would strongly recommend deep inhaling and exhaling breathing exercises for increased respiratory efficiency at the commencement of any physical exercise programme. The Chinese tell us that air or life force is known as Chi. Ever get a hint of envy as you see lots of Chinese practicing T’ai Chi exercises, where outdoor practice is openly encouraged and socially accepted and all together enjoying a communal workout in the park? I don’t think the same would go down too well somehow if I donned my uniform and started kicking my legs about in Lord Street Car Park.

Metabolism

When we eat food we are fuelling our bodies. Cells in our body break down the food into simpler components, giving us energy, producing water and also waste and toxins. This is metabolism at work. If you want to enjoy a healthy metabolism, you will need a healthy bloodstream. When we inhale air fills our lungs and the air we breathe in (oxygen) is absorbed into the bloodstream. Simultaneously the waste air we had in our bodies (carbon dioxide) now passes from the blood into the lungs to be exhaled. The bloodstream is the system that not only carries the inhaled breath (oxygen) but also the nutrients from food we eat to all cells in the body. The inhaled breath therefore oxygenates the bloodstream returning to the heart and then is pumped by the heart to all parts of the body.

So inhalation gives you an oxygen rich bloodstream and when you exhale, an exhalation gives you oxygen depleted bloodstream.

Caution

You may have studied breathing before reading this so you are aware of how important is this simple, abundant, never-ending, free supply commodity. Perhaps because we don’t pay any price for oxygen we fail to place such a great value on its importance. It would be wise therefore to value it highly if you want to have a healthy circulation system and live a long and healthy life.

Another word of caution is to begin breathing exercises slowly. You must never hold an inhalation so long that it gives you nausea, dizziness or headaches. Build your lung capacity slowly day by day. Okay, you’re sitting down, reading your MAI so let’s start this minute. If it’s sunny, take yourself outdoors. Breathe in deeply through the nose and expand your lungs, hold it for a few seconds only at first, then exhale deeply. On the exhalation push out the carbon dioxide (waste air) as much as possible.

Do this about five or six times and that’s the beginning, you can do this anytime, anywhere. Once you’ve done this basic exercise, move onto the next, breath through your nose for a slow count of five or six. Try gently, very gently, pushing the breath down into your chest and abdomen. Hold this breath for four times that of your inhalation. Say, inhale for five counts and hold for twenty. Then exhale through your mouth for ten, that’s twice your inhalation. Never force or strain or rush your breathing technique.

After three or four weeks your lung capacity will increase and you may wish to increase the holding time of the breaths. Because we take breathing so much for granted, we sometimes fall short of the physical and mental benefits of proper breathing. This leads to insufficient oxygen so the cells cannot metabolise food properly. So when you, as a martial artist, pop one of your vitamin pills into your body, because your food may not be metabolised properly, most nutrients including vitamins and minerals precious to the martial artist are wasted. It’s important to breathe in through the nose because it filters and warms the air prior to reaching the lungs. Again if you breathe in through the mouth you not only feel it to be colder and unfiltered, but you become more susceptible to infections such as colds and any viruses that may be about, and your throat may risk infection and become dry. Ask any boxer and he/she will tell you that the jaw is most vulnerable when not closed, so breathing through the nose and keeping the mouth tight benefits self defence. All forms of yoga place a great emphasis on the wonderful benefits
of proper breathing. Chi Gung practitioners also exhale in grunt-like fashion.

When you exhale the diaphragm rises, the body rids itself of the toxic, stale air (carbon dioxide). This air is pushed out consciously and deliberately expelling waste and counteracting any infection or body pollution.

Deep breathing aids the lymph fluid. Lymph contains white blood cells to protect the body whereas all cells are surrounded by lymph. When you exhale this lymph fluid helps remove toxic material. This is dependent on deep breathing to transport lymph around to every cell. It is unlike the blood which has a heart acting as a pump to push blood around. Even medical researchers now believe that lack of oxygen seems to cause cells to become toxic, malignant and even cancerous. When you tie your belt around your waist, do not tie it too tight as this restricts lymph movement.

That is why martial artists and yoga practitioners wear very loose clothing to aid lymph movement and improve circulation.

Mental Benefits of Breathing The brain contains neurons which have a high rate of metabolism, therefore requiring a plentiful supply of oxygen. As a martial arts instructor there are many times during my day that I X take a few deep breaths and recommend it as a great, if not the greatest, tool in stress management.

We need always to control our mood as much as possible. To control our mood we need to control our state, a lack of oxygen means a loss in mental focus and concentration, two work horses for today’s competitive martial arts world.

Common advice when you’re stressed is to ‘Take a few deep breaths’.

I have taken my senior black belts to a local park, all wearing our traditional Taekwondo uniforms and I was quietly surprised to receive a positive and favourable reaction from the locals. So maybe outdoor practice of martial arts can be socially acceptable. Perhaps readers might like to write in to our nice editor, Mr Bob Sykes and ask if, like the Red Nose Day, we all have an Outdoor Martial Arts Day so public awareness is increased. Imagine it, I can see the headlines now, ‘Traffic on the M25 was stopped today as… over 100 black belts did some flying kicks. By the time police came some motorists had joined in the cool down’, or, ‘Membership of Martial

Arts Schools across the country booms as Martial Arts Day reaches fever pitch’. Until next month, breathe easy.

To contact Frank Murphy Tel: 01474 326967 or E-mail: mbs.blackbelt@virgin.net.

That is why martial artists and yoga practitioners wear very loose clothing to aid lymph movement and improve circulation.

Mental Benefits of Breathing The brain contains neurons which have a high rate of metabolism

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