Re: Proper Breathing
When I first started Aikido, I also studied this aspect and considered all the ways of breathing while doing waza. I think the whole emphasis on "kokyu" misled me down that road.
However, through my experience, I have found the slow, long, continuous, and most importantly, relaxed method to be the best, and here's why. If you focus on exhaling when executing, then it is natural that your muscles will tense, I think, like when lifting weights. In Aikido, we don't want to be tense and hard, we want to extend our energy and become pliable, not hold it inside. Holding your breath while doing waza I think will affect your focus and ability to blend. Try holding a laser pen and point it at something while you hold your breath. You will notice slight movement in the light every time your heart beats. You also have to consider that it may be needed to execute more than one technique. If you take so many breaths in only one technique, you will tire quickly, especially in a randori situation. Faster, harder and more ukes would be faster, harder and more breathing. During my last ranking test that lasted quite long, I found that it helped to actually try to slow down my breathing to get me to relax and stay in control while going through several ukes without a break. I think that it is said somewhere that Aikido techniques are to be executed "in one breath". In my experience, when the ukes come flying in, I can squeeze in 2 or 3. At first it maybe difficult, but when you practice so much that you don't have to think about the techniques so much, then I think you will find that your breathing will slow down as your skill becomes better.