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Old 06-23-2016, 03:23 PM   #1
Brian Sutton
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kokyuho and the reverse breath.

Inhale, pulling abdomen in: pulling tendons to bones. Making extending ki easier. Creating an expansive yet integrated feeling in the body.

Exhale, pushing abdomen out: dropping, rooting, leveling and creating a integrated feeling in the body. Allowing force coming in to transmit more easily to the ground. Helping the body to withstand and redirect the outside force downward.

So kokyuho translates to breathing exercise. I've noticed some Dojos put more emphasis on the breath while others put less.

Any thoughts on this?

I've noticed the reversed breath as way to help establish and maintain kokyuo throughout.

Any thoughts on the emphasis of breath in Aikido?

Any breathing exercises of your own?

Any tips or suggestions on maintaining kokyuho throughout all of Aikido practice?

Thank you.
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Old 06-23-2016, 04:32 PM   #2
rugwithlegs
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Re: kokyuho and the reverse breath.

Spine is just a pile of plates with jello in between. From the top of the pelvis to the diaphragm we're all spine plus a soccer ball full of goo. Lateral pressures in particular meet no resistance and back injuries with pushing, etc. Feet connect to the ground, arms to the ribs, and big squishy joins the two.

Breathe in pulls the diaphragm down. Drawing in pulls the perineum up and the abdominal muscles pressurize the whole belly making it much more solid. This protects the spine and is an important part to whole body power. It drives the blood pressure up if practiced too often I am told, and it shouldn't always be needed.

I don't equate abdominal pressurizing with kokyu, it is a piece of it.
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Old 06-23-2016, 04:57 PM   #3
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Re: kokyuho and the reverse breath.

Slow deep ab breathing.
Breathe in as you enter and blend.
Breathe out as you execute.
(BTW: do you train at Roswell Budokan?)

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 06-23-2016, 06:59 PM   #4
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Re: kokyuho and the reverse breath.

Holland Dojo. Do you ever come to Roswell for any Seminars?
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Old 06-24-2016, 09:10 AM   #5
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Holland Sensei

Quote:
Brian Sutton wrote: View Post
Holland Dojo. Do you ever come to Roswell for any Seminars?
Tell Sensei Holland "Hello" for me.
We trained together years ago when we both were are Roswell Budokan.
You have an excellent teacher.
We moved to the Florida Gulf coast 1.5 years ago chasing grandchildren.
I don't get up as often as I would like.

BTW, while I certainly incorporate breathing (not reverse) into waza/technique and all warm ups (done as solo practice), I think of the kokyo-nage as more timing throws.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 06-24-2016, 09:32 AM   #6
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Re: kokyuho and the reverse breath.

I tend to see breathing exercises as a complication to movement. I think it can be as confusing as helpful and not many people do it well. Fewer explain it well. The idea is that your body contractions create respiration, like life support. Aligning your body movement with your body contractions maximizes power. There is a reason why your body "reverse breathes" after significant strain (such as running, working out or being active).

In the beginning, "breath exercises" are just simple tools to keep us from holding our breath or getting the wind knocked out of us. Belly breathing, deep breathing, whatever - these are breathing methods designed to improve oxygen intake and control a bunch of things triggered by stress like hyperventilation, fatigue, hormone dumps, etc.. Gracie BJJ has a lot of good info on this athletic breathing and it is how many athletes process oxygen. I think Rickson Gracie even has a yoga-style breathing technique. Ask a BJJ girl if she links her movement to her breath pattern. She will look at you like a three-headed cat because linking movement to breathing is bad fight science.

Later on, things get more complicated as "breathing" and "respiration" separate. Back to the Gracie-style, their breathing is pretty regular and not linked to movement. It feels more like a pressurized exchange of gases then our typical chest heaving "up/down" appearance. Sometimes it's easy to see how poor breathing impacts sport fighting. There are lots of good videos where you can see open-mouth breathing, mouth-piece breathing, heaving chest, rhythmic movement tied to breathing. My personal favorite is the ol' Hulk Hogan choke out arm twitch, but that is actually kinda real. All of these things show how poor breathing can affect athletic performance.

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Old 06-24-2016, 11:08 AM   #7
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Re: Holland Sensei

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
Tell Sensei Holland "Hello" for me.
We trained together years ago when we both were are Roswell Budokan.
You have an excellent teacher.
We moved to the Florida Gulf coast 1.5 years ago chasing grandchildren.
I don't get up as often as I would like.

BTW, while I certainly incorporate breathing (not reverse) into waza/technique and all warm ups (done as solo practice), I think of the kokyo-nage as more timing throws.
I will tell him you said Hello. You're right, he is an excellent teacher.
And coming from a T'ai Ji background of William Chen, Rick Barrett, Don Miller and Bruce Kumar, my expectations were sky high. He continues to exceed them. You know he has his own Dojo now. So if you're ever up this way, drop a line. And, if you like, you can stop by Roswell Tai Chi and I could show what I mean by reverse breath. Perhaps my nomenclature is off but by kokyuho I mean the sitting exercise at the end of class. If you can get egos out of the way, that's a very educational exercise.
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Old 06-24-2016, 11:22 AM   #8
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Re: kokyuho and the reverse breath.

A couple of nice reads; A heavier read would be Dao of T'ai Ji Quan by Jou Tsung Hwa. A lighter but exceptional read for any martial artist would be Martial Mechanics by Phillip Star. He dedicates an entire chapter to reverse breathing.

Yeah the reverse breath was one of little gems that were lost when Japanese culture aquired Chinese culture. It's sort of like we can say weight underside but after 45 minutes of Yi Chuan post standing, we have an innate understanding of weight underside.

But I agree that breathing is the icing, not the cake.
Oh but what yummy icing it is when you know what you're doing.
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Old 06-24-2016, 01:39 PM   #9
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Re: Holland Sensei

Quote:
Brian Sutton wrote: View Post
And coming from a T'ai Ji background of William Chen, Rick Barrett, Don Miller and Bruce Kumar, my expectations were sky high. He continues to exceed them. You know he has his own Dojo now. So if you're ever up this way, drop a line. And, if you like, you can stop by Roswell Tai Chi and I could show what I mean by reverse breath. Perhaps my nomenclature is off but by kokyuho I mean the sitting exercise at the end of class. If you can get egos out of the way, that's a very educational exercise.
Perhaps we have already met.
Give my best to Jeff and Scott at Dragon Cloud too.
I attended many of the seminars they sponsored at Roswell Budokan.
Kokyuho is an excellent exercise and know/show several variations.
You seem to be training with good people.
Keep it up.
Go visit John Reading at Aikido South too - excellent training and people.
Until again,
Lynn

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 06-24-2016, 08:13 PM   #10
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Re: kokyuho and the reverse breath.

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
I tend to see breathing exercises as a complication to movement. I think it can be as confusing as helpful and not many people do it well. Fewer explain it well.
Agreed, when you're trying to get people to be conscious of all the mechanics of their breathing on a level that most people never think about. OTOH, I've found with some students that when practicing something simple like suburi, they do better if you just tell them, "Breathe in as you raise the sword, breathe out as you cut." Why is that? Simply because it means that they ARE breathing, and not unconsciously holding their breath as the try to get their body to do the right thing?
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Old 06-25-2016, 07:46 AM   #11
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Re: kokyuho and the reverse breath.

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
OTOH, I've found with some students that when practicing something simple like suburi, they do better if you just tell them, "Breathe in as you raise the sword, breathe out as you cut." Why is that? Simply because it means that they ARE breathing, and not unconsciously holding their breath as the try to get their body to do the right thing?
Yes agreed.
IMHO, under the stress of concentration (learning something new) many people hold their breath.
Keeping instructions simply and easy to apply/practice is important.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 06-25-2016, 11:29 AM   #12
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Re: kokyuho and the reverse breath.

So I noticed the thread turned into "How to keep things simple and not complicate the learning process". That is a perfectly legimate point but are we learning, adapting,changing and growing to improve our art?
Whether it's breathing, footwork, weapons applied to empty handed arts or whatever.

Is the fear of not knowing greater than the desire to improve?
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Old 06-25-2016, 02:55 PM   #13
rugwithlegs
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Quote:
Brian Sutton wrote: View Post
Perhaps my nomenclature is off but by kokyuho I mean the sitting exercise at the end of class. If you can get egos out of the way, that's a very educational exercise.
Kokyu Doza is also called Suwari waza Kokyu Ho. There are several variations of this exercise, with five distinct variations in Yoshinkan called Kokyu Ho 1-5. Morote dori Kokyu Ho is commonly asked for in a number of associations testing requirements. I tend to think of futari dori as a more advanced Kokyu ho variation. There are many different methods used to test your motion and alignment until you can test every part of your body. I see this as more of a whole body exercise combining mind and body, breath, and coiling. I don't embrace/trust the "breath power" translation, as this is not about merely breathing.

I also don't tend to worry much about the ego. Uke gives appropriate feedback to facilitate learning, I'm happy. Most people need help to understand what they are learning, and after they've learned it the uke's ego doesn't need to be brought into check for Nage's movement to work.

I did appreciate studying Taiji simultaneously, because there were elements of structure, breathing, and alignment that I could break down. I did appreciate the opportunities to test myself that came in the dojo, that didn't come in solo practice. So much of the breathing itself really isn't so different from somebody grunting away in the gym, or Serena Williams screaming during tennis. People do the breathing part spontaneously correctly. There are also many different types of breathing that I've had teachers lecture on - some were for exercise, some for relaxation, some for meditation or pre-meditation training, and a very few were for power. Most people already reflexively change their breathing depending on what they do.
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Old 06-25-2016, 04:52 PM   #14
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Re: kokyuho and the reverse breath.

Quote:
Brian Sutton wrote: View Post
So I noticed the thread turned into "How to keep things simple and not complicate the learning process". That is a perfectly legitimate point but are we learning, adapting, changing and growing to improve our art? Whether it's breathing, footwork, weapons applied to empty handed arts or whatever. Is the fear of not knowing greater than the desire to improve?
IMHO, focusing on what I don't already know is improving the/my art.
Under stress (in reality application), everything complicated like fine motor skills are the first to go, therefore to focus on keeping it simple and gross motor skills have value.
Conditioning breathing in and out has a better chance of retention that complicated breathing patterns with internal visualizations.
The learning process for skill acquisition/retention/application is simple.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 06-26-2016, 02:45 PM   #15
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Re: kokyuho and the reverse breath.

I'll throw my thoughts into the ring...

Different breathing methods for different purposes (like anything).

I use just two. Diaphragmatic (deep) and Coordinated (breathing in or breathing out with an action).
Note: I've seen described "pressurization" type breathing - but that just seems like holding your breath to coordinate with an action - so I would say it is just coordinated breathing. Others almost certainly will disagree - I defer to their experience.

From Wikipedia-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diaphragmatic_breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing is also known scientifically as eupnea, which is a natural and relaxed form of breathing in all mammals. Eupnea occurs in mammals whenever they are in a state of relaxation, i.e. when there is no clear and present danger in their environment.

According to the University of Texas Counseling and Mental Health Center, "Diaphragmatic breathing allows one to take normal breaths while maximizing the amount of oxygen that goes into the bloodstream. It is a way of interrupting the 'Fight or Flight' response and triggering the body's normal relaxation response." [3] They provide a video demonstration.[4]


I have asthma - as a young child I was taught to consciously enter a state of diaphragmatic breathing to help counter an asthma attack. It works. And so long before I trained in martial arts it was a skill I possessed. Being able to use that skill properly in my Aikido did take me a while I will freely confess.

On the other hand, coordinated breathing for weight-lifting and a number of athletic actions is a must for proper application.

The martial arts kiai makes coordination automatic for striking, but I'm not sure how critical that really is since most good strikes are actually continuous combinations. If someone has time to breathe in/out on every strike - that is one slow fight... So relying on coordinated breathing to achieve effects would seem problematic in technique. Breathing is slow. Also, if a strike or technique is presaged by an inhale or exhale of breath for an action, a quality opponent will read that to their advantage.

Coordinated breathing often involves the intercostals and so usually isn't that "relaxed". Doing a full breath with intercostals and diaphragm gets the circulation going and almost any athlete about to engage in a sudden burst of activity will use that to prime the body for action. Doing that in a "relaxed" manner is great if you manage it - but relaxation is not the purpose - power is.

Theoretically, Aikido doesn't require great strength or power - so coordinated breathing shouldn't be critical. Instead, maintaining good structure and balance while freely moving in a relaxed manner seems to be the "skill" of Aikido. That is where conscious diaphragmatic breathing should excel. It is doesn't interfere with structure or movement. It doesn't have to be coordinated with any action so imposes no limitation on timing of actions and so as a bonus doesn't give anything away. It is naturally relaxing and helps counter the effects of being adrenalized. That is the approach I use. It seems to work for me.

I have over 50 years of experience breathing - that means something right?

Anyway - to paraphrase Seiser Sensei: Breathe In Deeply, Breathe Out Deeply.

Last edited by jurasketu : 06-26-2016 at 02:52 PM.

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Old 06-27-2016, 08:25 AM   #16
Brian Sutton
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Re: kokyuho and the reverse breath.

Are we looking at whole body power versus segmenting the body using isolated muscle groups. To put the whole body in the hand is a skill that is sadly missing in the arts that they were designed for. A martial art in a traditional sense assumed 1.one was up against great odds 2. The respected technique was to lead to a place of permance and completion of the conflict at hand. With these assumptions in mind, a persons practice should include method to maximise effectiveness while minimizing effort.
A paradox, I know but once felt, never forgotten. This is the complete opposite of sport fighting.

Reverse breathing connects the upper and lower half of the body. To say the goods can't be delivered on because it's unnatural at first. I would say everything is unnatural at first. That's the purpose of training and conditioning. In the end the breath is the breath and a punch is a punch, to quote Bruce Lee.

If the breath is used in the nomenclature, would seem that one would want to explore that.
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Old 06-27-2016, 08:42 AM   #17
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Re: kokyuho and the reverse breath.

The connection between feet and hands is automatic with straight posture and lifting upward - the spine is lined up directly with the forces. For people who never learned reverse breathing but have a good Ikkyo - palpate their belly in the middle of the technique and you'll feel they've automatically done it.

More than worrying that it is difficult so don't do it, I would say if the rest of the structure is wrong, or the timing or relationship is off, then this offers little benefit. The abdominal packing in itself is also not healthy when done too often according to my Chinese art teachers.
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Old 06-27-2016, 11:47 AM   #18
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Re: kokyuho and the reverse breath.

Quote:
John Hillson wrote: View Post
The connection between feet and hands is automatic with straight posture
In our natural state, the connection between the hands and feet are automatic. However, where I live, people have have layers of tension and physical stress due to the demands of modern lifestyle.lLeaving a disconnect in the body resulting in the fact that the hands and feet are anything but connected . Hence, the importance of relaxation in performing proper technique. Relaxation ; another way of integrating the upper and lower part of the body. To avoid 20 replies explainig what relaxation isn't and how it's not important, I think I will recognize that I've possibly touched a hot topic and conclude with a quote from my Tai Ji teacher : "works counts" or to put another "effectiveness is the measure of truth". Another one would be ; there are alot of ways to do something right.
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Old 06-27-2016, 01:34 PM   #19
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Re: kokyuho and the reverse breath.

The important part is the upward lift - hold a barbell straight overhead, the pressure goes downward through the plates of the spine. Other angles, the abdomen needs to compensate.

I don't know that it is a hot button issue for me so much as I spent years in classes being taught specific and complicated breathing patterns to no particular end. I did learn about the Bubbling Spring and Bubbling Well, sometimes called Toe Breathing, and really has nothing to do with respiration.

Kumar did write that in studying Chinese arts he gained an understanding of Aikido. Back in the day (80-90s) he did ruffle a few feathers and Aikido Journal has a piece on his theories that did not support his assertions.
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Old 07-06-2016, 01:59 PM   #20
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Re: kokyuho and the reverse breath.

I have been away for a while...

For me, complication is not equivalent to education. My point is that I think much of our "breath" training is flawed and in some cases, wrong. For some reason, breathing is something we like to throw out very early in training, often times taught by someone who doesn't fully understand breathing. I include myself, here, so I usually don't teach "breathing," as a separate thing.

My post was limited to a breathing style that I encourage related directly to the athletic endeavors of our training. I see a lot of students breathing like a yogi at the beginning of class only to end up gasping and heaving at the end of class. Good breathing? Maybe not. I am not sure discussing advanced breathing is necessary if we struggle with basic breathing. This is not to demean basic breathing, by the way.

My second point is related to the idea of using "breath" to create and maintain the aiki body. This is a different concept than respiration.
http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/...ing-daito-ryu/
This is a Daito Ryu concept, but this article is probably a good representation of my perspective on breath training. This is a little different than what we see in aikido kokyu-ho, which often tends to use the arms to move our partners as a technique.

Quote:
maximise effectiveness while minimizing effort
This is almost verbatim one of Judo's maxim's, "maximum efficiency, minimum effort." It is, in many respects, a goal of athletes in sports to use their respiratory functions to feed their bodies oxygen and maximize the power of their body. For me, kokyu ho is a training exercise for kokyu roku, breath power.
In another of Chris' posts:
http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/...ha-aun-part-1/
I like the idea that my kokyu ho exercises should create and maintain the aiki body. So when we train kokyu ho, we look for our distinct aiki traits, kuzushi on contact and unusual power; unmovable object and irresistible force, if you like that better.

Clear as mud, I suppose.

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Old 07-21-2016, 08:34 AM   #21
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Re: kokyuho and the reverse breath.

The technique represents an opportunity to practice a few things - 1) How well you're able to manage the intersection of ground and gravity powers in yourself and in the person you're connecting to for the technique (physically expressing ki of earth). 2) How well developed your body is from the connection of bone/ligament/tendon/muscle/fascia in order to more cleanly physically express the ki (developed ki of man). 3) How well you're able to leverage the (reverse)breath to pack the connected body and leverage the elastic stretch of those connections to generate greatly increased power (developing kokyu to express the ki of heaven).

So then kokyu ho is beautifully set up to train the three aspects of ki plus kokyu. Prior to the point of connection the nage optimizes his intention-managed ground gravity forces (ki of earth), which should be reflected into the mutual connection of the pair once the grab is initiated (ki of man), then leveraging the breath pressure to stretch the elastically connected tissue, then leveraging the middle managed forces and release of the pressure to initiate the throw (kokyu and ki of heaven).

If any of your basics of the conditioning and skilled expression of ki are lacking then it will be apparent in any or all of the three main areas of development.
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Old 07-21-2016, 10:02 AM   #22
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Re: kokyuho and the reverse breath.

Quote:
Budd Yuhasz wrote: View Post
The technique represents an opportunity to practice a few things - 1) How well you're able to manage the intersection of ground and gravity powers in yourself and in the person you're connecting to for the technique (physically expressing ki of earth). 2) How well developed your body is from the connection of bone/ligament/tendon/muscle/fascia in order to more cleanly physically express the ki (developed ki of man). 3) How well you're able to leverage the (reverse)breath to pack the connected body and leverage the elastic stretch of those connections to generate greatly increased power (developing kokyu to express the ki of heaven).

So then kokyu ho is beautifully set up to train the three aspects of ki plus kokyu. Prior to the point of connection the nage optimizes his intention-managed ground gravity forces (ki of earth), which should be reflected into the mutual connection of the pair once the grab is initiated (ki of man), then leveraging the breath pressure to stretch the elastically connected tissue, then leveraging the middle managed forces and release of the pressure to initiate the throw (kokyu and ki of heaven).

If any of your basics of the conditioning and skilled expression of ki are lacking then it will be apparent in any or all of the three main areas of development.
++1

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Old 11-02-2016, 05:18 PM   #23
Sensei Sashido
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Re: kokyuho and the reverse breath.

Quote:
Brian Sutton wrote: View Post
Inhale, pulling abdomen in: pulling tendons to bones. Making extending ki easier. Creating an expansive yet integrated feeling in the body.

Exhale, pushing abdomen out: dropping, rooting, leveling and creating a integrated feeling in the body. Allowing force coming in to transmit more easily to the ground. Helping the body to withstand and redirect the outside force downward.

So kokyuho translates to breathing exercise. I've noticed some Dojos put more emphasis on the breath while others put less.

Any thoughts on this?

I've noticed the reversed breath as way to help establish and maintain kokyuo throughout.

Any thoughts on the emphasis of breath in Aikido?

Any breathing exercises of your own?

Any tips or suggestions on maintaining kokyuho throughout all of Aikido practice?

Thank you.
What you have explained is what we learned in Ancient Indian texts known as Kaivalya Kumbhakam. Yes it is an integral part of developing powerful Ki and breath control. All Aikido dojos should practice that as O'Sensei himself was an ardent follower of breath control. In one of his texts he does point out to vedic breath control.

In my 25yrs of Aikido experience, it definitely works wonders and will for everyone.
Thanks for bringing it up.

Regards
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Old 11-06-2016, 04:29 AM   #24
Hagen Seibert
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Re: kokyuho and the reverse breath.

Iīve been adressing reverse abdominal breathing and itīs implications to Aikido briefly in my book "The Elements of Zen in Martial Arts".
Sorry if I do copy and post all this here, but instead point out to the pdf download on the authorīs homepage. There you can read about my experinece with reverse abdominal breathing in the chapters "Zuiho-in" and "Kokyu". Although it is a reading sample, these chapters are comlete. And - of course - itīs free.
Hereīs the link

http://hagen-seibert.jimdo.com/engli...ks-and-ebooks/

(bottom of page)
please enjoy
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