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Old 01-29-2005, 07:07 PM   #1
wsburm
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breathing

i have been practicing for a little while now and i have been told repeatedly that i need to work on my breath control. i have been told this but no one, with the exception of one sensei, has tried to give me clue as to how to do this.

does anyone have any excercises that they practice with an eye toward breath control during class and endurance?

william

wsb
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Old 01-30-2005, 12:02 AM   #2
Janet Rosen
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Re: breathing

I'm surprised this hasn't been talked about, since it seems like such a basic part of training! One of our most basic exercises is exhale/roll back....inhale/roll up.
Anytime you roll, fall, settle you should be exhaling fully. Anytime you attack, you should be exhaling. The pace of the exhale should be the pace of the movement.
To me its not "control"; it's letting my natural breath create the rhythm of my movement.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 01-30-2005, 01:56 AM   #3
tedehara
 
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Re: breathing

I am assuming that you are looking for breathing exercises. Activities like kototama or chanting could also be considered as breath exercises, but are not mentioned here because they are not directly concerned with the breath.

As far as I have been able to determine, the only aikido style that has breathing exercises is the Ki Society. Koichi Tohei founder of the Ki Society, writes about ki breathing in Ki in Daily Life. Ki Society member William Reed also writes about ki breathing in Ki : A Road that Anyone can Walk and Ki : A Practical Guide for Westerners. Ki breathing is also a topic in Ki-Aikido on Maui by Curtis Sensei. On line resources include the archives at Hawai Ki Aikido and Unofficial Ki Society Web Site.

Koichi Tohei utilized the theories of Tempu Nakamura and applied them to Ki-Aikido. H.E. Davey, a member of Tempukai, the organization that Nakamura Sensei started, writes about Kumbhaka Breathing in his book Japanese Yoga.

Others who have written about breathing are Saotome Sensei in his book Aikido and the Harmony of Nature and Stevens Sensei in his book about Shirata Sensei Aikido : The Way of Harmony. Shirata Sensei gives breathing exercises in the section on Kokyu-ho: Breath-Meditation.

The Buddha's teaching on breath can be found in the Anapanasati Sutra that is given in Larry Rosenberg's Breath by Breath. This Sutra is also commented on by Thich Nhat Hanh Breathe! You are Alive.

A Hindu work that some martial artists have found helpful is Science of Breath by Yogi Ramacharaka. Originally written in 1904, it is still in print.

Some martial artists learn breathing though the Tai Chi/Qigong tradition. This material is too extensive to be listed here.

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Old 01-30-2005, 12:14 PM   #4
Mark Jakabcsin
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Re: breathing

William,
Following is a cut and paste job I did on another forum about breathing and breathing drills. All of these drills are from Systema but would be very useful for Aikido folks, plus you can do these drills on your own. Enjoy.

Many of the breathing drills in Systema are geared towards coordinating breathing with motion or understanding the relationship between breathing and relaxation/tension. There are so many drills it would be impossible to list them all but here are a few:

Breathing and motion: Some of these drills are done while doing push-ups, sit ups and squats (PSS). The goal of PSS drills isn't to become stronger or more fit, although that is a nice side effect, it is to learn how to breath and relax. PSS drills afford the student the opportunity to study affects of breathing while in motion.

Note Systema push-ups are done on the fists. Sit-ups are done with legs extended and the back must remain perfectly straight so the lower back and head touch the ground at the same time. Squats are done with the heels flat on the ground and back perfectly straight and perpendicular to the ground. All breathing is inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth. IF breathing the inhale/exhale begins a split second before the motion begins and ends at the same time as the motion.

- Exhale while doing one complete push-up down then up. Inhale while in the up/rest position without moving. Then do two complete push-ups while exhaling (motion and exhale should be completed at the same time). Continue this ladder up to seven and then go back down but reverse the inhale/exhale so you are inhaling during the motion and exhaling (breathing normally) in the up position. Hint: monitor your body for tension and release it immediately. Inhale/exhale smoothly so each second of the breath moves the exact same quantity of air. When doing more push-ups on one exhale/inhale don't be greedy and breathe to deep, this creates tension and you'll be sorry.

- Do the same ladder above but do it without breathing. One side of the ladder will be with lungs full the other with lungs empty. Hint: Don't panic, move slowly and smoothly, panic causes tension which burns up your oxygen.

- Do the same ladder but do coordinate the inhale with the down motion in a push-up and the exhale with the up motion. Reverse the breathing and do it again.

- Do push-ups but change the breathing half way through the motion. Example: exhale while going down but when you are half way down begin to inhale. When you start to go up begin by exhaling and at the half way point inhale. As with all of the PSS, do them slowly, the point isn't to see how many you can do but to explore the affects of tension, breathing and motion.

- Rolling and breathing is also an excellent method to explore the connection between breathing and motion. You will need to learn how to Systema roll instead of the Aikido break falls you are currently doing. Do the Systema rolls very slowly and coordinate one inhale to one roll, then exhale and roll, then inhale and roll, etc. Do it very slowly.

- You can also do two rolls per inhale, two rolls per exhale, three…you get the picture.

Breathing and Tension: There are to many of these to list but here is a small sampling:

- Start by laying on your back, face up and relaxed. Begin by visualizing breathing through your feet towards your head. Breathe very slowly and visualize the breath moving through each part of your body. Feel and release the tension in your body as the breath reaches it. Once the breath reaches the top of the head hold it for a few seconds then exhale from your head to your feet and repeat the process. This helps to make one aware of his/her body and the tension that is there. Frequently tension is so common in our bodies that we aren't even aware it. This drill should also be done from the head to the feet.
- Same drill as above but as you breathe in tense each muscle as the breath reaches it, therefore a tension wave will work it's way from you head to your feet. When you are done inhaling your entire body will be tense. Hold it for a few seconds then slowly exhale and release the tension in a wave like fashion back down your body.
- Inhale and tense your legs. Ensure all other muscles are relaxed. Exhale and release the tension. Then do your butt muscles, then stomach, back, chest, arms, shoulders/neck. Do each one three or four times, making sure ONLY those muscles that are supposed to be tense are, nothing else.
- Breathe in and tense the left side of your body, while keeping the right side relaxed. Reverse.
- Breathe in and tense the entire body, then exhale and release. Do these quickly. Do these slowly. Reverse your breathing. Experiment and learn.
- Breathe in and tense your entire body. Exhale but keep the body tense. Inhale but maintain the tension, exhale and release the tension. Do this a few times, it helps your body to understand the affects of tension.


One step inhale, one step exhale, do this for awhile, then two steps inhale, two steps exhale, then three steps inhale, three steps exhale, etc, etc. Don't be shy, push yourself into the teens. Try not to panic or speed up to much, relax and enjoy. There's also square breathing, breathe in for 5 steps, hold for 5 steps, breathe out for 5 steps, hold for 5 steps, breathe in for 5 steps, etc. The number doesn't matter, be consistant....but don't make it too easy on yourself.

Outside of training coordinate your breathing with every day motion. It wasn't until I started training in Systema and became aware of my breathing that I realized I started everyday by holding my breath while I struggled out of bed. Not good. Now I try to be aware of my breathing in every motion whether it is getting up from a chair, in/out of a car, walking across a parking lot, opening jars or shoveling gravel (last weekend). This coordination of movement and breathing has made my life much easier.

There is a connection between mental and physical tension, these drills can help one understand that connection.

One final note about breathing: Work on making inhaling/exhaling the same volume of air for each second that you are inhaling or exhaling. Learn to breath linear instead of the bell curve we normally do. There are times that other styles of breathing are required but for the most part linear breathing has more advantages than disadvantages.


mark j.
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Old 01-30-2005, 01:20 PM   #5
Kevin Kelly
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Re: breathing

Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote:
As far as I have been able to determine, the only aikido style that has breathing exercises is the Ki Society.
Koichi Tohei utilized the theories of Tempu Nakamura and applied them to Ki-Aikido. H.E. Davey, a member of Tempukai, the organization that Nakamura Sensei started, writes about Kumbhaka Breathing in his book Japanese Yoga.

Others who have written about breathing are Saotome Sensei in his book Aikido and the Harmony of Nature and Stevens Sensei in his book about Shirata Sensei Aikido : The Way of Harmony. Shirata Sensei gives breathing exercises in the section on Kokyu-ho: Breath-Meditation.
Well, I practice what you would call Iwama style Aikido and we quite frequently do breathing excercises. He also has what he calls a "yoga" class, but I asked him about it one day and he says he just calls it that but is mainly ShinShin-Toitsu (SP?), which I think is a Japanese yoga.
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Old 01-30-2005, 02:10 PM   #6
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Re: breathing

I like bokken work to practice breathing. I find you simple cannot do correct technique without breathing properly. breathing is very much related to good posture to!
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Old 01-30-2005, 08:25 PM   #7
maikerus
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Re: breathing

Mark...thanks for posting those drills.

--Michael

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Old 01-30-2005, 09:11 PM   #8
wsburm
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Re: breathing

thanks for all of your responses. especially you mark. those are the sort of things that i was looking for.

over the years, i have seen very unlikely people have a lot of stamina and endurance on the mat. that is something that i would love to enhance in my own practice. it would help in other areas like running which i have always hated because it is always like pulling teeth. i have only caught a 'second wind' once.

thanks again,

wsb
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Old 01-31-2005, 06:21 AM   #9
Bronson
 
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Re: breathing

Something I noticed a while ago is that when I'm leading our warm-ups I have much more stamina than when I'm following someone else lead. I figure this is because when leading I'm counting them out...which makes me breathe at the correct time.

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 01-31-2005, 08:44 AM   #10
darin
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Re: breathing

The breathing will come as you get fitter and more relaxed with your techniques. You could try getting your opponents to attack in a more relaxed way at first then gradually increase the speed and intensity as you get into a rythum. I think its mind over muscle.
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Old 01-31-2005, 08:56 AM   #11
SeiserL
 
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Re: breathing

Cardiovascular fitness helps: skipping rope is my favorite because it has coordination benefits too.

To begin with, inhale as you enter and blend, exhale as you execute the technqiue. After training, you body will get syncronized to your breathing. You won't have to control it.

Takes a while for the body to get used to the activity specific requirements of Aikido. Relax, breathe, by patient, and enjoy yourself.

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 01-31-2005, 12:22 PM   #12
tedehara
 
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Re: breathing

Quote:
Kevin Kelly wrote:
Well, I practice what you would call Iwama style Aikido and we quite frequently do breathing excercises. He also has what he calls a "yoga" class, but I asked him about it one day and he says he just calls it that but is mainly ShinShin-Toitsu (SP?), which I think is a Japanese yoga.
The Japanese name for Ki Society style Aikido is called Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido or Aikido with Mind and Body Coordination. This name comes from Tempu Nakamura of Tempukai. The Tempukai member that was mentioned, H.E. Davey wrote a book titled Japanese Yoga. It sounds like the source of your exercises are either Ki Society or Tempukai.

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