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Monday, November 4, 2013

Breath, Breathing and Martial Arts

Ibuki [息吹]

The characters/ideograms mean "breath." The first character means, "breath; respiration; son; interest (on money)," the second character means, "blow; breathe; puff; emit; smoke." The term Ibuku [息吹く] means "to breathe." 

Breathing is one of the many fundamental principles of martial systems and/or effectiveness there for one who breathes in certain patterns and rhythms according to what they are doing becomes critical to adhering to that principle and its associated principles to achieve master of said principles and by that martial power that equals martial effectiveness. Combining with posture, structure, movement, focus, etc. we achieve martial effectiveness. 

The manner in which we perform ibuki or breath determines the effectiveness and power of applied martial arts and in many cases self-defense. It fundamentally becomes a deep, diaphragmatic, breathing process. For instance:

Ibuki is a focused breathing method used in martial systems. The breathing kata of karate is called "sanchin." It is the use of deep, diaphragmatic belly, breathing to moderate power and energy in the body and mind. 

Kiai begins with proper breathing techniques [once again, note that this is begin and all principles are involved where kiai is another expression of many of those]. When you exhale you should feel both muscles and bone relaxing. When inhaling one should feel the strengthening of both muscle and bone. When exhaling you feel a loss of strength and energy while the opposite is true when inhaling. To attack emptiness with fullness is a sure means of not losing. Therefore kiai is synonymous with the art of breathing.

The practice of deep, diaphragmatic belly, breathing is called 'fukushiki kokyu'. One must keep the body soft, pliant, and elastic. It order to do this one must again concentrate energy and breathe in the hara, while keeping the chest empty. Proper posture has an important bearing on proper breathing and also promotes proper flow of energy, ki, through out the body by means of body meridian (energy pathways) lines.

Breathing techniques also promote counter infusion of chemicals to counter the adrenaline dump that comes with conflict. Deep diaphragmatic breathing techniques not only compensate for visual acuity loss but other effects of the dump.

Look at the Way as void or air where proper breathing allows us to achieve that way. All of karate-do hinges on breathing and applying those principles such as knowledge of critical things martial. The void is the way, the way is the air we breathe.

In haragei one who has mastered this system prefers to sync their breathing with their opponent. This tells the haragei master many things about the opponent. This indicates that one aspect of controlling an aggressor may be in either getting in synch with their body rhythms or being able to disrupt them to your advantage. This may be the impetus that drives the ability of masters to cause a disruption to another persons rhythms, energies or stability mentally and physically - dissonance resulting in breaking rhythms.

"Breathing is not just the physiological process of inhaling and exhaling. It is the conscious ordering of the breath so that it blends smoothly with the movement of the body and the flow of the spirit." - Onuma Hideharu with Dan and Jackie DeProspero

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