If you’re an average human being, you may be alive but you are not breathing . . . correctly, that is. Americans take breathing for granted, but did you know it is really an important exercise? Proper breathing techniques stimulate heart action, increase the circulation, drain the carbon dioxide from the blood, and make for better, more active muscular coordination. But alas, so many of us indulge in shallow breathing, mouth breathing and some of us -in a moment of intense concentration-even forget to breathe!
In Karate you need the maximum physical and psychological strength at a critical moment. Often you are surprised by an opponent; he has you at a slight disadvantage. You become excited, flushed; you miss a heartbeat; gasp for breath! That is when your Karate Breathing Exercises will come to your rescue. These exercises, when properly performed, will train your body to operate at peak efficiency even in a moment of extreme danger! Even if you are caught unaware, caught short of breath, you will be able to defend yourself successfully.
The most important prerequisite to proper breathing has nothing to do with the respiratory system at all. It’s proper posture! If your shoulders slump forward . . . your neck droops . . . your stomach bulges … if your spine curves as you walk and your back looks like the letter “S”, then brother, ATTENTION! You can learn all the Karate techniques and principles, but without proper posture you can never perform correct breathing exercises. Resolve now to stand erect, back straight, head up, shoulders back. Now we shall describe the most popular breathing positions.
The first of the breathing techniques is easy to perform. Stand straight, arms at your side, abdomen relaxed, head up. Exhale completely. Then wait a second. Now inhale. Hold the breath a second, then exhale. This is the basic breathing exercise. It teaches you control of the breathing muscles and the proper filling of your lungs.
Another exercise in the standing position is accomplished in the following manner: clasp your hands behind your neck. As you exhale you raise your hands high up the back as far as possible and extend downward, straightening the arms as you inhale. Do this a number of times.
Still a third exercise is done the following way: first, raise your arms high above your head. Bend forward and touch your toes as you exhale. Return to the original position as you inhale. This breathing exercises really empties the lungs of impurities.
A fourth method of breathing exercise while standing is this: stand erect. Place your arms straight ahead of you, and on the level with your shoulders. As you inhale you bring the hands back to the shoulders. Bend your elbows but be sure they are on the level with your shoulders. Force your elbows well back. This method helps expand your upper front chest.
A fifth method is jokingly called, “rocking the boat” exercise. After you exhale, you bend the body to the right side and raise the left arm straight up as you inhale; then lower the arm and return to the original rigid position as you exhale. Then bend your body to the left, raise the right arm as you breathe in, and return to the original erect position as you exhale. This method helps raise the lower ribs.
Learn the correct breathing techniques and your karate will improve.