Holding my Breath

artFling

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I have a bad habit of holding my breath while doing self defense, kata, sparring, etc. It seems it's something I do when I'm concentrating. My karate instructor has been telling me to not do it for the last 10 months, but I don't know how to stop. It's not something I do consciously. Any ideas?
 

kidswarrior

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I'm no expert, but off the top of my head I would recommend being more deliberate about it. Practice it as a 'skill' in itself. First, just breathe without moving (breathe in, say to a four count, then breathe out to the same count). Second, add very slow movement as you breathe. Third...well, just continue the process. I would also say posture goes hand in hand.
 

JDenver

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If I could add an opinion, it's that your mind and body aren't working as harmoniously as you might want.

My advice - Qigong!
 

Tez3

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If you watch boxers hitting the pads or shadow sparring you'll hear them breathing loudly, this reminds them to breath! When I started karate yonks ago we were encouraged to make a 'breathing' noise with each move to remind us to breath. It's a common problem not confined to martial arts, I watched someone in mydaughters horse riding class a long while back actually fall off due to holding her breath while jumping! and running out of breath after she'd finished. It's a sort of reflex action I think we do when concentrating hard.

Maybe not quite as aggressively as this lol but you can get the idea.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZGOySFJ2iE&feature=related
 

theletch1

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Do a google search for The science of breath. Great book on breathing properly. Not just during MA training but, as Tez said, at all other times as well. Most people have forgotten how to breath truly deeply and properly but it's not that hard to relearn.
Kidswarrior has given great advice here. Practice your breathing in and of itself and then add it to the practice of movement until, as JDenver stated, your breathing meshes well with your movement. Good luck.
 

zDom

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Yep, the above advice is right on the mark.

You need to practice breathing both just sitting still (deep in through the nose, hold for a second, slow out through the mouth) and while doing your forms, basic movements, sparring.

This is probably the MOST IMPORTANT THING you need to be focusing on right now* more important than ANY single technique or concept that you have on your plate.

Breathing trumps all in importance.
 

Steve

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It's amazing how quickly the gas tank runs dry when you hold your breath. Your body isn't getting enough oxygen and you just run out of energy.

Good luck with this. I think you'll find that once you figure this out, you'll have a lot more stamina.
 

teekin

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I think I've posted this before but sing, it doesn't matter what you sing but if you are singing you are Not holding your breath. You can also recite a poem. I use to recite Jabberwocky by Lewis Carol or sing Beatles tunes. I still sing in class if I am doing something I don't like, so I don't hold my breath.
lori
 

Sukerkin

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Interesting and good advice all round, ladies and gentlemen.

My personal guess would be that if you're holding your breath then you're tensing up. If your body is not relaxed then there is a very real tendency to not breathe naturally. In any art, armed or unarmed, you should only tense any part to rigidity (ooh nurse :D) at the point of contact. Otherwise you should be relaxed and breathing as your body demands it.

If you are really struggling with this, then try kiai. One of the major uses of these so called Spirit Shouts is to cause you to exhale strongly, which in turn prompts an inhale.
 
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A

artFling

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I appreciate all of the advice and thoughts here. I'm going to read these over carefully and come up with a game plan. Of course, I'm open to any other ideas too.
 

Arnold Lee

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I've been teaching Pilates for 10 years. In that practice you are taught to breathe with each movement. But what happens is that no matter how much you tell a client to breathe as soon as they get distracted by the movement of the exercise they hold their breath.

As a result Pilates instructors are intimately familiar with the process of getting a client to breathe. Joe Pilates used to have a famous saying (in his thick Austrian accent) "You gotta OUT the breath before you canna IN the breath!"

Unless you want to spend mucho dinero taking private lessons I suggest working out with whatever weights you want at home or at a gym. The only thing you want to do is concentrate on breathing on EACH and EVERY rep. It will be tiresome at first and you will be AMAZED at how you'll suddenly realize you have been holding your breath for the last 15 seconds or so and not realize it. I've found that it takes about 3 weeks for a client to break the habit of holding their breath and create the new habit of breathing, but you have to work at it as a real skill.
 

7starmarc

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Lots of good advice.

Practice breath awareness. When you're sitting quietly, or when you're walking, actually follow your breath, say to yourself "In" and "Out" accordingly. Alternatively, particularly when quiet, become aware of your breath, and count breaths. Try to count ten breaths without losing concentration, it's surprisingly hard when you first start. These are actually meditation exercises, but can help your issue as well.

I would also begin with your kata, this is where you can learn proper coordination of breath with your movements. Every move (block/strike) can have an outward breath, every chambering can have an inward breath. (Roughly, since there are kata that are meant to be done in half-breaths, etc. as well). Talk more with your instructor about proper breathing in your kata, and focus on it. Slow down the movements if you have to.

When doing basic technique drills, you should be practicing breathing in a similar fashion. If your style does a "kia", then that should be a big clue as to when you breath out. Be sure to breath in before that :wink2:

Also, depending on your style (talk to your instructor), make sure you are breathing properly (as in where you are taking your breath).
 

Bill Mattocks

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I appreciate all of the advice and thoughts here. I'm going to read these over carefully and come up with a game plan. Of course, I'm open to any other ideas too.

I have the same problem.

One thing one of my senseis taught me that seems to help is to get into the habit of doing a sharp exhale when landing a punch. If you exhale, you will inhale - it's natural.

Another is to kihai (shout) every so often. Again, you breathe out, you will breathe in.

I've noticed that when my sensei's spar, they often make 'hitting' sounds to themselves. One goes 'bip, bip, bip' whenever he lands a punch, which is kind of funny. I wonder if it helps him remember to breathe?
 

Carol

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I have a bad habit of holding my breath while doing self defense, kata, sparring, etc. It seems it's something I do when I'm concentrating. My karate instructor has been telling me to not do it for the last 10 months, but I don't know how to stop. It's not something I do consciously. Any ideas?

A good way around it may be...instead of thinking about the activity and also thinking about breathing, work the breathing in to the activity.

When you train, try a kiai/kihap on every strike (or every prominent strike). It doesn't have to be loud (although a loud kihap is even more helpful, esp. in the beginning), but it does have to be there.

When you kihap, you're forcing your diaphragm to push air out of the lungs. By default, you are exhaling. In return, your body learns how to sychronize your breathing with your strikes, and soon it will become automatic :)
 

bluekey88

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great advice so far...all I have to add is a littel trick that helped me when i was holding my breath during sparring....Kihap/kiai with every attack.

You could do this during sparring, kata/poomse, self-defense....just make noise with every punch, kick block, etc. You'll sound silly....but you can't make noise unless you breath. After awhile, you'll be able to tone down the noise and still be concious of your breath.

Peace,
Erik
 

zDom

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Be careful about breathing out with EVERY movement.

When you start stringing together fast, long combinations you could end up with many short, shallow breaths which is NOT efficient and effective breathing.

One longer, slower exhale for a combination is much better.

Deep, slow breathing is GOOD.

Shallow, fast breathing, not so much ;)
 

bluekey88

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I'm not so much advocating breathuign with every movement so much as making a lot of noise to ensure breathing. Tweak to make work as necessary :)
 

K-man

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I used to have the same problem in the beginning. I think that it is something that resolves with time and experience. The systema guys practise breathing in an interesting way. They train with short breath and deeper breath but whether breathing in or out, there is very little holding of breath.
An important part that they stress is that if the breathing is relaxed you can absorb much harder strikes to the torso than if you hold your breath. Personally I prefer to use shallow breathing when sparring as there is a greater tendancy to hold your breath with a large inhalations. That doesn't stop you taking the occassional deep breath to aid in aerobic recovery. :asian:
 

just2kicku

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I have a bad habit of holding my breath while doing self defense, kata, sparring, etc. It seems it's something I do when I'm concentrating. My karate instructor has been telling me to not do it for the last 10 months, but I don't know how to stop. It's not something I do consciously. Any ideas?

Well Art,

Seems as TF is your instructor, tell him to punch you in the stomach every time you hold your breath. I'm sure he'll be more than happy to do it if it helps with your problem. HAHA :erg:
 
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