How to breath properly in Karate?

Grimlon332

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One of my always pending question about practicing karate, is how do you breath properly in different circumstances (striking, blocking, evading...). Most people and senseis, tend to reply that you block the air when you are punching, and at the last moment, you let it go, so it can do a destructive fist. But, when I met other masters, they said to me that I have to breath near normally. So, I am a little bit confused. Also, do you have any exercises to train my breathing? (I heard that there ar plenty in Goju Ryu style, I'm a shotokan guy).
 

dvcochran

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This is a great topic.

I am primarily TKD with Kali and a little Kung Fu smattered in so my comments may be different from your Shotokan teachings. I am not familiar with the "blocking the air" example.
In regards to breathing, for me the best practice comes when we are drilling hard and I get really winded. This forces me to work on breath control.
We practice the "classic" in through the nose out through the mouth technique. Working on breathing as deeply as possible to get full lung function, giving your body maximum oxygen. Especially for the beginner, most will find it hard to fully inhale. It is a learned practice and usually takes time to strengthen the core to reach maximum benefit.
The exhale is the big aid in power development and I can see where the "blocking the air" analogy may come from. The kick/strike/block/etc... is performed on the exhale, "pushing" the air and ultimately your core through the technique.
Most people cannot keep this up for a very extended length of time, hours for example.

I find it difficult to explain the difference, but a kiap is an elevation of the above description. Most times you have to benefit of a little mental preparation, however slight it may be. It is for that truly full power strike, most often a singular event. The knockout.
The noise, if anything really different, it is that noise made when reaching to pick up something very heavy. In the split second before impact everything is engaged. In the moment of impact everything is released into the strike. So, yes I believe internal energy flows through a strike. This is the Yin/Yang, Um/Yong principle and I fully believe in it.

As for exercises, like I mentioned above, consciously thinking about your breathing during extended drills is where the skill of breathing is found. Working on deep, deep breathing and consistently breathing the same. It doesn't have to be loud, I think that is more of a style thing.
This will also increase your ability to extend and function at a high level during the anaerobic periods, when you are just trying to stay on your feet.

Tai Chi also teaches good breathing skills.
 

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As for exercises, like I mentioned above, consciously thinking about your breathing during extended drills is where the skill of breathing is found. Working on deep, deep breathing and consistently breathing the same. It doesn't have to be loud, I think that is more of a style thing.
This will also increase your ability to extend and function at a high level during the anaerobic periods, when you are just trying to stay on your feet.

Tai Chi also teaches good breathing skills.
I'd use different words to say basically the same thing, coming out of my TKD/HKD/Muay Thai study. In Judo, I was introduced to the idea of breathing all the way through the technique, which at first seemed to be contradictory to what I'd learned about kihap/kiai method... and ended up working together just fine. Build, engage, explode at release.
 

Bill Mattocks

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I am in favor of breathing. I practice it often.

With regard to different types of breathing, stick to your training and do what your sensei says. Every style has a different way of doing it, none of them are wrong as far as I can tell.

A couple of random thoughts. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Drop your wind before taking a punch to the midsection if you can. Exhale on striking (I also practice so-called reverse-breathing, where I inhale on striking, but that's another topic).
 

dvcochran

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It is figurative but I often teach that kiap/kihap literally means expulsion of air. Although I think the bigger part of the quotient is breathing in correctly. The deeper you can breathe in the more oxygen available to the blood and thus the body. Of course if you short stroke either way, in or out, it doesn't work.
Breath control is something I really have to work on.
 

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I would just take some Yoga for breathing exercises, and yes it can be worked in with martial arts practice as some people have and it ultimate helps flexibility and breathing. And maybe some other skills you might need/use in it.

Cant comment for breathing properly, i just breath as i do exercises/punches, i sometimes make the vocalization but that seems to be more on accident than anything else/point is to tighten stomach or something. Better to breath incorrectly as in not in time with anything than to hold it. :p
 

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Grimlon, yes, it can be confusing in Martial Arts, can't it?

I'm with Danny, just breathe. The more you do any activity, the more you will find out the best way to breathe for it. In sparring, you'll learn to adjust your breathing just by doing it. Same for running, swimming etc. Get advice from your coaches, try it out and let your body adjust and figure it out.

One thing I always encouraged my students to do was to at some time or other - to push themselves until they were completely out of breath and bent over gasping. Just to see where that point was and to train and adjust accordingly. I think it a good idea to know where your physical boundaries may be.

I'll tell you one thing though, of all the people I've been lucky enough to meet in Martial Arts, nobody knows more about breathing than Rickson Gracie. Honest to God, it's fricken' mind boggling.
 
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Grimlon332

Grimlon332

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Sorry for the long silence, I was in a long karate seminar. Thanks for all the answers, and I will look forward to all of yours informations and the people you're talking, like Rickson Gracie. I will look into Qi gong or Tai Chi, maybe it could help me.
 

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It is figurative but I often teach that kiap/kihap literally means expulsion of air. Although I think the bigger part of the quotient is breathing in correctly. The deeper you can breathe in the more oxygen available to the blood and thus the body. Of course if you short stroke either way, in or out, it doesn't work.
Breath control is something I really have to work on.
Something I read last year (I can't find it now) suggested that breath control in exertion (running, etc.) centers around getting the breath out. It said when we get "out of breath" in a new activity, apparently it's mostly because we haven't mastered breathing and are breathing in too soon, before we get enough breath out. I think a lot of the breathing exercises I've seen in MA are focused on the out-breath for this reason (though the people creating the exercises may not have had the knowledge we have today).
 

gpseymour

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One of my always pending question about practicing karate, is how do you breath properly in different circumstances (striking, blocking, evading...). Most people and senseis, tend to reply that you block the air when you are punching, and at the last moment, you let it go, so it can do a destructive fist. But, when I met other masters, they said to me that I have to breath near normally. So, I am a little bit confused. Also, do you have any exercises to train my breathing? (I heard that there ar plenty in Goju Ryu style, I'm a shotokan guy).
The blocked breath shows up in several arts (I've seen it in Daito-ryu videos). With most grappling that have a standard breathing style, they tend to focus on exhale during execution, with a harder "finish" if you want to throw harder. More focus on breathing shows up on the ukemi (receiving the throw), where a kiai is often used to get the breath out at the moment of impact.

In punching arts that have a standardized approach, you're more likely to see breathing over a combination/series, rather than within a single technique. That's because a single punch rarely is your whole sequence (whereas a single throw, once you start the entry, often is). So there tends to be a focus on getting inhale/exhale to span areas of movement, using kiai (which has some of the same benefits as blocked breath, and can be used just after blocked breath) often is only used at certain "climax" points, where they're intending a near-maximum strike or some sort of finish. You can see this in many kata, in the phrasing that's used.
 

dvcochran

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Something I read last year (I can't find it now) suggested that breath control in exertion (running, etc.) centers around getting the breath out. It said when we get "out of breath" in a new activity, apparently it's mostly because we haven't mastered breathing and are breathing in too soon, before we get enough breath out. I think a lot of the breathing exercises I've seen in MA are focused on the out-breath for this reason (though the people creating the exercises may not have had the knowledge we have today).
Have you found information on aerobic stage breathing vs. anaerobic stage breathing? It may just be me but when in the anaerobic level I think more about the breath in, until as you mentioned there is a strike or kick etc... There has to be some kind of natural balance in there somewhere with lung capacity, chest/abdominal muscles, and mental discipline.
Both of my lungs were punctured and collapsed but I do think they are a factor now.
 

gpseymour

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Have you found information on aerobic stage breathing vs. anaerobic stage breathing? It may just be me but when in the anaerobic level I think more about the breath in, until as you mentioned there is a strike or kick etc... There has to be some kind of natural balance in there somewhere with lung capacity, chest/abdominal muscles, and mental discipline.
Both of my lungs were punctured and collapsed but I do think they are a factor now.
The work I looked at didn't go that deep. It was mainly focused on a single issue that appears to be consistent when people get a start in running (the exercise that was used). They got out of breath quickly because their breath rate sped up, starting the inhale too quickly. That meant they didn't get enough air out, so weren't getting enough new (more oxygenated) air in. This lead pretty quickly to a hypoxic sensation, which caused them to start to breathe faster (same problem), which made it worse. These were all findings in the control group. Slowing the breathing pace allowed the experimental group to focus on breathing out fully, and they didn't get "out of breath" as quickly. Looking at folks who had already been running consistently for some time (I think 6 weeks was what they used), they had all already developed that slower, controlled breathing pattern.
 

dvcochran

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The work I looked at didn't go that deep. It was mainly focused on a single issue that appears to be consistent when people get a start in running (the exercise that was used). They got out of breath quickly because their breath rate sped up, starting the inhale too quickly. That meant they didn't get enough air out, so weren't getting enough new (more oxygenated) air in. This lead pretty quickly to a hypoxic sensation, which caused them to start to breathe faster (same problem), which made it worse. These were all findings in the control group. Slowing the breathing pace allowed the experimental group to focus on breathing out fully, and they didn't get "out of breath" as quickly. Looking at folks who had already been running consistently for some time (I think 6 weeks was what they used), they had all already developed that slower, controlled breathing pattern.
**EDIT: I do Not think my lung injuries are an issue now.

I never knew the formal name (hypoxic sensation) but for sure know what you are talking about. I swear, the magnitude of it seems to change from day to day for me.
 

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**EDIT: I do Not think my lung injuries are an issue now.

I never knew the formal name (hypoxic sensation) but for sure know what you are talking about. I swear, the magnitude of it seems to change from day to day for me.
Does conscious breathing control have any effect on it? I'd wonder if a reflex reaction of some sort - perhaps a continuing response from the lung injury - is at work.
 

Bruce7

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One of my always pending question about practicing karate, is how do you breath properly in different circumstances (striking, blocking, evading...). Most people and senseis, tend to reply that you block the air when you are punching, and at the last moment, you let it go, so it can do a destructive fist. But, when I met other masters, they said to me that I have to breath near normally. So, I am a little bit confused. Also, do you have any exercises to train my breathing? (I heard that there ar plenty in Goju Ryu style, I'm a shotokan guy).

Very good question. I am not an expert like the others members. So their answers are better than mine.
IMO the simple answer is:
It has been my experience that breathing out is good for breaking boards, etc.
For sparing your body knows best. Just breathe normally.

A breathing exercise I like, is to get in a horse stance and breath like you do in yoga.
1. Inhale pushing the stomach out filling the bottom of the lung, keep breathing in until the lungs are full.
2. Exhale then bring the stomach in to get as much air as possible.
3. Repeat for as long as you can stay in a good horse stance.
Because your mind is on your breathing you will be able to stay in a horse stance longer than normal.
 

dvcochran

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Does conscious breathing control have any effect on it? I'd wonder if a reflex reaction of some sort - perhaps a continuing response from the lung injury - is at work.
Good question. Maybe it is purely mental satisfaction. I believe that thinking about breathing in helps so it is a valid question. I don't doubt that the breathing variance is more about my conditioning.
 

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The blocked breath shows up in several arts (I've seen it in Daito-ryu videos). With most grappling that have a standard breathing style, they tend to focus on exhale during execution, with a harder "finish" if you want to throw harder. More focus on breathing shows up on the ukemi (receiving the throw), where a kiai is often used to get the breath out at the moment of impact.

In punching arts that have a standardized approach, you're more likely to see breathing over a combination/series, rather than within a single technique. That's because a single punch rarely is your whole sequence (whereas a single throw, once you start the entry, often is). So there tends to be a focus on getting inhale/exhale to span areas of movement, using kiai (which has some of the same benefits as blocked breath, and can be used just after blocked breath) often is only used at certain "climax" points, where they're intending a near-maximum strike or some sort of finish. You can see this in many kata, in the phrasing that's used.
If I remember correctly, as its been a while, breathing rate is controlled by the amount of CO2 in the blood. The brain stem (medulla oblongata) detects the lowered pH (due to carbonic acid, which comes from the increased CO2 concentration) and signals the diaphragm to breathe it out more forcefully. That could somewhat explain your source’s basis.

But then you’ve got the flip side of that - yawning. Again, it’s been a while since my undergrad A&P classes; yawning is caused by a buildup in carbonic acid too. When we get tired (sleepy, not exertion) our breathing slows down. It slows down a little too much and too soon. Our body responds by yawning - the relatively slow deep breath in followed by the deep exhale. If breathing was solely about the brain telling the diaphragm to get the CO2 out, we probably wouldn’t do the long breath in, right? Next time you yawn, pay attention to the breath in. It shouldn’t take too long for that opportunity, as yawning is contagious in a sense, and someone just mentioning it gets people yawning. I’ll bet you probably yawned a few times just my mentioning it here (and my boring you with this post). Also, scientists have observed the yawning being “contagious” in a ton of different animal groups.

Another interesting tidbit - yawning is common during relatively long breaks in physical activity. Like when a coach takes too long explaining something in between drills. It’s not because he/she is boring the team; I’ve had a few coaches say “am I boring you guys?” It’s because the breathing pattern is out of synch with the demands of the body and is catching up.

Another stupid thing I was thinking just last night: my daughter was doing yoga with her basketball team. Sitting there watching and hearing the yoga instructor telling them to breathe in and out, why did that mess with my breathing? Why is it our breathing pattern gets messed up when we hear people talking about breathing? Or even when we just think about our breathing? How many times did your pattern get changed a bit by my rambling?

It’s all pretty messed up thing if you really think about it. Something as simple as breathing.
 

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If I remember correctly, as its been a while, breathing rate is controlled by the amount of CO2 in the blood. The brain stem (medulla oblongata) detects the lowered pH (due to carbonic acid, which comes from the increased CO2 concentration) and signals the diaphragm to breathe it out more forcefully. That could somewhat explain your source’s basis.

But then you’ve got the flip side of that - yawning. Again, it’s been a while since my undergrad A&P classes; yawning is caused by a buildup in carbonic acid too. When we get tired (sleepy, not exertion) our breathing slows down. It slows down a little too much and too soon. Our body responds by yawning - the relatively slow deep breath in followed by the deep exhale. If breathing was solely about the brain telling the diaphragm to get the CO2 out, we probably wouldn’t do the long breath in, right? Next time you yawn, pay attention to the breath in. It shouldn’t take too long for that opportunity, as yawning is contagious in a sense, and someone just mentioning it gets people yawning. I’ll bet you probably yawned a few times just my mentioning it here (and my boring you with this post). Also, scientists have observed the yawning being “contagious” in a ton of different animal groups.

Another interesting tidbit - yawning is common during relatively long breaks in physical activity. Like when a coach takes too long explaining something in between drills. It’s not because he/she is boring the team; I’ve had a few coaches say “am I boring you guys?” It’s because the breathing pattern is out of synch with the demands of the body and is catching up.

Another stupid thing I was thinking just last night: my daughter was doing yoga with her basketball team. Sitting there watching and hearing the yoga instructor telling them to breathe in and out, why did that mess with my breathing? Why is it our breathing pattern gets messed up when we hear people talking about breathing? Or even when we just think about our breathing? How many times did your pattern get changed a bit by my rambling?

It’s all pretty messed up thing if you really think about it. Something as simple as breathing.
I DID yawn multiple times you just talking about it, and I DID notice that strangely long inhale section. Never knew any of that about yawning, always just thought it was a mystery that nobody knew what its deal was.

Mind blown! I'd rate that as informative if only Tapatalk allowed!
 

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Have you found information on aerobic stage breathing vs. anaerobic stage breathing? It may just be me but when in the anaerobic level I think more about the breath in, until as you mentioned there is a strike or kick etc... There has to be some kind of natural balance in there somewhere with lung capacity, chest/abdominal muscles, and mental discipline.
Both of my lungs were punctured and collapsed but I do think they are a factor now.
you maybe misunderstanding the bodies energy systems slightly your anaerobic capacity is mostly concerned with your type one( fast twitch) fibres and gives you instant strength with out the need for oxygen, when that energy is depleted you do indeed switch to your aerobic capacity. however if what ever your doing isn't intense enough to recruits type one fibres( or you haven't developed you ability to recruit them,) then your running on type two fibres from the start and they have no( or very little) anaerobic capacity and your oxygen dependent from the start

the energy sources is then the oxygen that you carry in your blood stream, if your lungs can replaces that and remove the co2 at the same rate its being used( produced) then your breathing stays the same, if not then both your breathing any your heart beat increase. that's really were good breathing technique comes in useful, if you can maximise the oxygen transfer to the blood stream BEFORE you blood stream is depleted then it takes much much longer before you start gasping for air ,damaged lungs may or may not make that more crucial you than others

I was having a chat with two middle cyclists who were showing off at the ridiculous heart rates they achieved whilst cycling up hill, and couldn't grasp the concept that hitting 200 bmp For an extended period, in your 60s was a) a really bad idea and b)not an indication of how fit there were, but an indication of how unfit they were
 
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