Protecting ourselves from our "selves": Take a deep breath. ( Part 2) by Mireille Clark
There is a common saying of “Take a deep breath, and count to ten..” when faced with stressful situations. Our Martial Arts knowledge can affirm this wisdom. Breathing is central to a well executed attack and defense. Also, using self control over our impulses, and emotions can help us to time our attack for the most effective moment.
Let us look at breathing in more depth:
When one is stressed ( fearful, anger, etc.) we tend to go into a light, high, quick type of breathing that uses only the top part of our lungs. This does not offer good aeration to the blood, and also raises our blood pressure. We can control this, and chose to do deep diaphragm based breathing which also activates the cleansing our of bodies lymph fluid to remove more waste products from our blood system, and actually lowers our blood pressure. Or in other words.. “Take a deep breath..”
Deep breathing also helps unite the core of our body with the limbs, which is one of the reasons that we kiai. A simple experiment during class would be to have students strike a pad with punches or kicks in three ways. At first, ask them to Kiai fiercely as they initiate the movement. Then, have them Kiai as their attack hits the target. Finally, have them Kiai after the attack has finished. The idea is to concentrate on the feelings within their body as they do the three exercises. Depending on how much effort they place into the exercise, and how much attention your students are capable of achieving into their own sensations, they may feel how an early Kiai will excite speed, and contraction, a simultaneous Kiai brings connection, and a late Kiai seems to have no effect on the strike.
Patterns (Kata/Poomse) can also help a student become more aware of the rhythm of their breathing in/out as they perform the techniques. Once the movements of the pattern have become ingrained in the individual, they can start to focus on the minute differences that happen during the performance, and become aware of what their body is doing to keep up with the demand. Then, they can start applying breath control to improve their technique.
During daily life, the more we learn to read our body’s responses, and start recognizing our breathing patterns, we can become aware of the onset of quick stressed breathing, and deepen the breath by choice centralizing our mind’s focus on calming our body. This provides more oxygen to our brain, and allows us to see our situation more clearly. We will not be as tempted to fall into the verbal taunts, and traps placed before us by arguing, aggressive, or annoying people.
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