Sunday, April 22, 2018

With Each Breath I Take…


I Breath,

Therefore I am


For the most part your breath is invisible.

Only with frosty weather do we see it.


When someone in injured,

Most first see if they are breathing,

And when not work to establish it again.


When I first studied karate breath was not discussed.


When learning Seiunchin kata.

We were shown about 1/3 of the movements with focused forced breathing.

The remainder of the movements were done with normal natural breathing.


Then when I learnt Sanchin kata,

We did the entire form with focused forced breathing.


Why that was so was not discussed with me.

So I followed instruction and trained, and trained and trained.



Several years later I had the occasion to learn Yang Tai Chi Chaun.

The reason was from studies into Taoist literature when I was in College,

I became interested.


The reality of those studies was very different from what I imagined.

There was almost no intersection at that time with my Isshinryu.

It was entirely a separate study.


The form was taught to me move by move, and it was done slow,

Much slower than I could do.


The form was broken into 6 rows of techniques.


And after I completed learning the movements of the 1st section,

I had to relearn it 2 more times.

Once with a special focus on breathing, inhalation or exhalation, with each technique.

Once with the eyes focused on a moving point,

 before the hands as the movement progressed.


What I discovered how integral breathing and eye focus,

were involved in balance.


There were so many interesting aspects to explore.


For the basics there are drills exploring stepping and breathing,

Drills holding a single position for a very long time,

Even the simple act of raising the arms then lowering them had their uses.

All of them ways to slow down, enabling one to enter the flow more efficiently.


Tai Chi is a unique fighting art.

Beginning slow, too slow to show it’s fighting relevance.

But after years of work it is supposed to be done faster and faster.

At speeds akin to other Chinese fighting arts.


I would surmise that correct techniques was far more important

In student development and only when correct, really correct technique,

Was present was it time to move forward into the full expression of the art.


Around 100 years ago,

it was decided that only the health aspects of tai chi would be the purpose,

and for many practitioners the other aspects were abandoned.



I did not attempt to combine my karate and my tai chi studies,

Keeping each a separate art in my practice.


But the decades of study did give pause to consider other uses for both.

In time I began to explore the application potential of tai chi.

In time I began to explore the breath use in karate.


Perhaps Yin and Yang,

Two sides of the same coin.


I began to understand the role of breathing in karate.

Step by step, inch by inch,

I made progress.


Structurally there are two aspects of breathing.

Breathing within a technique series.

Breathing between a technique series.

They are not the same thing.


They are independent of whether the breath is inhalation or exhalation.


There are technique series that are enhanced when exhaling.

There are technique series that are enhanced when inhaling.

Understanding the key when each is appropriate.


The speed of a kata is enhanced by respiration

when inter technique series is addressed.

There are inter technique series that are enhanced when exhaling.

There are inter technique series that are enhanced when inhaling.


Kata is but a tool to explore these potentials.

There is not one correct performance.

There are many possible correct performances.


Not for the beginning mind, the first 5 of 10 years,

But studies the advancing mind should explore,

 to understand the potential of kata more fully.


For example you are the definer of what a technique series is.


Inner technique breath might be one continuous exhalation,

Consisting of many movements made with a single breath.


Inter-technique breath, such as a single exhalation,

 is then done to control the speed moving between technique series.


You control the vertical and the horizontal.

You chose whether or not to use these potentials or not.


You decide whether using reverse breathing will confound

The opponent being able to key off your breath.


What you don’t explore

Is your choice.


So invisible,

So much potential,

With each breath you take.

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