Breathing: how and when it makes the difference
There is no Kung Fu without breathing.
Breathing is an extremely important task in Kung Fu and it should never be underestimated. It accompanies and exalts our performances during:
- Training (to work better, longer, etc.)
- Combat (to maintain our body cool, to enhance our power, etc.)
- Daily life (for relaxation, wellness, etc.)
For this reason, breathing itself is a skill to acquire, maintain and evolve.
6 Dragons Kung Fu adopts many breathing techniques (read for example Breathe Yoga: the warrior’s breathing) and even if they strictly relate their improvement with meditation, this does not exclude more specific exercises.
The goals of breathing exercises
The types of breathing exercises
As we said it is not only a matter of meditation, we have:
- Specific practices
- Passive practices
- Simultaneous practices
What breathing can do
The various types of practice depend directly on the goal we have to reach, let’s see he main categories:
- Development of lung capacity (eg. for power development)
- Learn to control the diaphragm (eg. to manage the flow of air, read Diaphragmatic breathing)
- Acquisition of muscle chain skill (to have an harmonic guide of the transferred energy, read for example A breathing exercise to develop the 6DKF’s muscle chain)
- Development of the ability to remain in apnea (eg. to “better” resist to suffocation techniques)
- Relaxation and focusing (read for example Breathing for immediate relaxation)
- Advanced body control (eg. heartbeat alteration, read Advanced body control)
- Combat speed / pace control (read for example The 6DKF’s combat breathing)
- Energy management during combat (or any other intense activity)
- Body temperature alteration (read also How to control the perception of cold)
- To control our emotions (read for example Control of emotions: the exercise of the switch)
- Development of stealth capabilities (read for example Invisibility: how to hide heavy breathing)
- Learn to cushion the opponent’s blows (read for example How to breathe when I get punched)
As we can see, there are plenty of things that this apparently “trivial” body function can do but to reach each specific goal we have to develop / maintain our capability constantly.
How and when execute the exercises
It is useless to hide that meditation is the best way to approach high-quality breathing training: the problem is that not all people can start this way (see How to meditate: 3 easy approaches (for beginners)).
A note by Master Kongling – A lot of years ago (when I was a kid, read Who is Master Kongling?), even for me, the practice of meditation it seemed like an unnecessary waste of time. I couldn’t imagine how wrong I was.
- People that are naturally akin to things like silence, solitude, reflection (etc.)
- People, on the other side, that need (despite the capability to practice hard and for a long time) a more gradual path
What is the solution?
The solution is:
- To do not dedicate a specific time to breathing training
- To dedicate our entire day, to that conditioning
- To transform an instinctive task in an (as much as possible) voluntarily trask
We need to constantly focus on the way we breathe:
- While we speak
- While we work
- While we eat
- While we are about to fall asleep
- While we are relaxed
- While we are tense
What to focus on and what aim to control
Depending on the exercise / capability we are trying to work on, we have to focus on:
- How deep we are breathing (eg. do we collect more oxygen than we can manage?)
- How fast we are breathing (eg. how long our breath lasts?)
- What are we breathing with (eg. nose, mouth or both?)
- The pace of our breathing (eg. is it irregular or constant? Do we interrupt our flow? Do we need to take different breaths to recover?)
- Where the air we inhale is stored (eg. upper or lower part of the lungs?)
- We inflate the chest or abdomen (eg. how are we moving our body?)
- How much air changes we have (eg. how many breaths do we need to completely change the air in our lungs?)
- How easily we are breathless (eg. after a long run or percurring the driveway)
- What position do we take while we breathe (eg. are we compressing our lungs?)
- How we breathe in various contexts (eg. when we are sad, when we are sweaty, sick, etc.)
- We breathe noisily or quietly (eg. when, why?)
- How our body reacts to our breathing method (eg. it cools down, heats up?)
- Our breath is clean or there is something that hinders it (eg. deviations, obstacles, fat, tar in the lungs, etc.)
- What kind / quality level of air are we putting in our lungs (eg. maybe we would never eat a putrid mouse but what quality of air are we feeding on?)
A few conclusive considerations:
- Regardless of performing a specific exercise or not, this kind of attention leads to a higher awareness of our body and in itself, it is very likely that it will lead us to (slightly) improve our psychophysical state as well as to induce us to a state of mental calm similar to meditation
- Doing any kind of breathing exercise, if we learn to take care of these elements, the benefits will increase exponentially
- A good way
In-depth video courses
- Basic 6 Dragons Kung Fu Exercises – The core exercises of our school, perfect to develop and test our breathing
- Back and Neck pain treatment – How to face and solve the classical cervical pain (for practitioners and not)
- Physical conditioning: how it works – How we address the body preparation for martial arts
- How to stop smoking – A starting point to leave a bad attitude that, despite our level, lower our performances and health
Reply in the comments and share your experience:
- How do you evaluate your breathing?
Author: Master Kongling
Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.
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