Training in martial arts, in this case karate, disciplines the body and mind to react differently than nature intended. During a self-defense encounter, the body’s natural tendency is the fight-or-flight syndrome. An adrenaline rush causes the body to increase breathing to supply the muscles with additional oxygen for flight. The upside of additional oxygen in the blood is increased strength and speed for a short period of time to escape.
The downside of increased oxygen levels is seen if a fight ensues. Too much oxygen in the blood can make one light-headed or possibly faint. Learning and maintaining control of breathing enhances all martial arts skill levels. Training in deep breathing techniques creates the ability to control inhalation and exhalation, making it easier to maintain proper breathing during a self-defense situation. Proper breathing exercises teach control of the abdominal area, and strengthen the diaphragm.
- Stand up straight with the feet shoulder width apart, and the arms hanging relaxed at the sides.
- Take a deep breath in through the nose, raise the arms up and across the chest to shoulder level, keeping the hands open.
- Cross the arms, clench the fists, and tighten the entire body. Set the breath in the lower abdomen for a moment. Tense the abdominal muscles.
- Form the hands into fists and slowly bring the arms down to the sides.
- Repeat the exercise two more times.
Ibuki breathing stresses exhaling through the mouth, not the nose, with force while creating tension in the abdominal muscles. When it seems as though all the air is out of the lungs, tighten the abdominal muscles even more and force more air out. Ibuki breathing is used to restore breathing after strenuous exercise. It is also used to restore breathing after receiving a strike to the abdomen or diaphragm. As always, consult a physician before beginning any physical conditioning, martial art, or self-defense training.