In addition, what most people don’t know is humans and some other organisms have the ability to “breath” in two different ways. The first, and most known is called aerobic breathing and consists of the lungs inflating to draw in air and deflating to push air out. However, in times of exercise when our oxygen intake is not “normal”, we begin to “breath” through our muscle tissue. Basically, we use the oxygen stores within our muscles to keep our blood oxygenated. This is called anaerobic breathing. Both forms of breathing have waste by-product. The aerobic form creates Carbon Dioxide, which is exchanged through the lungs. The anaerobic form creates lactic acid, which is temporarily stored in the muscle tissue until it can ultimately be flushed away.
With the basics of breathing and oxygen use out of the way, we can begin to address the method of holding our breath within Pencak Silat Pertempuran.
As stated, the basic method is to hold our breath on impact and release immediately after. From an Indonesian pernafasan perspective the idea is this, if I fill a ball full of air for energy, I do not want to release the air just before it hits the ground. To do so, would decrease the value of filling it with air to begin with. This is the basic argument as it was presented to me. Later, after additional discussions and much contemplation, this is what I have come to know about this method. The idea centers on tightening the muscles of the core and in doing so, we create a unified structure that transmits power more effectively. In this way, it is similar to the method of exhaling during a strike as most other martial arts do.
If that were the end, it would probably be sufficient, but there is more to it and this is the area that it most diverges from the more common method of exhaling as you strike. To expand upon it (pun intended), let’s first revisit the more commonly known method, which I will refer to as the Exhale Method.
In the Exhale Method, the basic premise is to exhale when attacking. Of course, to do this you must also be inhaling prior to the attack right? Because of this there is an aspect of timing that must take place. This can inhibit your freedom to attack when opportunity exists if taken to the extreme. That said most of us probably would forgo having the perfect breathing pattern in favor of getting a timely attack made. If we didn’t, as a fighter we would be stuck to using breathing patterns to determine our fighting rhythm. This means that we could be “timed” by an opponent simply because of our breathing. Likewise, if two people faced off and their breathing patterns were directly opposite, they would likewise have no recourse but to alternate between attacking and defending. Make sense so far? (It’s not rocket surgery but there is a path here.)