Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Nafas - Part 4

As for the breathing itself, combat style breathing should be shallow and relatively quick.

This allows for a few advantages: First, it keeps your lungs relatively empty of large volumes of air, which could be expelled forcefully if struck hard. This is one of the areas that give rise to concern for those who utilize the Exhale Method primarily. The basic concern is that if your lungs are full of air when struck that you will be more likely to have the air forced from them painfully (have the “wind knocked out of you”). (I think this may be true, though I personally haven’t seen or felt any specific evidence to support this… but let’s assume it is true since the idea at least seems logical enough.) In this regard, you can address it by keeping your breathing relatively shallow.

Second, by keeping our breathing relatively shallow and quick, you are mimicking the body’s normal response to fear, rather than attempting to retrain your body’s instinctual behavior. This response is autonomic. We can’t control it. In this regard, the best course of action then is to train to use this type of instinctual behavior.

In so doing, when we are training, if we utilize this type of breathing and the contraction of our abdomen when striking, we will be focusing on a methodology that mimics our body’s normal behaviors when under stress and will increase our ability to fight under those circumstances. Additionally, by breathing in this manner even when training, you will train your body to work with an oxygen level that more closely mirrors this state.

To take that further, you can practice this type of breathing even during times of exercise and conditioning to further prepare you for it’s use in combat.

Be mindful that you do not hold your breath forever. You are only holding it as long as is necessary to transfer the energy of your strike. After that moment is passed you can exhale or inhale and either begin anew or adapt to what is happening in the conflict.

That said, with this relaxed tension in your abdomen and torso, your body has the ability to breath for you in essence. You will notice over time, that you will find a balance between being overly tense in the abdomen and being too loose. This should also lead you to ultimately notice that every time your waste shakes or turns forcibly you are inhaling and exhaling. This is perfectly acceptable. You will find that normally what happens at the end of this “forced breath,” in conjunction with your movement, is a slight holding of the breath. This is perfect. This “forced breathing” is the way to “hold your breath” during a long series of attacks (5 or 6 attacks in length let’s say).

Additionally, with longer series of attacks (those over 5 or 6) you will find that the opponent that is changing, moving, countering, and it is not easy to do “jack-hammer” style attacks, so there will typically be short intervals of time in between attacks to inhale or exhale briefly depending on your own cycle of breathing. You should definitely use those opportunities.

more to come....

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