Don’t Forget to Breathe – Kokyu Ho

On February 28, 2016 Aleix Segura Vendrell from Spain broke the world record for voluntarily holding his breath for 24 min and 3.45 seconds. Did you know that the reason we feel like we have to breath when holding our breath is not because we need the oxygen, but because we need to get rid of the carbon dioxide in our lungs.

On average a person at rest will take about 12 breaths per minute, that’s 720 breaths an hour, 17,280 breaths a day,  120,960 breaths a week, 6,289,920 breaths a year and if we live to 80 that’s 503,193,600 breaths.

That’s a hell of a lot of breaths to be breathing, and if we’re gonna breath them, we might as well understand them and through these breaths improve our lives.

In Aikido, we have a very basic technique called Kokyu-ho which literally translates to way of breathing.  Yes, breathing is very important in the art of Aikido, as it’s pretty important in staying alive!

Did you know that the rhythm and frequency of your breath affects your health, or maybe it’s vice versa, your health affects the rhythm and frequency of your breath?  Hummm…. I still haven’t figure out which came first the chicken or the egg…..

When you’re scared you tend to take shorter faster breaths, but by controlling your breathing you can change your state from fear, to calm, confident and relaxed.

So, for self-defense, it’s long been known that a predator will prey on a less confident, weaker person, than a more confident stronger person.  Criminals are always looking for cues of weakness and fear according to Volkan Topalli, a psychologist and criminologist at Georgia State University.

So, not only is breathing important for self-defense but it’s also plays a key role in executing the techniques of Aikido.  

We have this one technique called Kokyu nage, Breath Throw.  And, no it doesn’t mean we’re gonna use our bad breath to throw someone.  

It means that we use our breathing to control our movements and protect ourselves from an attack.

Breathing is important in a lot of things like meditation, relaxation, swimming, running, skiing, diving, boxing, rock climbing, wow, you name it and breathing plays an important part in it.  Actually, the only sport I know that focuses on not breathing is freediving, but, in order to prepare yourself for holding your breath, you have to use certain breathing techniques!

Have you ever tried to put yourself to sleep by focusing on your breaths!  I have…

I always start off my classes with a simple breathing exercise to remind us that breathing is important, and it also bring us to the moment ( a zen thing) brings our attention back to us.  

Doing Aikido, like any sport, is dangerous.  You’re throwing people around, and anyone can get hurt at any moment, so being present mentally is very important.  But it’s the same thing for driving, walking, and even self defense.
Are you interested in learning more about breathing and how you can benefit from its applications in daily life?  Then why not come out and try a class. Visit my website for more information.  And, don’t forget to like subscribe, and share!  If you’d like to hear more about how you can apply lessons learned in Aikido to daily life, please comment, and let me know what you’d like  to hear about.

Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained in some manner, a suitable path to follow. You are here to realize your inner divinity and manifest your innate enlightenment.

– Morihei Ueshiba

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