Breathe, the Development of Qi
In today’s world where sports have evolved into exacting sciences, athletes have had to find ways to push their bodies beyond what normal training regiments can offer them to keep fit and be ready for competition. Science has taken huge roll in the day to day training, nutrition and health of athletes worldwide. Living in Hawaii, the epicenter of the Surfing world, and where the world renown Ironman Triathlon is held annually, I have had a first hand look into some of the nutritional sciences and training regiments these ultra fit athletes follow with obsessive zeal.
Beyond obvious training method running, weights training, muscle mass building and resistance training, a growing trend that transcends sporting boundaries is breathe, lung capacity training due to the direct correlation to enhanced endurance.
In ancient times, where the arts of Yogis and Masters of Kung Fu, Taiqi Quan, and Qi Gung, all were developed, herein lie the constant theme of breathe training and breathing technique, which were developed and integrated or developed within these ancient arts.
Whereas breathing is paramount to life itself the training of correct breathing and developing an understanding of lung capacities and function are paramount in all of today’s training regiments and systems.
Before further study of lung capacity or breath training method can be utilized, basic breathing technique must be understood and corrected.
As adults we become more and more accustomed to our bodies running at a higher pace due to the demands of today’s fast paced society. Most people in every day life never give a second thought to how they breath in and out, when in fact the way they take the average breath is inefficient and not the way we were taught by natural instinct as we came forth at birth. This instinct is Diaphragmatic Breathing.
Pranayama or Yogic, Pursed Lip, Strelnikova, Buteyko, and the Mammalian Reflex breathing techniques all have one thing in common, they all recognize the importance of diaphragmatic breathing or use of the diaphragm in a normal breathing pattern.
In using the diaphragm as we were intended to do two basic things happen instantly, our bodies can re-oxygenate and expel CO2more efficiently with less effort due to the fact that you are using stronger group of core muscle to drive the breathing motion, your body can also easily distribute the fresh O2 due again to the core muscles put in motion by use of the diaphragm and lung cavities. By using both groups of muscle we get a deeper more efficient draw of o2 and a stronger exhalation with little effort.
The key when engaging many of these technique is balance. We all know what happens when you breath to deeply for long periods of time, dizziness and nausea. This is due to the unbalanced levels of o2 and or the accumulation of Co2 in the bloodstream. Too much of either can result in fatigue, dizziness and, or fainting.
With correct base breathing technique the body will be functioning more efficiently with less effort and with balance amounts of O2 and Co2 which the body needs to function.
Apnea, “the absence of breath”, is the opposite of efficient breathing. In the sports of Free-Diving, Big wave surfing and in most extreme sports the body can be conditioned to run more efficient with less O2 or only Co2 for extended periods of time. This type of training helps the body use O2 as efficient as possible and to use Co2 within the bloodstream as efficiently as possible in extreme situations. These training techniques utilize the bodies own natural reflexes to circulate O2 and Co2 through the body with what is called the Mammalian Reflex. If you’ve ever held your breath in a pool long enough to feel your diaphragm engage while still underwater you’ve experienced this reflex. Training your body to recognize and utilize this reflex for extended periods of time takes time is very dangerous and is not recommended unless accompanied by a professional trainer.
All these techniques and ideas concerning breath and breathing efficiency were developed to help the body run more efficient using less energy, thereby allowing us to push the envelop in the activity, sport or fitness program of our choice.
It can be understood that development of this extra energy or power that your body will have by cultivating these breathing and breathe technique will result in “vital energy” within the body, or as known if the martial arts world as Qi.
Train Hard, Be well, and Much Rspect!
Lawrence Ramirez Sifu Pacific Wing Chun Kung Fu Association.