Breathing. Pretty important stuff if you want to continue to function as a human being. Thankfully we can (for the most part) manage to do it all day and all night long without giving it any thought at all. Lucky really. This post is about breathing (did you guess that already?) in two aspects.
Since I started studying karate I can safely say that I've been giving breathing a whole lot of thought. Too much, some might say. You see, after 34 years of breathing in and out with little or no thought what so ever, I'm suddenly aware that (at least when it comes to karate) I'm not always doing it right. Now, I have to say, I am improving with this somewhat but I was (and still am sometimes) guilty of what I think are pretty much rooky mistakes when it comes to karate breathing. So.
#1: Breathing through your mouth. Uck! I'm most guilty of doing this during kumite when I forget everything else other than trying to hit and not be hit. I can't possibly concentrate on breathing right too, so ultimately I end up with total cotton mouth. It's pretty horrible and makes it very thirsty work.
#2: Forgetting to Breathe. YIKES! I'm most guilty of this during kata. Concentrating so hard on the kata itself that I forget I'm supposed to be breathing at all. Clearly that's not so good for you.
#3: Using your chest and not your stomach for breathing. Eek! This one is the most difficult to remember to do. I know when I'm getting this right because I really feel the difference in my performance, in how much power I can generate, in how much more relaxed and refreshed I feel (when I'm not doing it I tire much more easily). The worst thing about this is, I played wind instruments at school (flute, clarinet and saxophone) so I know how to do this, and quite frankly I should know better! I haven't played those instruments for a long time though so it's a case of having to relearn what I once did without thinking and applying it in the dojo.
I've been reading around a lot of karate blogs of late and there seems to be a recurring theme with people having these kinds of problems when they begin, so at least I know I'm not alone in my breathing messes. I've found some great posts on the subject. These two in particular at The Perpetual Beginner were really interesting, and useful. I especially liked the parts about beginning the breath with the exhalation and about setting specific exhalation points in your kata. Food for thought indeed.
I think becoming aware of this is half the battle won though. Once you know what you're doing wrong and when you're doing it you can at least try to correct it. I'm hoping it will eventually become second nature and I can go back to happily not thinking about breathing again. I do seem to be getting better, so may be there's hope after all.
The second part of this post relates (loosely) to breathing in another aspect. In terms of pausing. Of taking a breath. Of holding back a moment. I do think it's important in life to be aware of your own shortcomings (okay, maybe shortcomings is the wrong word... foibles maybe?). So, be aware of your own foibles.
One of my worst (and maybe best) is that I have an insatiable appetite for knowledge. I always have. Even as I kid I couldn't get enough knowledge crammed in to keep me happy. I love to learn. If you asked me when I was 7 or 8 what I wanted to do when I grew up, there was only once answer. I wanted to go to University. I had no clue at that point what I wanted to do there, or indeed after there. I just saw University as this great mythical seat of learning where there'd be unlimited knowledge for me to soak up at my leisure.
Now you might be forgiven for wondering why this thirst for knowledge is a bad thing, and in and of itself it isn't. However, couple it with one of my other personality traits... impatience, and it's a whole other kettle of fish. Not only do I want to know EVERYTHING. I want to know it NOW! Bad, bad combination.
In terms of my karate, I'm becoming acutely aware of this sneaky little personality trait rearing it's ugly head. I know that I need to stop. To take a breath. To make sure that I know what I know well before I move on to other things. I've been aware of it a little while now. Shihan mentioned it last night in training (not specifically related to me, but I was aware it applied to me because I'm aware of this trait in myself). So, being aware of this I shall endeavour to rein myself in. To focus on the now and not worry about the next too much. Just like with the breathing, being aware of the issue is half the battle. I'm sure I can master both in time.
Just one last thing for today. Some congratulations are in order in the Cookie family. Kendo had a grading last night and obtained the rank of 6th Kyu - Green belt.
CONGRATULATIONS to my lovely DH.
We're officially a two green belt family. Miss Grace is not amused! She'll have to get that green belt kata down to pat sharpish if she wants hers :)
Another class for me tonight (did I mention I love two training days in a row? Because I really do :)). I wonder what training will hold tonight?