Karate Breathing Exercise For Martial Arts Performance


(energetic percussive music) – Just look at this graph for one second. Imagine we have this
type of bell curve here. Now, this represents peak performance, peak performance, and this
right here represents, let’s call it tension, right? The excitement level of
your central nervous system. Because breathing is a direct pathway into that part of your body and brain. So, if you wanna achieve peak performance and perform to the best of your ability, whether you’re competing or grading or just a regular training
session in the dojo, you can use breathing to
achieve this peak state of performance. Because usually, we don’t walk around in world class, top shape all the time. We’re not ready for peak performance 24/7. We tend to be either to the
left side or the right side of this curve of tension
or excitement level. So if you’re a very
relaxed person usually, you might be down here
somewhere on the curve, right? Or if you’re a naturally
tense and anxious person, you might be more on the
right side of the curve. Which means that you can, and should, use breathing methods. Of course, there are other methods, too, but today’s topic is breathing,
to either down regulate or up regulate the activation level of your central nervous system. So I’m gonna show you an exercise known as a breathing ladder, okay? A breath ladder from one
to 10 that you can apply in two different ways so that you, or your students, or somebody else, can achieve peak performance, top mental and physical state, all right? So, let’s start with the
one that you would use for relaxing, okay? For lowering the activation level of your central nervous system, which is a more slow and
deep form of breathing. And many people only do these
types of breathing exercises, and that’s fine, but
it’s not for everybody. Because as I said, it
depends on who you are. It is highly individual. Some types of breathing
exercises can actually be bad for you, while others can be good for you. It depends on how much
self-awareness you have. And your instructor or coach
should know this, okay? Let’s start with the basic, easy one. I’m gonna do it standing up, all right? I was gonna do it on the ground, but because usually you do these types of relaxing breathing
exercises lying down, because it’s more relaxing
than standing up, right? But I’m gonna do it standing up for now, because you can apply it better
to your karate techniques because we don’t lie down. We’re not doing Brazilian jujitsu, right? So the breathing ladder, or breath ladder, from one to 10, looks like this. You’re gonna stand with
a nice, tall structure. Make sure that you have
a good, relaxed posture. Natural, okay? No unnecessary tension in your body. Make sure that you lower your shoulders and feel that your weight is in the center between your legs and you
have a tall, straight spine. Nothing like that or like this. Try to find that neutral position. Now from here, I want you
to breathe one second in and one second out. I’m gonna breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth. (air hisses) One second, one second. As I breathe, I try to
breathe down into my belly. I’m gonna use my diaphragm. And as I gradually
progress and breathe longer and longer, I’m gonna inhale
and exhale now two seconds, then three, then four, then five. Then I will gradually try
to pack that breathing from below down and up. And try not to elevate
your shoulders if you can. Your body, your chest and your ribcage should be moving in this direction only and not in this direction. If you can avoid that, just
think about that, okay? So that was one second. Now two seconds. (air hisses) One, two in, one, two out. Three. (air hisses) Four seconds. (air hisses) Five seconds. (air hisses) It’s hard to count. Actually, it has a high
cognitive load, as well, especially when I try
to show you, as well. Because I have a lot to
think about, surprisingly. You will see when you try it yourself. Okay, I’m gonna inhale
for five seconds now. (air hisses) I stop and I reverse, exhale. (air hisses) So you can see that I
gradually increase the range of motion. It’s sort of like a mobility exercise, but we’re working the respiratory system from the inside out, okay? And then I go six seconds,
seven, eight, nine. Let me just skip ahead to 10. You ready? I’m not even sure I can do it. (groans) I got to nine. Then I was full. I actually even started cramping up, because my diaphragm isn’t
warmed up properly yet. You can even get a cramp in the back because there are
several attachment points of your diaphragm. It looks kind of like a parachute, right? It’s right in here, and it’s
what you use when you breathe. So I got to nine and then I choked up. That means I couldn’t get
to 10, which was the goal. And then after you got to
10, you would reverse it. So you’d go nine, eight,
seven, six, and so on, okay? So it’s a breathing ladder,
where you can go just up and down this way. One second, one second. Inhale, exhale. Two seconds, inhale, exhale. And always try to inhale
(air hisses) nose, (air hisses) exhale mouth, okay? And like I said, try
to work from the bottom and gradually progress upwards. So the last part you
inhale with is up here, as you start packing from down. Now, as I told you, I choked up at nine. So, we’re gonna work on
that using an elastic band to improve your capacity for breathing. So I’m just gonna put this
around myself this way. And if you don’t have an elastic band, you can actually just use your belt. Now, your belt is not elastic, but you can achieve
almost the same effect. And I actually like to
tie my belt extra tight whenever I practice a slow breathing kata, so I can feel that sensory feedback of pushing, of pushing
against the belt, right? Because that’s essentially
what you’re gonna do with this elastic band. You’re just gonna put it tight, just here around the ribcage. And now, you just practice
one inhalation maximum, and then you exhale maximum. And your goal right now is just to expand and try to get this elastic
band to (air hisses) to move. (air hisses) Again, and this is a 3D type of breathing. You want to move in all
directions, even to the sides. Expand your ribcage and back. Not just front to back or up and down, but try to actually fill your whole trunk. Again, I inhale (air hisses) and I exhale. Now, after you do that, you could go back to the breathing ladder or breath ladder and see if you now can
take your number further. So if I got to nine before,
now maybe I can get to 10 after doing this for a couple of reps. Now, moving on, I don’t have to show you, you know what to do. It’s the training that
matters, not the talking. We did the first part,
the left part, right here. Sorry, we did the down regulation. Now we do the up regulation. Let’s say that you need
to have a more fast and rhythmic and dynamic training session and you need to actually
get into that high power, tension state of mind. You don’t wanna be all
relaxed and laid back. It’s go time, right? Then you do this. Let’s go back. You start with the same type of idea, of going from one to 10. But now we’re gonna do
it in a more fast-paced, rhythmic manner. So instead of going one
second (air hisses), one second, I’m gonna be
huffing and puffing, all right? I go (air hisses), that was one. And then go two. (air hisses) Now, it is way more high tension. And I can feel it in my whole body as this type of intramuscular impact. And now I go three, right? The ladder, one, two, three. Inhale three times fast. (air hisses) Exhale. (air hisses) Inhale four times. (air hisses) Five. (air hisses) And ideally, there should not be any pause between the steps of the ladder. Now I’m pausing just to talk to you, but if I did it correctly like
I did between four and five, I try to just put ’em together. So I go, one. (air hisses) Two. (air hisses) Three. (air hisses) Four. (air hisses) Five. Of course, you shouldn’t say the number between each level, but you get the point. And your job is to get all the way to 10. This requires some stamina in your breathing apparatus, right? And this is way more athletic in nature compared to the previous way we did, which is more relaxing in nature. Now, obviously this type
of huffing and puffing, the second way of doing
the breathing ladder, can also be applied to, for example, what I like to do, when
you’re out doing cardio or jogging, then you try to time this type of breathing with your steps. So you go. (air hisses) That way. And still, like we did before, you should try to work with the breathing, starting by packing it from the bottom and working all the way up so
you utilize your whole body and breathing structure, and
not just your (air hisses) chest breathing. Because that’s the type of shallow and limited breathing that will mean that you choke up at maybe five or six. You wanna get all the way to 10, which means that you need
to expand your whole body with each breath. And like I said, if you choke up in this type of exercise or
this part of the exercise, again, you just go back
to the elastic band, or you use your belt like this. But instead of having it regularly tied, you just put it a little
bit extra tighter, right? And you try to (air hisses)
expand against the belt. Really important here is
to close your back side, if you know what I mean, right? ‘Cause you don’t wanna
have any extra tension or air pushing out the back, because I actually know a Japanese or Okenowan Grand Master who
did a lot of breathing training and ended up with hemorrhoids, all right? And you don’t want that. Stay safe. Make sure that you close the
back door, all right? (laughs) And that’s it for today. That was the breathing ladder,
done in two different ways, the slow one and the fast one, so that you can help up regulate or down regulate your
breathing capacity, according to that peak performance state. Train hard, good luck, and have fun.

36 thoughts on “Karate Breathing Exercise For Martial Arts Performance

  1. Oss Sensei. Sensei you teach soo well. All these years I learned breathing in karate is important. But now I know why they are important. Thank you sensei for teaching us. Oss sensei

  2. I was thinking how could i do the relaxed breath ladder while in intensive training , or Go Time as u said😄, at the beginning of the vid…Then the second form u explained is a serious need for the karate practitioners or athletes …
    Wonderful Explanations..Oss!Sensei Jesse🥋♥️

  3. HEY JESSE HERES A FULLBODY KARATE WORKOUT I MADE UP! Hope you enjoy and maybe try it out 😉. This mostly for a begginer to intermediate in karat. My style is tang soo do so some stuff might be different from japanese karate..Well Heres the workout…

    10-15 warmup
    30 mins of hyungs (KATA) and one steps

    MAIN WORKOUT
    Horse stand hold punches 1 min
    Jumping lunges 15 reps
    Lunge hold 30 e/s
    Repeat 3 times
    Front kicks 10 e/s
    Roundhouse kicks 10 e/s
    Side kicks 10 e/s
    Downward heel kick 10 e/s
    Repeat 3 times
    30 sec front kick balance e/s
    30 sec side kick balance e/s
    10 front kick balances e/s
    10 side kick balances e/s
    Repeat 3 times
    1 min plank weighted resistance bands pushups max
    1 min plank resistance band pushups max
    1 min plank explosive pushups max
    1 min plank deep pushups max
    Repeat 3 time
    45 sec side plank 10 pullups
    45 sec side plank 10 chin ups
    1 min plank 15 body rows
    Repeat 3 times
    Finishers:
    50 DECLINE KNUCKLE PUSHUPS
    50 EXPLOSIVE BURPEES
    30 sec hollow body hold

    COOL DOWN
    5 to 10 mins meditation

    I'm not gonna lie this is probobly a little more suitable for an intermediate now that I think about it😅

  4. This may sound odd Sensei, but my 13 year old niece has a HUGE crush on you. I was laughing 😂 when I first heard that. She said she wishes that you were her boyfriend. I love all of your videos Sensei. Keep posting.

  5. Gotta try this. Sounds like a great workout for sure ! Will you begin to notice the side effects of this in your karate training if done on a regular basis ?

  6. I learned a running/breathing cadence of 1 in and 3 out, 2 in and 6 out, etc from my shihan 20 years ago. I used this pattern when I was in the Army, and enjoyed much success as a runner.

  7. Have you tried "Wim Hof" breathing technique? If so what do you think of using a modified version of it for martial arts?

  8. I’m a goju ryu practitioner and I’ve been working on my sanchin kata because I just learnt it and this helps me a lot. Thank you Jesse from Sydney 👊🏽👊🏽

  9. Hi Jesse. Really enjoy your video’s. Wondered if you can help me please. If I do Kata or kumite I usually struggle with breathing techniques when blocking or striking. Can you give me some tips on how to breath better from my stomach or centre. Many thanks

  10. Amazing video , currently training for my 1st Dan in shotokan , this is going to help me when performing all katas so I can still perform at my best !

  11. Absolutely, precisely how I advocate. Great video and great to share this knowledge. I'm so on the same page. Stay strong bro. 👊💥

  12. This reminds me a lot of the breathing exercises taught in systema. Since learning these exercises and applying them to my training I've noticed a big difference. Thanks for sharing this.

  13. Would I be out of line to call this man the Jeff Cavaliere of martial arts? I'm a judoka and I've still learned so many great things from this channel. Thank you!

  14. I love how do you use real phisiology in yours videos.

    In this case was the sympathic and parasympathic nervous system, exciting and relaxing it with breathing letting know to you parasympathic nervous system activate less Or more.
    And in this case reach what we want for one training session.

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