Monthly Archives: January 2014

Breathe, Grasshopper…

You’ve all seen it, the movie Karate Kid, and even though we often pass it off as sensationalism or simply ‘made for TV’ Karate, there were some parts in it that are true to Karate. Take for instance Mr. Miyagi’s quote below:

“When you feel life is out of focus, always return to Basics of Life: Breathing. No Breathe, No Life.”

Now compare this to Vladimir Vasiliev’ s thought on breathing: “Every day that you live without proper breathing is another little step of submitting to stress and deterioration of your health.”

Vasiliev is the co-author of Let Every Breath, Secrets of the Russian Breath Masters; a groundbreaking new manual that reveals the breathing techniques of Russia’s traditional “SYSTEMA”. He knows breathing!

I’ve come to know that proper breathing, especially  in Kata, is crucial; learning where to breathe in and where to exhale, where to exhale fully (on Kiai for instance) and where to exhale partially (perhaps on a rapid two-part attack). Simply stated, your breath and your Ki need to be one.

Directly related to this, of course, is the fact that your breathing is a portal to clearing your mind, a task that is vital to finding awareness, and being aware without distraction is a fundamental of good Karate.

Outside the Dojo, even for a few moments at a time, I stop and follow my breath consciously down into my body and back out again as I inhale and exhale. Three of these concentrated breaths is often enough to remind me that I have a body that is trying to keep up with everything I ask of it, and a mind that deserves a peaceful hiatus once in a while, however brief. If you train hard and have a job where your mind is always engaged, mini meditative pauses throughout the day are instrumental to feeling less tense and more energized.

Get focused…Breathe!


No MindOne thing I love about my Shotokan training is the morsels of knowledge that Sensei put out there. While in class there are always things said, sometimes subtly, that are little keys to the locks along the path of becoming adept.

Such a fragment of knowledge came just recently. Sensei was giving me some one on one adjustment and we were discussing being grabbed in a confrontation. Sensei motioned for me to grab his Gi at chest level (as so often happens in a street fight). As I did he simply said “Disassociate.”

As I grabbed him, he ignored my grip, and immediately retaliated with a strike to my temple.

It became clear that Disassociate was to forget the hand that had grabbed him. If someone grabs you and you direct your attention to that, you lose the opportunity to counter – you miss the window. The hand that grips you is no longer a threat.

The same applies if you get hit. You can’t let that distract you to the point where it cripples your counter attack. I don’t know about my fellow Karateka, but I’m not good enough yet to survive an altercation -in sparring or on the street -and not get hit. Thinking “oh god, I think I’m cut” will ensure you lose the challenge.

If you take a strike or blow, Disassociate and get to the task at hand.