Showing posts from October, 2014

Strength of the In-Breath

"Which is stronger: breathing in or breathing out?"

Most of us don't think much about our breathing, but if you do, you may realize that most of us naturally exhale (breathe out) when we do something requiring physical effort. Just try lifting one end of a heavy couch: we naturally breathe out as we lift. And try again while you're breathing in: not so easy!
So, it's not surprising that in fitness training, in yoga, in martial arts, the emphasis is usually on the exhalation for any movement that requires physical effort. As for the inhalation: in most martial arts, the opponent's inhalation is considered to be a weak point - something you can seek out and exploit.

In the practice of Kokikai Aikido, too, I've always thought of the in-breath as a weak point. Sensei has said that we shouldn't make our breathing obvious, lest our opponents use it against us.

The Strength of the In-Breath

But inhalation can be strong as well. Consider the idea of yin and ya…

Strength Training for Kokikai Aikido

After taking her first classes with Rutgers Kokikai Aikido Club, a student asked, "Do you do conditioning exercises, like pushups, leg lifts or squats?" She seemed surprised when I said, "No," since strength and aerobic conditioning exercises are part of the warmup drills for most martial arts.

Here's why we don't spend time on "conditioning" and "muscle building" exercises in Kokikai Aikido classes:

Kokikai Aikido training is highly-specialized. Black belt instructors have typically trained for a minimum of seven years to gain the level of experience needed to teach. If they have advanced black belt degrees (which many do), they may have been training for 10, 15, even 35 years! (In contrast, you can get a certificate as a fitness trainer in a few days or weeks.) We try to make best use the limited time in class, teaching things that require this expertise. The "strength" that we develop from practicing Kokikai Aikido is not ba…