Exaggerated exhalation

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Exaggerated exhalation

Postby Walrus Man » Tue Jul 10, 2012 3:58 am

I've noticed the tendency of some martial artists to produce a sort of "hissing" sound when they exhale during a moment of focus. Now, obviously, you should exhale while focusing, and it is not all too surprising for that exhalation to produce a sound.

However, there seems the be a trend of encouraging students to to make this exaggerated hissing sound on every technique. Every. Single. One.

The ITF seems to be particularly guilty of this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1usXzVA ... plpp_video

Now, despite using the the much maligned "sine wave," this Taekwondo practitioner does appear to have some decent power and focus to his technique. One might argue that this is, at least in part, due to his use of the exaggerated hissing exhale.

But then you see other examples that seem to suggest otherwise:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qe4X3cwn ... r_embedded

This video, which was featured on the "really bad kata" thread, is obviously really bad. The person demonstrating this kata has a complete lack of focus; his limbs flop around flaccidly. His use of the hiss does not seem to be having the desired effect.

I believe the use of the hiss on every single movement is comparable to the use of excessive kiai, as demonstrated in the infamous video of the young woman performing kata while screaming as if trying to expel a brick of compacted excrement. The hiss and the kiai serve the same function, to tighten the core muscles and help regulate breathing, and are useful when used sparingly. However, the benefit is lost if used excessively. More importantly, it is extremely irritating. It comes of as self-serving histrionics more than anything else. Why? Because the same effect can be achieved with a much quieter, nearly silent exhale. The kiai or hiss may be useful for developing proper focus in isolation, but there is no need for this to carry over into other areas of training. Sanchin kata uses exaggerated, forced exhalation, short and sharp in Uechi Ryu, long and drawn out in other styles. But these styles use more natural breathing during kata intended to teach actual fighting skills; the hiss is reserved for conditioning kata. There is the occasional kiai, yes, but I believe that is the key: occasional, and placed at a specific moment of particular focus.
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Re: Exaggerated exhalation

Postby Zach Zinn » Tue Jul 10, 2012 4:31 am

The point of learning the 'hiss' or push as you say is the same as a kiai, at least in Nahate styles. I think it works as intended, though I do see some exaggeration in performance.

Like anything else, it seems to me the point is to learn it, then internalize it, there are lot's of different ways of doing so i'm sure. It may be that many examples you can find are more fluff than substance, but that's the same with anything.

The XMA videos aren't actually martial arts, so it's hard to draw any conclusions based on those.

On the ITF video, surely to say whether or not a technique has "power" you need to train with some idea of using it. I could be wrong but it looks like "normal" TKD kata which is totally divorced from application, so how do you even measure if something is 'powerful' in that context? It may look nice, have a staccato rhythm and what not, but that is not the same as actual combative movement, same with the breathing..it just looks like breathing to look good and sounds a certain way.

Disclaimer, I know there are "applied" TKD people out there, but this kind of performance does not look like it is connected to that kind of practice to me, it looks like kata for looks.

The only way to understand the benefit of the breathing training is to measure the benefit (or lack) in regard to hitting something or someone, getting hit, whatever.
Last edited by Zach Zinn on Tue Jul 10, 2012 4:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Exaggerated exhalation

Postby JKMann » Tue Jul 10, 2012 4:40 am

I've found something quite similar among boxers and MMA folks: short hisses with each strike. I think the idea is to ensure that people are exhaling when punching, not holding their breath. A short hiss is often just the right amount of exhale, and your coach/teacher/instructor can make sure you're breathing.
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Re: Exaggerated exhalation

Postby Chunmonchek » Tue Jul 10, 2012 4:56 am

For Goju, the audible breath serves a few purposes (and is seen most in katas Sanchin and Tenshoa)...to teach the body how to breath and to give the instructor audible feedback for teaching purposes, amongst the most common.

Audible breath and kia are some of the many things that became quite exagerated without any purpose...that I know of.

Once learned, the breath in Sanchin and Tenshoa kata should or could be practiced silently.

Audible breathing is quite common in athletic/phsyical endeavors. It's common amongst olympic weight lifters. It helps to focus posture, power and technique at a "one" point.

Interestingly, I believe that there is a movement to ban "grunting" in women's professional tennis.
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Re: Exaggerated exhalation

Postby Zach Zinn » Tue Jul 10, 2012 5:14 am

Chunmonchek wrote:For Goju, the audible breath serves a few purposes (and is seen most in katas Sanchin and Tenshoa)...to teach the body how to breath and to give the instructor audible feedback for teaching purposes, amongst the most common.

Audible breath and kia are some of the many things that became quite exagerated without any purpose...that I know of.

Once learned, the breath in Sanchin and Tenshoa kata should or could be practiced silently.

Audible breathing is quite common in athletic/phsyical endeavors. It's common amongst olympic weight lifters. It helps to focus posture, power and technique at a "one" point.

Interestingly, I believe that there is a movement to ban "grunting" in women's professional tennis.


That's a really good point, one possibility i've heard of that makes sense is that the audible breathing in Sanchin was done for demo purposes, and many walked away thinking that was the 'correct' way of doing it all the time, you can see that at play especially in the Japanese styles where the performance is so exaggerated.
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Re: Exaggerated exhalation

Postby JKMann » Tue Jul 10, 2012 5:29 am

Chunmonchek wrote:
Once learned, the breath in Sanchin and Tenshoa kata should or could be practiced silently.



I will respectfully disagree. And I would ask you to do the following exercise to understand my point:

Take a reasonably deep inhale, stick your fingertips in below your bottom rib, exhale naturally / silently.

Now, try the same thing again but exhale with sanchin's audible aspiration. You should feel a significant difference.

Sanchin activates muscles in this way that would not be otherwise brought into play.
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Re: Exaggerated exhalation

Postby Chunmonchek » Tue Jul 10, 2012 5:39 am

JKMann wrote:
Chunmonchek wrote:
Once learned, the breath in Sanchin and Tenshoa kata should or could be practiced silently.



I will respectfully disagree. And I would ask you to do the following exercise to understand my point:

Take a reasonably deep inhale, stick your fingertips in below your bottom rib, exhale naturally / silently.

Now, try the same thing again but exhale with sanchin's audible aspiration. You should feel a significant difference.

Sanchin activates muscles in this way that would not be otherwise brought into play.



I think that you misunderstand my post. While silent the correct and balanced tension is still present. While most find it easier to maintain the correct muscular/soft tissue tension with the sound, it can be, and is practiced by many, silently.
In fact my teacher was taught, and he taught us, that the "Sanchin" breath in Pechulin and Sanseiryu is in fact silent. To have to emit noise in order to perform and deliver with the "sanchin" advantage is poor tactics, IMHO.
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Re: Exaggerated exhalation

Postby Fish Of Doom » Tue Jul 10, 2012 12:34 pm

The mechanics of ibuki breathing ala sanchin and those of correctly executed breathing for weightlifting (Which is usually done with a held breath since the entire movement faces resistance*) are essentially the same, and the purpose of it is twofold, essentially: one goal is to use expansion of the abdomen to provide resistance against which the abdominal walls, pelvic floor and diaphragm can contract more strongly, and the other is to use that strong contraction to facilitate correct contraction of all surrounding muscles (In the hips and upper torso, mainly), so that these in turn facilitate correct contraction of the limb's muscles, strengthening the entire kinetic chain.

*Maximum contraction is gained while exhaling against resistance, but exhausting all of your air leaves you with nothing to contract against and makes your exhalation muscles enter active insufficiency and relaxes your diaphragm, which in turn leaves you with more or less the weakest possible state of voluntary contraction, so what's usually done in weightlifting is to do a sharp, short exhale (Usually a grunt or scream, sometimes extremely short), and then to hold one's breath for most of the duration of the movement, keeping a good reserve of strength while still having air for one last burst if needed at the end of the motion. Obviously this differs from the way it'd be applied in martial arts, but at the moment one makes impact, it makes for a much stronger motion, as well as providing optimal protection to the abdominal area and floating ribs (And by extension solar plexus, liver and spleen). Some, however, exaggerate it because sometimes they have no <BEEP>ing clue about what they're actually doing :(.
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Re: Exaggerated exhalation

Postby Chunmonchek » Tue Jul 10, 2012 1:36 pm

Fish Of Doom wrote:The mechanics of ibuki breathing ala sanchin and those of correctly executed breathing for weightlifting (Which is usually done with a held breath since the entire movement faces resistance*) are essentially the same


Yes and no. Some hold a full breath, but in my lineage of Okinawan Goju, there is a slight release of breath...kind of a pressure relief valve...at the end of exhale

Fish Of Doom wrote:*Maximum contraction is gained while exhaling against resistance, but exhausting all of your air leaves you with nothing to contract against and makes your exhalation muscles enter active insufficiency and relaxes your diaphragm, which in turn leaves you with more or less the weakest possible state of voluntary contraction, so what's usually done in weightlifting is to do a sharp, short exhale (Usually a grunt or scream, sometimes extremely short), and then to hold one's breath for most of the duration of the movement, keeping a good reserve of strength while still having air for one last burst if needed at the end of the motion. Obviously this differs from the way it'd be applied in martial arts, but at the moment one makes impact, it makes for a much stronger motion, as well as providing optimal protection to the abdominal area and floating ribs (And by extension solar plexus, liver and spleen). Some, however, exaggerate it because sometimes they have no <BEEP>ing clue about what they're actually doing :(.


I believe that different lifting disciplines may breath differently. A major problem is the effect on the development/uneven growth of the heart muscle.
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Re: Exaggerated exhalation

Postby Five Claws » Tue Jul 10, 2012 2:13 pm

Strangely enough, in our school of Sth. Praying Mantis kung fu, exhalation occurs after the technique is finished. All breathing (in and out) is through the nose and generally silent. It’s all part of Iron Shirt technique. It took me a while to get used to it but I tend to prefer it now.
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Re: Exaggerated exhalation

Postby JKMann » Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:46 am

Fish Of Doom wrote:The mechanics of ibuki breathing ala sanchin and those of correctly executed breathing for weightlifting (Which is usually done with a held breath since the entire movement faces resistance*) are essentially the same, and the purpose of it is twofold, essentially: one goal is to use expansion of the abdomen to provide resistance against which the abdominal walls, pelvic floor and diaphragm can contract more strongly, and the other is to use that strong contraction to facilitate correct contraction of all surrounding muscles (In the hips and upper torso, mainly), so that these in turn facilitate correct contraction of the limb's muscles, strengthening the entire kinetic chain.

*Maximum contraction is gained while exhaling against resistance, but exhausting all of your air leaves you with nothing to contract against and makes your exhalation muscles enter active insufficiency and relaxes your diaphragm, which in turn leaves you with more or less the weakest possible state of voluntary contraction, so what's usually done in weightlifting is to do a sharp, short exhale (Usually a grunt or scream, sometimes extremely short), and then to hold one's breath for most of the duration of the movement, keeping a good reserve of strength while still having air for one last burst if needed at the end of the motion. Obviously this differs from the way it'd be applied in martial arts, but at the moment one makes impact, it makes for a much stronger motion, as well as providing optimal protection to the abdominal area and floating ribs (And by extension solar plexus, liver and spleen). Some, however, exaggerate it because sometimes they have no <BEEP>ing clue about what they're actually doing :(.


Nice information! As I understand it, the audible breathing of sanchin (when performed correctly) is a byproduct of restricting your exhalation. Restricting your exhalation in this way carries with it certain benefits. This is a form of exercise/conditioning/learning. It is not how one fights.

Can it be done in the same way without sound? I don't know. Of course if the sound was just a verbalization, it can be dropped. But if it is the result of a restricted exhale, then the sound is natural. If there is a way to restrict airflow in the same way silently, I can't do it. That's not to be said it can't be done, but I can't. It would seem an unnecessary effort to silence the exhale, and would interfere with teaching by example.

Now, if one wants to do sanchin without exhaling against resistance, fine. But you are doing it differently, for whatever reason. It does not follow that one can then say the audible breathing is unnecessary. The conversation would have to turn to whether one should restrict the breath during the kata (or maybe whether it should be restricted to the point of creating sound). There's a lot more going on than people just making noise.
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Re: Exaggerated exhalation

Postby barnold » Wed Jul 11, 2012 2:20 am

JKMann wrote:I've found something quite similar among boxers and MMA folks: short hisses with each strike. I think the idea is to ensure that people are exhaling when punching, not holding their breath. A short hiss is often just the right amount of exhale, and your coach/teacher/instructor can make sure you're breathing.


I was taught that way to regulate breath because if you hold your breath, you tend to gas out quickly during the higher intensity athletic training. It seemed to work for me for what it is worth. Is it misguided? I don't know.

Also, when one forcefully exhales quickly it is hard to not make at least some noise (even through the nose). That seems different than making exaggerated noises with your speech apparatus. Does vocalizing help us breath more easily in an innate manner?
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Re: Exaggerated exhalation

Postby Fish Of Doom » Wed Jul 11, 2012 2:33 am

"Yes and no. Some hold a full breath, but in my lineage of Okinawan Goju, there is a slight release of breath...kind of a pressure relief valve...at the end of exhale"

Was referring specifically to the weightlifting with the breath holding thing :)

"I believe that different lifting disciplines may breath differently. A major problem is the effect on the development/uneven growth of the heart muscle."

Not really, the difference is more from lift to lift than from discipline to discipline. Lifting is lifting, although there are 3 competitive sports based around it, each of which compete with different lifts (Plus bodybuilding where it's used as the main training method).

Re: cardiac hypertrophy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ventricular_hypertrophy

As far as silent breathing goes, I'd wager that's just an exaggeration, probably from taking hyperbole literally. Just the flipside to going HGHGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!! every movement because you can't tell restricted abdominal breathing from throat breathing.
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