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One of the things we emphasize heavily in my Hapkido group is breathing. It tends to flow with your motion and be very deep in nature. We also have deep breathing exercises along these lines (danjeon [단전] or abdominal breathing) which over time help develop the appropriate channeling of breath.

Recently we had a white belt join our dojang who is having some difficulty with the louder, more forceful breathing through his motions and asked how we do what we do. The answer is "years of practice doing the breathing exercises" (most of the people he's seen are 4th kup and above), but I wondered if there was some sort of exercise that I can show him that would illustrate the "how" a little more explicitly.

Has anyone had good luck with drills, really in any context (e.g., singing), that help train the "how" of making strong, deep breaths?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

From your description, I believe that your breathing is similar to what we did when I studied Northern Shaolin Kung Fu Wu Su.

The way that we were taught how to breath was actually through a breathing exercise we would do every start of the class as part of our standard warm-up routine. Laying on our back with our hands lightly touching our abdomen below the belly button, we were guided as we would first inhale slowly through our noses, into our abdomen instead of our chest cavity. Then, just as slowly, we'd exhale loudly, making a "sssssh" sound through our mouths. This would be done as slowly as you can, making sure that the sound you make remains as steady and as constant as you can. At first it is difficult but quickly you gain more control over your breath and can do this even more slowly and much more steadily.

After the slow breathing, we'd repeat the process, but instead, breath very quickly and with power. We'd inhale in the same way as quickly as possible, and then exhale just as quickly making the same sound. We'd do this over several repetitions.

Through repeated practice, this helped me quickly gain control over my breathing technique.

Then, when actually practicing techniques, we would apply the same things learned through that exercise to our breathing in our techniques. When going through the motions slowly, we'd breath in and out slowly according to the requirements of the technique, in slowly through our nose, and exhaling slowly through our mouths making the same "sssssh" sound. When moving on to train the techniques at a faster, more real-world pace, we'd adjust our breathing to match.

Over time this should help train you to breath properly through your technique. This is how we trained it.

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