Breathing and Meditation

Breathing is one of the most important functions in a person's body. It is essential to human life. When a baby is born, he breathes using the diaphragm or lower abdomen. This is natural breathing. At some point during our lives we begin to breathe using the upper chest. This more shallow type of breathing is caused by many factors, including stress. In times of stress the abdominal muscles tense up and make it almost impossible to breathe deeply and naturally.

In order to get back to natural deep breathing, or as it is sometimes called, "belly breathing", a person needs to concentrate on his breathing and practice using the lower abdomen to draw in the air. This is done by tightening the abdomen to exhale. Karate practice is one way to develop good breathing habits, another is through meditation.

In order to bring maximum power to a technique, the karate practitioner should exhale on point of contact. To practice this, execute a technique slowly at first and just at point of contact exhale out through the mouth. As soon as you have exhaled, immediately inhale through the nose. Do not make your exhale overly audible. A loud or puffing type exhale has a tendency to drain your energy instead of renewing it.

Meditation practice develops abdominal breathing and ki, or inner energy. To understand what is accomplished by meditation, try to think of the mind as two parts: conscious and subconscious. The conscious mind is the part that gives thoughts and direction to the body. An example of that would be when you execute a technique. Your conscious mind tells your body to do a center kick. The leg then executes the kick. An example of the subconscious mind at work might be when you are reading a book and you suddenly find that, even though you are reading the words, other thoughts have entered your conscious mind. These thoughts have entered from the subconscious without you being consciously aware. Sometimes it can be referred to as daydreaming.

In meditation you try to consciously control what you are thinking about. You concentrate on a particular object that you visualize in your mind or perhaps concentrate on your left hand and try to make it warm. When other thoughts, or distractions from the subconscious, enter your mind, push them out as soon as you become aware of them. By doing, this you practice concentration.

Meditation can be practiced anywhere and in any position, but it is a good idea to practice sitting on your heels (see Figure), also called the zazen position. Keep the back straight and head erect.

Breathe slowly, deeply, and evenly, in through the nose and out through the mouth, using the lower abdomen. When breathing in, imagine that the air is flowing in through the nose to the back of the skull and down the spinal column to the lower abdomen. Think of the breath collecting at a spot a few inches below the navel. Hold the air in for a few seconds then begin to slowly exhale.

As you exhale, imagine the breath flowing from the lower abdomen up the front of the body and out through the mouth. Control the air that flows out the mouth by making a slight "ah" sound. Concentrate on making the sound smoothly and uninterrupted.

As soon as all of the air has been expelled, hold the position for a few seconds before beginning to inhale in through the nose.

The exercise of breathing and meditation is very important in studying American Kang Duk Won Karate and should be practiced on a daily basis.

"Breathing and Meditation" is an excerpt from American Kang Duk Won KARATE by Robert C. Lawlor and Frank A. Palumbo, Jr.

Meditation Techniques

The following are examples of some of the techniques that can be accomplished when the participant is in a proper meditative state.

Note: These techniques are being demonstrated by certified American Kang Duk Won Black Belt Instructors. The techniques are only attempted after years of training and under proper supervision.

Do not attempt any of these actions without proper training and supervision by a qualified instructor.

Black Belt Instructor Mrs. Jennifer Palumbo walks through a tray of freshly broken glass.

Black Belt Chief Instructor Mrs. Rose Carpenter walks through a bed of burning charcoal.

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