Monday, April 09, 2007

Monday Night Guest Instructor

Sensei Robert Cowham of London came for a visit so our dojo put him to work teaching tonight's class.

We spent the class focusing on our breathing. Bob has mentioned this in the distant past when he taught at Gloucester. I've actually practiced breathing once in a while. How does one practice breathing? Don't you just breath? Well... the thought is that you exhale and inhale with your stomach and not your chest. If you look at a 3 year old and watch them breath you will see the tummy go up and down. Sometime as we grow older many of us lose this kind of breathing.

Sensei Cowham has a blog at

In one of his posts he says.....

"My sources are mainly Inaba sensei's teaching regarding the breathing, and Peter Ralston's book "Zen Body-Being" for a fascinating approach to relaxation and effortless power which I am finding very rewarding to study."

I'm not sure I can spend the time needed to cultivate any skill in this area but I bet the book is an interesting read.

Unfortunately, Bob was called away from the dojo. He asked if I would drive Robert home and I said no problem. It wasn't until after Bob had left that it occurred to me that it's still Passover. This means I wasn't able to offer to take him for a meal or really hang out somewhere for a drink. I feel kind of bad about it but I really didn't have an option.

Thumb hurts less but is still weaker than normal.


At April 09, 2007 11:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I've actually practiced breathing once in a while." yup, every second, every day since you were born... Breathing slow, fast, of necessity... it's all the same. Don't let all the talk about "breathing" go to your head. You've gotta do it, your body needs it. Yes you can control the timing of it somewhat, but you really can't CONTROL it... if you could, you'd be able to stop for 10 minutes or so if you wanted to.
Just my thoughts...

At April 16, 2007 12:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well the previous comment is deep... so much so that I had to stop a moment and take a deep breath. It seems to simply toss away and disregard thousands of years of collective wisdom of virtually every martial and spiritual tradition,(Hindu/Vedic, Taoism, Qi Kung/Tai Chi, Zen, and all formal Japanese Martial Arts to name a few) solely based on the profound observation that he/she has noticed that they were breathing and that it's necessary for life!

The point is that breathing is the only "automatic" and necessary bodily process that is immediately controllable and related to overall body function... including consciousness... so it absolutely "goes to your head".

When one is sleeping the breathing is deep, calm, and relaxed. When one is anxious then the rate is faster and shallower. One can induce these changes in consciousness by altering the breathing pattern. This drastic oversimplification is what is meant by "controlling" it.

Skepticism is always healthy but although one is always entitled to their own opinion they are not entitled to their own facts. Western science and medicine has examined the importance of breathing and repeatedly validated Eastern intuitive conclusions. In Behavioral Medicine breathe control is the basis of pain management and stress reduction and measurably alters brain waves and biochemistry.

As far as its application to Aikido goes... why re there an entire series of techniques called "Kokyunage" (breath throw) and why is there an overarching emphasis on developing "kokyu" (breath power) by O Sensei and all eminent Shihan?


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