Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Helpful Handful: Breathing in Tegatana

Photo courtesy of Luna DiRimmel
The other day someone on a forum I read asked a question - basically, "What is the proper way to breathe during Tegatana no kata (our first kata - the walking exercise)?" They got several answers, none of which were wrong, but I thought I'd post my thinking on this subject here.
  • Breathe however you have to in order to avoid turning blue and passing out. Seems like a facetious answer, but it's only about half-smartalek. Your breathing is largely unconscious and your body can usually figure out pretty well how to entrain your breathing with your bodily motions.
  • A lot of people say exhale on the exertion and inhale on the recovery. But consider this - what part of the kata is the "exertion"? In the first two motions of the exercise, you step diagonally forward and then back to your starting point. Either of these can be the positive space in the kata, the thing you're actually practicing, so how do you know which to entrain your exhalation to?
  • Some people say exhale on the body drops and inhale on the body rises. This is okay also, and is basically just an alternative to the second point above. Here you treat each body motion as positive space, so you exhale as you drop forward, inhale as your recovery foot comes up under you, then exhale and inhale again as you step back to the origin. This is a good way to slow your kata way down because otherwise you'll hyperventillate and get dizzy.
  • Notice that abdominal breathing goes with slower, extending forward motions, while chest and shoulder breathing tends to go with quick retracting motions. Try as an experiment, snatching a breath as fast as you can and see don't you feel it in chest and neck and shoulders. Then breathe more slowly and see don't you feel it as more diaphragmatic and abdominal.
  • I like to play with different breathing patterns during the kata because this often suggests different applications for each motion in the exercise. When you change your breathing pattern, the same kata motions will take on wholly new meanings to you. There's not a proper way to do it, so play with different methods and mine the kata for alternative meanings.
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Patrick Parker is a Christian, husband, father, martial arts teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282 木蓮
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