The breathing in training is done mainly by kiai. When people watch kendo for the first time, they usually laugh because of the scream. This screaming is a part of kiai.
But what people do not know is that we will stop screaming when we get better. Until we become very advanced, we scream a lot.
So people think that we are just crazy people who scream at our opponents. But it has a lot to do with breathing.
It is said that we are at the yusei (voiced) stage until we get to the musei (silence) stage.
If you start doing kendo, you probably find it is very hard to concentrate and to control your own body.
When you are a beginner and not in amour or bogu, try to shout as loud as you can. Use your abdomen to shout. Do not use your throat.
It is just like voice training for singing. They tell us not to sing by using our throat but our stomach, I think.
Exactly the same story here. Shout from your stomach.
If you shout a lot, you start losing your voice. This is a good sign for kendo. Now you cannot use your throat to shout any more.
To shout after losing your voice, you have to use your abdomen. When this happens, you really know how to use your abdomen when you shout.
If you are not used to shout, it is probably embarrassing. You will get used to and you feel refreshed after shouting a lot. It is a good stress relief.
If you feel pressure in your head or getting headache from shouting a lot, probably you are not using your abdomen. Take a rest. You do not want to feel dizzy.
Once you learn how to shout or execute a good kiai using your abs, you will feel no pressure in your head or have no headache from shouting.
If you do it right, you will have sore abs.
If you have a kyu holder, this is for you.
Now you put your men (mask) on, so you feel less embarrassing. :)
If you are in bogu and you are told to have kiai before striking, try to have a long kiai.
Consider this breathing as a voiced version of mokuso. Breathing in through your nose, hold your air in the seika-tanden and breathe out. When you breathe out, instead of breathing out the air, you scream.
I know that kiai is different from person to person. However, if you want to get better quickly, have a long kiai before you strike.
** Please try to see a big picture. When you see dan holders, some may have a short kiai.
But what we cannot see at a glance is the fact that they have been doing kendo for a long time. Even those 8th dan or 9th dan sensei were beginners once. We cannot just jump from where we are now to their level.
After learning to scream from abs, we can move onto the short kiai if we want to.
My kiai is not too short. When I try to concentrate or encourage myself, I have a long kiai.
Have a long kiai before striking and then strike. Keep shouting the name of the target you've just struck until you turn around and take chudan.
So basically we can strike with one breath. In Japan, we do this as a child. At least, I did it as a child. Shout a lot and long. This is how I learned breathing in training without knowing about breathing.