Breathing methods during the Choyaku Shomen Uchi

by Mario Ramiro
(Saga Kendo, São Paulo, Brazil)

How is the breathing method during the Haya Suburi?

You wrote that "We have three ways of breathing; one for mokuso, one for training and one for kendo kata".

I have this question because I can't do more then 200 Choyaku Suburi. This is my problem: In my dojo, for the 1 kyu exam, everyone has to do 1000 Choyaku Suburi. It takes around 10 or even 13 minutes.

I'll like to know your opinion about it.

Answer: First of all, Wow! 1000 haya suburi for 1 kyu grading? That is impressive.

To be honest, I have never thought about it. I must say that I don’t think I can help you with breathing in choyaku shomen uchi. So I will talk about this through my experience.

Now this is very traditional way. It is probably not what you want to know. There may be a good sports scientific way to keep you going through 1000 choyaku shomen uchi.

In any training such as kakari-geiko, uchikomi and even kirikaeshi, we have our own physical point where we just cannot keep going. It is exactly you explained above. Probably at the moment, 200 choyaku shomen uchi is your physical limitation.

Every training can be very hard if you make it hard. Even one single men strike can be really hard if you make it very hard. I would like to share what I tell my students.

Don’t save your energy in order to last the entire class. Give everything you have in each strike. If you cannot keep training after one set of kirikaeshi as a result of giving all you have, I am happy with that. ” This is how we overcome or improve our physical and mental strength, I believe.

When we hit our physical limitation, we only can push ourselves with our will power. Your strong determination
will keep you going. That is all what we have. But strangely, when your mental/will/determination power takes over your body, your body can keep going. You will be surprised how much you can do after you think you hit your own physical limitation.

When I reached my physical limitation when I was younger (a long time ago), I shouted a lot louder to keep myself going. It sounds crazy but it works. I still do that when my very limited physical strength is used up :)

This is another example. When I had a seminar in Republic of Panama, there was a little kid (10 years old, maybe). We did not do 1000 haya suburi but we did 1000 shomen uchi.

It was very first time for those who participated in this seminar to do 1000 suburi and many adults stopped and rested. But this little kid kept going. I saw him almost quitting but I went close to him and encouraged him.

It was obvious that his arms were getting heavier and heavier after each cut but he shouted louder and louder. He pulled his shinai up by using his body like a whip. He did 1000.

If you want to last 1000 choyaku shomen uchi, you need to come up with breathing with a good rhythm like a marathon runner. But probably you have to have a good kiai for your 1 kyu grading so you have to train your abs. In order to train your abs, you’ve got to train with everything you have got as I described above.

Once you hit the limitation, try not to stop. If you are going to be defeated by yourself (i.e. you want to stop), bring your inner energy by shouting more. It works.

Sorry that I could not give you what you wanted to know but hope it helps.

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May 15, 2009
by: Eric Gildea

"Every training can be very hard if you make it hard. Even one single men strike can be really hard if you make it very hard. "

This is what I?ve been told, repeatedly. . . . by "good" sensei(s)!

Kendo-Guide.Com: Thanks for your comment, Eric. The reason why many senseis repeatedly tell us this is simply it is very important and also very hard to do.

It is very hard to do because people, in general, don?t like make things harder for themselves. We all know it is for our own improvement. Yet, we betray ourselves. We break promises we have made with ourselves.

If we can do this simple thing everyday in our daily life, we can improve ourselves rapidly. I have been fighting my laziness for a long time through kendo. Kendo helps me a lot but still long way to go!

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