Mokuso Breathing:
Quiet but Powerful

kendo breathing, kendo mokuso, kendo quiet mind,

It is OK for you to think mokuso breathing is the basic breathing in kendo. So I introduce this first.

The basic procedure of mokuso breathing

1. Breathe in
2. Hold your breath
3. Breathe out

This is it. It is pretty easy, isn't it? Maybe, No.2 is the only difference from the normal breathing we do in our daily life.

It is simple. But we have to add a bit more to this breathing method.

  1. Breathe in for 3 seconds
  2. Hold your breath for 2 seconds
  3. Breathe out for 10-15 seconds.

How do we do this?

1. Breathe in

Breathe in through your nose. As breathing in, the air goes down to a place called seika-tanden (about three fingers down from the belly button).

This prevents us from breathing lightly. We want to breathe in deeply.

When we breathe in, our shoulders often go up. It may seem that we are getting a lot of air but we can't.

But if we use our stomach or abdomen in stead of our chest to inhale, we can take in a lot more air.

On top of it, the chest breathing is not good for kendo. As explained in breathing in kendo, we do not want to show our opponents when we are breathing in because it is a good opportunity for our opponents to attack us.

2. Hold your breath

We do not breathe out the air right after breathing in. We hold the air inside us for a while. It is said that the air should be held in seika-tanden, about three fingers down from your belly button.

We hold the air in seika-tanden for about 2 seconds.

3. Breathe out

We breathe out through our mouth, but not at once. We breathe out nice and long. It takes about 10 - 15 seconds to breathe out the air.

Why long?

It is because the longer it takes to breathe out, the calmer we can get. Besides, our brain is supposed to work better when we take a deeper breath. I am positive about these through my experiences.

When we breathe out, we have to control the breathing. In order to do so, we have to use our abdominal muscles. So we should feel a bit of tension in our abs.

I think this is worth mentioning. After we breathe out, we can breathe in. If we have to get the air out of our body, we are ready for the new air. But as long as we have the air inside our body, it is hard for us to add more.

So breathing out is more focused here.

There are some points that I want to add.

Do not breathe out completely. Leave a bit of the air inside of you so you will not be out of breath. Try to breathe out for 10 seconds and gradually make it longer.

Do not think about emptying your mind too much. Since people think that we should empty our mind during mokuso, people TRY not to think about anything. However, if you TRY not to think about anything, you are already thinking.

So just relax and concentrate on breathing. You can think about what you are going to improve in training and so forth. Just relax and enjoy the mokuso moment.

This is the basic breathing. Some people may say different duration of each action, but the abovementioned duration of each action (inhale, hold, exhale), I think, is the standard of each action.

Mokuso breathing may be hard to learn. But since we do this at the beginning and the end of training, if we practice mokuso well, it can become a good habit in no time. 

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