Inhale, Exhale, Inhale, Exhale

Speaking of the breath, there seem to be two different views on how it should be done in kyudo. Although everyone agrees that the movements of the taihai and hassetsu need to be in time with the breath, it seems that Hoff and Kushner both emphasize exhaling when engaged in a physically demanding movement like drawing the bow. For example, Kushner writes, “It is prescribed whether each move is done on an inhalation or an exhalation. Those requiring the most power, such as drawing the bow or holding it at the full draw, are done on exhalations.” [One Arrow, One Life, pg. 33] By contrast, Onuma/DeProspero and (I’m pretty sure) my own teachers, tend to inhale during these very same movements (see for example Kyudo: The Essence and Practice of Japanese Archery, pg. 103). Interesting, eh?

I need to ask my teachers about this more directly, and then do some experimentation. My usual pattern is to inhale as I draw from uchiokoshi to daisan, and then (after exhaling) daisan to kai, but it would be interesting to at least try the reverse. Also I’m not sure how Hoff/Kushner arrange their breathing during the less strenuous parts of the taihai, like the rei or yu when entering the shajo. I wonder if that’s opposite as well?

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4 Responses to Inhale, Exhale, Inhale, Exhale

  1. Zen says:

    I have tried them both. With most martial arts, it is more “natural” to exhale on power movements. Eg: kick exhale, punch exhale, push exhale…

    • karamatsu says:

      Thanks! I was hoping you might have some suggestions there from your other training, and now that you mention it, it does seem more natural to exhale. I’ll check it out!

  2. David says:

    My teacher said inhaling at the beginning of movements makes them smooth and elegant.

    Follow what your teacher says. Many times the answer is “don’t think about that yet”, because there may be more important things to work on.

    Nicely researched and presented post on the subject.

    Thank you

    • karamatsu says:

      Oh, hello. Thank you for your notes. I think I opened Pandora’s Box a little bit by asking about breathing. People are talking now about making videos, so we can see what we’re doing well (if anything) and what we’re not (uh oh). I’m told it will be very humbling, and maybe put me back in my place a bit. Ha! That said, Casio has come out with a really cool pocket-size digital camera for sports (FH100) that has a 10X optical zoom and shoots HD video at 30fps, but can also shoot 640×480 at 120fps (and even faster with smaller frame sizes). This would allow slow-motion filming, which might be very interesting indeed. I’m really tempted save up and get this before the next All-Japan taikai. The only drawback I see is that the image stabilization isn’t so good, which would be trouble at 10X without a tripod, and I hate using tripods at places like that. Hmmmm…

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