How Breathing Right Can Enhance Your Martial Arts Performance and Your Life

What if I told you that strength, speed, power and health all start with your nose? Depending on how you breathe, you can either maximize or depress your martial arts performance. Just because you're breathing doesn't mean you're breathing correctly. Things like stress, the common cold and our modern lifestyle can make your breathing pattern worse.Ideally, proper breathing will be taught while a martial artist is still young — Brazilian karate champion Igor Leite learned from his father and karate sensei when he was 4 years old. With the right instruction, however, the skill readily can be acquired later in life."Breathing properly must be learned, practiced and made a habit by everyone," says Leite, now 36. "Everyone is born breathing through the nose, but as people get older, they unconsciously switch their breathing from the nose to the mouth."There are too many things in modern life — like sitting too much, working, stress, inactivity, etc. — that [compromise] our breathing pattern. We must be mindful about our breathing to optimize and maximize its energy. If not, it will lead to a path that worsens health and impedes strength."With a little effort, breathing correctly can become natural for you, just as it is for Leite. Then you'll be fully aware and mindful of your inhalations and exhalations at all times while reaping the benefits as you practice your art, he says.

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