‘Deep breathing alone has made many a weak man strong
and many a sick man well.’
These words come from the immortal teachings of Martin
‘Farmer’ Burns in his 1914 by-mail course, ‘Lessons in
Wrestling and Physical Culture’ – available at
http://ffadmin.wpengine.com/farmerburns.html – but they
could have just as easily come from the ancient Samurai of
Japan – or the old-time Jiu-Jitsu masters.
For example, in a 1911 book on Japanese exercise methods
that I read many years ago, I recorded the following:
‘The ancient samurai was accustomed to going out
into the open air as soon as he rose in the morning. There he
devoted at least 10 or 15 minutes to continued deep breathing,
standing with his hands on his hips in order that he might feel
the play of his muscles.’
Breathing in the open air was also recommended by Farmer Burns
as well early American fitness pioneers such as Charles Atlas, Bernarr
MacFadden and Paul Bragg. These men truly knew what they were
Today, in most fitness programs taught around the world, deep breathing
is practically ignored. This is a major mistake as, to quote one of my former
teachers, ‘Your breath is your power.’
You can tell a lot about a person simply by observing how he or she breathes.
In fact, I believe you can map out the structure of how the person lives life.
Shallow breathers tend to be shallow people. Deep breathers tend to be
interested in far more than the superficial.
The sound a person makes when breathing, especially while exercising, is
also revealing. Does he or she have a problem with being seen or heard? You’ll
know by whether or not you can hear the person breathing. Does this person
breathe in a way that says, ‘life is a struggle’ – or in a way that shows how
they simply ‘flow?’
Maybe you’ve never paid much attention to the subject of deep breathing
before. For the first 25 years of my life I didn’t either. Yet, I assure you,
life is much better when you’re in tune with how you breathe.
Pay attention to your breathing. Make sure it is deep and full.
Spend 10-15 minutes per day working on it. You can do so while
performing the exercises in Combat Abs [for more about them go to
http://ffadmin.wpengine.com/combat_abs.html ] – which are part deep
breathing and part abdominal flexing. You can make time for them
throughout the day, especially when you feel like you need a ‘breather.’
During those moments, never forget, your breath is your power.
P.S. One of the greatest things about the conditioning I teach is that
it gets you to breathe deeply, even if you don’t want to or don’t
know how. This alone is enough to do as Farmer Burns said, ‘Make
many a weak man (or woman) strong and many a sick man well.’