Chapter 21: Darimar Ki-gong Breathing Technique

Now, you will learn more about Darimar Ki-gong breathing, and how to do it. The key to good fire-water energy circulation in your body is good belly breathing. What does this mean? You must first learn to be patient when you breathe. In other words, you must be relaxed. The most important part of breathing is exhalation. It must be smooth and long. When you concentrate and practice breathing, the alpha waves in your brain change. They calm down, which causes your heart rate to slow. God designs our bodies for what I call “deep, belly breathing.” The evidence for this can be seen in babies and small children. Once more, when they breath, only their belly area rises up and down. Their lungs fill with the required amount of air that it needs to function properly, and an equal amount of air is exhaled.

At some point, when we are growing up, we stop breathing with our bellies. Instead, we breathe using our chests. In fact, 99% of adults do this “chest breathing.” You are subconsciously doing it as you are reading this, I’m sure. It’s simple to check how you breathe. When you breathe in, does your belly move out, or does it stay in one place? When you breathe in, does your chest rise and fall? It will be similar to shrugging your shoulders. Breathing with your chest is inefficient because your lungs are not being filled to their full capacity.

But when you deep breathe through the belly, the lungs are filling up to maximum capacity. Then, you expel all of the air, not just a tiny bit. This means your bloodstream gets the amount of oxygen that it needs. Just as important, deep breathing helps your energy circulates in a healthy and natural manner. Martial arts, especially tai chi, centers around proper breathing. Other things, like playing tennis or running, also promote good breathing. All of us require deep breathing and strong exhalation. Do you hear tennis players and martial artists yell when they practice or play? This comes from a strong exhale, which means deep belly breathing.

One key to proper deep breathing is to have the body straight, whether you are laying down, standing, or sitting. No hunching of the back or shoulders can occur. When a professional tennis player is in action, their backs are straight. When they exhale, they yell. This equates to great energy circulation. Unfortunately, we can’t play tennis all day long to keep our bodies in alignment. We have to sit at our desks, reading or using a computer. Or, if we do manual labor, we must carry heavy things or pound nails into place. But, I cannot stress this enough: no hunching!

Here are some simplified steps to take in order to practice deep breathing:

  1. Realize you have to do it. Make a conscious effort to do it at all times. The belly pushes out from the spine on the intake of oxygen, and then comes back toward the spine when you exhale.
  2. Eat a small amount of good, natural food before breathing. If you eat too much, you will find it will be hard to do the exercise.
  3. To make sure you are breathing correctly, put your hands on your belly, and feel your hands move up and down. Feel it expand and contract.
  4. When you are standing up, the spiritual area from your head tells you to breathe. Put your hands on your belly and concentrate on proper breathing. Again, breathe in with deep breaths, and fill your lungs to capacity. Then, exhale smoothly. Practice makes perfect.
  5. Pretend that you are a balloon, and somebody is putting air into you through your mouth. Your inhalation expands the balloon.
  6. No matter what, keep your back straight and your head erect. Keep your chin directly over and in line with your belly button.
  7. The first several times you use this technique, you can use your whole stomach area. Once you master this, try to feel the air only coming in and going out of your lower abdomen.
  8. When you breathe correctly, your butt will go up and tighten. Picture your tailbone area rising up your back.
  9. Practicing these things will make your energy flow correctly. Practice as much as you can every day. Try to inhale and exhale six times per minute.

Another way to practice proper breathing is through meditation. Meditation means you are trying to calm your mind down to relieve stress. You close your eyes, stretch out your legs, and make your back straight. Then, like with deep belly breathing, try to breathe through your belly, not your chest. You will have to make a conscious effort to do this initially, but it will soon become natural and you will do it without thinking after several practice sessions.

Never breathe like small dogs. They breathe using short and fast breaths. They breathe once every .6-.7 seconds. This means that they are struggling to get enough oxygen because their bodies are not efficiently using the small amount of air they take in. Because of this, they live for only 10-15 years. In contrast, turtles breathe once every 20-30 seconds. They are taking in a lot of oxygen in those few breaths. Some can live to be 100 to 200 years old! When we breathe properly, using long breaths, our bodies are making good use of the oxygen that comes in. As a result, an equal amount of carbon dioxide (the waste product) is released through exhaling. Would you rather expel a lot of poison or a small amount with one breath?

Compared to turtles, our breathing is short. We typically breathe in and out every 2 seconds. Practice inhaling and exhaling over 6-8 seconds. This will ease the blood flow within your body, meaning your heartbeat will slow down. Deep breathing also frees up our minds by stimulating the parasympathetic nerves. Serotonin is produced, and it will help you to relax. If you practice deep breathing before going to bed, it will help you sleep.

So, why is Ki-gong breathing so important? It is the reason that an 88-year-old woman was able to break boards with a kick. Using this technique, she was able to throw away her cane and walk unaided.

The Han method of Ki-gong took years to perfect. What worked was added to or kept in the method; what didn’t work was stripped away. Overtime, a very effective method evolved. In this particular instance, Grandmaster Han taught the 88 year-old woman how to properly breathe. She would practice breathing two hours each day, as well as exercise for an hour. Over time, her capillaries in her body grew and expanded. Her illnesses were due, in part, to the shrunken state of these capillaries. Like anything else within the body, if they are not exercised or used, they weaken. For example, assume you can lift a maximum of 50 pounds on one arm. You then break the arm and can’t use it for eight weeks. When the cast comes off, you notice two things. One, the arm is smaller because it has lost muscle mass due to non-use. Two, you cannot lift nearly as much as you were able to just before the injury. So, by practicing breathing and exercising, her capillaries regenerated themselves and expanded. Years of neglect were reversed. They were able to distribute the blood more efficiently, and started to supply more blood to the body. By exercising, she expanded her body’s ability to take in and use oxygen, which increased her energy. You must exercise to prevent your capillaries from shrinking. If they do shrink, they will weaken the body part they are associated with. In her case, because her capillaries were smaller and weaker in her legs, her legs became weak. When they returned to a normal size, she was able to set aside her cane.

Eating healthy foods is not sufficient by itself. Clean food means clean blood if, and only if, your body has the proper amount of oxygen circulating within it. If there is no proper breathing, the food cannot be converted into energy by your body. Even natural foods can become waste products that can lead to triglycerides and plaque. The only people who can eat poor diets and not breath properly are the young people, such as children and teens. This is because their bodies have not been subjected to years and years of abuse…yet. Their bodies are strong, and can handle the poison.

What is the first stage of aging? Typically, asthma. Why? Look at an asthmatic. They do not take in deep breaths. In fact, their breathing is usually shallower than that of an average person. This is because the disorder makes it harder for air to get into the lungs. The airways that go into the lungs become inflamed and narrow, hence, less air can get in. As a result, less oxygen gets into the bloodstream. With less oxygen, the blood cannot deliver proper nutrients to the body’s cells. One result of this is a decrease in bone cell regenerations. In other words, bone density decreases. Because most elderly people breathe shallowly, they break their bones more easily.

But all is not lost. Everyone can learn proper breathing techniques. You see, again, kids breathe with their lower abdomens. You can learn this technique as well. When we practice Taekwondo movements, we practice lower abdomen breathing. When we exhale, we force out the air as hard as we can. This breathing pattern comes into play for the most powerful kick in Taekwondo: the flying side kick. The flying sidekick technique requires the person to jump, turn to the side, and kick. It has so much power that it can also be called the “flying tiger” kick. In fact, Grandmaster Chakyo Han took on a fully grown bull with flying sidekicks in 1953. With the first kick, the bull kneeled down from the impact. With the second, it was knocked completely over. Grandmaster Chaco Han only weighed about 150 pounds. From this achievement, Grandmaster Chakyo Han advanced from a red belt to a third degree black belt (which was the highest ranking degree at the time).

In order to achieve such strength, a student must practice jumps and kicks, but, most importantly, must practice breathing exercises. The kick is extremely powerful because it is done with one breath. Before the jump, you must inhale. When flying through the air, hold your breath. And finally, exhale upon impact to deliver the most power to the target.

But, this powerful breathing is only one part of the equation. Outside of class, students take in long and deliberate breaths, concentrating on taking in air with their abdomens. These two, in conjunction with one another, promote, as I like to say, “good air ventilation”. By regenerating the capillaries, proper breathing increases blood circulation. This, in turn, increases energy.

Ki-gong breathing exercise also decreases the amount of free radicals in the body. Long and deep continuous breathing, coupled with body movement, gets rid of the free radicals via exhalation. Remember, free radicals are bad!

Ki-gong breathing connects Ki energy to your belly button area, which is called the Dan-jeon, the center of intrinsic energy. This intrinsic energy flows to and throughout your bloodstream, and counteracts the free radicals that are present in our cells.

Grandmaster Darim Jang, triple front kick; targeting (3) wood board setting, low, mid-height and high, Columbus, OH 1999
Grandmaster Darim Jang, triple front kick; targeting (3) wood board setting, low, mid-height and high, Columbus, OH 1999

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