The Benefits of Hapkido Ki Breathing
By: Dr. Ronald W. Stone, Hapkido Instructor, American Dragon Martial Arts Academies Clermont, Florida. Certified Hapkido Black Belt with the Korean Hapkido Federation
The most widely practiced controlled breathing exercise in Hapkido is identified as “DAN JUN Breathing.” This strengthens the thoracic musculature, the diaphragm and oxygenates the body in an effort to build a strong union between mind, spirit, and the body’s muscular skill and availability
The Dan Jun is believed by Hapkido practitioners to be the center of energy (KI) in the human body. Dan means red or fire and Jun means field, so Dan Jun can be interpreted as meaning the active source of power in the body. As the center of energy, it is the key to human vitality and strength.
Dan Jun is interpreted by some Hapkido masters as meaning the active source of power in the body. As the center of energy, it is the key to human vitality and strength. The Dan Jun is believed to be the center of energy (KI) in the human body and is located about three inches below the navel. Through repetitive and continual Dan Jun exercises, each individual will eventually determine the location of their own personal Ki energy center.
Physiologically the type of breathing performed during Hapkido Dan Jun exercises is described as Thoraco-abdominal breathing. During this type of inhalation and exhalation air is consciously drawn into the lower lungs by the strong use of the abdominal musculature rather than the normal and automatic shallow pattern which primarily passes air into the upper lungs.
For Hapkido practitioners it important to understand that the process of breathing has two components, ventilation and respiration. Ventilation is defined as the process by which air is moved through the respiratory system from the nose or mouth downwards through the trachea into the lungs. Ventilation can be automatic, that is controlled by the body’s autonomic nervous system, or it can be slowed or accelerated by conscious intention. The amount and rate of air flow will be determined by the size of the respiratory organs (nasal openings, throat, trachea lung capacity etc.) and the action of the respiratory musculature (intercostal muscles, diaphragm).
Respiration is the interchange of oxygen from the air with the tissues of the body. It is the reason ventilation exists. In the human body neither can exist without the other. Air must be moved into the lungs (ventilation) but oxygen must be able to leave the air and enter the bloodstream (respiration) in order to supply cells with this basic need for energy.
Learning Hapkido Ki breathing will enhance these basic life support mechanisms. The better you breathe better you feel and perform. Better oxygenation improves alertness, reduces stress and creates a sense of well being. New studies have also demonstrated that increasing the blood’s oxygen level decreases perception of pain.
To the contrary, improper breathing such as hyperventilating (excessively rapid and shallow breathing) or holding ones breath due to fear, anxiety or stress will lead to a buildup of toxic substances such as carbon dioxide. This deprives both mind and body of the ability to function properly.
Just as a pearl diver learns to increase the lung’s ability in order to perform deeper and longer dives, proper Hapkido Ki breathing will train the respiratory system as well as the mind to handle situations that require more energy and more lung capacity.
It is a well recognized phenomenon that when a person is faced with a major physical threat to life or limb there is a discharge of body chemicals (adrenaline rush). This is often described as the “fight or flight reflex.” One side effect of this emotional shock to the system (fear factor) is a dramatic change in breathing patterns from normal to a rapid shallow pattern. Eventually hyperventilation occurs and as previously mentioned the end result will be an abnormal and detrimental change in the acid base balance of the blood to the point where unconsciousness may even result
Hapkido breathing not only expands lung capacity but it allows one to train the body to relax and to gain control over both emotion and body function. Even the Dan Jun stance taken in order to practice Ki breathing has its advantages such as improved posture, better muscle tone, alignment of Ki centers and improved vascular flow from the legs.
Hapkido Ki breathing benefits are many:: improved focus, stress reduction, improved circulation, cleansing of the body, increased ki energy, improved oxygenization of blood for increased alertness.