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  • Colin Liggett

Exhaling While Punching or Kicking as a Martial Artist Can Cause Weakness

Should you exhale when you throw a punch, kick or any other attack move? Absolutely. Is this causing your core to become temporarily weak? Probably. Every martial art form out there from karate to Muay Thai to Western boxing uses this breathing technique. Although exhalation while executing a martial arts strike may weaken your core temporarily, please know that I am not advocating to change this technique, but instead to correct the dysfunctional neural pattern that is causing the weakness. When the core is functioning correctly breathing out while attacking will give you the strongest strike. The point I’d like to get across is that many people have a dysfunctional core, more specifically, one that is inherently linked to their faulty breathing pattern of habitually holding their breath. This in turn leads to the unfortunate side effect of the core turning off when breathing out and having the opposite effect to what the great masters had in mind when instructing students to breath out to engage the core.

Any instructor reading this will know all too well how often they have to re-pattern their students' breathing to get them to breathe out upon striking. You tell them again and again and still you find them holding their breath. The reason? Their core is only functioning correctly when they are breathing in or holding their breath. It's a habit that became a dysfunctional neural pattern.

Try this: stand feet hip width apart, hands by your side, tall stance. Now, have a friend lightly apply pressure at your shoulder level, then slowly increase the pressure until you lose your balance. Do this forwards, backwards, left, right. I want you to try this in two different ways:

1. Take a big breath in and as your friend applies the pressure, breathe out with your mouth open (don’t breathe with pursed lips).

2. Take a big breath in and hold your breath while your friend applies the pressure.

If you were stronger while holding your breath, you have a dysfunctional core which is inhibited by your diaphragm. You should be as strong in both tasks. One Sensory Motor Repatterning (SMR) session should be enough to fix this dysfunction. Optimize your breathing and get the true strength of exhaling while striking with SMR.



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