Deep breathing is taught in Ving Tsun (wing chun) Kung Fu’s first form, Siu Nim Tao. There are many breathing methods and techniques in Yoga and Kung Fu, including many ways to breathe deeply, but what is developed in Ving Tsun is profound and worth studying.

In the Moy Yat Ving Tsun Kung Fu system, we don’t teach special breathing techniques and methods. Students are simply instructed to breathe deep to the belly while training, continuously and relaxed – don’t hold your breath.

In training this way, whether during slow or high-intensity Ving Tsun exercise, the form in the training itself helps human beings re-learn this most natural, relaxed way of breathing, which fully uses the lungs, bringing in and retaining the most oxygen and energy.

We use relaxation and deep breathing in Kung Fu training to develop power, and to reduce reliance on strength. Training this way means good breathing becomes natural; you don’t need to consciously think about your breath or technique; you’re simply aware. If you’re ever attacked by surprise, you’re more likely to relax and respond appropriately.

Deep breathing:

  1. Calms the body and mind, promotes relaxation, self-awareness and well-being. It fills the body with energy, and it feels good. It makes us feel alive.
  2. Relieves stress and tension, and physical and emotional pain, including anxiety & depression.
  3. Fully uses the lungs, improving their health and function, as well as increasing oxygen input.
  4. Slows your rate of breathing, so you use less energy to breathe, and get less winded during cardio.
  5. Lowers heart rate and blood pressure.
  6. Promotes circulation of the blood and lymph, assisting the heart, kidney and liver in their work.
  7. Improves elimination of CO2 & toxins through the lungs, and balances blood pH.
  8. Reduce levels of the stress-and-inflammation-related hormones – cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine. It stimulates release of endorphins – good-feeling, healing hormones.
  9. Assists digestion by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system.
  10. Boosts the immune system, by reducing stress & inflammation, and by generally improving vitality & body function.
  11. Stimulates and tones the vagal nerve, and also improves improves heart rate variability, both markers associated with health and longevity.
  12. Improves posture. Breathe deep while standing, and notice how it makes your body straighten up.
  13. Strengthens and tones the diaphragm and core muscles, helping them work more efficiently.
  14. Increases the body’s ability to tolerate and benefit from intense exercise, reducing the risk of injury as well as post-workout recovery time.
  15. Will generally improve your health, well-being and life. Consciously breathing deeply vs. shallowly, in training and in general, will likely will help you live longer, and enjoy your days and years more while you’re here.

Sources

“Relaxation techniques: Breath control helps quell errant stress response.” Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School. Jan 2015. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/relaxation-techniques-breath-control-helps-quell-errant-stress-response

Alderman, Lesley. “Breathe. Exhale. Repeat: The Benefits of Controlled Breathing.” Nov 9, 2016.
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/09/well/mind/breathe-exhale-repeat-the-benefits-of-controlled-breathing.html

Brown, Richard P., Gerbarg, Patricia L., “Yoga Breathing, Meditation, and Longevity,” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Vol. 1172, Iss. 1: Longevity, Regeneration, and Optimal Health Integrating Eastern and Western Perspectives. August 2009, pp 54-62. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04394.x

Ma X, Yue Z-Q, Gong Z-Q, Zhang H, Duan N-Y, Shi Y-T, et al. “The effect of diaphragmatic breathing on attention, negative affect and stress in healthy adults.”Front In Psychol (2017) 8:874. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5455070

Schultz, Colin. “Breathing Deeply May Actually Boost Your Body’s Immune System.”
Smithsonianmag.com. May 8, 2014.
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/breathing-deeply-may-actually-boost-your-bodys-immune-system-180951361/

Zhou, Nan. “Contributions of controlled slow breathing to cognitive flexibility across the lifespan.” eCommons. Cornell University Library. August 30, 2019. https://doi.org/10.7298/xdtt-6f04