Recently, in our Ryu ZOOM Aikido classes, Ando Sensei explained how Yoshinkan Aikido is very good for developing centre power but our regular training needs some supplementation to help us develop breath power. This training is “kotodama” or repeating sacred sounds and syllables to practise breath control:
- In this training, we expel all our breath through our mouth before taking a deep breath in through our nose. Without exhaling, bring all the breath and your consciousness down into your belly. If it helps, tuck the last 3 fingers of your hand under your belt to locate your “tanren”. Be aware of your posture: back straight and shoulders down; chest open. Clench your buttocks and pelvic floor muscles.
- Repeat the syllables on the sheet reading from top to bottom and from right to left. You should be able to repeat the first 3 columns without taking a breath and exhaling heavily on the last syllable of the third column.
- Take a deep breath in again and, as before, bring all the breath and your consciousness down into your belly. Repeat the remaining 3 columns of syllables, exhaling heavily on the last syllable. Again, the goal is to repeat 3 columns without taking an extra breath.
- In order to regulate the timing (ie so that you don’t rush as fast as possible through the syllables) this should ideally be done while writing the hiragana letters. If you can do this, hold a brush or brush pen or marker pointing down and gripped lightly between your pointing finger and thumb. Bring the next two fingers together with the pointing finger and hook the little finger on the other side of the pen (on the same side as the thumb.) If this isn’t possible, just do the exercise seated in seiza.