In sports, many believe that breathing is important, and that is the same in Japanese Budo. Moving in the rhythm of your breathing gives your greater strength and speed, and brings out the best of your abilities. Moving with your breathing is necessary for a high level of performance.
There are many ways of breathing, but Japanese Budo instruction follows that of the Tanden(丹田)breathing method. In the Tanden method you breathe heavily with your stomach, from the hipbone deep behind your belly button. You inflate that area with all your strength. The Tanden breathing enlarges your peritoneum and increases your lung capacity.
Since there is a lot of air in your belly, your posture becomes better. If you breathe properly, there is no need to try extra hard to pull your chin in. As your posture becomes better, you can focus more on facing your opponent rather than minding your own body. As you keep doing the Tanden breathing, you will be able to see your opponent’s movement no matter how strong he/she is.
In Budo, it is important to watch your opponent’s breathing when you strike. If you show any lapse in your moves you will be beaten, so you must counter that with your breathing. To not give your opponent any opportunities, it is important that you spend a while breathing out, but breathing in in a very short moment. And try to catch your opponent breathing in in order to strike.
At first, it is difficult to grasp how to move in tandem with your breathing, and many practitioners struggle with this. But as you keep practicing your breathing will become smooth and you won’t even know it.
Eventually you will be able to note your opponent’s breathing, and factor that into the timing of your own movement. When you face your opponent, try and observe the whole body, and understand the movements exhibited by your opponent in relation to his/her breathing. This will lead to effective strategy.