I've been getting a lot of controversial advice over how to breathe. (On exertion)
My friend's boxing coach told me to breathe in and out only with my nose.
My Kempo instructor told me to breathe out with my mouth and didn't specify about breathing in.
My wrestling coach tells me to breathe when I can (what..?)
My BJJ friend told me that he just stays calm while rolling and tries to pace his breathing.
So what's the "proper" way to breathe?
(Oh, and I've been told to breathe only at the end of a movement (Squat, Bench, etc) so as to not lose core tension by a powerlifter!)
The boxing coach told you to breathe in and out with your nose for very good reasons. The most important is that when you get punched in the mouth and your mouth is open, you can bite your tongue off, cut up the inside of your lip with teeth, knock out teeth, and may make you suseptible to being knocked out. So keep your mouth shut while striking.
As far as wrestling vs BJJ, they have two different approaches to ground fighting. Wrestlers tend to power through positions and muscle out of them while BJJ tends to maintain composure in positions and try to work through them technically. Someone said that when a wrestler and BJJ player get to a wall, the wresler tries to break through the wall and the BJJ player tries to find the door in the wall and go through it.
So breathing for wrestling will tend to facilitate explosive power the way weight lifting does and BJJ more of just keeping calm and breathing so you don't panic in bad positions, giving you time to work through them.
But that's not to say that at times when wrestling you don't need to stay calm and breath in bad situations, and sometime while BJJ rolling you will need to use explosive power. So it would be best to do both in the proper situation.
Breath through your nose, expanding your abdomen on inhalation, contracting on exhalation. (breath in down, out up). Most people breath in and expand the top of their chest, never using all their lungs.
Exhalation on exertion is normal, for example given, weight lifting, kiai in typically Japanese martial arts. Breathing also effects your state of arousal...slow abdominal breathing will tend to calm you, fast shallow breathing (breath of fire in yoga) will tend to get you excited/adrenaline going.
I'd suggest you work on abdominal breathing outside of your training, plus at the end of class as the end of cooldown (if you actually do cooldown). You have to develop awareness of it outside of a stressful environment to be able to apply/be aware when stressed.
All of the above are good advice in context.
Originally Posted by Cuddles
BKR's post is spot on. Staying calm maximizes your breathing efficiency, breathing in and out the nose whenever possible assists more even, measured diaphragmatic breathing. Exhale out of the mouth when you need to. Your body generally knows when you need to breathe a certain way especially when generating power, but you can improve your breathing awareness quite a bit as BKR suggested.
There is a useful method I learned in breathing qi gong you can do to make it easier for you to breath through the nose and with the diaphragm....as you breath through the nose, mouth closed, lightly press the tip of your tongue into the hard palette (the ridge behind your upper gum line), and breath with your belly. Train yourself to keep positioning the tongue there at all times until it is second nature.
You will experience deeper breathing when doing this because it parks your tongue in a fixed position that doesn't obstruct your airway as much (which the tongue at rest naturally does). It also has the side benefit of keeping your tongue away from your teeth should you get punched in the face, as Diesel pointed out. You'll also find it easier to breathe with a mouth guard in.
One other key point with breathing through the nose...DON'T USE YOUR NOSE/face muscles to breathe...your nose is just the way in. Use your belly, the nose is relaxed and is simply allowing air in naturally rather than forced.. Otherwise, you are not breathing through your nose...you are really sniffing, forcefully inhaling air using the upper body. You can typically only sniff in air for a few seconds, and it will fill your upper lungs. On the other hand if you breathe from your belly through the nose properly, you can inhale slowly without stopping for a good 20-30 seconds.