“Want to learn to Fight? Then learn to breath!”


The human body is an organic machine, but like all machines it needs a fuel source to function efficiently, and like any other machine if you put the wrong fuel in this will impair that function. Now a day’s most people are aware of the crisis facing the world due to the obesity epidemic that is occurring globally. In 2008 figures were showing  1.4 billion adults overweight, and 500 million being obese. Over 40 million preschool children were overweight, and 2.8 million people dying every year as a result of being overweight.  The availability of fast and processed food, and the favouring of this type of food over the more healthy option is a major contributor to this situation. Couple this to the lack of physical activity people now show favour too, and a perfect storm scenario is developing.

The development of childhood obesity is the clue to where we are heading, the social and economic development of families has had a knock on effect to children’s development. Choices in diet and physical activities are strongly influenced by environmental conditions, if mum and dad are physically inactive it is very likely their children will also be sedentary. This may also manifest itself in the form of being overweight, a child living in an environment with overweight parents is likely to follow the same route of becoming overweight their selves.

Conversely if the non organic machine such as an automobile, is starved of fuel it will not run, and this is where the human organic machine differs. A car without any fuel in its tank stops, the human machine with an empty stomach will not stop, because it has reserves of fuel stored on it in the form of fat. The human machine can keep running (depending upon its starting physical condition) for up to 60 days in extreme cases, without the intake of food. After this point the body’s organs will begin to shut down and then eventually the human machine will stop, but unlike a car may never start again.

FuleingLike most machines the human machine requires more than one type of substance to run. Many machines need such things as oil, or hydraulic fluid, the human machine needs water. Water is more important to us than food, take food away and we can keep going for a long time, take water away and now we are looking at days in single figures. A healthy human may last for up to 5 days, if you are really healthy you could go to 6 may be even make it to a week. A child in a car with the windows wound up on a hot day could be beyond help within a few hours, so water is much more important than food.

However there is one more thing that is needed by our organic machine, it is the most important additive the human machine needs far above anything else, AIR. Breathing is the most important function our body performs. The function of breathing is part of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). The ANS is responsible for the functions we are not aware of, that of the internal environment. The only function the ANS governs that we can consciously control is breathing. Breathing is like the locomotive of a train, the locomotive leads the train and everything else follows. The human machine can only last a matter of minutes without air, the world record for holding the breath is 22 minutes by Stig Severinsen in 2012 underwater (this environment will extend the natural abilities of a mammal to breath hold due to the mammalian diving reflex). An average person is only able to breath hold for 2 to 3 minutes (ex water), before the natural function of Hypoxia forces them to breathe.

Breathing being the number one concern for life shows breathing is the number one concern for combat. Being able to control your breathing in combat will keep you calm, help control your flight or fight response, and keep your brain oxygenated – you stop breathing you stop moving in body and in mind.

Systema breath control teaches the student calmness in stressful situations whether that be during combat or life. Have a look at your daily life how often do you breath hold? Most probably you have never even noticed, so take three days and try this experiment.

For one day count the number of times you breath hold.breath hold

Then the following day, when you realise you are breath holding analyse the effect that breath hold is having on your body at that time.

On the third day Immediately the breath holding is noted commence to breath in through your nose and out through your mouth, do this gently don’t grasp at the air with your lungs. Keep the breathing cycle going, relax and  if possible move around. The more you consciously overcome your breath holds the more your body will associate continuing to breath in stressful situations instead of breath holding. Continue this through your life and you will find coping with stressful situations becoming easier, you feel more relaxed and chilled out. This will now become the associated response to stressful situations, when the moment of combat arrives your body will instinctively read this as a stressful situation and you will begin to breath and not breath hold.

Therefore the human body needs its fuel, but by far the most important fuel for us is air and the method of imputing that fuel into our human machine is breathing. The employment of Systema breathing methods will help us all to cope with the stress we meet every day, even the subconscious stress we are not aware of.

About Andy Seatherton

Andy Seatherton has been practicing martial arts since 1972, when he began learning Judo in Exeter, Devon in the South West of England. Andy has been teaching Systema since 2012 having attended many Seminars with some of the world’s top Systema masters over the years, including Vladimir Vasiliev, Martin Wheeler and Emmanuel Manolakakis Andy is passionate about martial arts that are effective and practical, having previously studied Judo, Aikido, American Kenpo, Ju-Jitsu, Tang-so-do, European Boxing and Escrima.
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  1. good article for good health!

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