Breathing for Wrestling – Part Three

A few weeks ago we ran a workshop on breathing for wrestling, because breathing is like, super important and useful when you’re being squashed. During the research phase we realized there’s not much information on the internet about developing good breathing skills specifically for ground fighting, so we thought we’d do our bit to contribute to the World Wide Web’s great knowledge repository.

Part Three is the final installation, and gives you some guidelines how to think about breathing throughout a match, as well as some partner drills to practice.

How to Breath When

Before a bout: 2-3 good deep breaths, slow in and slow out

During a bout (standing or on top): Quick in, slow out. Try for a ratio of 1 in, 2 out. Keep your breathing as steady as possible. Your breathing will tend to be on the shallow side, so every minute or so try to take 1 or 2 deep breaths (when you’re on top is a good time to do this).

During a bout (on the bottom): Quick and deep as you can in, slow and controlled out. Snatch breaths at every opportunity when their weight shifts (even if you’re not out of breath yet!). Breathe into the part of your torso that they’re not currently sitting on. Keep your abs tense and pushed out.

After a bout: Deep and controlled, until you’re breathing naturally again.

Partner Exercises

  1. Lie on your back and have your partner sit in mount, right on your abdomen. Practice engaging your abs and pushing them out to give you more space, as well as breathing into your chest, back, and sides. Stay relaxed and breathe steadily.
  2. Lie on your back and have your partner sit in a high mount or side mount position, so most of their weight is on your upper chest. Practice breathing into your belly and any other space that’s available. Stay relaxed and breathe steadily.
  3. Repeat the first two positions, except this time your partner will shift around a bit and try and bop you on the top of your head. Stay relaxed and keep breathing steadily, while you move around to defend your head. Concentrate on feeling when their weight shifts give you an opportunity to inhale.
  4. Same as #3, but now you will actively try to create space to breathe into. Play with different ways of making space, and pay attention to which parts of your torso are free at any given time, and make sure you’re breathing into the free parts (hint: you’ll probably be breathing into your back a lot more than you think).
  5. Time for some sparring! Go for timed bouts of about a minute, at about 60% intensity. Walk yourselves through the whole cycle – a few long, deep breaths before you start, a good 1 in, 2 out ratio in the middle, snatching breaths as opportunity presents itself if you end up on the bottom, and long, deep breaths after you’re done. If you have a third person available to remind you to breathe throughout, so much the better.

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