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Science & The Martial Arts

News and research that provide insight and understanding of the martial arts and related activities.

Breathing Through The Nose

By Christopher Caile

Your teachers were right. Most of us have had our martial arts, yoga, qigong or other teacher tell us, “breathe in through your nose and exhale through your mouth.” We did it, but never knew why. They probably didn’t know either, but their teachers had told them the same thing.

Now, science has given a clue as to the “why.” Research has found that the paranasal sinuses, those cavities in the frontal section of the skull that are connected to the nasal passage, produce nitric oxide (NO) which in turn becomes part of the gas intake in nasally derived air.

What does this mean? Well, for health advocates this is important since NO acts to help sterilize the sinuses as well as the nasal air passageways. Thus, NO is part of the body’s immune defense system. Just as important, however, especially for athletes such as martial artists, NO when taken in with the breath helps relax and open the air passages that branch out like an upside down tree. Thus, more air can get to all parts of the lung (the bronchial tree) so more oxygen can to be absorbed in the alveoli.

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About The Author:

Christopher Caile is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of He has been a student of the martial arts for over 43 years. He first started in judo. Then he added karate as a student of Phil Koeppel in 1959. Caile introduced karate to Finland in 1960 and then hitch-hiked eastward. In Japan (1961) he studied under Mas Oyama and later in the US became a Kyokushinkai Branch Chief. In 1976 he followed Kaicho Tadashi Nakamura when he formed Seido karate and is now a 6th degree black belt in that organization's honbu dojo. Other experience includes aikido, diato-ryu aikijujutsu, kenjutsu, kobudo, Shinto Muso-ryu jodo, kobudo, boxing and several Chinese fighting arts including Praying mantis, Pak Mei (White Eyebrow) and shuai chiao. He is also a student of Zen. A long-term student of one branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Qigong, he is a personal disciple of the qi gong master and teacher of acupuncture Dr. Zaiwen Shen (M.D., Ph.D.) and is Vice-President of the DS International Chi Medicine Association. He holds an M.A. in International Relations from American University in Washington D.C. and has traveled extensively through South and Southeast Asia. He frequently returns to Japan and Okinawa to continue his studies in the martial arts, their history and tradition. In his professional life he has been a businessman, newspaper journalist, inventor and entrepreneur.

To find more articles of interest, search on one of these keywords:

breathing, nose breathing, martial arts breathing, breathing in the martial arts

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