Ego is a strange thing. We all have one, we need one, yet we can’t let it grow too big.
I was taught years ago that ‘every fighter thinks they are better than they are’. The quote was about boxers but in truth, it also applies to the self-defence world.
And it is true; every martial artist thinks they are more skilled at fighting than their opponent/ attacker will ever be.
There is a good reason for this; we spend hours if not years training how to protect ourselves.
It would be inconceivable to our minds that we could be less skilled than an untrained attacker. But the problem that comes with this belief is that we can easily let our egos grow out of control.
And it is this ‘belief’ that can cause serious issues with our training because we start to believe our skill levels are such that we can train less and get out of shape.
If we let this get out of control, we can end up being vastly less effective than we think because we lose our edge.
Our skill level degrades far faster than you realise and shows the importance of regular training.
One of the other aspects of martial arts and self-defence we overestimate is fitness.
We all think we can handle the stress and strain of a real fight, but sadly in my experience, most people gas very easily and in this article we are going to investigate how you can regain your breath in the heat of battle.
Why Even The Fittest People Tire In A Fight.
Self-defence is not boxing. It is not MMA, Judo, BJJ or any other sport
As a result, it is not something with a set time limit, referees or judges.
So in a real ‘fight’, you go full throttle with zero holding back.
And guess what, this is a sprint!
Every punch or strike your throw will be the hardest you can muster, and this will drain you fast. For this reason, it does not matter if you can fight for 12 rounds. What matters is how long you can ‘keep up’ your maximum fight speed and power.
However, no matter what your level of conditioning is, you might need to take a few split seconds rest if the situation starts to become prolonged and these are some tactics that I have used.
1. Clinch Up
If your heart feels as if it is about to burst out of your chest and your arms feel like dead weight, the clinch might be your best option.
You need to train to tie up, trap or simply just grab them.
Use this position to take in some big gulps of oxygen.
2. Get Distance
In total contrast, you might need to get some distance and get your lungs filled with that all important air.
To do this, you might need to push the attacker away and turn at an angle. Or you could move backwards and get some space.
The ideal time to do this is if the attacker has just swung a blow and missed.
3. Get A Barrier
This requires some degree of separation to achieve but if you can, get a physical barrier between you and the attacker.
It could be that you move behind a parked car, remember we are talking about getting split seconds back in the fight so that you can recharge your batteries.
Just by positioning yourself behind an object the attacker has to move around it to get to you, not only is this great to justify the use of force in self-defence, it is all you need to fill those lungs.
Ok, so the skill required in this is high, but if you know how to sweep the feet of the attacker, then you open up the chance to get some rest.
Judo techniques such as Ouchi Gari and Kouchi Gari are superb techniques that will cause the attacker to stumble.
We are not trying to go to the ground, but that does not mean we can’t send the attacker there!
Rather than follow them down, use this moment to get a breath of air before they stand up.
5. Grab Their Head
This is very much like ‘trapping’, and there are a thousand reasons why you should not get the attacker in a headlock, but that does not really matter if you are about to pass out.
The headlock or any can of ‘lock’ of the head gives you a few seconds to grab some air.
Why Seconds Count
You might be reading this and thinking that ‘seconds of air can’t make that much of a difference’.
Well trust me, they do!
When you have to defend yourself, you’re going to go into huge ‘oxygen debt’ because a fight is ‘anaerobic’ not ‘aerobic’.
You’re going to be activating almost all the muscles of your body, and you will not have the ability to breathe in the same way as normal.
But what about breathing?
Are there ways to breathe better in a fight?
Yes, there are, and we will look at them next.
How To Breathe In A Fight
Have you ever seen a boxer train? If so you might have noticed them ‘exhale’ slightly when punching.
Some make a ‘sss’ sound with every strike.
The aim here is to develop ‘breathing rhythm’, and once they have thrown their ‘shots’, they inhale air.
This is not easy to do in a self-defence situation but if you train this way you can ‘train’ your breathing so that you look for the right seconds to breathe air.
The next key part is that you will want to learn how to breathe through your nose. If your jaw is wide open, you could easily break it if you got hit by the attacker.
So learn to breathe through your nose and not your mouth. Training in a gumshield helps to make this process easier because you will be biting down on the mouthpiece.
We need oxygen to feed our muscles and if you are unable to ‘breathe you cannot replenish the ‘tank’.
In a fight that is over in seconds, this doesn’t matter.
But if the attacker is more skilled, or things do not go to plan (and they do not always) you might find yourself in a battle where every split second to take in some air, really matters!