kung fuThe Northern Shaolin Systems practiced at our school fall into the category of Chang Quan (Long Fist). These methods employ combinations of long explosive movements and require that several techniques be performed with one breath; this builds both speed and explosiveness. Combinations are often executed in quick bursts, like a string of firecrackers.

This peculiarity is not conducive to screaming, or to Kiai as in Karate and Taekwondo. Southern Kung Fu Styles also make different sounds during the execution of certain techniques.

Boxers, for example, use a similar breathing method where one breath is released in short bursts in coordination with each punch, although in many cases this may be accompanied by a hissing sound which is not evident or audible in our Long Fist training.

You can only execute so many techniques before taking in a new breath. Breathing and actions must be properly blended and coordinated. Holding your breath and rapid breathing must be avoided.

The function of breathing and of abdominal compression—which is different from abdominal tension—are very important for generating speed and power in your techniques.

Proper breathing serves to focus the mind and relax the body. These are essential qualities, necessary for remaining calm in a confrontation. Our students are taught proper breathing exercises and encouraged to take Qi Gong and Tai Chi classes to further develop proper breathing techniques.

We are more focused when we exhale and more vulnerable when we inhale. This requires that we conceal the obvious act of inhalation so that our opponent cannot take advantage of the situation to launch an attack.

In short, it is not necessary to yell or scream in order to generate power, but it is important to breathe correctly and to be poised and relaxed.