I have studied breath, movement and strength for almost 60 years, sometimes when I wasn’t even aware that breath and movement were at the core of my various disciplines. Nearly twenty of those years were spent on the wooden dojo floors of the Japanese Karate Association, learning the attacks and defenses of a traditional martial art. Following this, I spent years in one of London’s best and most competitive boxing gyms, learning to coach while teaching strength training. Coupled with my lifetime use of free weights, intermittent yoga practice, Pilates and bodyweight exercises, I figured I knew it all regarding my body, its movement, and methods of development.
It took an autoimmune disease and two visits to the emergency room to show me that I didn’t. I had studied the trees in great detail but missed the forest completely.
What, in fact, had I learned from my lifetime of study: to throw a punch, do a hundred push-ups and perform thirty chins or to stand on my head for fifteen minutes? When it came to the crunch, none of these things helped. I felt frightened and powerless.
I certainly couldn’t punch my way out of a nervous system that, because of a compilation of life crisis’s had turned on the tap to my stress hormones, heightening my blood pressure to boiling point and accelerating my heart to a continual state of fight or flight, a situation in which my body was constantly braced for an attack, whether real or imagined; from an enemy that was both invisible and lethal.
Stress. It’s a killer.
Yet, my encounter with this killer taught me that I had in fact learned how to deal with it, long ago; the antidote had been hiding in plain sight. There, behind the kicks and punches, the postures, poses, the weights, resistance exercises and repetitions was the key to my recovery and renewed health.
Breathing. Practicing the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, using a method that establishes control of the nervous system and conquers the unnecessary urge to fight or flee, when the body actually craves and needs the space to rest and recover.
That healing space is within the breath.
My method of training requires nothing more than the mind, the body and a broomstick. It combines the use of controlled and conscious breathing with the natural push and pull movements of everyday living. Simple. Yet complete when combined with correct and conscious breathing. It combines all that I have learned over a lifetime, yet is distilled to be totally accessible to everyone.
Real Strength is mind and body, united by breath.