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Lesson of the Month

November 1999

Glen Doyle teaches at
Céad Bua Fighting Arts Centre
in Milton, Ontario


What the Yell Is Going On?
By Sifu Glen Doyle

For years now, a similar question has been sent to me, emailed, or asked... "How come some styles yell during training, and other styles don't?"

With regards to yelling, in my style (Hung Gar Kung Fu) we do not yell... but this is no reflection on the styles that do yell (ie. karate).

Yelling is a form of breathing -- an exertion of breath to add focus and explosion to a technique. Also, if an individual has a shyness about them or a lack of obvious confidence -- the yell can bring out the 'giant' within.

In my school, we just exhale with force.. no real sound is made... but the power is unsurpassed.

Short controlled breaths can also teach what I like to call 'lung economics' -- the usage of the air we breathe in... we don't fully exhale on one technique... if we did... we'd be off balance and weak should a counter attack arise.

Now, anyone who has seen me do shows... they'd say... "Hey! Doyle's yelling!!... what gives?"

This is a theatrical measure I use to emphasize the movements of my form. My yell (or GROWL as it has been labelled by my club members), gives the audience more of a sense of combat... a sense of aggression and energy that takes over the entire room.

So, when you see someone yelling, or you're training and your instructor tells you to yell at a certain time or movement... understand the potential for focus and power... without breathing... the balance of body motion is hindered.

For those of you who add resistance training to your workouts (i.e. weights), breathing again is a vital part... remember... EXHALE on exertion... a slow controlled breath to match the range of motion of your exercise.

Exercise: Breathing Economics 101

  • Sit in a comfortable position on a chair with your feet on the ground, and your back straight.

  • Now take in a deep breath (through your nose) until your lungs are filled... wait for a count of 5 -- then exhale.

  • Now -- do the exact same thing again... breath in deeply (through the nose)... wait for a count of 5... BUT NOW when you exhale, keep your teeth together so you make a 'SSSSSSSSSSSSSSS' sound as you exhale... the breath escaping through your teeth. (You'll sound like a steam engine.)

After finishing this exercise... you should notice that your 'SSSSSSSSSSS' exhale seemed to be endless... compared to the first one. This is just the first step in realizing how much we can do with one simple breath.

Thanks for the time.


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