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EdgeJayEdgeJay Pro Posts: 21
Hi! I'm a new student and I have a little question to ask. Will martial arts training hinder my vocal capability in any way? Might sound like a ridiculous question but from what I know and what I learnt, breathing is extremely important in both practices. However, the form of martial arts I practice trains to us to use short but powerful breaths and as such it has become habitual of me (when not practicing) to inhale slowly but exhale extremely quickly and with a lot of force. Would this have any conflicting effect with vocal practice?


  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,346
    You would not want to use the same forceful exhalation when singing. Instead you will slowly exhale, and carefully hold back the air by pushing down on your diaphragm to reduce or regulate the air pressure when you sing high notes.

    These are two different practices. Just keep your martial arts breathing for when you are doing your martial arts, and learn proper breath for singing.

    If you are ever attacked by ninjas during a singing performance, you will have to alternate between the two styles in order to continue to sing properly while defeating your attackers.

    Just kidding, but you know what I mean. These are different tasks, and you have to protect your vocal cords from being overblown by too much pressure.

    All the Best.

  • EdgeJayEdgeJay Pro Posts: 21
    Oh I see. I have been practicing this for the past several years. Is there any chance that I may have damaged my vocal cords or anything along the vocal tract?
  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,346
    edited September 2015
    It is always possible that you could have damaged your cords by past abuse, but if you are unaware of any problems so far, you are probably OK. You just need to learn proper vocal support and avoid hurting your cords when singing.

    What you do with your voice while practicing martial arts could have an adverse effect, but that all depends on how much you do that and whether it makes you go hoarse or lose your voice when doing it.

    You just don't want to take that same Martial Arts pressurized-blasting effect and try to use it when sustaining notes while singing. That would not be wise. That is used to get your muscles tensed and powered-up for fighting, and to frighten your opponent.

    Singing needs to manage tension in different ways, and to relax the voice to the extent possible. Ken teaches you to cut back the air and to manage it in different ways than what you are trying to do when training for Martial Arts.

    Singing and Martial Arts are two completely different environments and disciplines, and while there may be some similarities, both are approached differently.

  • JelkiiiJelkiii Pro Posts: 4
    I am a martial artist too, and many asian martial arts masters love to sing, that's in their culture more or less, and the famous Jackie Chan he really proves you can do both singing and martial arts but as Bob said, with different approach. :)
  • AlyonaAlyona Member, Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO Posts: 288
    I think it's great that you have a special breath technique in your arts. It's so helpful for singing I think if you doing sports. I'm not doing sports, so my diaphragm is relaxed most of the time, so I try to move to sing more powerful. I don't think you even need that much of a breath training )))
  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 1,421
    I have been doing Martial Arts for several decades, and for the most part it is fine.
    There are indeed martial breathing techniques that border on glottal compression methodology, but those are typically "Ki" or "Chi" generators.

    You also have to be very aware, especially in the grappling arts, of the dangers of shimiwaza, or choke/strangulation techniques. I had my trachea popped last year, and it took about a month for the swelling to fully dissipate before I could even test for vocal damage. Fortunately there was no damage, but the sound of the calcification around you trachea cracking is not something remotely pleasant.

    There are some wonderful cross-overs if you are discerning enough to see them.
    I think of the beginning ceremony of my old art... "Skikkin Haramitsou Daikomyo"
    Which basically means: "Strong body, strong mind... in every encounter there is always the chance for discovering something new that will unlock the mystery of many others."

  • NickLawNickLaw Member Posts: 1
    I think that martial art practicing will only help to develop your vocals as in disciplines and better it. Read this article http://www.omgtop10.in/the-benefits-of-martial-arts/ if you want to know about all benefits
  • Any activities that keep the mind, and body strong should be beneficial for singing or any other type of physical activities. Martial arts is just a tiny category for a list of 1,000s of activities that would be beneficial for the mind, and body.

    Peace, Tony

  • doc_ramadanidoc_ramadani Administrator, 2.0 PRO, Facility Management Posts: 3,978
    Hi @EdgeJay,

    I am Marco, a medical doctor from Germany. I am on Thaiboxing for more than 20 years now. I am sure that martial arts will absolutely not affect your vocal tract in a negative way. The opposite is the truth. Your good physical (and mental) condition will help you a lot.

    Greetings from Germany, Chok-Dee (means "Good luck" in the Thai language),

    PS.: Chok-Dee we say in Thaiboxing when starting a fight. There is also a very good film with the same title. You find the trailer here: https://youtube.com/watch?v=7pDQgafOvOo
  • ListeningtooListeningtoo 2.0 PRO Posts: 7

    I used to train wing chung which is a special style of kung fu. I noticed, that some skills of my wing chung training now come in handy for the singing. Wing chung focuses on a good stance, where you channel your weight and energy into the ground. Ken's description of the sensation you have while activating your support is very much the same as the technique for this good stance - especially the feeling you should have around the kidneys and the lower back. Wing chung teaches you to have a good root to the ground and a flexible upper body and I feel it's the same with singing...

    Greetings, Listeningtoo
  • Klaus_TKlaus_T Moderator, 2.0 PRO Posts: 2,362
    Hi @EdgeJay , I agree with @Listeningtoo , at least for Wing Chun, which I did years ago, I felt now with the singing, it helped with the breathing. I see a lot of people having trouble to not breathe with raising chest/shoulders, and in the first form (forms are standard drills) you are taught to stay in the stance as still and level as possible while executing arm movements, so as to not change angles while you breathe. thus, you learn how to not use your chest in breathing, keeping your shoulders low, etc. Wing Chun is a very soft martial art, both in how the training is conducted and how they think about fighting, so it might be different for other MAs, but as some others said, knowing your body and how to control it will always give you some advantage when you try to learn a new skill.

    best, Klaus

  • DaveNDaveN Pro, 2.0 PRO Posts: 17

    I think of the beginning ceremony of my old art... "Skikkin Haramitsou Daikomyo"

    btw, the literal meaning of "Shikin Haramitsu Daikomyo" is:

    "Every encounter (may) contain the perfection of the Great Light "Daikomyo" (we seek)..

    or for westerners- "pay attention, and you might learn something"

    Ikkan Ninpo!
  • DaveNDaveN Pro, 2.0 PRO Posts: 17
    Interesting thread.
    From my own experience in classical (stood the test of time) martial arts I instantly recognised Ken's material, and method of transmitting it, as "The Real Thing"...

    On breathing- a short IN breath with a LONG exhale, will alter the blood chemistry and lead to a lower heart rate, along with a feeling of relaxed wellbeing. This is useful to combat anxiety, panic attacks or "butterflies" from stressful situations.
    Think 7/11. count 7 in, 11 exhale.

    This method of breathing would seem to be the same as used for singing....

  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 1,421
    @dave, Yes, I find it very close in nature as well.
  • Klaus_TKlaus_T Moderator, 2.0 PRO Posts: 2,362
    has any of you ever practiced "iron shirt" breathing? I never got into it very deeply, but in my kung fu times I heard about it, and experimented with it a bit, you basically pull your belly in while breathing in, and expand while breathing out, so opposite of what is intuitive. it is meant to keep the shape of the belly consistent (some kung fu techniques are very sensitive when it comes to angles), protect your core when getting punched in the stomach area, and also to learn to coordinate breathing in general. although I can't prove it, and it was years ago, I think it was a great help for me with anything to do with breathing.
  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 1,421
    I in fact did similar training to that via a Bujinkan offshoot.
    Any form of breath control is beneficial, even if it is the inversion of what we are now targeting.
    There is a tendency in the beginning to panic a little when we near air supply depletion, whereas SCUBA divers, Yoga people and martial artists (etc) don't tend to get that, as they've been trained to meter their breath properly
  • Klaus_TKlaus_T Moderator, 2.0 PRO Posts: 2,362
    @Furious_Phil , cool, yeah I agree, I believe anything that directs the focus in this direction will be beneficial somehow. Speaking of being low on oxygen, I have recently learned about the Wim Hof Method, and tried it for a few sessions, I think you might find that interesting. I am not able to say whether or not it will be any good, neither for singing nor in general, but the guy certainly is fascinating. one part of it is some sort of hyperventilation, after which you hold your breath, and I was surpriesed how long you can atually hold it. I always hated diving at the swimming pool, I always got that panic feeling you describe after a short while, so I didn't think I would be able to hold it that long, I think it was about 1:30 min right off the bat
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