MASTER KEYS are necessary principles, techniques and strategies for success, the vital few keys when put into action virtually guarantee Black Belt achievement.

One of the most common questions I receive from students is, “what’s the One Thing I need to learn to excel at martial arts?”

My most common answer is, “to stop thinking that there is one thing that is the answer to everything.”

Ok, so other than that answer…

…if I had to give one answer for something that would consistently give students the greatest benefit across the broadest spectrum of life situations it would be this —


It sounds almost absurd because breathing is an autonomous process; we can’t last for more than a few minutes without breathing or we’d never take another breath again, which is way it’s automatic.

Lots of people can’t remember where they put their car keys, imagine if they had to remember to breathe every moment.

Yet, breathing is far more important than where you placed your car keys, and especially when you’ve misplaced your car keys.

Black Belt (proper) Breathing is THE Master Key the unlocks the door to the secrets of a good life, and a life well-lived.

Breath training developed to help martial artists deal with conflict and the stresses of combat.

Later, in peaceful times the benefits of breathing became known to extend far beyond the battlefield into everyday life.

I could write a book on Breathing (and maybe I will) because its health benefits range far and wide, but I’ll focus on two Yuge Benefits for you and your student…the first benefit being…


In my book, So I Won’t Have to Fight: Bully Solutions from Martial Arts Masters, I outline a simple A-B-C-D-E method to help students respond properly to threats, physical and psychological.

A = Awareness of the emotions welling within you

B= Breathe properly so you don’t over-react or react reflexively, void of sound judgement.

C= Calm that comes from your breathing, then you can

D= Decide on the best course of action and

E= Engage in that best course of action


Most improper behavior — snapping, screaming, lashing out, hurtful words — come reflexively, but the first reaction is usually not the best response when you are emotionally charged.

Breathing IS acting, it’s physiological.  Your body is moving, just not toward anyone, and your mouth won’t let anything evil slip passed your lips because you have trained to close them when you breathe through your nose.

Breathing cuts the cord of the strings that are pulling you along and allows you to control yourself.

We are teaching your child to self-regulate with Black Belt Breathing in class and I thought you should know about it.

Second, Black Belt Breathing is critical for martial arts students as it’s the primary method of Pain Control.

No of us can get through life without a measure of pain, particularly in a martial arts class where students learn to not hurt each other while learning to hurt the bad guys.

Black Belt Breathing, as we teach it, teaches students to minimize the effects of physical pain and prevent it from becoming psychological pain, or suffering.

See, pain is not as bad as we judge it to be when we have a way to control, minimize and dissipate it.  Pain then has less control over our minds and emotions.

So the next time you see your child breathing “strangely,” it’s probably because she got hurt and is managing it.  Ask her about it.

I missed my editor’s deadline to get this written yesterday, in time for Master Key Monday, but this topic is too important to leave until next Monday.

I hope you enjoyed it, I hope it clarifies some of what you see on the mat, I hope it helps you and your child and I hope you will ask me any further questions about Black Belt Breathing you might have.

That’s all for now.