Ah! The breath of life. “Only those who know how to breathe will survive.” – Pundit Acharya. Have you ever watched MMA, boxing, or any other type of combat sport and wondered, how do they keep going? How can you prepare for a fight? What is the best way to prepare for one?
Well, in this article, we talk about what’s considered to be the best methods and techniques you can use to excel in these sports as we’ll as learn about three top fighters that are heavily invested in these types of practices. Intrigued? You should be. Continue on for Top 3 Fighters Who Practice Breath Control.
First, we need to understand the technique called “hypoxia training” also known as “altitude training” and “low oxygen training”, which is training under oxygen reduced air.
This can be done by training in high-altitude places/countries or by using specific machines and equipment used by professionals who can copy the same characteristics.
The benefits of this are:
- Improvements in your athletic performance
- Improvements in your physical wellness
- Helps people acclimatize to altitude
There is a study called “The Effects of Intermittent Hypoxic Training on Anaerobic and Aerobic Power in Boxers“ (which you can find on PubMed) which draws the following conclusion:
“Our results have vast practical implications for coaches in the training of elite boxers. The intermittent hypoxic training seems to be effective in improving anaerobic performance.
The applied intermittent hypoxic training caused a small but significant increase in anaerobic fitness. Improvement in peak and mean anaerobic power was observed after IHT.”
The second method is around the nasal breath or nostril breathing, this might sound silly and simple but it’s the most useful advice you will hear.
You do not need to spend millions on equipment or fitness centres, you only need to breathe properly through your nostrils, and mouth and know how to use the stomach.
Another study called “Effect of Nasal Versus Oral Breathing on Vo2max and Physiological Economy in Recreational Runners Following an Extended Period Spent Using Nasally Restricted Breathing” (which you can find on ResearchGate) draws the following conclusion:
“This study supports the ability of recreational runners to utilize a nasally restricted breathing pattern at all levels of running intensity without loss in VO2 max or GXT TE and with superior PE and ventilatory efficiency, following an extended training period using this practice.”
Other benefits of nasal breathing:
- Improves your emotional state
- Improves your exercise performance
- Improves exercise recovery
- Improves your immune system
Interesting, right? Let’s continue…
Izzy might well be the main promoter of nasal breathing. He mentioned on several occasions the specific way he breathes while training and during fights, through the nose and stomach.
We can see videos of Izzy recovering from hard training doing this technique. When we piece the science together, there is no question why he is one of the best fighters in the UFC.
Something amazing about his training is what his breathing coach says in the video, about why some fighters “plummet” after wins, getting into a depressive state of mind.
“The reason why is because you are celebrating the wins too much, too much dopamine. The thing is that we want to celebrate the process more than the win.”
Something to keep in mind.
Even though Paddy is a bit ‘hated’ at the moment, we cannot question his talent and winning mindset.
Paddy posted a video training with the legendary surfer Laird Hamilton, where they trained in a swimming pool under the water, and ice bath, focusing on breath work and heat/cold training.
Something that Hamilton said in the video to Paddy when correcting his technique during the training was the following:
“That is what is going on. If we have a lot to think about we are forgetting to breathe.”
An intriguing piece of wisdom to reflect on right there.
This fighter is one of the most skilful boxers in the ring, his footwork is incredible, and he can create angles and hit you from everywhere!
Part of this is because his father made him stop boxing to do Ukrainian dance for two years to come back to boxing as a complete beast.
What is also amazing about him is his unusual training regime. He does a variety of sports and drills to keep it fun while keeping his skills on point.
Another aspect of his training is his mind drills with a sports psychologist which is the most complex part of his training, improving his focus to keep him fighting, even when tired.
The part of the training which we are going to focus on is the breath control part. He holds his breath under water in a swimming pool, why? This is his answer:
“It’s how you gain control over the fight and your opponent. Because of this, I am as strong in the twelfth round as I am in the first.”
“Underwater (exercises) trains your mind and your psychology. It’s helped me.”
It’s worth noting that his record is 4 minutes, 30 seconds.