Breathing for movement practitioners

Breathing for movement practitioners

What will this article be about?

This will be a concise and practical piece which will address 9 introductory short-term manipulations of breathing. They will involve methods to shift or support your psychological state, your performance, or emotional condition, while resolving physical tasks.

The long-term adaptations and effects that a well-structured breathing plan would produce will be addressed in a separate article in the future.

Why is breathing so important?

First of all it is a hybrid function of the Nervous System. That is, it can both be volitional or automatic.

From this understanding we can deduct three important facts: it can be used as a compass to observe the directions of our internal state, a tool to change our deep physiology, and as a loyal companion to have by our side in any condition.

Three families of breathing:

Here follow three families of breathing methods which can easily be implemented in recurrent movement scenarios:

  1. The factotum techniques are purposeful and varied. They can be useful to produce defensive mechanisms to outside forces acting on the body, direct focus, give a boost in energy and so forth. They evoke or facilitate a quality or state.

    2. The
    downregulating techniques are calming and grounding. They help to shift the Nervous System from an overactive state to a more composed and serene state; rebalancing it when it becomes excessively stressed.

    3. The
    intuitive techniques are loose and open. They should be implied when the complexity movement is so high that breathing becomes fluid and cannot follow a preconceived scheme.

Let’s get into them in more details:

Factotum techniques


Inhale to 70% full, hold while you execute the motion, exhale when the intensity decreases. Use the air in the lungs as an uncompressible armor to resist shear and compressive forces.

When to use: managing a heavy load, taking a strong impact, to resist direct pressure to the torso.

Mechanism leveraged: Valsalva like maneuver.


Inhale in 3”, exhale in 3”. This is a useful technique to focus the mind and not allow it to wonder on intense emerging thoughts, feelings, emotions.

When to use: as anti-distraction tool during easy long tasks, or as “emotional grounding” in tough fear evoking settings.

Mechanism leveraged: directing awareness to a neutral rhythmical phenomenon.


Inhale in 3”, exhale in 2”. Creating a slightly longer inhale facilitates a more active, invigorating, and brisk state.

When to use: to align the mind and ignite some good fire especially during aerobic tasks.

Mechanism leveraged: by inhaling more than exhaling the heart progressively goes a bit faster, facilitating the predominance of the sympathetic nervous system. This respiratory sinus arrhythmia matches pulmonary blood flow to lung inflation and allows to maintain an appropriate diffusion gradient for oxygen in the lungs.

Downregulating techniques

Exhale focus

Inhale in 5” exhale in 6”. The slow inhale and the longer exhale will facilitate the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting coherence between the heart and the breath. Couple the outbreath with an active relaxation of the unnecessary muscular tone. This means maintain the structure and shape of the body but let go of all parasite tensions. With every subsequent breath, repeat this process and gently double the intensity every time.

When to use: essential resource when you need to rebalance and calm down: while exposing to unknown situations, in precarious scenarios, in case of emotional stress emerging from the session: frustration, anger, fear. This should be one of the breathings you imply in most of your practices.

Mechanism leveraged: The long exhale creates a gentle pressure to the torso and signals to the medulla to slow down the heart and respiratory rate. Also this long breath introduces more CO2 in the blood allowing for a better Oxygenation of the blood, calming the system even further.

Deliberate yawn

Slow inhale (like an Ujjayi breath with an open mouth), allow the yawn to come, ride it, then exhale slowly. Repeat for 5-10 times, until relaxation starts to kick in.

When to do it: when you can be in a somewhat calm and composed setting during a hard expedition into the elements, such as cold, heat, height, deep into the earth (confined spaces) and so forth.

Mechanism leveraged: invoking the yawn reflex to induce a more relaxed state.


Inhale in 5”, exhale humming in 10”. Produce a composed and continuous mmmmm sound all throughout the exhale.

When to do it: Same as per the exhale focus. This is a direct add on to it.

Mechanism leveraged: Vibrating the vocal chords during the exhale will increase vagal tone, allowing you to relax faster right after the acute stress bout. It will also release more nitric oxide from the nose all throughout the body. This powerful vasodilator increases blood flow and lowers blood pressure

Intuitive techniques 


Inhale in eccentric, exhale in concentric. Allow the natural expansion and compression of the body to couple to each breath waves.

When to use: during cyclical and repeated exercises. The classic “reps and sets” style trainings.

Mechanism leveraged: Following the mechanical action of the torso to take air in or push it out.


Let the breath follow the movement. Be aware of it and use it in a harmonious dance with the rest of the body. Observe how it is regulated and how it is expressed.

When to use: during the production of complex movements.

Mechanism leveraged: stepping aside and allowing the self-regulating mechanisms of the body to respond to the action-perception connections to the surroundings.


Use breathing to direct your motions. The inhale will facilitate open wide gestures, whereas the exhale will promote quick and sharp actions.

When to use: same as above.

Mechanism leveraged: using actively the fiery images of the inhalation to produce powerful motions and the light exhalation to induce fast and clear trajectories.

Here’s the associated video. Comment below it for further clarifications or contact me at

Note. The numbers used are here for simplicity however, what should be taken in consideration is your current state: Co2 tolerance, Vo2 max, max breath hold capacity, history of practice, stress state, hygiene and strength of your respiratory structure, the depth of your breath and so on… These parameters can be improved through specific long term breathwork. This will be addressed in a different article.

Two final important tips:

1. Breath deep from the belly first. If you need more air, fill up also the chest, if you need even more air fill up the clavicular area. Follow this order, as often as you can.

  1. Always breathe from the nose unless you are really close to exertion, then go to mouth breathing. However, revert to nose breathing as soon as possible.

    Wish you large inhales and calm exhales everyone. Practice on!

Until next time,

Irreducibility of movement fields

Irreducibility of movement fields

Nowadays’ tendency for simplification, deconstruction, and decomposition of a totality into smaller fragments led us to one fundamentally incorrect axiom: studying a piece of a totality will give us information about the behavior of the whole. 

This is false because there is a limit to the amount of breakdown one can perform on a global part before it changes into something else.

“take table salt, no matter how hard you look, you will not find the yellow-green of the chlorine or the silver of the sodium; if you reduce the salt any further, back to the component elements, you will lose all of the qualities of the salt.” (1) 

In the body-mind continuum there are specific emerging adaptations coming from the confrontation with a motor problem that simply will not happen, unless one is exposed to it. If this is overlooked a lot of work might be wasted because of an incorrect understanding, regardless of the quality of the process involved.

I argue the reversible vision that perceives climbers “those with a strong grip”, athletes “those with quick legs”, acrobats “those with flexible backs”, fighter “those with sharp reflexes” and therefore proceeds to train only those qualities in isolation with the promise of making people climbers, athletes, acrobats, fighters one day …is very much delusional and fitnesscentric.

The work can and should be started immediately.

In fact, these are non-reversible povs. Athletes have quick legs because of what they do, but not necessarily having quick legs will make you an athlete.

The very idea of “fundamental capacities” is plain wrong.

For example, the indication that one should at least be able to do five pull ups before he / she can climb is absurd to say the least. And how do I know this for certain? Because if you go to a climbing gym, you can see beginners go at the full activity, regardless of the conditions of their capacity. The field is made of multiple strata: pattern recognition, memory, mental rotation, limbs and torso coordination, balance, foot placement, weight shifting capacity, forces redistribution …forget about pulling strength alone.

I remember there was a debate a few years back on whether a person could start plyometrics safely from scratch or if at least a bodyweight squat was necessary (there was a large ongoing case study on this). Well …just go light and try, won’t you? We are not talking about the validation of a dangerous medicine. We do not need useless studies. Evidence based practice should always be accompanied by practice based evidence and should help mature interesting and relevant questions. Not minor onanistic matters. My experience is that in this instance a person can be taught to bounce, hop, jump, sissonne, assemble, develop a sharp footwork and so on… without having even ever seen a barbell from miles away. On top of this, I saw very few people get injured in the process.

In the field of movement education, we can do better than having people start their journey doing strength work for 3 years before actually diving into the core of their studies. And that is exploring movement principles through dedicated platforms and situations, where dynamic skills are studied in their minimal configuration of the needs imposed on demand intrinsically present in every field.

The aspects that need to be taken into account are four:

1. Motor control, regulation and coordination

The intricacies, the concertation, the lines of trajectories of the various body parts, the coordinative abilities needed, and the fine modulation of tension that are fundamental to producing quality outcomes.

2. Specificity of the structural phase

The capacity of the body to behave like different materials depends on environmental demands.

In fact, it can: tense like an elastic band when quickly displacing in space, it can tighten in accurate concertation to contract and expand in volume, it can coordinate to produce finely controlled reversible actions, it can turn rock solid if it needs to anchor you somewhere, it can vibrate to dissipate impact without causing any harm.

Therefore, one should ask the question: which state is needed for the Elastic? Tensile? Soft? Stiff? Colloidal?

The science of soft matter is still in the process of being fully understood yet it appears to be what can best approximate the complexity of the human biological design.

See here I post I made on the matter to better grasp what I am talking about.

3. Specificity of motor qualities

The specific demands in terms of simplified kinematic and kinetics of movement. Listing from the dynamic correspondence criteria from Verkhoshansky and Siff here: the amplitude and direction of movement, The accentuated region of force production, The dynamics of the effort, The rate and time of maximum force production, The regime of muscular work.

I recommend continue the in-depth study on the matter in the book Supertraining (2).

4. Relationship to external conditions

What is the composition of the perception-action dynamics, the time windows, the spatial constraint, the type of surfaces involved, the type of equipment needed and so forth…

Now, to elucidate the matter further I have provided a visual clarification.

Notice in the clip the two scenarios: the first ones (wearing white socks with black textures) are more open situations, and the seconds (wearing black socks with white textures) are platforms for movement investigation, study and refinement.

What separates the two is the degree of risk, the extrinsic difficulty, and the emotional involvement required to dwell in these matters.

This makes them twins on a continuum. The first ones are used to consolidate knowhow, the second ones to expand expertise.

Knowing this, the development of skills will fall into the second setting, moving over time to the first to get strengthened as deeper neural grooves. Despite its counterintuitive nature, capacity build up will not improve one’s proficiency to manage a movement scenario. Everyone thinks more mobility, strength, endurance, power, are needed but this is rarely the case in my observations.

Capacity training should only be added once it is really limiting one’s development, that is, in case of:

– Complete absence of training background (i.e. one can’t hang for 10 seconds)

– In case of rehab (i.e. one can’t move without pain and restrictions in the joints, fascia, muscles etc.)

– Prehab before specific situations (i.e. one isn’t used to inverting and placing the hands on the ground hence the wrists quickly become fatigued).

Or as a cherry on the cake – certainly not base layer, under the eye of movement.

This is because most of the work has to proceed in the direction of complexity that is in a multitude of layers where the limiting factors are widely diffused in the production of movement, such as: cognition (not understanding what to do), proprioception (not understanding where one is in relation to what the task it), motor control (not understanding how to do the task).


The practical observation in the field of Movement led me to believe that the principle of irreducibility applies in every field of practical exploration. Therefore, it is essential to consider the development of motor control and regulation, skill development, and principles investigation, through dedicated platforms of choice.

This differs from the hierarchical fitnesscentric approach that appears to be leading the industry nowadays: considering capacity building at the base of the movement pyramid.
Operating in the beginning the highest possible form of reduction, that is not transforming all into purely mechanical work, but to simpler yet intelligent semi-open scenarios, quasi-complex tasks, movement brainteasers with divergent solutions.

This will facilitate the emergence of understanding, general knowhow, and accelerate the immersion within the field of movement education.

Until next time – wish you to reduce to better comprehend, but don’t let complexity slip from your hands!


1. Solórzano, S., Levin, S., & Berkowitz, S. Everything moves.

2. Verkhoshansky, Y-, & Siff, M. (2009), Supertraining. Rome: Verkhoshansky SSTM

Evolving a movement practice

Evolving a movement practice

Knowing that it is in the nature of all things to transform and grow, how can one innovate without making grave mistakes or ending up practicing something worthless?

One of the fundamental topical issues of alive fields, lays in understanding where to go next. 

Let’s address this matter.

Just as we are learning from evolutionary biology, a practice cannot change in the blink of an eye. It needs time to mature, diversify, and develop. It requires strong roots and daily work to branch out into a strong tree.

I am choosing the paragon of plants not by chance, as they well reflect the need for a long-term strategy and the need for galactic patience. They don’t patch outside things to themselves, rather they unfold constantly in an expansive stream.

This means that pieces cannot be added at random but need to follow a certain logic (unless you wish to have an unstable and abominable Frankenstein at your disposal). It won’t serve you well and it will be rapidly forgotten.

A movement practice to be growing well needs continuity (in terms of practical progression, honest pruning, direct branching), comparison (with history, with other researchers, and with practitioners), integration (in terms of skills, attributes, and qualities).


One should first learn how to stand, then how to take a step, then how to run, then how to display adroitness in a game and so on. Complex abilities build one on top of the next from exact yet infinite origins. Capabilities should continue to evolve in the direction of increasing complexity and into the development dexterity: making sure that the skills learned are linkable, accessible, and real. If a field doesn’t require skill acquisition, it won’t induce real change and it won’t be transformative.

If parts of one’s practice does not respond to these rules, it should be pruned away from the main direction, and transferred to corollary junctions.

On the other hand, when there is a potential part of the system that can evolve it should be expanded and nurtured.


A constant observation in relationships between present and past should happen at any stage. Only once a tradition is absorbed completely then it can be evolved. Thinking of doing innovation when one is just repeating pieces that had already been discovered is often happening. This leads to three problems: wasting valuable time, a stall in innovation, and retroactive plagiarism. Nobody will believe you if you try to convince the world you were the first one to discover the theory of relativity in your room in 2022, and overall, it will not be in line with where research is edging right now, a complete waste of resources.

Aside from the past, this means that you also have to make sure you know where a field is being led, from thinkers and theoretical explorers but also in the undergrounds and in the web. Some phenomenal practitioners are shooting new ideas from the shadows, through direct experimentation. You should know about them.



When new material is created it should be amalgamated and cross tested in a variety of platforms for examination, in scenarios for growth, and at times even back to the original roots. This is one of the strongest controls one can install to make sure not to go off track. So, here’s a few questions to keep in mind.

– Is the skill you trained reappearing in your continual practice?
(i.e. of skills: jumping, sliding, swinging…)

– What are the attributes that comprise the field you are studying?
(i.e. of attributes: lightness, control, repeatability…)

– Which qualities are at the base of what you are training?
(i.e. of qualities: memory, strength, sensitivity…)

If these questions are not asked, it is likely that one will end up training without a coherent sense.

Logical innovation

Here’s a diagram that exemplifies the approach I have when creating new material in the movement practice of my school (and takes into consideration the three laws I talked about up here): I explore and absorb a practice well rooted in history, I break it down in vast scenarios, in them I identify platforms for study, and inside them I develop attributes, skills, qualities, and movement principles which communicate with one another. Not the other way round. In this way I can make sure things are evolving without detrimental sophistications.

In hope this will serve innovators to continue develop this field and practitioners to discern a good direction from a confusing or damaging one.

Bring it on 2022!

Until next time,

Movement codes: the art of hiding

Movement codes: the art of hiding

Have you ever seen a person, that looked like nothing but was a phenomenal performer when it came to facts? 

Think back and gather a memory of that.

Maybe this happened during a dance class, a bike ride, while climbing, during a run, in the gym, in a park… That person that looked like nothing “special” on the surface, completely obliterated everyone else that looked much stronger, more athletic, and fitter.

This is because what you can see from the outside of a shape, rarely reflects what is inside of it.

Just to make an example: Courtney Dauwalter. Could you have a look at her physical features and attire, and guess what she is capable of? Most likely not. She looks like a normal person going to play basketball at the nearest playground, instead she’s most likely going to jog for hundreds of kilometers without stop, outrunning all creatures on earth.

Personally, I love these surprises.

It’s not the shell, that makes the turtle

The reason why we can’t guess the overall abilities of a person by the looks is that they lay in substance [1] and not in form [2].

From this, a simple line of logic can be derived: your practice should aim at improving all the qualities that pertain movement, not in achieving a certain shape: as the outside shape should only be an indirect result of your work.

[1] Substance
The invisible components of the human organism: from the energy systems to the deep intention and mind, to the internal composition of the structures.

[2] Form
The outer material and visible part of the shape. The width of a muscle, the length of a limb, the overall outline of a body.

One layer below: hiding the form

Form is the hammer of the blacksmith. It is fundamental to generate, yet inadequate in knowing how good of a craftsman his owner is.

Showing off a tool to describe proficiency is senseless. The same goes with trying to create the best tool to achieve knowhow.

It is wise to hide form in many contexts as it reflects this understanding.


Two layers below: hiding substance

Once skills, a series of patterns, or special states are achieved there will be a tendency for them to come to an actualization in any context, setting and time. This is immature and can be harmful.

There is a moment for everything: a moment for them to express and a moment for them to stay behind the curtains.

For example, suddenly in a fighting class you feel the urge to do a handstand: Is it yourself that wants to do a handstand or is it the handstand that it is using you to come out? That is not the moment for it, hide it.


Three layers below: hide your qualities

Gain power, strength, ranges and …keep them in the bank. Use them when you need them, don’t put them in display all the time.

A barking dog doesn’t bite, and the opposite stands true. 

All the real and best practitioners that I have met in my life, didn’t need to show off. They knew what they were worth, what they were after and what was needed to get there.

Take a Tibetan lama for example. He won’t come to meditate close to you to show you how good he is in those matters, won’t he? Then why shouldn’t you do the same?

Four layers below: hiding the unnecessary

Hide all that can be hidden and strive for efficiencies.

Preludes to an action, stylized accessory coordination, longings once an action is finished, parasite tensions, corollaries to a movement strategy, coupling motions, useless synergies, inefficient movement trajectories…

From the outside, no one should be able to read you, and all should look flawless and instantaneously crafted and cancelled. Like a feline sleeping under a tree and few moments later with a prey in his mouth already.

To conclude – hide all that you have but show all that you are:

  1. Hide your tools
  2. Hide your skills and states
  3. Hide your qualities
  4. Hide the unnecessary

    Until next time,


A practitioner’s choices flowchart

A practitioner’s choices flowchart

We’re practicing a willingness to simply return to the present moment. Without judgement, without disappointment, without contraction. With a mind that is standing truly free of the past. If you lose yourself, simply begin again. -Sam Harris

Here’s a map you can use to navigate your days. If you follow it, procrastination will be out of the door, your priorities will be crystal clear and you’ll have a direct highway to living a full existence. And remember, whatever happens during your day, something goes out of your plans or you lose yourself, just go back to the green start.

Enjoy the ride and leave space for the unexpected – it’s not an if, it’s a when.

Until next time,

The secrets of the old school

The secrets of the old school

“I dig the old school” – Plato.

When I first heard the saying “old school, best school”, I was a teenager. I immediately thought it was a boring motto of some traditionalists that were too attached to what had been to move onward and seek evolution. Well, I was wrong. Take hip-hop for example, go listen to DJ Kool Herc, Africa Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash then compare it to today’s Gibberish mumbling horse shit. Come on, something has changed, it is as clear as the sky.

Over time I started to see trends, to observe what those people did different, what was so special and exceptional in them that were not present in the “weak schools” or all questionable trends. And I could see the same entities reoccur over and over again through history.

Here are some of the core points:

Be real


Don’t be a slacker. If you say you are something, be that something completely. Embody that with your whole being. Be out there. Your practice should take up most of your time. Give your presence where presence is due. Entrepreneurs are going to be busy evolving, musicians are going to sleep on their instruments, climbers better be in the mountains.

Resolve, uncover, produce – get out and read the written pages or take out a pen and draw on the white canvas.

This seems common knowledge, however, it doesn’t seem to be the case nowadays. Everyone is living scattered lives. Made of everything …made of nothing.

Check out this classic reportage on early the early parkour days.

Notice: there was no “preparation” for it, no infinite “rehearsal” like nowadays Instagram clips.

It’s a documentary of what was being done, of who those people were, and how they were putting in the hours in their craft.

Prioritize experiences



How do you start building something extremely big? Strongly grounded. Think of words as the decorations of your building, consider your experiences as strong foundations.

Actions are real, words are futile. With words you can charm, tell, simulate. Actions speak by themselves. Example: X talks like an adventurer and disguises herself as such, but she still lives in the city where she was born.

Then, what are those words for?

They have no power and produce no magic; they are nothing but meaningless vibrations in the fine air.

Words were used to organize recollections and as means to carry messages. They were deeply linked to direct occurrences. Nowadays they are being used as substitutes for living. It’s a twisted approach, and will only bring to dark ages, fake people, shallow knowledge.

The mothers and the fathers of the most flourishing disciplines started from scratch, and they built the finest palaces starting from garbage. This points to only one direction, all those things you “feel” are so important (technicalities, equipment, optimization), are actually secondary.

Have a look at this documentary on Yosemite’s climbers;

In a few generations they went from reaching the summit in two years with full gear, to performing the same feat in a few hours. They didn’t “listen” to any advice, they just did their thing, and dreamt themselves into who they wanted to be.

Now imagine the same people discussing in a room about the probabilities of performing the feat, instead of actually doing the work… I put my finger on it, it would have been impossible.

Ever to excel

By Glaucus’ words to Diomedes: focus on excellence. Through self-knowledge and the endless strife for perfection in your craft.

On one hand, there should be a meticulous care for what is the right thing to do. With calculated intention, and a clear mind.

See here Kurosawa’s care for details, for building a scene, using the elements, using the movement of the camera and so on, in nowadays cinematography this approach is mainly absent.

On the other hand, things must be done from the guts, the heart and the spirit. Full on. With strong intention, both as individuals and as part of groups.

Dive into this old school clip of Yoyo, Mc Lyte, Naughty by Nature, Guru, Das EFX Wu-Tang Clan – check out the energy, the drive. They were hip hop, not only in the physical body, but in all the facets of their being:

A word of advice 

Careful not to over glorify the past. It’s easy to get stuck thinking about the golden ages, time travel and remain there forever. At the same time, enough with looking for the best shoes, being obsessed on training optimisation without being able to do 20 pull ups and talking your life away.

It is not about the old or the new. Times and people change, but some attitudes stay evergreen.

Keep it real, prioritize your experiences, focus on excellence.

Good schools forever,