Remember to Breathe

A couple days ago, I was doing some mitt work with my partner at the local boxing gym. About halfway into the round, I was getting visibly tired and close to exhaustion from trying to push beyond my limits. It was then though, that my partner said something that struck me:

Remember to breathe. Control your breathing.
Seems like such an obvious statement no? After all, don’t we all breathe subconsciously? Without breathing, we’d all be dead! What a stupid thing to say!

If you think such crude and rudimentary thoughts though, you are missing the point. The fact is that while I might have been “breathing,” the fact is that I was so caught up in punching and keeping good form that I forgot to breathe half the time. You might exclaim, “How does one forget to breathe Ben? That’s ridiculous!” And you’re right to some extent, but instead of breathing more efficiently through my nose and exhaling through my mouth, I was holding my breath half the time (without even realizing it due to concentrating so hard on punching and maintaing form) and taking short gasps of air with my mouth in between. It’s no wonder that I was winded and at the point of near collapse before the round was even halfway through.

So how does this relate to go?

The reason I went to great lengths to explain breathing in boxing is because it occurred to me that a similar thing was happening to kyu players. Instead of breathing however, I would make the analogy that kyu players often players fail to play moves with the whole board in mind. Similar to breathing, it is a given that every move that is played affects the board in some way shape or form. However, if we just play moves without making a conscious effort to understand or give it a purpose in regard to the entire board, it is just as if we are going through the motions of punching without remembering to breathe properly. And then the next thing you know, you’re out of breath and your opponent cuts off a big group and delivers the knockout punch.

Of course with time and experience, playing moves with respect to the entire board will be second nature; but while we still remain the weak kyu players that we are, we must be sure to make a conscious effort to take the entire board into consideration at all times. So to put my partner’s advice into another context:

Remember to consider the board as a whole before playing your next move.