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Breathing the 108

Call me crazy or obsessed, but I am actually counting the number of breaths in the long form. There are 108 movements. Most of them correspond to a single breath, starting with an exhalation and then filling up the movement at its apex, so that makes at least 108 breaths, total.

However, some movements take more than one breath, and I am trying to figure out where these movements are and how many of them there are in the whole form.

Lady in Pink

So, for example, Single Whip gets two breaths, and there are 11 Single Whips. That means, in the long form, there are 108 breaths plus 11 extra for the single whips, which brings us up to 119 breaths, total. And so on.

Why am I doing this? Because I will have to do a 25-minute form, with the correct breathing pattern, for the black sash test. At what rate would I have to breathe? Five breaths per minute, six? Thatís a breath every ten to twelve seconds, a pretty slow rate, but doable, I think.

So let's see. Step Forward, Deflect Downward, Intercept and Punch is one movement (with a ridiculously long name!), but it uses two breaths, and there are six of them. Thatís six more = 125. I think Cross Hands uses two, but Iím not sure. That would be an extra three = 128.

For Cloud Hands, I count two per step (one to step left, one to shift right), which means three extra per set of Cloud Hands, of which there are three. Thatís nine altogether = 137. How could you do it in fewer breaths without going too fast or fainting?

Grasp the Birdís Tail occurs eight times, and some get extra breaths, but they differ. The first one (at the very beginning, after Commencement) counts as four moves, each with one breath, so there are no extras there. But the second one, following Embrace Tiger Return to Mountain, is just one movement of the 108, and it takes two breaths (one extra). Right?

The third GBT (after Fist under Elbow, etc, following Punch) takes three breaths (ward off right, pull back and press, push), ie, two extra. Then there are five GBTs in the advanced section. Looking at all GBTs, I find a total of 14 extra beaths:

Grasp the bird's tailbreathsextra
after Commencement (counted as 4 moves)40
after Embrace tiger return to mountain21
after Fist under elbow etc to punch32
after Embrace tiger return to mountain21
after Part the Wild Horse's Mane43
after Four Corners43
after Snake creeps down etc to punch32
after Brush knee punch to groin32
total extra breaths14

We're up to 151 breaths in the 108, am I right? That would be six breaths a minute, for a 25-minute form. And I think I see a few extra breaths here and there. Master Gohring told me there was no extra breath in the transition between Fist under Elbow and Repulse Monkeys (darn!), but I don't see how there could not be an extra breath in the transitions to Four Corners and to Cloud Hands (of which there are three), so that would be another four breaths. As much as 155 total?

But I am not sure about the transitions or about counting two for each Cross Hands. So let's say there's a total of 148-156 breaths, still about six per minute, ten seconds per breath, five-count in, five-count out, for 25 minutes...

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