Demon Slayer: Breathing Techniques
What if I told you that you could gain super human abilities by just breathing right.
In Kimetsu no Yaiba, demon slayers risk their lives to combat demons that threaten the general public and act as the sole opposition to the evil and supernatural beings. These demons are often stronger and more resilient than normal humans and are incredibly difficult to kill by conventional methods. Most demons have increased strength, able to regenerate and a rare group have abilities akin to magic called demon blood arts. As such most who choose to combat these dangerous supernatural beings must bring in abilities or weapons of their own.
This is where the demon slayer breathing techniques come in.
Breathing techniques originate from the very first demon slayer who was an exceptionally gifted swordsman, Yoriichi Tsugikuni. Yoriichi was born with a natural instinct for swordsmanship and was able to view the transparent world, a state only achieved by highly experienced combatants, even before having any formal training in swordsmanship. He was also able to enhance his physical abilities by breathing in a specific pattern and after spending some time travelling he improved upon this ability of using one’s breathing to enhance the performance of the body.
Using this breathing technique he was able to further improve his swordsmanship and developed the very first breathing style, the sun breathing style. After he had joined the demon slayers, he taught and trained most of them to use the very basis of the breathing style. He also attempted to pass on the sun breathing fighting style but each person he trained was unable to learn it completely instead each of them went on to develop their own style using the sun breathing as a baseline.
At its base form, the breathing technique allows its practitioners to improve the efficiency of their bodies so that they can perform beyond the limitations of normal humans. By adopting certain breathing styles they can increase their lung capacity and amount of oxygen in their blood. The increased oxygen acts similar to doping which enhances physical abilities and mental concentration. More experienced practitioners are able to control the part of their body this effect happens and can enhance specific body parts more than others such as the thunder breathing style which focuses on the leg muscles. In addition, skilled users are also able to close wounds and reduce the effects of poison on their body by rapidly increasing blood to one area and decreasing flow to another.
In general, the demon slayer corps breathing techniques revolve around 2 main skills which are the total concentration breathing and total concentration: constant.
Total concentration breathing is a technique where the user inhales as much oxygen as possible in a specific pattern to achieve the doping effect that enhances their physical abilities. Typically a demon slayer would use this only briefly to set up a killing blow or a decisive attack as the technique is difficult to maintain and very taxing on the body. However the 2nd variant, total concentration constant is where this limitation is largely reduced.
Total concentration constant is where the user is able to permanently use the total concentration breathing at all times even while sleeping. This allows such users to have the powered up effects of the breathing technique permanently and at all times. This technique however is very difficult to obtain and is said to be the first step towards becoming a Hashira as it provides the user an immensely large power boost. The training method to obtain total concentration constant is by breathing into a gourd using total concentration breathing and attempting to break it. The user is deemed to have mastered the technique when they are able to break a gourd the size of a person by themselves.
There are a total of 5 main branches of breathing techniques with several more derivatives and each of the Hashira represents 1 branch. The known breathing styles are water, moon, flame, thunder, stone, wind, flower, serpent, insect, love, sound, beast and mist with sun being the progenitor and original breathing style. Each breathing style focuses on different aspects of bodily enhancement and thus has different fighting styles associated with them. For example the thunder style focuses more on speed techniques revolving around iaijutsu and attacks that emulate lightning strikes. I won’t go into detail for each of the styles but you can read them all as linked.
As each branch is largely different and focuses on different applications based on its own fighting style, there is an additional technique called breathing hybridization which combines 2 or more breathing styles to gain the benefits of both styles. This has only been seen through the combination of sun and water breathing so it’s unclear whether other styles can be incorporated or whether it’s even necessary as sun breathing is the origin and most powerful form of the breathing styles.
In order to learn these breathing techniques, a person must be trained by a qualified trainer or cultivator from one of the branches.
Cultivators are those demon hunters who may have already retired that train prospective candidates to become demon hunters. Sakonji Urokodaki and Jigora Kuwajima are some of the cultivators revealed in the series for the water and thunder breathing styles respectively but there are others as well. There are also other ways for a person to learn such as the case of Inosuke Hashibira who developed his own beast breathing technique after living in the mountains and amongst wild animals. Other styles that do not have trainers are the sun and moon techniques where the sun was handed down through the dance of the fire god and the moon technique had only a singular user for many centuries.
Ultimately the breathing techniques are the foremost weapon (alongside their nichirin blades) used by the demon slayer corps in their war to eradicate demons and evil spirits. It is a powerful tool that can help even the playing field between normal humans and demons and would eventually help them in destroying the king of the demons in their centuries old war.