Once you have learned how to control your breathing while doing jiu-jitsu, the next step is to understand how to coordinate your movement and breathing.
Your lungs are situated in close proximity to your spine, the largest and most complex joint system of your body. The volume of air in your lungs affects their size and consequently the flexibility and mobility of your spine. Here’s a simple test you can do yourself: Take a deep breath and hold it. Still holding your breath, bend forward and try to touch your toes. Now exhale and notice how much further your spine bends.
In general, any forward bending movement or movement in which your shoulders and hips move closer towards each other should be done upon exhalation. An example of this kind of movement would be the ‘snake’ or ‘shrimp’ escape. Conversely, any action that requires an arching of the spine or which increases the distance between the shoulders and the hips should be accompanied by an inhalation. A good example of this would be a bridging motion. The air in your lungs will set your spine and provide extra support to the bridge structure.
Unfortunately, most of us have been conditioned to exhale when performing just about any strenuous movement, so it may seem awkward at first when retraining yourself to coordinate your breathing with your movement, but after a good deal of practice, it will become second nature. Once you have achieved this, your grappling will become much more fluid and powerful and you will also expend less energy while rolling.