To kiai or not?

Joined
Sep 19, 2000
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In my martial arts class we are taught to kiai(shout) just as we strike or kick to add power to our movement. I have reservations about doing this because I believe we do for real as we do in practice and making noise way not always be advisable. Has anyone else thought about this and if so what do you do?
 
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Jan 10, 2000
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My school does not do the kiai. However we do an expolosive noiseless breath on a powerful strike. This is due to two reasons. It adds more power to the strike and, as with all powerful hits, allows you to force the air out of you before it is forced out by an opponents strike. The neighbors definately appreciate this one subtle difference.
 
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Feb 18, 1999
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In some Chinese arts, certain sounds will go with certain movements, sometimes for health reasons; sometimes historical reasons; also to aid in focus and power generation. But I personally prefer not to shout very often in actual application. If you should or shouldn't should be a personal choice, IMO. Not only certain Eastern martial arts, but many warriors throughout the world used shouts during combat or pre-combat to psyche up and affect the enemy. Done correctly at the right time, a shout can indeed be effective during execution.

Just for myself, however, I do not see any use for the over-shouting seen nowadays in modern Americanized tournament forms competitions, as can be commonly seen on ESPN2. Besides being unhealthy (someone who actually does practice the prolonged pre-form screaming admitted it ruins her voice for days afterwards), it is overdone or more theatrical and defeats the purpose. THis also includes the type of yells that sound like "Aaahhhhhh-Saaaaaahh!" which seemed to have caught on in U.S. open tournament circles sometime in the '80s.

Many women's self-defense courses will emphasize the importance of yelling or screaming strongly, "NO! NO!" when forced to take physical action in self-defense. THis could attract attention to your danger from passers-by, also may add determination and lessen or eliminate hesitation to act and follow through, and possibly surprise the attacker if done correctly.

Jim
 
Joined
Mar 11, 2000
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The kiai is mostly used to expel your breath so you don't get the wind knocked out of you. If you've ever been hit in the gut while exhaling, you know that it doesn't hurt too bad. However, take a punch to the same area while inhaling, and you lose your wind just about every time.

As far as increasing power, I'm kind of skeptical. It's probably more psychological than anything else. If you think you're hitting harder, you just might actually hit harder.

In my opinion, a kiai isn't really necessary for a street confrontation. It's most applicable in tournament fighting, where you kiai when you score a point to grab the judges' attention.
 
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Sep 23, 1999
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As DaJonesMan said, Kiais are great for signalling to Judges!

As far as the street, I'd probably be too busy saying mean things about the bad guy's girlfriend or just swearing a lot to do some fancy yell.
 
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Mar 5, 2000
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I believe that a strong kiai or "war face" helps direct/channel your energy or adrenaline. Couple that with a strong attack or charge and it can be quite intimidating.

That being said, I personally don't use one because I haven't developed a really good one yet. My exhales (giving or receiving) are more along the lines of the muay thai "yeeeshhhh". It may be psychological, but when I'm really whaling on the bag or pads, loud exhales help me focus.

As you guys know, some type of exhale (loud or quiet) is necessary on every punch/kick. When executing a combination of strikes, most beginners hold their breath through the whole combination, thereby unnecessarily fatiguing themselves. If you can remember to breathe out, your body will automatically breathe back in for you.

If you are having trouble taking a body shot while inhaling, the following drill may help. Stand straight up and put your hands behind or on top of your head. For a round, allow your partner to throw blows (vary the timing and target) at your body/torso (careful to avoid the solar plexus) while you take long slow regular even audible breaths in and out or carry on a normal conversation (you can stand with your back against a wall or you can slowly move around). Your goal is to be able to keep your stomach muscles tight for several minutes, while breathing and talking normally. Your partner's goal is to catch you if you relax. Make sure you are in agreement on the intensity level and up it when you are comfortable.

You can practice the stomach tightening by yourself anywhere (in the car, at work, at school, etc). Even in the mall, tighten up and stay tight whenever someone is in your "red zone" and when they're gone, relax until the next person walks by.
 
Joined
Oct 7, 1998
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Learn to kiai. This will help you understand how to breath correctly to add power to your puches, kicks, ect... Once you learn the proper noises feel how your body breaths and then perform the kiais without the noise. It would be better to yell sweat nothings into a BGs ear. Just my two cents.
Peter
 
Joined
Mar 28, 2001
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Practitioners of that highly secret Redneck martial art, "Ka-stick" find it encouraging when their opponents yell or make some kind of grunt upon being struck.:D

Forgive me for being silly when y'all are trying to have a serious discussion.
 

Ken Cox

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Dec 11, 1998
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Think of the torso between the bottoms of the ribs to the tops of the pelvic bowl as a slinky, one of those big loose springs kids get for Christmas.
Take a long hot dog balloon and blow it up inside the slinky.
The slinky becomes rigid and strong instead of floppy and soft.
However, the internal pressure puts a lot of stress on the diaphragm, especially where the esophagus and aorta pass through from thorax to abdomen; as well as the throat, glottis and vocal cords.
Therefore, one forces air through these openings, restricting the flow enough to keep the torso pressurized and at the same time allowing emergency over-pressure relief.
Pressure should maximize at the instant one makes forceful contact, or at the moment one moves the waist as a unit in a turning movement.
A person who uses weights in training can also intuit the moments of greatest stress and force air through the small openings of throat and lips.
Some forms use the voice box and vocal chords as part of the valve mechanism.
Additionally, one can use the voice almost as a weapon, as atemi, as one can also use facial expressions to strike the emotions of the adversary.
 
Joined
Nov 16, 1999
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My $.002 (adjusted for inflation):

I never much believed in kiai before I went to RMCAT, but as a relative beginner, for me it made sense. As Quinn says, "If you're screaming, at least you're breathing." This was VERY applicable in my case as I tended to freeze my breathing under fight stress until I learned to kiai.

For the more advanced student, an explosive breath will do fine since the startle effect of the kiai on another isn't something I'd count on in the street (Quinn recommended this either in "Black Medicine, The Video," or "Advanced Combat Concepts and Techniques," I forget which).
 
Joined
Dec 28, 2001
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A Kiai isn't bad if done properly. It can even help, if you're thinking about breathing out, there's just that much extra power coming behind your hit, which might be what's necessary. Kiais can sometimes surprise opponents and they can fall, trip etc. if they're not expecting one, so don't use them for every hit, use them sparingly. For Kiais it is bad to cut them off, one should always do a Kiai breathing out fully, even if the sound stops.

I think Kiai practice helps with breathing properly, if you breathe properly without Kiaiing then it's not necessary.

Some books and martial arts teach to Kiai with such force than you can extinguish a flame (with your mouth wide open, so you're not blowing it out) or kill a bird with it. A kiai with that kind of force would quite likely stun an oponent for a moment, especially if done near their ears.
 
Joined
Oct 29, 2001
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I don't kiai while working out, but when doing realistic training drills I tend to swear like no other. I think in the street this would have the effect of directing your "energy" or "rage" against your opponent as well as somewhat intimidate your opponent - particularly if before your attack you seemed to be compliant and an easy target. To go from mild mannered victim to screaming insane war monger in half a second has got to surprise your attacker just a bit.
 
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Sep 23, 1999
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raptor_prime and I are pretty much on the same page.

I'll yell whatever it takes to piss off the bad guy. Mad people tend to make more mistakes. This coems from Vunak's killer instinct training. Kick up the bad guy to a high level where he is pissed off and likely to make mistakes. You keep yourselfup at a level to survive for the moment until the bad guy makes a mistake. At that point, you stop yelling about how dirty the bad guy's girlfriend is in bed and run down his throat.

:)
 
Joined
May 5, 2001
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Strictly personal opinion, but I don't like it as, for me, it takes away from the focus on the task at hand. On a related note: I've gotten out of at least three imminent altercations (in bars, of course) by staying very calm and quiet with a laser focus of readiness shooting fiercely out of my eyeballs. Add to that a very slight smile and minor hyperventilating and you can hopefully picture a demeanor that would make Dr. Lechtor proud.
 
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