Kiai (Mesmerising)

This is one part of the martial arts which has been highlighted by Hollywood, I'm sure everyone can recognise the distinct Kiai of the late Bruce Lee. Although of its popularity in the film industry it is often misunderstood and neglected in the dojo.

The following extract is from Sensei Suzuki's book 'Karate-Do'.

Kiai is the art of developing fighting spirit, almost of self-hypnosis, by extreme mental concentration. In order to perform one's attacking or blocking techniques properly, it is necessary to develop perfect concentration of spirit and strength. Only if you concentrate your whole strength in your abdomen and maintain perfect balance, will you achieve the art of aggression and knocking your opponent down with one blow.

Kind of Kiai

Kiai without Yelling

When warding off the opponent's kiai, you must also put your strength in the abdomen in order to keep up your courage. When the opportunity to attack comes, you must use your kiai in attacking - i.e. put your strength in your abdomen, concentrate your whole effort on the punch or kick.

Kiai with Yelling

This is the same as the kiai described above, but the difference is that you yell at the same time. In yelling you must yell from the whole of your body, not only from your mouth.

The sounds made in 'Kiai with yelling' are ei, oh, ya, orya and so on. Ei is the easiest to yell. The object of yelling is to weaken the opponent's attack or to put him off his guard, and so one must yell properly in each given situation. It is important to practice yelling with out restraint and at the top of you voices, preferably in a deserted place! It is said there was once a student of karate who improved his yelling after hearing a lion roaring in the zoo!