Tag Archives: karate kiai

The Real Truth of Kiai in Martial Arts

Is Kiai really just ‘Spirit Shout?’

All too often people describe it as a “spirit yell”, but this only scratches the surface, and it is a horrible translation. If we look at the word in kanji, you will see that it is made up 2 characters.  The first is Ki ( 気 ), this is the character for energy, whether you call it chi, qi, or prana.  The second is Ai ( 合 ) meaning harmony. Some of you may notice something here, those are the same 2 character as Aikido ( 合気道 ) but in a different order.  Thus “fighting yell” doesn’t enter into a proper translation.

So, a kiai, isn’t a fighting scream, but rather any sound that brings your energy into harmony with the situation.  Nobody ever talks about it anymore but this could be a sob, a laugh, a sigh, or scream to bring all your force to bear in a fight.

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Since nobody ever has to explain how to laugh or cry, let us turn our attention to the application of “bringing the force to bear in a fight” or spirit yell.

If you visit enough other places you will no doubt see people, saying the word “kiai” or “kiup” (the Korean pronunciation) with no more enthusiasm than a yawn.  This is useless, utterly useless.

Kenpo says there are 5 reasons to do a Kiai

1. make sure you are breathing when you are executing a technique
2. distract your opponent
3. attract attention
4. tighten your muscles, thus protecting your body.
5. bring power to your technique.

Numbers 2, 3, and 5 will not work AT ALL if you are wimpy and quiet.

When you watch the old martial arts movies, you don’t see people giving a kiai, like a child who is in trouble being asked to confess.  It is loud, bold and proud.

More than once  people tell me “it is embarrassing to scream”, to which my response is “SO WHAT!  If I have to defend myself, I will give a kiai, and if the bad guy laughs at me, I don’t care.  Regardless how they respond, whether it is shock, laughter, or they turn to run, that is going to give me my opening”.

Did Bruce Lee care about what people thought? No!  He said (paraphrasing here) “every technique should have a life of its own, part of that is giving it a unique sound.”  This is why he was making sounds, that even other martial artists thought, were weird.

A good kiai comes from the Dan Tien (Tanden), if it helps, think of it as coming from the diaphragm. In theater, they call this “projecting” so the people in the nosebleed seats can hear you.  To go along with what Bruce said, it can be any sound, but “kiai” is not an Onomatopoeia, so please don’t use that as your sound.  Even the 1970s corny movie “hi-ya” is less annoying than “kiai”.

My Sensei says “if a Kiai is done correctly, you don’t go horse”.  This is true, but if you aren’t doing a proper kiai now, it will likely take a bit of practice to figure out how to be all “heavy metal concert” on it, without hurting your voice.

Here is a REALLY good article about what it means to bow in the martial arts.

Karate Kiai (Spirit Shout) Defeats Violent Bum!

The Secret of the Kiai (Spirit Shout)

A work out at sunrise!
What a way to go, eh?
Perfect weather,
perfect environment…
perfect work out.
Really charges me up.
And I trust you had one, too?
And, if you didn’t,
get your butt out there
and start working out!

I was cruising the net the other day,
and came across a most interesting discussion
on the value of Kiai.
You know,
when you yell so loud
the other fellow loses control of his functions.

Interestingly enough,
many people said they didn’t kiai,
and they indicated
by their remarks
that they didn’t even know what it was.

Kiai means ‘spirit shout.’
And let me tell you an interesting story.

I practiced for years and years
and part of every class
was a kiai,
or a ‘ki-yup’
as the instructor said
when counting off the forms.

And I loved it.
I could feel the explosion come together,
I loved how it made the body peak,
brought out more energy.

One day I was walking down the street,
this was in Santa Rosa,
and this bum comes shuffling towards me
and he says,
‘Got some change, man?’
it was not the usual whine,
but a more forceful request.

‘No,’ I said,
no nonsense.
This guy was young,
could go out and get himself a job,
no need to beg.
Some people are helpless,
this guy wasn’t.

So I get about ten feet past him,
and all of the sudden I hear him say,
‘No? What are you, some kind of pussy?’

a new kind of begging.
If people don’t give you money,
you threaten them.
Maybe it worked for him,
but then he hadn’t run into anybody
who had practicing his kiai
for near twenty years.

‘No?’ I kiai-ed, turning back towards him.
Then I walked towards him,
shouting in full kiai,
filling the street with my voice,
and telling him all sorts of things,
about his character and personality.

you could see him leaning backward,
it was almost like watching that commercial
where the guy sits in front of a massive speaker
and his hair blows back.
And he finally manages to turn,
and stumble away.
he had lost control of his feet.
Didn’t know what to do.

Then the truly interesting thing happened,
I looked around the street,
there were maybe twenty or thirty people around,
walking along the street,
looking in windows,
and none of them were looking at me.
They were all shaking,
afraid to even look around.

My kiai inspired shouting,
my ‘spirit shout,’
had done that.

sounds a little too good to be true,
doesn’t it?
So how about if I tell you the secret
of what I did?

I spent some seven years or so
training in the Kang Duk Won.
And we did Kiai’s there.

But any system of Karate will work,
if you remember a couple of things.
Go on,
the search box
on Matrix Martial Art
Search for CBM,
or Coordinated Body Motion.
I learned that in my seven years.
Of course,
when you apply this data to your own karate system
you have to make sure you have
the three elements of power in alignment.
That’s on the Master Instructor Course.

Easy secret, eh?
Just understand what I am saying,
and do it.
Your kiai will grow like nobody’s business.

let me explain,
what happens,
so you will really understand
what we are doing here.

before I explain this,
please get yourself a dictionary or something,
cause what I am going to tell you is out there.

You don’t look with your eyes.
You look through your eyes.

You don’t listen with your ears,
you listen through your ears.

Your eyes and ears are meat.
You are the awareness looking through the meat perceptions of your body.

if you can handle that,
then we just reverse engineer that concept
to understand the kiai.

You don’t yell with your voice,
you yell through your voice.
If you can yell not as a meat body,
but as an awareness,
then you will have it.
You will have a kiai,
and a personal presence,
that can shatter crowds.

as an awareness,
fill up the lungs and the voice box and…
the entire world.
You fill the world with your presence.
It’s easy to do if you have seven years of GOOD karate,
here we go,
if you practice forms with matrixing,
if you matrix your body with the master instructor course,
if you just understand what you are doing
by understanding the simple things I say here.

And it is simple,
isn’t it?

It’s hard to take…
(I’m not [choke] meat?
I’m not a body?
I’m an…awareness?
I am an ‘I am,’
and that is a the spiritual nature of things?))

But if you can understand that you are awareness,
then you can shift your understanding
away from the mystical martial arts approach
and start to understand the science I am proposing.

Then you won’t need seven years to get there
(if you are lucky,
and actually have a good system)
You can get there in a few months.

Oinkly doggie.
Here’s the URL for
The Master Instructor Course…


you are an awareness,
an ‘I am,’
the center of the universe,
and the martial arts are a way to know that.
And the Kiai,
the spirit shout,
is a great way to start knowing that.

have a GREAT work out,
and HanaKwanMass!



Karate Kiai and Discovering The Secret of Kotodama

Can Karate Kiai Be Used to Kill?

Karate Kiai translates as ‘spirit shout,’ and it is the deadly scream that karate practitioners emit when chopping somebody’s head off. Well, maybe I stated that a little strongly, grin, but there is a truth to the karate shout that is undeniable and leads to some rather arcane and mysterious knowledge. I am speaking, of course, of the practice of Kotodama, which translates as ‘Word spirit.’

karate yell

Martial Arts Chi Power!

The purpose of the Karate kiai is to focus all energies into one moment, one strike, and thus to increase the power of the strike. The idea of scaring an opponent is somewhat secondary, but still very important. Both of these concepts lead to rather interesting suppositions and mystical realities.

Kotodama is generally aimed at the idea of creating soothing sounds, which sounds can create an enhanced spiritual feeling. There is, of course, the flip side of this, the bad word side, in which people use a sound to harm somebody. Either way, the practice of kotodama leads one to the concept of kotomuke (soothing speech to bring peace), and kotoage, which is a method of invoking magick.

My first experience with the power of words comes directly from a decades long study of the martial arts. This gave direct contact with the power of shouting at an opponent and weakening him. In one case I used the power of the karate kiai to shout at an attacker…and he turned around stumbled down the street, shaking, hardly in control of his body.

Experiences like this, which were engendered by the eternal practice of karate kata with correct emphasis on Karate shouting, brought me to an appreciation of the subject, and a fascination for further research. Of interest in this is the speech tones of salesmen and hypnotists, and others of that ilk. Observing how such individuals worked, the tones they used, the pitch of voice they used, brought me to the realization that we are talking about the distinct understanding of vibration.

Vibration is the source of the universe. Between the concept of an Infinite Spirit and the rather short termed and solid life of objects (of which the universe is constructed), there is vibration. This concept is true on the atomic level of protons and electrons, and on the larger scale of entire universes.

Of course, what we are concerned with is the vibrations possible to us in our day to day living as human (meat body) beings. Can one speak in such a manner as to cause a vibration which can manipulate the universe? The answer to this is rather as sharp and distinct as the event of a trained opera singer pitching a note that shatters a glass.

The method for achieving this ability, while rather indistinct, is just as clear cut. First, one has to understand, through the simple living of virtues, that they are a spiritual being, and that they can create vibrations which not only shatter glass, but which can rattle objects on shelves, and, more easily, cause comfort or discomfort to the hearing of fellow human beings. Second, one has to find and follow rather exact disciplines to create this ability…but the result is that a simple Karate kiai can become Kotodama, can become a mystical spell or chant to kill or cure.

karate kiai

The Truth About the Karate Ki-ai!

There are the stories: young man tries to fight old man, old man shouts a Karate Ki-ai, young man falls on the floor. And, everybody wants to know if these are real stories, or just the old bushwah stuff floating around. Surprisingly, there are truths to these legends, and some interesting scientific theories.

First, practice of Karate yells is real, and part of most of the karate forms in existence. The karate yell (hihap, or ki Hap, in Korean) is used, in the beginning, to help focus the movements of the karate kata into precise moments of time. This increases the mental concentration, and eventually causes the student to back slightly out of his body.

Don’t get freaky with me on this. To be removed form the body means merely to assume a slightly different viewpoint of the body, to have the spiritual ‘I am’ that runs the body maybe a few inches above or back of the body. It is a gentle thing that happens to everybody as they live, but can be encouraged to greater degree, with a variety of effects, through the study of the martial arts.

Now, the body is not shouting, the spirit is shouting. As I said, the ‘I am’ that operates the body is shouting, and the body seems to actually get out of the way of the spirit shout. A shout directed by spirit and not body is infinitely more powerful than a shout powered by just the body.

With a shout powered by the body all that moves is air. When the spirit is involved emotion will move, which is a wavelength, and not just massed air molecules, and this can be testified to by any good artist who knows the value of emotion when performing. Eventually, through diligent practice, a martial artist will move intention, which is far above simple air, or even emotion, this is the stuff of legends and great abilities.

Thus far we have been discussing kiai from the viewpoint of being slightly outside of the body, but now we must discuss the effects of a spirit shout on another body. Yes, there is probably measurable impact by waves of massed air, which can put out candles and that sort of thing, but only at short distances. These usually depend on body movement, a fist, for instance, to help propel the mass of air.

But there is also the fact that a person can expand himself in size, when liberated from the body, and actually touch the body of the other person, and this is a direct touch that can wither and blast the opponent. The body is water, and air is air, but spirit is intangible. Spirit is a perception that can reach across the apparent reality of air and cause that water to wave, to ripple, to vibrate…to explode.

I know there will be people who scoff at what I have said here, but they are people who have not done the martial arts for over forty years. The fact is that the martial arts don’t just forge the body, they cause a person to realize who is doing the forging,–oneself–and therefore to assume a removed viewpoint from the body. In summation, the martial arts take long years and intense effort to reach the stage I am talking about, but if you understand what I am saying here, and are willing to dedicate yourself to endless practice and a higher ethic of life, then you can achieve the Karate ki-ai of which I am speaking.

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