How to scream so it inspires you, triggers internal power and hinders others from stopping you.

(photo: pattn)

Whether you think of it as a shout, a rebel yell, or a war whoop, learn and appreciate the effectiveness of a kiai, whether you are attacking or being attacked. It is much more than sound and fury; it is a mental and physical tactic with proven results.

Add a verbal boost to your NRG. When applying the stances requiring energy, we associate a loud shout or yell. In the martial arts this yell is called a kiai (pronounced key-eye) in Japanese. It means “concentrated spirit.”

This yell comes up from the lower area of the belly or abdomen (referred to as the hara) and not the throat. The synchronization of breathing with body movement is what makes it a kiai. In the martial arts we use a kiai to focus energy when executing a technique, and in this case, stances.

For beginners, it is often a small challenge to kiai. Why? Because other people can hear you and this creates the feeling that you are being judged. Many people have trouble with speaking out. Public speaking tops the list when it comes to fears that most people have. Even a verbal grunt can be a challenge if other people are in the room. Do you think the people who sing in the shower are just as likely to sing to their friends? They obviously enjoy singing, but the fear of embarrassment will limit this secret passion to the privacy of the bathroom. Karaoke booths may not begin to adapt shower elements to help bring beginners into an environment they are comfortable with, but you can certainly do your best to bring the environment with you mentally by changing your state of mind, then acting out. Rinse and repeat.

So if you are having trouble with a Kiai then you need to see the addition of tonality as step two. Step one is the physical act of (such as a stance) getting yourself into a more confident state. So really the kiai is the fear you are tackling at the moment and not just a way to increase your NRG. Once the kiai is no longer a challenge, you will combine it with step one; so it really is just a more powerful anchor and a turbo boost to your stance.

When students of the martial arts are asked to do a kiai for the first time, most usually begin with a small yelp. This sounds even funnier than a kiai, which is what they are afraid of in the first place. They might feel embarrassed with yelling, so they start with small yelps. Once students get used to screaming when necessary, they have no problem with performing a kiai on command. Many of us live throughout our lives staying quietly in the background going unnoticed by passing society. This may be okay for some people, but for most, it creates a shield that keeps them from experiencing and enhancing their future or career. There are three main reasons for doing a kiai.

(Note: In the military, many yells such as “hooah” are a collective sound of agreement, support, and camaraderie.)

A shout out with a purpose

A Kiai is used to produce a sudden surge of power by speeding up the adrenaline flow. TURBO BOOST.

A kiai gives us energy, power, and belief. This is why you hear people scream just before they are going to do something brave, heroic, courageous, or even stupid. In a western movie an Indian jumps off of a rock in an ambush and you hear him shout for his cause. A war hero runs into battle and shouts for courage. A martial artist shouts to add more power to his kicks and punches. A person twists their ankle while running and shouts to ease the pain. Teenagers shout on the roller coaster to show their excitement. I suggest you use your kiais for one of the first three examples.

A kiai is a sort of body drug that allows us to numb the pain and increase our ability to deal with our fear. With a kiai and a moment of danger, you can increase your strength as much as three times. If you fall and you kiai, you will decrease the pain or at least distract yourself from the pain.

A Kiai is also used to distract and break the concentration of your opponent.

Can you imagine the reaction of someone who just received a perfect kiai in the face totally by surprise? It is a good exercise to practice. Go up to your opponent and kiai in his face. This breaks his concentration and allows you some time to react. Imagine going up to your opponent and you yelp like a puppy. This may only work if he starts laughing so hard he falls over. Remember, we talked about congruency; if you want fire, your kiai has to be on fire.

When you Kiai (breathe out), you protect yourself from blows that might take away your air.

Have you ever been punched in the stomach? How about fallen on your back only to have the air knocked out of you? You end up standing or lying there wondering if you’re going to be able to breathe again. You gasp for air. Either way you are almost totally helpless because you can’t breathe. Catching your breath is all you can think about, which makes you very vulnerable. So how can we protect ourselves against this? Well, we can use a little homeopathy. By breathing OUT before the fall, you will keep yourself from losing your breath. So a kiai is not only important when attacking, but also when being attacked. This is why boxers breathe out with every punch and martial artists with every kick. It doesn’t matter if the situation is combat related or a heated discussion in the office. Your reactions will be in reaction to your surrounding environment.

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Whether you are currently a student of the martial arts or not, you can benefit by having a strong, forceful kiai in your arsenal. Learn and practice this ancient battle tactic. The more you do it, the more comfortable you will be with displaying it when it counts.

About the Author RICK TEW

I will do the splits for you too. I provide edutainment events that help you to be a Ninja in what you do. I offer Martial Arts Therapy Retreats on Samui Island in Thailand. My unique Winjitsu Mind-Body system of coaching inspires you to BE more fulfilled and to DO more to KickStart your ideas.

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