Erick Mead wrote:
Kiai was best described to me as a sudden crystalization of mind/body (seika no itten) into a single working unit moving from hara. The point about breath in the links provided is well-taken. Since the motion of the body must harmonize with the motion of the breath for this condition to be maintained, a concentrated force movement such as atemi or sutemi, requires similar focus of breath, often resulting in the "kiai" shout. It is an effect, not the cause.
Unless your body, and particularly the dantien area, is trained in the correct way, the pressure addition of kiai won't do much good (in the way it's intended to do).
I'm reminded of a story where a historic Tai Chi figure did a demonstration by lying on the ground, putting some millet seeds into his navel, and then snapped them up into the air with a sudden exhale and snap of his stomach. This ability comes from breathing correctly (reverse breathing), storing and releasing power, etc., over a long period of time. However, there is a "tai chi teacher" I know that has his students put a penny on their stomach and see who can snap it highest.... misunderstanding what the original demonstration was about. So while this teacher has focused his mind on the idea of an object being snapped into the air (totally missing the extensive training of the rest of the body to get there), doing "kiai" noises without understanding the training and pressure, etc., considerations of the body is the same "miss the point". IMO.