Kiai -- Precision & Abandon
We had this discussion in class a few months back about kiai. It took on two basic themes -- the combination of precision and abandon. I pointed out that the application of Kiai is not a moan or a wail or a mindless screech but a very tight, precise vocalization -- but, very importantly without any predetermined limit in its intensity. Kiai combines a high precision of action and intent, with a sense of complete abandon in the face of peaceful and social constraints on intensity.
I pointed out that people have many barriers in social settings. Martial art by its nature does not respect those barriers -- and may ultimately deeply violate them in need. This is not to say that we cease to respect people -- we simply do so without necessarily observing those boundaries. Some people miss the point that in disposing of one set of constraints we are not disposing of the idea of constraint -- but our constraint takes on a different complexion within a martial context
I also pointed out that people have personal barriers of things they would not normally be comfortable doing or being seen doing.. Martial art does not accommodate itself to our personal barriers or comforts. This is not to say that it aims to shock or discomfort -- but we simply do not concern ourselves if our proper goals may transgress those barriers, and we find guides for action in place of barriers against action -- and if not a substitute for comfort, then at least a degree of contented familiarity with hardship.
Kiai is training in that sense of abandonment of limitations or barriers to action in a precise and directed way. Most people are uncomfortable screaming in public. Most people feel constraint in doing so. Kiai allows a student to learn to operate outside those boundaries, and without those social constraints -- and to find other more fundamental guides to proper action in the natural circumstance of conflict.
I wonder what other approaches or issues anyone else has used in teaching and discussing the role of Kiai in training.