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Old 11-07-2005, 05:47 AM   #1
Saturn
 
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Evil Eyes The Power of Kiai

I was just wondering, there are alot of stories about the power of a good strong Kiai. I personally have come to partially believe them. Now, me, reasons for believing them are simply because it makes a bit of sense to me. If anyone reading this has ever been walking with someone silently or turning round a corner and had someone just yell out loud and scare the crap out of you to the point you almost hit the floor, then you've technicaly been almost Kiai'd to death. Master Morihei Ueshiba had ALOT of practice, so his Kiai must have been a Hellcry equivilant to that of an Opera singers vocal power. When I have been practicing with people with the Bokken or Jo, after my partner and I comfortably settle into what we are doing and are ready to speed up, I begin to use slightly more power and I Kiai louder, and when the Kiai happens it spooks them, if it spooks them but once it will continue to the end because I have reached a vocal level that throws them off. The same happens to me.

There is one Senior student in my class who has a great Kiai and when he performs it some of us stop practice momentarily to look. I would love to learn how to cultivate a deep and powerful Kiai, but I can't get the power for it to come from any lower than the top of my chest, his, sounds to come from a far deeper point. Does anyone have any ideas on how I can improve this, because it feels great when you can see your practice partners expression get wiped by the power of your Kiai.
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Old 11-07-2005, 07:52 AM   #2
SeiserL
 
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Re: The Power of Kiai

IMHO, a lot of the power behind a good kiai comes from diaphram breathing. When you inhale, pull the stomache out to pull the diaphram down creating a vacuum in the lower lunges. As you exhale, snap the stomache back in. Eventually, put sound to it. Like anything else, no secrets, just takes practice.

Also, in Aikido, remember to time it with uke's transitions, so when you startle them, they are already off balance.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 11-07-2005, 09:50 AM   #3
Eric Webber
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Re: The Power of Kiai

The particular sound that you exhale can also be important, I might recommend some chapters in William Gleason Sensei's book "The Spiritual Foundations of Aikido" for some ideas. I find some vowel sounds work better than others, some sounds are more soothing, some more grounding, some more piercing, and some just make me sound like a fool. Practice is key, I like to practice while driving down the highway, tends to let me use full force without disturbing the nieghbors.
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Old 11-07-2005, 10:18 AM   #4
John Boswell
 
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Re: The Power of Kiai

In a book I read, can't remember which, a (current shihan) student of O'Sensei's was at practice and did not kiai loud enough. O'Sensei was furious with the student and basically chewed him out like "What the hell was that?"

O'Sensei instructed the student to go outside and kiai at the birds until he (student) was able to knock a sparrow out of a tree.

I guess... if you can do that, you won't need to worry about your kiai anymore!

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Old 11-07-2005, 10:49 AM   #5
James Davis
 
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Re: The Power of Kiai

I think that kiai during aikido practice is a good thing. Occasionally startling classmates gives them the opportunity to train when surprised, and makes them better able to remain unphased unshaken when some moron raises his voice at them outside the dojo.

"The only difference between Congress and drunken sailors is that drunken sailors spend their own money." -Tom Feeney, representative from Florida
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Old 11-07-2005, 11:20 AM   #6
crbateman
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Re: The Power of Kiai

Quote:
John Boswell wrote:
O'Sensei instructed the student to go outside and kiai at the birds until he (student) was able to knock a sparrow out of a tree.
Eat enough garlic, and you can do this right away...

Seriously though, O'Sensei was known for a particularly bone-chilling kiai, although it seems from many dojos I have visited that the audible kiai has given way to the silent version. It seems to vary with the instructor. If you can get hold of some seminar footage of Robert Nadeau Sensei, who studied with the Founder, you will often hear use of the kototama sounds (the father sounds and mother rhythms). It is my understanding that O'Sensei was proficient in the practice of this discipline. These sounds are not kiai in the commonly-held sense, as they are often uttered at very low volume, and non-explosively.

I don't fully understand the practice of kototama, as I have not had the opportunity to train at length with an exponent of it, and I tend to listen to myself when trying the sounds, which breaks my focus. If you are interested, more info on the principles and sounds can be found in "My Past Way of Budo" by Nakazono Sensei.
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Old 11-07-2005, 11:37 AM   #7
DevinHammer
 
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Re: The Power of Kiai

I believe that the kiai is vocal atemi. It should be seen as a focused release of concentrated energy, the impact of which will distract or unbalance uke. This is why I'm troubled by most of the kiai I hear from people. They tend to use syllables like "hey" or "aiee" with a sort of constriction at the end. It's hard to describe verbally. It's this constriction that I think defeats an otherwise good kiai. I believe kiai should be sharp, short and explosive, and like our other expressions of ki, a directed expansion of energy. This can't happen if you're clamping down on the end of it.

In keeping with O'Sensei's belief that Aikido is an expression of nature, I have looked to nature for a model for my kiai. Almost all land animals have some sort of kiai, and in the vast majority of them it is indeed a directed release with no constriction at the end, clearly coming from their center. I suppose the kiai I've chosen is actually an amalgamation of several, but primarily that of a barking dog. One major difference though is that I don't let my voice go hoarse because I believe that clarity is an important characteristic. After some experimentation, I determined that, for me, the best syllable to use is a quick "WA". Gathering energy deep in my center, the W begins a sudden contraction of my diaphragm while the A facilitates the complete and uninhibited release of the energy that I imagine has shot up my spine like a bullet through the barrel of a rifle and out my moderately open mouth.

Like Eric, I've found that the best place to practice, besides in the dojo, is alone in the car (windows up), but if you don't mind being questioned by police occasionally, feel free to do it anywhere.

"Do, or do not. There is no 'try'."
-- Jedi Master Yoda
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Old 11-07-2005, 06:24 PM   #8
crbateman
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Re: The Power of Kiai

Yes, very interesting techniques can be learned from the defense tactics of animals... For instance, llamas will spit at you, toads will whiz on you, vultures will vomit on you, chimps will throw their feces at you, and I believe it is the sea cucumber that turns itself inside out... I do not recommend, however, that you practice any of these techniques in your car...
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Old 11-08-2005, 02:30 AM   #9
Chuck.Gordon
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Re: The Power of Kiai

First off, 'kiai' is not a yell. It's not necessarily even a sound, though if you do achieve kiai, there will very likely BE a sound. The noise, the yell, is a byproduct, and can be in early stages of kiai training, be a training tool, a sort of mnemonic used to help the student create the conditions wherein kiai exists.

Kiai can exist independently of the sound, and even of the breathing, though for proper kokyu and riai, both elements of creating kiai, the rhythm and flow of the breath is, again, a powerful tool in achieving the conditions conducive TO kiai.

Kiai is not a thing, it is a condition of things. IMNSHO, YMMV.

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Old 11-08-2005, 07:12 AM   #10
Ron Tisdale
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Re: The Power of Kiai

Quote:
They tend to use syllables like "hey" or "aiee" with a sort of constriction at the end. It's hard to describe verbally. It's this constriction that I think defeats an otherwise good kiai. I believe kiai should be sharp, short and explosive, and like our other expressions of ki, a directed expansion of energy. This can't happen if you're clamping down on the end of it.
The 'sealing of the breath' at the end is practiced by at least 4 7th to 9th dans I've trained with, and seems to be heavily used in koryu arts (both weapons and grappling). In my experience, this protects you from getting the wind knocked out of you if someone doesn't react to your kiai, and instead uses that timing to attack, and from having the energy you build with the kiai from draining out. Having your mouth open can also get your jaw broken if someone hits you with the right timing. Aikido tends to have some 'traditional' kiai from Daito ryu...ei (aiee) is one of them, often used for cutting, or in the Yoshinkan, for todome (finishing strike). It will sometimes sound like there is a 'P' sound on the end of the kiai as someone seals the breath. Some uses in Daito ryu and Aikido:

Ya -- throwing
Ha -- todome
Ei -- cutting, todome
To -- atemi

These sounds and their purposes may vary quite a bit in classical Japanese ryu. Ellis Amdur's and the Skoss's writing have quite a bit of information on kiai; well worth the reading.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 11-08-2005, 10:30 AM   #11
John Matsushima
 
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Re: The Power of Kiai

I am no expert on kiais, but I'll just say that the best kiais i have ever heard, in my opinion were found inside a kendo dojo in Japan. I heard little girls summon the powers of hell in their voices and attack with the fury of thunder and lightning. When I heard the kiais of other kendo practitioners there, it was like a "primal scream". It seemed like more than just an "atemi", but an expression of their true spirit that came from deep inside.

Check out a good kendo dojo if you can, or just find a way to get a woman really upset (and then run).....the saying goes "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned"

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Old 11-08-2005, 03:42 PM   #12
Mike Haftel
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Re: The Power of Kiai

I find that an effective kiai which takes an attacker's mind (at least in the instances where I have used it) came in the form of a bark or roar. I use my diaphragm, much like a singer would, and let out an explosive "Ahrgh!" I knocked a friend of mine out of his chair one time when I did it while he was slowly creeping up to poke me from the side, during a meal.

Also, if you think about it, a kiai is the exact opposite of what aiki is. I don't mean how you spell it or the kanji equivalent either. Aiki is the hamonization of energy while a kiai is an outward directed energy which disrupts harmonization. Any thoughts on this?
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Old 11-08-2005, 04:51 PM   #13
Don_Modesto
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Re: The Power of Kiai

Quote:
Chuck Gordon wrote:
First off, 'kiai' is not a yell. ...The noise, the yell, is a byproduct, and can be in early stages of kiai training, be a training tool, a sort of mnemonic used to help the student create the conditions wherein kiai exists....Kiai is not a thing, it is a condition of things. IMNSHO, YMMV.
I don't hear many people making this distinction. I agree that KIAI is not the yell, but, as you say, the yell is a training tool for it.

My point of departure is the comment I've read translated from Jpn along the lines, "He was full of KIAI." KIAI then seems to be a sort of awesome vitality in and of itself intimidating. Am I agreeing with you, Chuck, or have I said something different from what you meant?

Thanks.

Don J. Modesto
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Old 11-08-2005, 05:08 PM   #14
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Re: The Power of Kiai

Quote:
Don J. Modesto wrote:
My point of departure is the comment I've read translated from Jpn along the lines, "He was full of KIAI." KIAI then seems to be a sort of awesome vitality in and of itself intimidating.
We Japanese sometimes say 「気合を入れる」 ("kiai wo ireru") or, literally, "to put kiai into something" to indicate the process of focusing one's vitality/energy/effort into getting a task accomplished. This doesn't have necessarily have to include yelling or anything of the sort; it may even be used in reference to a "non-physical" task such as hunkering down and really studying for a written exam or something.

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Old 11-08-2005, 10:48 PM   #15
Kevin Temple
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Re: The Power of Kiai

I feel that kiai is something used not to get an external reaction, but to maintain an internal state of focus and concentration. When I kiai i'm not trying to scare my opponent, I'm simply using it to create a more powerful, more focused atemi. If that comes from a louder kiai, so be it, but i think what matters about the kiai is that it brings you to that state where you can execute the movement to the best of your ability.
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Old 11-09-2005, 03:33 AM   #16
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Re: The Power of Kiai

Quote:
Don J. Modesto wrote:
"He was full of KIAI." KIAI then seems to be a sort of awesome vitality in and of itself intimidating. Am I agreeing with you, Chuck, or have I said something different from what you meant?
Yep. In my mind, kiai and kime are intimately intertwined ...

Quote:
Jun Akiyama wrote:
This doesn't have necessarily have to include yelling or anything of the sort; it may even be used in reference to a "non-physical" task such as hunkering down and really studying for a written exam or something.
Exactly.

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Old 11-09-2005, 07:22 AM   #17
Ketsan
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Re: The Power of Kiai

I use Kiai for two reasons. Small quiet ones I use to keep myself breathing, large ones are for focusing myself and releasing aggression.
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Old 11-09-2005, 07:35 AM   #18
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Re: The Power of Kiai

Jun,

What's the japanese word for 'shout'. I KNOW it's not 'kiai' ...

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Old 11-09-2005, 09:21 AM   #19
Mike Haftel
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Re: The Power of Kiai

What about the distinction I made between kiai and aiki.

気合 and 合気

Anyone?
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Old 11-09-2005, 09:28 AM   #20
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Re: The Power of Kiai

Quote:
Chuck Gordon wrote:
What's the japanese word for 'shout'. I KNOW it's not 'kiai' ...
Personally, I'd use 「叫ぶ」 (sakebu) or 「怒鳴る」 (donaru) for "shout."

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Old 11-09-2005, 10:26 AM   #21
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Re: The Power of Kiai

Quote:
Mike Haftel wrote:
Also, if you think about it, a kiai is the exact opposite of what aiki is. I don't mean how you spell it or the kanji equivalent either. Aiki is the hamonization of energy while a kiai is an outward directed energy which disrupts harmonization. Any thoughts on this?
Respectfully, I don't see it this way. An atemi is an outward direction of energy as well, many of which are used to intitiate, distract, and further off-balance Uke.

By an atemi being a projection of force, we do that when we do atemi, a throw, a pin, etc. I think it's how you use the kiai that makes it aiki or not.

A simple move in our dojo is Chest Grab, Pivot, Reverse Hand throw. This is basically a pivot out of the way as uke tries to grab you, grab his arm, apply an atemi to his face, and step in with a kotegaishi throw.

From this move, there are 3 "outward projections" that are obvious to me. First is the block, pushing uke's hand away from you as you step to the side. The second is the atemi to the face. The third is the kotegaishi and following zanshin.

I think a kiai used in any of these projections would be "acceptable". To me, in my opinion, the atemi is very important here to distract Uke from the impending kotegaishi, so the most aiki way to utilize a kiai here would be during the atemi.

To wrap it up, I think it's how you use the kiai or any projection of force that makes it aiki, not merely the fact that it is a projection of force.

D
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Old 11-09-2005, 11:10 AM   #22
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Re: The Power of Kiai

Quote:
Chuck Gordon wrote:
What's the japanese word for 'shout'. I KNOW it's not 'kiai' ...
I'm not Jun, but in kendo, we usually use the term kakegoe ( 掛け声 ) for shouting or vocalization.

Kentokuseisei
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Old 11-10-2005, 03:19 AM   #23
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Re: The Power of Kiai

Quote:
Mike Haftel wrote:
What about the distinction I made between kiai and aiki.

気合 and 合気

Anyone?
I've heard this, and think there is indeed a relationship between kiai and aiki, but it's not an inverse, but rather more like the relationship of aiki and riai or kime and kiai.

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Old 11-10-2005, 09:33 AM   #24
Mike Haftel
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Re: The Power of Kiai

Quote:
Donald Alley wrote:
Respectfully, I don't see it this way. An atemi is an outward direction of energy as well, many of which are used to intitiate, distract, and further off-balance Uke.

By an atemi being a projection of force, we do that when we do atemi, a throw, a pin, etc. I think it's how you use the kiai that makes it aiki or not.

A simple move in our dojo is Chest Grab, Pivot, Reverse Hand throw. This is basically a pivot out of the way as uke tries to grab you, grab his arm, apply an atemi to his face, and step in with a kotegaishi throw.

From this move, there are 3 "outward projections" that are obvious to me. First is the block, pushing uke's hand away from you as you step to the side. The second is the atemi to the face. The third is the kotegaishi and following zanshin.

I think a kiai used in any of these projections would be "acceptable". To me, in my opinion, the atemi is very important here to distract Uke from the impending kotegaishi, so the most aiki way to utilize a kiai here would be during the atemi.

To wrap it up, I think it's how you use the kiai or any projection of force that makes it aiki, not merely the fact that it is a projection of force.

D
I agree to a point. But I was speaking in a larger sense, not just Aikido. I wasn't saying that a kiai isn't "acceptable."
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Old 11-10-2005, 09:36 AM   #25
Mike Haftel
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Re: The Power of Kiai

Quote:
Chuck Gordon wrote:
I've heard this, and think there is indeed a relationship between kiai and aiki, but it's not an inverse, but rather more like the relationship of aiki and riai or kime and kiai.
What is riai?

And from my understanding, kime is the ability to generate energy/force into one point and deliver it through a target, not just into one, to fascilitate a lasting effect.

Which is odd because the throw udekimenage seems to lead uke's mind more than anything.

And I have heard a few people refer to kime as a joint-lock.
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