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By Jikishin Kobudo, Mar 7 2014 12:00PM

The use of sound as a weapon in battle around the world and throughout history is well observed. Battle cries in particular have been used for millennia to unite the spirit of soliders and strke fear into enemies. In Kobudo training the 'Kiai' is used to focus the mind on the purpose of a given exercise or technique.


'Kiai' is comprised of two characters - 'Ki' which can be translated to mean spirit, mood or energy, and 'Ai' which is specifically a contraction of the verb 'Awasu' meaning to unite, and in this context can be used to denote harmony. The ultimate purpose of a Kiai is to ensure the unity of a delivered physical technique with the spirit or the mind of the fighter. For many Okinawans, a failure to understand the purpose of Kiai indicates a failure to understand the purpose of martial arts.


The Kiai is an expression of spirit that goes far beyond the use of words and can be found in all three stages of combat.


At the start of combat that Kiai may be used


- As a preparation for the soul when entering a guard

- To stimulate the release of adrenaline

- As a communication of intent to the opponent


During combat the Kiai may be used


- To desensitise the opponent

- To scare the opponent

- To harmonise the internal power of the body and mind


At the end of combat the Kiai may be used


- As a release of the soul from a battle mindset

- As an expression of lament following the delivery of a fatal technique

- As a warning to other attackers


If 'Kata' can be described as an imaginary fight, then the use of Kiai within these Kata becomes very important.Whilst performing Kata that contain multiple Kiai points, it is important to consider the purpose and application of each one.

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