Kiai or "Shout":

Kiai is a Japanese term that is a compound of "ki" meaning mind, will, or spirit and "ai" being the contraction of the verb awasu, signifying "to unite". It is a short yell that some martial artists shout before or during a fight or technique. In bujutsu, it is usually linked to the inner amassing of energy released in a single explosive focus of will. A kiai can also refer to this mental focus of a martial artist.

Kiai is used for:

  • a psychological effect on your enemy.
  • a psychological effect on yourself, so-called "amping yourself up".
  • to provide an escape route for exhalation of air.
  • to keep air pressure in your body balanced (holding your breath while taking impact from a kick, punch or the ground can cause injury).
  • to rapidly contract the transverse abdominal and other core muscles to provide support for striking techniques and protection to the internal organs.

Relation to Martial Arts:

Students of martial arts such as karate, taekwondo or Judo (or related arts such as taiko drumming) use kiai to focus energy when executing a technique. It also refers to the shout that accompanies some kata.

Myth and Legends:

There are many legends surrounding using kiai in novel ways. Some use it as a secret offensive technique that involves using your voice to create huge amounts of sound waves. In another legend a samurai froze a pack of wolves in their tracks by simply glaring at them.