At a seminar recently I had a teaching for the power of the Kiai, pronounced (Key-ah). The seminar wasn’t about this. We worked other karate techniques but the Kiai is ever present in our style of Shuri Ryu. Don’t we often pick up teachings at the periphery of the intended lesson? Anyway…..
The Kiai is translated as a spirt, (Ki or chi) and meeting or joining (Ai). It is also called a yell or shout. I karate is is used as an outlet for the expression of your Spirit strength. A Kiai is not just a yell from the throat, nor a hi-ya from the movies. It is not a long shout or a whole note.
The Kiai is a short, deep, loud explosion of spirit in the breath coming from the gut, coming from the saika tanden, coming from the “one point”. When the Sensei does his, the room shakes and it makes you startle even if you are expecting it. I have done Kiai breath in katas (forms). There is nearly always at least one place where the Kiai breath is locate in Kata. I have done this in Karate but I examine my Kiai, it’s uses extend beyond the walls of the dojo.
Kiai breath helps clear the old air in the lungs. It flexes the whole body and promotes blood flow through the solid organs. It can intimidate enemies. Announce your presence in space. Ward off would be attackers. It is a tool used to express extend.
I want to practice this more often. I want to do Kiai’s a few times a day, in the backyard, in the car, in the parking garage, in my daily life. It feels good, it feels invigorating and refreshing. As I got home from the seminar and began to put this to more frequent practice, I discovered I have some hang ups with it. This is the real work
Doing Kiai in public draws attention to me. It sounds only slightly human. It scares small animals. I find difficulty mostly with drawing attention to myself. The other night I took the trash out. I faced away from the house and kiai’d to the backyard. I didn’t want to wake my young daughter and I didn’t want the neighbors to hear. In short, I find that I am embarrassed to be heard.
This is part of the point. Kiai is a loud expression of you spirit power. It sounds intimidating. There is no way to Kiai without being noticed. It misses the point to hold it in until I am sure no one can hear.
I must find courage of Spirit to not be afraid to put myself into the world, learn not to shrink from expressing my strength and power in a place. I must learn to practice without worrying about being seen or heard. We don’t always need to camouflage. Sometime we must express ourselves out in the open.
Thank you, Mr. Awad for teaching me the Kiai practice in your backyard. KIAI