View Full Version : Shouting 'help' LOUDLY!!!

George Hyde
9th November 2000, 14:41

Hi All,

Anyone have the definitive answer on getting beginners to use kiai? Is there such a thing?

Whilst I usually find that they all get there in the end, it is usually a long and tortuous journey. Anyone know the short cut?


9th November 2000, 15:58

I don't know if this is appropriate for your class, but I teach at a University where most of my students are well .. students.

I think probably becuase of this they respond very well to peer pressure (also being threatened with sharp knives but they made me stop doing that.. .it's not like the old days !)

Anyway, the reason most newbies won't Kiai is embarrasment so you have to give them a reason not to be embarrassed. I generally designate one session where I tell everyone that they must finish every technique with a kiai. If someone doesn't I give the whole class push ups. 5 the first time , 10 the second etc.

It's amazing how not wanting to be responsible for giving everyone pushups can motivate people.

Margaret Lo
9th November 2000, 16:54
Kiais understandably seem silly to the new ones since they seem to have no reason for existence other than some sort of kung fu movie showmanship.

It helps them to learn learn to kiai if they learn to count at the same time.

For example: since sets of drills in karate classes typically consist of 10 counts each set. I have everyone including beginners count with me for several simple drills (chokozuki, maegeri) at the beginning of class. I count, then everyone echos my count immediately.

Counting as a group is not embarassing, teaches new students 1 to 10 in Japanese, sets a rhythm for the class, and forces everyone, especially new students, to learn to breath. Once they are used to being more active with their voices, they move over to kiais fairly easily, and understand better the connection between kiais and breathing.


PS - I learned this technique during a great seminar with Mr. Chinen of the Jundokan, Okinawan Goju-ryu, and so far it has worked very well for me.

[Edited by Margaret Lo on 11-09-2000 at 11:21 AM]

10th November 2000, 06:22
Ditto to Margaret's comments, I use the same technique.

As I am also a bit goofy at times in class, I'll suggest to students that they think of a difficult co-worker, unpleasant sibling, or something to that effect, and without fail, the volume/intensity increases.

However, the challenge for me is to keep them from simply yelling, thus constricting the kiai in the throat, rather than the diaphramatic function it should be. If I really juice up the workout, they're sucking wind quickly (a fairly easy thing to do here at 5,000'). After they're chuffing like a locomotive, I'll give 'em a brief pause, tell them to close their eyes, focus on the rythym of their breath, then have them explode into a technique. This generally results in something resembling a decent kiai.

One method I use to reinforce the fluidity of movement coupled with a kiai, is to have students execute a sequence of movements (usually a block, check and strike) with a continuous kiai. We've all seen the students that kiai on every movement in a given self-defense movement. After about 6-7 reps, the old locomotive is heading up the hill. :p

Every couple weeks or so, I'll be discussing something in class, (pontificating), then, when I sense the class is drifting a tad, I'll explode with kiai into a technique to one of my more experienced students. Sure wakes up the class and reinforces the effectiveness of a good kiai. They also are convinced that I am a lunatic, but they keep coming so they must like this luney.

Just a thought.
Kevin Schaller

10th November 2000, 10:52
First of all, don't tell then that it is called kiai. This virtually assures that the younger mukyu will shout the word KIAI.

I do something as Margaret mentioned, as class almost always begins with a kata exercise, including kiai, but I never tell then the word. They learn that as they go. Once this has become somewhat ingrained, I tell them to practice by picking up something heavy, or to try to move a wall at home.

Whatever comes out of you naturally, is probably kiai, and some have rather muffled sounds, as the diaphragm pushes out the air. Some are loud, and a few, make little or no noise at all.

I don't know, but that was an early lesson, but most of the kids in my first dojo would scream KIAI. I always said to myself I would never let out what it was called.


10th November 2000, 21:57
in my (limited) experience, it seems that it is harder to get them to give a "real" kiai than just getting them to kiai at all. I've seen things from 'hai' to 'ooh' to even 'hi-yah', but none of them have anything behind them. I've found that experience is the best teacher- when your sensei kiais before performing a technique, you learn what it's all about :).

Nick Porter

Steve Williams
13th November 2000, 20:51
Originally posted by MarkF
First of all, don't tell then that it is called kiai. This virtually assures that the younger mukyu will shout the word KIAI.

I can only echo this from teaching kids.

Another favourite is DIE (don't know what dumb a** started that one :D )

I generally tell them to just shout, as they continue training then most do get the correct idea for a proper Kiai, some unfortunately never get it.

As Mark said, a Kiai does not have to be loud, it just is in MA, let people make whatever noise is best, just ensure that they are using their diaphram not their throats ;)

Doug Daulton
13th November 2000, 21:45
Originally posted by Nick Porter ... in my (limited) experience, it seems that it is harder to get them to give a "real" kiai than just getting them to kiai at all. I've seen things from 'hai' to 'ooh' to even 'hi-yah', but none of them have anything behind them.

Nick ... I second that.

I generally have little problem getting folks to shout. It seems chop-socky cinema has set that as an expectation. Sometimes, I even get the affected, Bruce Lee caterwaul kiai. :D

More often than not, the problem I run into is people kiai-ing from their throat ... and ultimately going hoarse as a result. This tends to make people leery of doing it from there forward.

So if I have big group of newbies, I'll spend an entire class on kiai ... working through breathing exercises and, as Mark said, getting them to focus on generating the sound from their abdomen/diaphragm like singers are trained (or so I am told ... I can't sing ... even in the shower :D )
In any event, kiai is very important and is one of the things I see consistently de-emphasized in the McDojo of the world. And, if it is emphasized then the result is frequently cartoonish and meaningless.

BTW, I'm not talking about the few legitimate schools who study silent or internalized kiai ... an interesting idea which I've recently been exposed to.

Doug Daulton

[Edited by Doug Daulton on 01-24-2001 at 09:05 AM]

14th November 2000, 20:11
Thanks Margaret, for a great idea!

Margaret Lo
14th November 2000, 22:13
Hi Ted, you are most welcome, but credit goes to Mr. Teruo Chinen, based in Spokane Washington, a great karate man if ever I saw one. Go to http://www.asianartscenter.com for links to interviews with him on goju ryu.

He teaches a seminar at the annual traditional karate tournament at Las Vegas.


john mark
23rd November 2000, 12:58
Hi M, A big thread drift, but what the heck. Tran's Iai instruction is excellent. See http://www.asianartscenter.com/iaido.htm.

During warm ups in karate, iai and jo, I emphasize a nonverbal kiai to synchronize breathing and the technique. I believe that this also teaches kiai from the abodmen rather than the throat.


Michael Becker
23rd November 2000, 19:05
You think you have a problem...

I used to attend a Choi Lee Fut kung fu school and the noise that you had to make with some techniques, ( to aid with correct breathing you understand ), was "dik!"

Now THAT is embarrasing!

Steve C
23rd January 2001, 17:31

I think that a valid way of getting people to Kiai is to mix beginners in with your lower grades, who have already learned the Kiai. If half of your group are shouting at the top of their lungs, it's not embarressing to shout with them.

People dont have problems cheering along with a crowd, but they do have problems screaming in the street. Same thing with kiai.

Joseph Svinth
24th January 2001, 09:26
For adults, tell them to pretend the partner is their ex-spouse. For juniors, suggest that their little sister has just taken the last Oreo.

24th January 2001, 22:53
Gotta agree with Joe on this one!
However, most mom's will kiai quite nicely when you suggest that their kids just tracked mud in the house. For most children, the mere mention of homework also does the trick.

For everyone who drives, idiot drivers. (You never truly learn to swear until you learn to drive)

Other suggestions: IRS, Politicians, Telemarketers, etc.

I do have a young girl with Downs Syndrome in my program that has the most natural kiai I've ever heard. It comes right out of her belly and has an animal-like quality. She's an amazing student.
Kevin Schaller

24th January 2001, 23:38

I did this last night with my new batch of beginners, mostly University students. I've tried it before many times and it seems to work well.

I have them pair off, trying to pair seniors with newbies. I have the senior do a simple wrist grab. After they are grabbed, I have the beginner perform a simple appropriate release/disengagement while yelling "NO!" at their opponent. I tell them to visualize and actualize what it is they want to happen, that is, stop grabbing them. Then I have them follow up with an appropriate counter while yelling "You!" This focuses their attention and technique on their "opponent."

Later, we work up to just a simple loud gutteral kiai.