Please take a look at Articles on self-defense/conflict/violence for introductions to the references found in the bibliography page.

Please take a look at my bibliography if you do not see a proper reference to a post.

Please take a look at my Notable Quotes

Hey, Attention on Deck!

Hey, NOTHING here is PERSONAL, get over it - Teach Me and I will Learn!

When you begin to feel like you are a tough guy, a warrior, a master of the martial arts or that you have lived a tough life, just take a moment and get some perspective with the following:

I've stopped knives that were coming to disembowel me

I've clawed for my gun while bullets ripped past me

I've dodged as someone tried to put an ax in my skull

I've fought screaming steel and left rubber on the road to avoid death

I've clawed broken glass out of my body after their opening attack failed

I've spit blood and body parts and broke strangle holds before gouging eyes

I've charged into fires, fought through blizzards and run from tornados

I've survived being hunted by gangs, killers and contract killers

The streets were my home, I hunted in the night and was hunted in turn

Please don't brag to me that you're a survivor because someone hit you. And don't tell me how 'tough' you are because of your training. As much as I've been through I know people who have survived much, much worse. - Marc MacYoung


The postings on this blog are my interpretation of readings, studies and experiences therefore errors and omissions are mine and mine alone. The content surrounding the extracts of books, see bibliography on this blog site, are also mine and mine alone therefore errors and omissions are also mine and mine alone and therefore why I highly recommended one read, study, research and fact find the material for clarity. My effort here is self-clarity toward a fuller understanding of the subject matter. See the bibliography for information on the books. Please make note that this article/post is my personal analysis of the subject and the information used was chosen or picked by me. It is not an analysis piece because it lacks complete and comprehensive research, it was not adequately and completely investigated and it is not balanced, i.e., it is my personal view without the views of others including subject experts, etc. Look at this as “Infotainment rather then expert research.” This is an opinion/editorial article/post meant to persuade the reader to think, decide and accept or reject my premise. It is an attempt to cause change or reinforce attitudes, beliefs and values as they apply to martial arts and/or self-defense. It is merely a commentary on the subject in the particular article presented.

Note: I will endevor to provide a bibliography and italicize any direct quotes from the materials I use for this blog. If there are mistakes, errors, and/or omissions, I take full responsibility for them as they are mine and mine alone. If you find any mistakes, errors, and/or omissions please comment and let me know along with the correct information and/or sources.

“What you are reading right now is a blog. It’s written and posted by me, because I want to. I get no financial remuneration for writing it. I don’t have to meet anyone’s criteria in order to post it. Not only I don’t have an employer or publisher, but I’m not even constrained by having to please an audience. If people won’t like it, they won’t read it, but I won’t lose anything by it. Provided I don’t break any laws (libel, incitement to violence, etc.), I can post whatever I want. This means that I can write openly and honestly, however controversial my opinions may be. It also means that I could write total bullshit; there is no quality control. I could be biased. I could be insane. I could be trolling. … not all sources are equivalent, and all sources have their pros and cons. These needs to be taken into account when evaluating information, and all information should be evaluated. - God’s Bastard, Sourcing Sources (this applies to this and other blogs by me as well; if you follow the idea's, advice or information you are on your own, don't come crying to me, it is all on you do do the work to make sure it works for you!)

“You should prepare yourself to dedicate at least five or six years to your training and practice to understand the philosophy and physiokinetics of martial arts and karate so that you can understand the true spirit of everything and dedicate your mind, body and spirit to the discipline of the art.” - cejames (note: you are on your own, make sure you get expert hands-on guidance in all things martial and self-defense)

“All I say is by way of discourse, and nothing by way of advice. I should not speak so boldly if it were my due to be believed.” - Montaigne

I am not a leading authority on any one discipline that I write about and teach, it is my hope and wish that with all the subjects I have studied it provides me an advantage point that I offer in as clear and cohesive writings as possible in introducing the matters in my materials. I hope to serve as one who inspires direction in the practitioner so they can go on to discover greater teachers and professionals that will build on this fundamental foundation. Find the authorities and synthesize a wholehearted and holistic concept, perception and belief that will not drive your practices but rather inspire them to evolve, grow and prosper. My efforts are born of those who are more experienced and knowledgable than I. I hope you find that path! See the bibliography I provide for an initial list of experts, professionals and masters of the subjects.

Kiai - Historically Speaking

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

Well, not to be dissuaded or disappointed and as some might expect there is not much out there on the practice and art of the “Kiai” of martial arts and especially karate. The only source that I would accept as reliable is the one written by Dave Lowry in an article in the Black Belt magazine under the heading of, “the karate way,” titled, “The Baffling Concept of Kiai.” Some highlights (indented bullets are my personal comments on the bullet itself based on my understanding and experiences):
  1. Best known as an explosive shout or vocalization made during combat. 
    • Since combat is references I would assume since this method is related to the distinct sounds of a feudal-era warrior way it is not about self-defense, fighting or combatives of modern times. 
  2. Most martial arts and karate practitioners, serious people, can add little to the first highlight or bullet point
  3. Mr. Lowry has never been in a karate dojo where the kiai was properly implemented.
    • To me this means, much like most things used today, few have even a modicum of understanding of the kiai and that makes me wonder what else is completely misunderstood in American karate, either traditional or modern?
  4. In budo, the kiai is a fundamental concept of combat, one with vast ramifications. 
    • Remember, this is about ancient combatives and modern combatives under the rules of engagement and the rules of war tend to make this a little less relevant yet many military groups use sounds, grunts and yells a part of training with the distinctions as to when they are appropriate in combat and when not. 
  5. Kiai is a concept of training, strategy and attitude that has multiple facets in the realms of the mental, spiritual and physical. 
    • I would love it if Lowry Sensei had expanded on this aspect of the art of the kiai.
  6. Kiai has NO precise definition in the fighting arts of Japan. 
    • Yet, in general and seemingly accepted as a common meaning we get all the bullets provided from Lowry Sensei’s article, yes?
  7. In some koryu, classical schools, the word is used to mean, “Volition or Commitment.” 
    • If martial artists or karate-ka today come to realize this aspect of the art of the kiai, they will find value and benefits in their teachings, training, study and understanding greatly enhanced. 
  8. Kiai as a process that means how one attacks, with volition and commitment to make the drill, technique, methodology or the application in actual attacks, work as close to reality as possible. 
  9. Kiai is also about one’s entire mental state when focused on an activity.
  10. Kiai is about having no opening, no gap, in the practitioners mental concentration and poise. 
  11. The story of Kato Kiyomasa observing a tea master best describes kiai in a classical sense of the word.
  12. In karate, kiai is used to refer to a focus of energy expressed through vocalization. A far too narrow a definition.
  13. Kiai does not mean vocal or sounding it out, it can be silent. 
  14. Not just any shout or noise works for kiai. 
  15. In the feudal-era, each system had its own distinctive kiai. 
From his terse but comprehensive article on kiai, it comes to me that in my mind the function of kiai spans far more than what was adopted by karate-ka and a few other martial arts systems or styles. It also says to me very loud is due to the use of the shout in movies and such, media being a huge influence on folks in this part of the world, is about ego and perceptions especially from the uninitiated and the non-karate-ka, etc.

Yet, at the same time the article refers back to that smaller portion of the concept and art of kiai, the shout, where a short, curt and distinctive sound is made, sometimes as associated with an applied technique/methodology, that is unique to each system from back in the feudal-ara of Japanese history. 

If we as martial artists and karate-ka are to use the kiai then we should consider the above points made by Dave Lowry Sensei, and make sure we utilize it in that manner when associated with a traditional or classical version of karate-do. Otherwise, then using the term in the dojo just for the shout seems like taking the core fundamental teachings of kata and just learn and perform, stress performance, the kata as if a dance with moves, movement and ascetic presentations for things like judging and points and trophies. 

In my view, my perceptions and my beliefs, karate-do and martial arts for the self-defense aspects of study remaining as close to the true meaning of the art of the kiai seems more appropriate and beneficial and applicable. 

What follows are some other articles that take kiai to other dimensions and are maybe not as close to the actual kiai practice but if one desires to get more teaching benefits out of using such terms and such then they may have benefits. 

Oh, and historically speaking the kiai, both shout and other meaning, can apparently be traced back in Japan to the feudal-era of their history. Since I understand and tend to accept, Dave Lowry as a Koryu practitioners is an expert on this and other topics martial and karate. You can find a lot more out by reading his book and those collected articles from Black Belts “the karate way.” 


Kiai [気合]

The characters/ideograms mean, “Scream; yell; fighting spirit.” The first character means, “spirit; mind; air; atmosphere; mood,” the second character means, “fit; join.”

Used in martial arts as a means to bring about a meeting of both the internal and external energies generated through the proper application of fundamental principles of martial systems thus creating an instantaneous power transfer from the weapon, i.e. hand, foot, etc., into a target. Often assumed to be a shout or war cry but the cry is just a external manifestation that assists the practitioner with an audible cue that all the proper principles are finally applied in that one instance. 

It is used at certain points within kata practice but tends to be arbitrary since kata is about learning bunkai that will be assimilated or not assimilated as necessary to each individual and not actually a fighting scenario that is pre-ordained with specifics especially since a true combative situation is more fluid and chaotic with no set tactics, etc. 

Kiai is more of a method to create what some call an application of chinkuchi, i.e., an Okinawan dialect term about applying principles of power in karate. In the yin-yang concept as derived from ancient studies by Okinawan practitioners whereby the yin or internal along with yang or external energies are combined, coalesced and projected through principles into a power applied technique. This is something that should be applied with every technique applied regardless of any arbitrary rule that kiai must be placed at any specific point in kata, drills or kumite. 

Kiai is done without sound and it is also done with sound. In ancient times, much like the Marine’s OhRahhh shout is about instilling a fighting spirit while sending a clear signal to an adversary that a force of nature is coming and it cannot be stopped. There are times when the cry is necessary for psychological reasons and there are times when kiai is applied with no sound, but a strong exhale. 

In kiai, as with many aspects of a martial art, breathing (a fundamental principle) is critical to achieve true kiai as it is with the concept of chinkuchi. Kiai is not just a shout or war cry but a system that assists a practitioner to achieve great power, etc., in martial training. 

“No kiai (shout). Chibana Sensei explained that in the old days, karate training was done in secret, so silence was necessary. He continued that “ki" means spiritual or internal energy and "ai" means to meet. Kiai, then is the precise moment (meeting) when the internal and external energy is brought together. Kiai is synonymous with kime. Kiai can be done with no sound, but with a strong exhale. Kiai and kime then is the instant when the neurological and physical response become one.” ~ Nakata, Pat Sensei

Bibliography (Click the link)

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