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Different kinds of Kiai

by Felipe
(Brazil)

Hello again, Imafuji-sensei.


My question today may be silly, but perhaps you find something worthy to mention.

I've noticed that there are many different kinds of Kiai in Kendo. I'm not sure, but I think the default would be a high pitch 'shout' with a long duration. 

But, specially among Japanese kenshi, looks like there are people who prefer to perform a kiai composed of many short syllables, like "wa-cha-cha-cha-cha", ta-ta-ta-ta-ta, ra-ra-ra-ra, za-za-za-za and etc.

So, is there a qualitative difference between these different kinds of kiai? Or maybe they are just different styles, based on personal preferences?

A nanadan Japanese sensei once told me that the best syllable for kiai would be the "YA", because of "filling the lungs with air and 'belly' with energy matters". 

He told me that in ancient Japan, Kiai like "hoi, yosha, hora" and etc were commonly used, but in modern Japan they started to use the "YA" as a general pattern for beginners (maybe after some scientific and physiological research?). 

He also told me that the short-cutted-syllables kiai like "ta-ta-ta-ta" were not good at all because they don't allow you to release all your energy properly.

The conversation was 2 years ago and totally in Japanese, so maybe I have forgotten any important detail or I misconstrued his words.

Like always, thank you for the attention and helpful teachings!

Answer: Hi. This not a silly question at all. In Japan, we have this theory called, kotodama. Kotodama is written as “Sprits in the Words”. The words have power to hame things happen, good or bad. 

Have you heard people saying that the key to a success is to verbalize your dream. If you say negative things, the negative things will happen.

Anyway, either you believe it or not aside, we have that theory in Japan.

Now I talked about kakegoe in my podcast, “Kendo Podcast 20: The Meanings of Kakegoe and Kata”, so if you want to know about it in detail please listen to it.

Since you have “ya” as an example, this sensei says “ya” means “to break” as in “yaburu” in Japanese. By saying it you mean “I am going to break through your kamae and get you”. 

There are many “secrets” in kendo that we need to study. 

Anyway, I strongly suggest that you should stick to “ya” and make it long. By making it long you are training your abs and also you are training “ki”. 

Hope this helps!

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