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Different types of kiai

by Olga
(Ukraine)

*This is not about kiai for targets (men, kote, do, tsuki)


I have heard a lot of different kiai. I mean some people shout something like “Yaaa!” before they strike, other shout something like “Yoooi!”, “Yasa”, “Saaa”, “Yata” etc. before or after they strike.
Are there any regulations for kiai?

Do some of them have any meaning?

How should a person choose his/her kiai (when and what exactly to shout)?

Answer: Nice question! There is no regulation about kiai but you cannot say anything disrespectful. The most common kiai is “yeaaaaa“. In Japan we have “kakegoe” (calling out/cry) when we dance, tag-of-war and many other things.

Kakegoe is to encourage ourselves (and others if in a team) and also synchronize the movements in such as dancing and tag-of-war.

So some people apply different kinds of kakegoe in kendo. That is why we hear different kiai.

How do we choose a kiai ? First, you have to try the normal way, “yeaaaah!”. Practice loud and long kiai with this for a long time. Then, once you know how to charge yourself with a kiai, you can try some other kiai.

Many non-Japanese people have a very low short kiai when they hold only kyu grade. Probably they are mimicking those with high ranks but unfortunately it does not work like that. A low short kiai is very hard to overwhelm your opponent if you do not have a real kiai developed.

Through years and years of practice, you will come up with one kiai that is for you.

Hope this helps.

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