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 Post subject: KIAI
PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 1999 5:59 am 
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Location: Richmond, VA
J.T.: Evan sensei just recently covered a condition known as 'running fire' that required the grounding out of excess energy. Check out his site.
Regards, Rich


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 Post subject: KIAI
PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 1999 1:21 pm 
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Here is the basic difference between humans and animals, ( real or mythological). We are the only creatures aware of our own mortality and therefore are conscious of the possibility of serious injury or death from a counter attack.

By pushing the air downward and keeping it in during the strike, we maintain our unique Uechi defense through the tightened ribs and abs. Letting out the air by Kia'ing during the strike may help to release some additional explosive energy and catch the opponent off guard, but this is done at the expense of some additional defense to our bodies.

Kanbun and Shushiwa and others before them must have studied the differences between the species as well as the similarities.

VTY

Kevin


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 Post subject: KIAI
PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 1999 3:47 pm 
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Re: animals. I am not so sure that animals are unaware of their mortality. I am not an expert on it, but animal behaviour doesn't such that to me. Otherwise, why would an animal fight back at all if it did not fear injury or death? Rather I would say that an animal doesn't understand the technology possessed by us humans that give us the edge over them.

What is the difference between humans and other animals? Maybe the question should be, is there any? I do not know the answer.

Re: KIAI!!!!

The kiai ("spirit shout" or "spirit yell" for lurkers who are wondering) has a few purposes:

1) get the air out of the body, so that on an opponents counter-attack it (your wind) can't be knocked out of you.
2) frighten the opponent. A little story. I did a demonstration a few months ago breaking some concrete slabs, the front row of the audience was 40' from the stage. The last row was 120-140'(?) away. When I kiaied and broke the concrete in two I heard people jump and chairs rattle throughout the audience. There is no doubt ... the kiai can be very frightening.
3) forces you to breath. Very important.
4) forces you to tighten. This momentary tightening of the body causes the extra explosion of power. How, I don't know the body mechanics well enough, but it seems to work (maybe the kiai is a placebo itself ... I think that if I kiai I will hit harder and so I do?)
5) Energy flow(?). I have been told that from an energy flow perspective this forces energy out from the center of your body (where it is abundant) out to the extremties where it is less abundant. Perhaps a funkier way of saying #4 above.
6) Energy projection(?). Even more mystical the kiai forces the energy out of your body by spiritual means into the body of the opponent causing damage. Again, another explanation I have heard over the years.

vs.

The short breath. I like the short breath, I use it in all my kata, when I am not doing a kiai (I believe the kiai should be reserved for final blows in a kata). I also use the short breath when doing technique, doing a kiai often is too exhausting, and perhaps defeats the purpose (i.e. I want to do the kiai when I want to really do some damage, like at the end of a combination of blows ... so it sounds like ssss, ssss, KIAI)!. But anyway, the purpose seemingly of the short breath is like the kiai but less intense.

1) Forces you to breath. Very important!
2) Forces you to tighten a little. More power.
3) Gets most of the air out of you so that it won't be knocked out of you. I think I read somewhere that the short breath gets something like 75% of the air out?

These are my observations of the kiai and short breath. There is a time and place for each. I don't think that sanchin kata, for example, has a kiai step ... and in fact the purpose of that kata (body tightening and conditioning and such) it makes more sense to keep your energy. Or at least the way we do so sanchin kata.

Osu!
Jason


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 Post subject: KIAI
PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 1999 4:17 pm 
Jason,

I couldn't have said it better. My biggest problem in coming to Uechi-ryu after all these years of Shotokan and similar arts is the lack of kiai. Except in Sanshin... there is no point in that kata that lends itself to kiai. In the first dojo wherein I trained, we did a different version of Sanchin, but there was no kiai there, either.

Another use of kiai is as a defensive technique. After years of sparring with fairly heavy contact to the body (browns belt and higher), kiai-ing as a punch or kick hits you is very effective. It only works when it is done reflexively.

Kiai is an almost universal technique, although not very often named. Listen to tennis players, some kiai on every stroke. Listen carefully to boxers. Bill and JD and others who pump iron listen to the hardcore lifters pushing close to their limits.

One dojo I studied in kiaied on every repetition in a drill. It taught you to breath and , I think, was a great adjunct to conditioning.

I could go on, but you've all probably stopped reading already. One last thing, though--Jason hinted at the mythologies of Kiai; there are stories of masters of Kiai-jutsu knocking birds out trees with thier kiai, (although I always suspected serious halitosis). The idea is that a kiai can shock the system of your opponant/victim and/or drain their ki (or ch'i to you JD).

Just remember that the word kiai is made up of two words "spirit" and "harmony" (more-or-less)--the same that make up AI-KI-do, but in different order. The usual interpretation is that the kiai represents the harmony or union of spirit and body. In really hard training sessions that Shotokanka do from time to time, the only way to get through the last five hundred repetitions was to kiai. it was taught that a kiai could call up reserves of energy that you didn't know you had.

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maurice richard libby
toronto/moose jaw


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 Post subject: KIAI
PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 1999 10:11 pm 
Hello JD.

Getting some more wind out of the kiai...

As I start a strike I begin exhaling. Just prior to the point of impact I make a kiai, but do it focusing on my diagphram rather than my throat. Doing the kiai stops the exhallation as all my muscles tighten up for the strike. I also have a feeling that flows out my arms and legs as I exhale and into my dan-tien as I inhale. I try to synchronize this with my strikes, blocks, and other body movements.

I am not an expert in these areas, but I have 'feelings' as described above.

Allen

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web: http://www.uechi-ryu.org email: <A HREF="mailto:uechi@ici.net">uechi@ici.net</A>


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 Post subject: KIAI
PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 1999 11:43 pm 
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The kiai - seems to have as infinite a number of explanations as applications from kata. I've seen some teachers teach a kiai a specific place - others who don't encourage it at all. Personally, I tell my students that if they feel the expression of a kiai somewhere in a kata, to go ahead and try it - where else can you "bare your soul" like that if not within the womb of the dojo family. At least hopefully the dojo is welcoming enough for a student to try things that may be a bit foreign to them. When we "reach into the depths" so to speak - moving beyond the quest for physical perfection in our techniques - searching instead for a deeper connection - (some of which have been discussed on Van Sensei's forum within various mindset discussions) - we explore an emotional if not spiritual relationship to the art. We reach inside for deep passions and primal connections that will move our expression of karate from mere technique to a martial "art." As such, perhaps a kiai, much like a tiger's roar, is a primal connection of sorts. Perhaps not "taught" like techniques are, because of the individuality of the expression - much like the application of a technique once the student gets a grasp of the basic concept.

Allen Sensei,

The "animal spirit" of which Chong speaks of is very intriguing and maybe relates to the above - cultivating an animal spirit may be a way to reach for the primal essence of the "reptilian brain..." And as you so eloquently put it, fighting like an animal, "with fierce wanton abandon" may be advantageous in a real life situation. An all or nothing attitude without regards to consequences or legal ramifications. If you are going to commit to the fight - do it to the exclusion of distinctly "human" concerns; like an animal.

As for the difference between humans and animals, I also feel that a knowledge of mortality is not necessarily the separating factor. Other schools of thought place the difference between us as a consciousness of "self" - which a lack of on the part of an animal becomes questionable when reading some of the studies with chimps and sign language, and especially Dr. John Lilly's studies of communication between man and dolphin. A sense of danger and at least mortality seems to be quite apparent in both places, and, like Jason-san mentioned, what gives even the lower forms of the animal kingdom the impetus to fight or flee in the face of danger? If it is purely instinctual, then perhaps the kiai is instinctual as well.

I've heard that some senior-senior-seniors did not care to have their kata taped for instructional purposes because each kata that they perfomed was unique in its expression. This may be another reason why the kiai happens different times and different places with some karateka, like Tony. I don't often feel the need for a kiai, but there are occasions...

Peace,
Lori


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 Post subject: KIAI
PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 1999 12:10 am 
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Location: LA, CA, USA
fierce wanton animals???

While animal images may inspire some humans to fight, it is my understanding that animals are actually much more inhibited about all-out fighting than many humans. Dogs, for example, seldom kill one another or even badly hurt one another when they come into conflict. Usually posing, barking, and similar behavior is typical of conflict between canines.

A dog fight (at least by dogs not trained to fight by humans) may end up with one party on their back, bearing their throat, but seldom if ever is that throat torn out.

Same with deer -- they may but heads, but they almost never fight to the death. I've yet to see a cat fight that resulted in a dead cat --- usually after posing, hissing, and hair raising and a few swipes, the fight breaks up.

I think that animals are not generally very fierce, unless one is a natural preadator and the other the natural prey. Even then, the lion usually goes after the weakest gazelle, and a wolf avoids the strong and healthy musk oxen. Even preadators are cunningly avoid conflict with credible opponents.

Scaramouche


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 Post subject: KIAI
PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 1999 1:22 am 
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I'm not sure animals make any noise that is associated with the "kill". Many species do howl, bark, growl and perform other antics for the purpose of winning the fight without fighting. However, once they get down to business, all energy is applied to the techniques and the breathing, as in Sanchin, is appears to be separated from the physical moves. (no kiai type breathing, for want of a better description)

I'm not proud of the fact that many years ago, I watched a few dog fights in a "pit". These animals were trained to fight and they loved their profession. Invariably, the animals that made the most noise, growled the loudest, barked the most. . . were the most frightened. . . and lost the battle.

The pit bulls that won were not the prettiest fighters. When faced with their opponent, they were quiet and appeared amused by their "kiai"ing enemy. When they were released, the quiet one attacked with cool and calculated efficiency. . . breathing was not in anyway associated with the bite or attack.

I've watched movies of Tigers attacking. They reminded me a lot of the warrior Pitbull in their calmness and relentless focus on the task at hand.

I've done the Kiai, long breathing, short breathing and lots of no breathing. I believe the Sanchin breathing (correctly done!!!!!)is the key to advanced Uechi fighting. I use kiai for new students, to help them learn how to breath, but always strive to keep their Sanchin breathing done the old fashioned way.

Packing to go home tomorrow. (Tuesday) Will try to clarify my views on this subject later in the week.

Best from Florida. . .
George Mattson


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 Post subject: KIAI
PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 1999 2:56 am 
Fierce wanton animals are better tasting than limpy wimpy wonton soup.

In competition, kiais can be great, but in fighting outside the dojo I'm sure the mind is occupied with other things. I know of a person who held his breath for entire fights, that’s how short the fights were.

The breathing I described in my post above I do at slow kata speeds. There is a point that breathing becomes completely disassociated from any movement whatsoever. I used to demonstrate Uechi kata by joining four of them together in a rigorous performance as one kata. In order to survive the four minutes or so it was impossible to inhale/exhale for each technique sequence, but instead engaged in a slow, constant-speed, rhythmical breathing pattern in which one breath cycle would span a number of kata moves. So one can utilize different breathing ‘styles’ for different applications, whatever deems appropriate at a specific time.

George, I’d like you to talk to me about your breathing, sometime, if you so chose.

Lori, Chong has deep-seated beliefs about animals and spirits which have much to do with her native culture. What separates us from the animals anyway? Free will? Reasoning? Ability to extract substances from the womb of the earth to build our civilizations? Yo be able to think both rationally and irrationally? The ability to destroy all life on earth in one stupid moment of insanity? All or none of the above?

Allen
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web: http://www.uechi-ryu.org email: <A HREF="mailto:uechi@ici.net">uechi@ici.net</A>

[This message has been edited by moulton (edited 02-08-99).]


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 Post subject: KIAI
PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 1999 5:26 am 
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Location: Evansville, IN, USA
Maurice,

It reminds me, Sosai Oyama got the idea to fight a bull when he heard a story of an another martial arts master who had defeated a bull with nothing but his kiai. So the story goes Sosai did some research (it had only happended 50 years or so before Oyama heard the story) and discovered that there was more hidden under the surface.

Apparently, the story is that this master went out onto the field to face his advesary with nothing except his hands. The bull was released and the master went into stance with a fierce KIAI! and the bull fled back to its pen.

What is not commonly told is that the bull had be penned for months and the master would everyday come beat on the bull with his staff while shouting at the bull. Perhaps he thought it would make it meaner ... anyway, what happened of course was that the bull associated the kiai with the beatings, and thought it was going to get another beating when the master yelled.

So much for mystical powers.

Also, thanks for mentioning the defensive aspect of the kiai. When I trained with Shihan Salter he really drilled into us to release your breath when you were struck (usually a short breath, but lets face reality it comes out like a grunt). Very important, and really helps to minimize damage. Why? Not quite sure, but certainly works. Maybe it is like the reed and the tree ... the reed bends in the heavy wind, where as the tree breaks and falls. If you give in to the blow just a little it doesn't hurt as much?

Osu!
Jason


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 Post subject: KIAI
PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 1999 9:12 am 
JD,

"This will exclude "reflexive" behaviors which, sadly, humans with severe neurologic injury will demonstrate. "

Just like a freshly killed person or a chicken with his head cut off. There is sometime still movement without thought.

Still movement?

Allen

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web: http://www.uechi-ryu.org email: <A HREF="mailto:uechi@ici.net">uechi@ici.net</A>


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 Post subject: KIAI
PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 1999 11:42 am 
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Location: N. Andover, Ma. USA
I briefly studied Snake Gung Fu wherein the Kiai was closely akin to the Sanchin "Hiss" (for lack of the real term). This was not the full bore Kiai of many Karate styles, but rather meant as a very focused application of energy into the target via a weapon of very small porportions, (Single finger, Spear, Shoken...).

The Kiai Okinawan Kempo has a two fold purpose, First to temporarily Freeze or startle if you will the opposition as the strike is focusing. Secondly as a release of the opponents protection or dynamics against such and attack.

It all depends on the circumstances as it is just a tool. Sometimes it works Sometimes it don't, but it sure feels good letting out some of that primal energy.

As a followup to Glasheen Sensei's original question, I did use it once in the context you refered. It was Christmas Eve and I was returning to my own apartment in beautiful downtown Lynn, as I noticed 2 rowdy individuals at the main entrance (I lived over the Brandy Barrel - enough said here), They immediatley quit cackling when I approached and leaned against both doors. I stopped and asked if they wouldn't mind letting me by which triggered a whole host of platitudes, not all pleasent. At that one advanced at me the other stood up of his leaning position from the wall. Then he reached not as in a strike but more like a push, can't say for sure because as he did I Kiai'ed and punched his oncomming arm. The arm dropped but what I noticed was the shout shocked him visibly as well as his friend, both left hastily. But what it also accomplished was it gave me either a real or imposed sense bravado.

Evan Pantazi

[This message has been edited by Evan Pantazi (edited 02-09-99).]


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 Post subject: KIAI
PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 1999 6:07 pm 
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Location: Richmond, VA --- Louisville, KY
Very interesting discussion.

My personal prejudice when studying martial arts - right or wrong - is to pull the elements of a style apart and put them back together again. As a child I used to do this to the toys and possessions of my fellow family members. I was not a very popular member of the clan at those times. Anyhow the purpose was always to understand the workings of the elements out of context, and then to consider the possible application in other contexts. It is also a good way to remove the "chaffe" from teachers who have their own indeosynchracies. Occasionally you throw good wheat out, but it is a risk I take.

Maurice was the first to point out the parallels to those that do weight training. This is the forum that helped me formulate my personal understandings of breathing and movement amid seemingly conflicting messages from different styles. What I found over time was that, using the weight room and other physical activities as proving ground, the messages were not conflicting at all.

These are my personal beliefs...

I think too often people assume that a maiming or killing movement takes maximal effort. While I'm not in a killing professsion (unless you consider all the lab "killings" that the People for the Ethical (sic) Treatment of Animals accuse me of), my experience in the dojo has led me to the quest to do what is necessary with minimal effort and fuss. My considerable experience with dogs (and some with people) has taught me to not be frightened of the ones that run their mouths and posture. I can read their intentions. They are indeed communicating. It's the quiet ones with anger and purpose that draw my considerable attention.

As I've stated before, I believe that the Uechi system equipped us with the efficient tools of a surgeon. Those that train properly and for long periods move well and deflect rather than go toe to toe. Those that know what they are doing use the fingers and toes and knuckles and go right where it will get the most bang for the buck. Those that have trained for decades take pride in having the coordination and understanding to move large objects with little effort. One of my former instructors and still dear friend was a special forces instructor. He approached me about learning Uechiryu, in spite of his considerable knowledge of goju and the throwing arts. And this man is someone who got paid in the past to "do what is necessary" quietly and effectively.

So....even if there is a physiologic advantage to breathing or kiaing during a physical movement (which I believe there is), there is no need in much of the thrusts and strikes in our system. For the most part we quickly move our effective scalpel to the target area and dig in. No resistance experienced when moving to target. Only a quick, whole-body focus needed to attain that impulse that we need for the desired effect.

But now and then there are times where we do things like we do in the weight room. Want to grab someone and move them around as a shield? Then consider how the person in the weight room moves a heavy weight. Breathing with restriction does several things in the weight room: 1) helps to maintain a firm midsection for proper body dynamics, 2) allows SOME air exchange for sets with a high number of reps, 3) prevents the intrathoracic pressure from getting too high, thereby causing dangerously high spikes in blood pressure.

I also believe that the shout of the person heaving max weight in the weight room (go ahead - try to max out without shouting!!) is the kiai paradigm stripped to its core. I could spend a lot of time discussing it, but I believe it is nothing more than a restricted exhale carried to an extreme of restriction. Yes, there is mirroring. However I believe that what I accomplish in my thorax with this type of breathing helps me do a better, safer squat or Olympic clean.

So...when I am doing something in kata where I imagine high resistance to my movement, I start to think like the person in the weight room. This includes grabbing as well as pulling and pushing movements.

Bill


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 Post subject: KIAI
PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 1999 9:36 pm 
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Scaramouche:

Unfortunately I think what you say about some animals is true.

However, among chimps (our closest relative on the evolution tree) wars may be unknown, but I do not believe that murder is.

I also understand that in the Gorilla family, not too many "dominant eligible" males make it to maturity.

If I am wrong on this, please tell me, I'll feel better.

That's on our branch. The great felines (not all) will kill other cubs of other prides and pair groups.

Very sad----they don't tell you that when you watch "Born Free" I guess. (seriously-this was a saddening bit of info to me)

Re: Kiai generally:

I think Uechi Kata do a fairly good job in telling one where to strike.

As to where to Kiai---another matter. Sanchin breathing conflicts slightly with the concept of a Kiai.

It's a tool. Use it when you have a chance and feel it appropriate.

A kiai is not in "Sanchin" because, perhaps, it is not training you to Kiai. It teaches you something that you pass on into a Kiai ie: (AIEE!!) keep 25 to 33% in your lungs or be positively sure your not gonna take a hit.


GEM's analogy seems most appropos.
(don't mean to leave anyone out here)


JOHNT


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 Post subject: KIAI
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 1999 1:29 am 
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As I recall you are right about this, John Thurston. Some apes kill in wars against each other, and some apes and some other creatures kill "adopted" young after taking on a new mate. I have heard evolutionary biologists claim that this is done so that a make can insure that his progeny get the food and attention of the parents, and that this way his genes will survive. This isn't an area I know much about, so I can't speak to this issue.

You made a good point, but despite these examples still I believe most animals (at least higher animals) are not predisposed to all-out combat to the death, and that the typical kill in nature is of an unusually weak prey by a clearly stronger natural predator (or pack of predators).

I suppose that we could look at the various "martial arts animals" and see which ones tend to kill young or kill in war, but I suspect that just compiling a list of martial animals could require a long thread.

As has been mentioned, domestic dogs generally have to be trained to fight, and of course cocks kill mainly because people put nasty blades (or barbs) on their legs.

It would be gruesome indeed to claim some link between martial arts animals killing their young and any sort of human martial arts practices.

I guess someone else might bring up the point that preying mantis (females I believe) kills and eats her prey after mating. Obviously these are "martial arts animals," but if a parallel can really be drawn between their practices and those of humans' martial arts, well, maybe I should stop encouraging my wife in her martial arts training Image

Scaramouche

Scaramouche


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