This is the ultimate technique of the Honori School of Martial Arts Ōendan relies more on making a lot of noise however instead of yelling through plastic megaphones the basis of the arts offensive and defensive techniques is Kiai as Kiai Jutsu can be considered the art of attacking (or healing) through the voice. In Japanese martial arts, the Kiai is commonly thought of as a loud yell that coincides with an attack. But it’s actually a method of breathing, and is so much more than a simple scream. The subject of the kiai is complex and profound, involving critical aspects of the body, the mind, and the spirit, having numerous uses and applications. In truth, no one masters or even understands a martial art without mastering the kiai. … ‘The yell’ is not a trivial, expendable, slightly silly bit of melodrama; rather, it is a core concept and an essential skill to be taken very seriously and to be practiced and refined at every opportunity.
The character for Ki, known as Qi in Chinese, refers to the ‘breath,’ ‘air’ or ‘spiritual energy’ of life. The character for ai is a combination of characters, meaning “to gather or collect,” and “mouth.” A literal translation of Kiai could be, “to gather Ki together in the mouth,” and with the given context of the martial arts, it could be translated as, “to gather Ki together and project through (or out of) the mouth.”
Despite this literal translation existing, Kiai is often stated as meaning “to harmonize,” in that you harmonize your energy with that of your opponent, whether to subdue them peacefully or manipulate and defeat them.
These characters are also found in the martial art Aikido, where the Ai and Ki are in the opposite order. In Aikido, a Kiai is used to instill a peaceful harmony or subjugation of the opponent through a meeting of energies via movement. The compassionate philosophy of Aikido is actually a rarity in Japanese martial arts and a relatively new concept, so the traditional meaning is still relevant.
In a traditional sense, the uniting effect of the Kiai is found within the individual practitioner as he unites his mind and body with proper timing and execution.
At a higher level, a Kiai is a complete unification of time and space, spiritual energy and power, mental willpower and determination, compressed and directed at a single point. The body’s concentrated power is let out during the Kiai, which can precede, coincide, or follow the moment of impact, depending on the technique or style.
Basic training for the Kiai involves breathing exercises, similar to the Pranayama practices of India. The practitioner breathes from the lower abdominal area, setting the Ki in motion.
The lower abdominal area of the body is referred to as the Hara in Japanese, and the Dan Tian in Chinese martial arts. It is an important part of the human body, and the place where energy is developed and stored. Practitioners also perform mind intent exercises to strengthen their will and direct their intent. Once a sufficient amount of Ki had been built up in the practitioner’s body, they would then practice their yells in outdoor environments. Starting from the lower abdomen, below the belly button, the practitioner quickly expels their Ki and breath while directing it with their mind. An objective was to become louder than nearby oceans, or silence the animals of forests and mountains.
Others use silent Kiai’s during meditation as a concentrated expression of will. And the silent Kiai’s are considered the most difficult yet most powerful to use in battle. That said, keep in mind there are different types of Kiai, and high volume is not a necessity. It is the proper application that is important. Remember that a Kiai is the unification of spirit and body through the mouth. The most important part is the unification. In battle, high level masters may only make a subtle noise, or none at all, yet the Kiai is still fully executed.
The Kiai can also be used defensively, to harden the body and protect internal organs. The sudden tension followed by immediate relaxation reduces the sensation of impact. Trained martial artists can survive falls from great heights, or otherwise deadly blows, by using such techniques with proper timing.
When performed, the sounds expressed can vary depending on whether it is an offensive or defensive technique. Sounds such as, “hah,” “ah,” “ey”, “ay-sah”, “hai”, “toh,” “yah”, “ohs”, “hup” and others can be heard. Both long and short exhalations exist, and can be done before a technique, during, or after. There is no actual meaning to the vocal expression.
Through years of dedicated training a practitioner by combining Shinseitai with the Kiai practitioners’ are able to use their own voice as a weapon, such as knocking opponents unconscious or causing mortal harm, without touching the opponent physically. This is known as a “touchless weapon.” They could ring a bell from a distance, stop a punch or kick in mid-strike, knock people over, shock an opponent into paralysis, or even cause birds to fall from their perch.