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Where/When to Kiai

I have mentioned before that my sensei is pretty relaxed about kiai in kata. Usually, students do not kiai at my sensei's dojo, which is on the second floor of his home. I thought that this lack of kiai might be out of consideration for the neighbors.

But during my recent visit to Okinawa, I asked my sensei about kiai again. I mentioned that there are certain places in kata when a kiai is traditionally made. In Pinan Shodan, for example, there is a kiai on the nukite (spear hand) technique.

My sensei said that it really did not matter. A person might kiai on one movement or another, or not at all. It was really a personal thing. Performing the movements correctly is what matters.

The only time it might be somewhat important to kiai on a certain movement would be during a group demonstration. It would not look too good for the participants to kiai on different movements. But this is just a public relations concern -- it does not have to do with Karate training.

I imagine that there have been students who have failed examinations because they forgot to kiai or did so at the wrong time. The more Karate becomes a ritual, the less it becomes a living thing.



Charles C. Goodin