What is Kiai and its Purpose?

Karate Ann Arbor

Are you interested in martial arts?

Have you heard the shouts martial artists make during practice?

This shouting is called kiai and it is used in multiple martial arts.

What is Kiai?

Breaking down the word, ki means energy and ai means to harmonize. Put together, kiai means to focus or direct your energy. This energy can be released in a shout or can be silent.  

A kiai shout is a quick release of energy that comes from the stomach, not the throat. The sound you make depends on your style or dojo – most have a sound that they use and a set of reasons for that particular sound. Whatever you do, don’t yell “KIAI!” Don’t be afraid to be loud either – kiai is supposed to be loud!

A silent kiai can be thought of as focusing your will. You’re taking your energy and expressing it as determination and strength, which often shows through your appearance. Your eyes are focused, you’re standing up straight, and looking powerful. When done correctly, others will notice!

Kiai is Used For

  • Practice in certain kata
  • To intimidate an opponent
  • To harmonize your energy
  • To find your fighting spirit

How to Find Your Kiai

Kiai comes from the diaphragm - the same muscle that you use to cough. Try coughing and take note of where you feel the muscle contract in your stomach. Get used to this feeling and try adding a sound instead of a cough. 

Great kiai can be heard in this iaido kata video!

Judo, Jujutsu, Iaido, and Karate in Ann Arbor

Interested in karate in Ann Arbor?

Come practice your kiai at a supportive dojo! 

“The community is very inviting. My last dojo was much more strict and I always thought that was how all martial arts had to be. However, JMAC is way different and that is probably the reason I have stuck with it so far."

Contact JMAC today to get started!