"The Author, it must be remembered, writes from his own standpoint!"
My personal "Interpretive" Lens!
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"Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider..." - Francis Bacon
Warning, Caveat and Note: The postings on this blog are my interpretation of readings, studies and experiences therefore errors and omissions are mine and mine alone. The content surrounding the extracts of books, see bibliography on this blog site, are also mine and mine alone therefore errors and omissions are also mine and mine alone and therefore why I highly recommended one read, study, research and fact find the material for clarity. My effort here is self-clarity toward a fuller understanding of the subject matter. See the bibliography for information on the books.
Note: I will endevor to provide a bibliography and italicize any direct quotes from the materials I use for this blog. If there are mistakes, errors, and/or omissions, I take full responsibility for them as they are mine and mine alone. If you find any mistakes, errors, and/or omissions please comment and let me know along with the correct information and/or sources.
What is Kiai 気合?
気 means air, atmosphere, spirit, mind, heart, will, intention, feelings, a mood, nature, a disposition, attention, care, a sign, and an indication.
合 means match, fit, suit, join, combine, unite, coincide, and agree.
A recent categorization of the "kiai" in martial arts says it didn't originate with karate but Kendo, i.e. Japanese influences. It states it was NOT a part of the Okinawan indigenous system of fighting hand-to-hand but was incorporated into karate practice beginning early 1900's. Is this all true?
It also states that normally in their system the kiai is not used except in cases where a demonstration of proper breathing techniques or timing or teaching the duration of exhalation and inhalation. Occasionally for kata competitions the kiai is used and we can surmise that the reason is it is expected by most participants and judges. It is a part of the grading of the kata performance. Is this true? The demo of breathing via kiai?
I also asked myself long ago if I felt I needed to have "kiai" in my practice. I found that I didn't need it yet I try to understand it and its practice as a form of understanding the history behind it and its applications in martial systems. I feel that it is true that Okinawan's did not utilize it and I find in my view that it is just another one of those "cool things" Americans added to make it more exotic to participants. Just me ... :-)
First question, not able to verify/validate the statement that it was not a part of the Okinawan karate circles pre-1800's, late. I have no clue as to its origins in Japan be it Kendo or not. After all kendo is a fairly new thing like karate anyway.
Second, as to kiai to demo breathing, timing, or how to control inhale/exhale, no clue and no way to verify or refute. I don't believe it is but then again I am not completely clear on its true purpose, only what is written in the last thirty years which is not clear.
Third, I have never tried to use kiai to demonstrate breathing ever. I use the Sanchin kata with Shime to demonstrate not just breathing but breathing is a strong and important part of it.
So, in general kiai is something you can take or leave depending on your goals in martial arts. It is worth the time and effort to learn as much as you can, within reason, to understand it simply as a historical part of Japanese/Okinawan martial arts.
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