Monthly Archives: July 2012
The kiai or yell as mentioned by Miyamoto Musashi in his book the ‘Five Rings’ are divided into three categories. The ‘sho’ or pre-kiai, the ‘chu’ or during-kiai and the ‘go’ or post-victory-kiai.The ‘sho’ (pre-kiai) is made to encourage us and show our spirit, it is a strong and loud yell used to intimidate the opponent. The ‘chu’ (during-kiai) is made just before a strike is an intimidating, strong and loud yell used to give rhythm and timing to the strike also to surprise and confuse the opponent. The kiai is never made simultaneously with the delivery of a strike. The ‘go’ (post-victory-kiai) is the kiai associated with the zanshin (follow through) portion of the attack, it is the victory kiai or yell. The chu and go kiai are used in ki-ken-tai-icchi (spirit, sword and body as one) it shows the spirit of your strike. All the vocalized kiais are produced from deep within the abdomen and should never be the last of your breath, this is so that you may attack at any instant during or after the kiai concludes. Indeed when watching closely the videos of Masashiro Miyazaki one of the most famous masters of kendo in recent history we realize how frequently he makes short kiais as if to keep the opponent on edge all of the time never knowing when an attack is coming. The dictionary defines ‘kiai’ as “the state of mind where one is fully focused on the opponent’s move and one’s planned moves. Also it refers to the vocalizations one produces when in such a state of mind.” The kiai encompasses the focused mind on the opponent and adjusting your pending attack to the rhythm and timing to the movement of the opponent.