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  • Developing a Kiai

    How do you properly develop a good kiai? I don't want to sound high pitched, but with a good baritone voice, like a roaring lion. Any suggestions?

  • #2
    If your kiai is sounding high pitch, it means you need to use your diaphragm more. On the yell, try to push your stomach out. It's odd to describe but you should get the hang of it.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by batusai. View Post
      How do you properly develop a good kiai? I don't want to sound high pitched, but with a good baritone voice, like a roaring lion. Any suggestions?
      Now, before you go and worry about sounding too high pitched, let me give you an odd story.
      About thirty years ago when my sensei was starting out in Kendo, he said that used to have a very deep, "manly" kiai. One of the older sensei in the area told him to try something higher pitched, saying that "it will make you faster." Sure enough, he started to feel much more freedom in his Kendo movement.

      The pitch of a sound does not change the speed at which you move. However, the muscles that many males use to sound "deep" actually restrict their movement. Muscle isolation is a tricky thing. Be aware that the way in which you create sound (even when you speak) affects how you are going to move. For example, far too many people "hang onto" their neck muscles when talking, this has a tightening effect on their collar-bone and shoulder muscles as well.

      Just something to think about.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by batusai. View Post
        How do you properly develop a good kiai? I don't want to sound high pitched, but with a good baritone voice, like a roaring lion. Any suggestions?
        I wouldn't recommend trying to artificially "engineer" your kiai. If you practice enough, you'll develop a natural kiai that suits you. But one thing you have to watch out for is not to rely too much on your vocal chords to scream. You'll give yourself a sore throat. Rather, it should be more like what an opera singer does. Nice open sound that comes from your belly. Some karaoke might help.

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        • #5
          Bruce Lee sounded like Prince getting kicked in the balls. Didn't reduce his manliness.

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          • #6
            Sumi Sensei explains.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yaoPNiWnHPs

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Halcyon View Post
              I wouldn't recommend trying to artificially "engineer" your kiai. If you practice enough, you'll develop a natural kiai that suits you. But one thing you have to watch out for is not to rely too much on your vocal chords to scream. You'll give yourself a sore throat. Rather, it should be more like what an opera singer does. Nice open sound that comes from your belly. Some karaoke might help.
              Agree with this, your kiai sounds like however it comes out, you dont really control it much, if you try to, you are likely 'speaking' and not actualy using kiai

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Halcyon View Post
                I wouldn't recommend trying to artificially "engineer" your kiai. If you practice enough, you'll develop a natural kiai that suits you.
                It's definitely fun finding your own kiai.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by batusai. View Post
                  How do you properly develop a good kiai? I don't want to sound high pitched, but with a good baritone voice, like a roaring lion. Any suggestions?
                  you ask two questions here. First is how to develop a good kiai, the seccond is how to get a lower piched kiai.

                  on the first: the sensei i heard about this say: any kiai is good as long as it is loud!

                  on the seccond: does it matter what pitch your kiai is? In my opinnion your kiai is a part of you. A part that you can get out of yourself, but that is already there. All you have to do is get it out, but it is as it is.

                  thats my look on kiai

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                  • #10
                    In my opinion, it makes sense trying to do it the way Sumi sensei explains; using your lower abdomen. When I've tried using a higher-pitched kiai, I get a more tense feeling in my shoulders and neck (probably because of the higher strain on the vocals cords and related neck muscles) than when I try to get the sound from lower down.

                    Also, I faintly remember reading some old article in kendo world about kiai and breathing, and how the kiai also can be a way of syncing your lower body (legs, hips and lower abdomen), to make your stance and movement stable, and to let your upper body (neck, shoulders, arms) be relaxed for quicker actions and reactions.

                    But then again, as people already said, I guess it's best that people just use whatever kiai they feel most comfortable with.
                    Last edited by Henrik; 6th March 2010, 07:21 AM.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ender84567 View Post
                      your kiai sounds like however it comes out, you dont really control it much, if you try to, you are likely 'speaking' and not actualy using kiai
                      Absolutely. Just let it come out. One of the Senseis at our club has a very high-pitched kiai; it's anything but a disadvantage...

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                      • #12
                        I love this topic!

                        In my opinion, Kiai is one of the most important thing in Kendo. Kiai is nearly everything.
                        Of course the ultimate goal is to be able to Kiai from the abdomen.

                        But for beginners, the way to Kiai is just to shout as loud as you can.

                        If during a Keiko, people stop or turn to look at you because they are surprised at how loud is your Kiai, then you have a good Kiai or at least you are on the way!

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                        • #13
                          If an audible kiai is so important why are there so few used in Iai schools? This has always puzzled me and nobody has been able to give me a good answer. There are points in Iai kata where I feeling a sharp, spirited shout would really 'gel' things together but we just don't seem to use them and I can't understand why.

                          I remember watching a demonstration of two little old ladies performing with Naginata, many years ago. They looked very ordinary until they started their kata with a blood curdling, high pitch, drawn out audible kiai! It was so frightening the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end for and hour afterwards and I jumped at the slightest thing!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Kokoro777 View Post
                            If an audible kiai is so important why are there so few used in Iai schools? This has always puzzled me and nobody has been able to give me a good answer. There are points in Iai kata where I feeling a sharp, spirited shout would really 'gel' things together but we just don't seem to use them and I can't understand why.

                            I remember watching a demonstration of two little old ladies performing with Naginata, many years ago. They looked very ordinary until they started their kata with a blood curdling, high pitch, drawn out audible kiai! It was so frightening the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end for and hour afterwards and I jumped at the slightest thing!
                            Iai tends to focus on surprise situations, or at least situations where you're not overtly posturing for psychological advantage outside of maai. Two of the purposes of the pre-contact kiai or kakegoe are to shake the resolve of the opponent, and to ground oneself. In iai, as the threat is implicit rather than explicit, these goals are achieved by other means. Also, with iai, I've never heard this in particular addressed, but it might be wise to not draw attention to the combat in a non-battlefield situation (i.e., tip off your attacker's buddies and bring them to his aid).

                            -Beth
                            Last edited by babayaga; 6th March 2010, 09:19 PM. Reason: Addendum

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                            • #15
                              The whole "no kiai in iai" falls very much into the the "it depends on the ryu" catagory. Since the majority of iai people, especially abroad, do MJER or MSR and they don't use kiai, etc many people seem to assume this is the case generally across the board, when it has been my experience that it seems to be more of a trait from a general collection of some Hayashizaki Jinsuke influenced traditions. Quite a number of iai traditions makes use of kiai (Sekiguchi-ryu and Hoki-ryu are probably the two most well known ones abroad), not to mention even more traditions that also include iai.

                              As for how to improve it, the smart ass answer is do it.. a lot. I also found that training outdoors helped me in that area, although in certain areas such activity might bring the men in white coats and the padded truck.

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