How to sound a kiai
The sounds Taekwondo students make when sounding a kiai are "E-eye" or variations of kiai, such as "ya," "oh," "or-ya," "utzz," "kiyup," or "e-yup". The exact sound of the yell will vary from person to person. Being a career Navy man, over the years, my kiai evolved into a variation of the Navy yell "hooyah." You should experiment to find the best sound for you. However, do not try to sound like Bruce Lee—keep it simple and traditional sounding. Staying with the standard kiai sounds will keep you from saying something offensive in a foreign language. One famous Karate expert was well known for using the word "kusoh" for his kiai—it means feces in Japanese. Actually, the kiai may be silent; everything else is the same except one does not emit a sound.
When to sound a kiai
The kiai is sounded:
- At the moment of impact of a technique, whether it be a block or an attack
- When absorbing blows to the abdomen
- At certain points while performing patterns, failure to sound a strong kiai at the appropriate place is regarded as an error.
- While free-sparring to signify a decisive technique. An attack without an accompanying kiai is not is regarded as a strong, decisive technique
- Anytime you want to accentuate an action you are performing
Just like what the military tells you about when to salute, "When in doubt, do it." Use a kiai every time you execute a technique. Depending on the circumstances, it may be a low volume kiai similar to a whisper, or it may be a blood-curdling kiai that even causes the spectators to tremble.