Page 5 of 9
Purposes of a kiai
- Shows your fighting spirit. When performed under stress is like crying out "I will not give up! I will prevail!"
- Focuses total concentration into the attack.
- Focuses timing, breathing, movement, and power.
- Increases the power of an attack by tensing the appropriate muscles.
- Ensures the breath is not held during exertion. Holding the breath during exertion increases blood pressure, which may be harmful. Ever seen the bulging veins on a weightlifter's temples?
- Forces oxygen into bloodstream because muscles need maximum oxygen to perform forcefully (first syllable "ki" forces oxygen into bloodstream).
- Tenses the body at the moment of impact of an attack (second syllable "ai" tenses the body).
- Tenses the body at the moment it receives a blow to direct the force of the blow throughout the body. When you are attacking, you are generally moving forward and vulnerable to a counterattack. If you are hit by a counterattack, you cannot absorb the blow as well as you might if you were retreating from the blow or even standing still.
- Helps absorb an attack. By expelling air, the chest and stomach become firmer and less susceptible to having "the wind knocked out." Also, letting a blow slowly force the remaining air from the lungs gradually absorbs the power of the blow. If kicked in the chest while holding the breath, the rise in pressure in the chest cavity may cause the heart to go into fibrillation (heart muscle starts trembling instead of rhythmically pumping), which is potentially fatal.