Kata Lab # 1110 – Kata With Custom Kiai

23 Feb



This Kata Lab will help you practice and explore the benefits of non-traditional kiai.

Within the martial arts, there are three reasons to kiai. They are, to scare your opponent, to boost your confidence and to provide or add to the strength of your technique. In my opinion, there is another aspect of kiai. That aspect is to to alert others to your predicament. In Karate, very often the sound one produces with a kiai is akin to “ai-ya.” I have students modify this. When I teach children karate, I teach them to kiai the word “help”. Similarly, I teach female students to kiai the word “fire.” Why? Again, the word itself has no effect on the kiai so use the word to your advantage. Most people that hear a child yell for help will look in that direction and offer assistance. However, help yelled from an adult may not elicit the same response, rather people may actually look away. Thus, the kiai of “fire”; everyone looks to see where the fire is.
Another example comes from my background as a criminal defense attorney (now retired). I tell students to consider another non-traditional kiai – the phrase “stop hitting me” as you defend yourself. In the event of police reports or legal action, witnesses may not recall the exact circumstances of the encounter, but they may recall that you had said you were being hit and asked for it to stop.

Experimental analysis (Recommended Reader Experimentation):
Select a non-traditional, individual kiai to explore. The kiai maybe the word “help” or “fire” or “stop hitting me” as in the above narrative.
Practice your kata and where a kiai is specified in the kata, use your non-traditional kiai.
You may also use your non-traditional kiai in kumite , self-defense and other Dojo practice.


Practicing a non-traditional kiai within your kata, sets the stage for you to actually use the kiai when and if you are required to spontaneously defend yourself in the street.

Lastly, the practice is also fun for students (and thus encourages practice and imagination). To this end, I had my children’s class one week before Christmas use the kiai “Ho.” They were encouraged to use this kiai in kata. They were permitted to also use it in self-defense and kumite. The only stipulation when using it in kumite or self-defense was that they had to execute three consecutive techniques. Thus the full kiai was a Christmasy “Ho-ho-ho.”

Please remember, the mandate of the kata laboratory is




Cum superiorum privilegio veniaque “With the privilege and permission of the superiors”
Sensei John Szmitkowski

Please feel free to visit our store with Kata Lab logo products

Come visit my store on CafePress!

all items have a minimal mark-up of only $ 0.75 to $ 1.00 over base prices! Here are ONLY SOME of our support products:


Sensei John is now on Facebook, under – FLY FISHING DOJO, you are invited to send a Facebook friend request.

You may wish to view my other blogs –
LOGO-WEBSITE  my fishing blog combining martial arts protocol with fishing http://flyfishingdojo.com


DOJO STICKER-1  the Goshin-Do Karate blog at http://defeliceryu.com

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