During a conversation with both Senaha and Tamaki Sensei’s, I raised a few observations that I had made regarding the way that they both practised the use of the Kiai during Kata. 

The Karate Kiai is often seen as a scream, spirited shout or even a yell being executed. The validity of which is often questioned by both practicing and none-practicing Karate Ka. Which is understandable. There are even a few teachers on Okinawa who do not practice or teach the Kiai at all. So, gaining a deeper understanding behind the generalised Okinawan meaning of this practice was something that intrigues me. I do understand the reasoning that a Kiai instantaneously raises your spirit and aggression behind techniques, because like it or not, raw Martial spirit can and will get you through many a hard-fought battle. You cannot rely solely on good form, so maybe this is a way of bringing that spirit out…

Sensei, I notice that in some Kata you use no Kiai at all, in other Kata you Kiai twice, three times, or maybe even in four places? “Yes, this is because no Kata are the same, all Kata are different, so the thoughts on Kiai are not the same either. In Goju Ryu there are three Kata that do not have a Kiai, as in Sanchin, Tensho and Sanseryu”. 

I can understand why there are no Kiai in Sanchin and Tensho Kata Sensei, but why is there no Kiai in Sanseryu Kata? Sanseryu Kata was taught to Chojun Miyagi Sensei by Kyohda Sensei, not Higashionna Sensei. Miyagi Sensei was away when Higashionna Sensei taught this Kata, so he never learned the Kata directly from his teacher, whereby Kyohda did. Of which when Miyagi Chojun learned it from him, the Kiai was missing, maybe this was intentional and the Kata had no Kiai, or maybe not. I do not know. That’s very interesting Sensei thank you for sharing.

Do all Kata have two Kiai? There is no real reason for every Kata to be the same and have two Kiai. In Gekki Sai Dai Ichi and Ni we use four Kiai. 

I notice Sensei that you sometimes Kiai on or through more than just the one technique. Yes! During Kata you often Kiai through two or even three moves, not just on the one technique. This is a misunderstanding. The Kiai or spirit often needs to continue on through, of course this depends on where the Kiai is. In Sesan Kata for example, during the first Kiai you do this all through the upper punch, uraken and elbow strike. Then at the end of the Kata you Kiai as you kick and still Kiai as you punch.  Senaha Sensei then got up and proceeded to demonstrate how to correctly Kiai in both parts of Sesan Kata.  Sensei also said that the Kiai is often, but not always, initiated from a kick in Kata then through to the next technique. Again, he demonstrated this Kiai in both the Gekki Sai Dai and Seipai Kata.