Kiai is a the practice which involves explosive exhalations from the hara with vocalization, usually using the syllables “Ei!” and “Toh!”
Many marital arts students and observers wonder why kiai is so strongly demanded during practice. Often times, people feel reluctant to generate such a powerful, loud breath. Some even feel self conscious.
Researchers from the University of Nebraska have recently published a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research which may offer some scientific foundation for the physical benefits of kaia (or as they word it ”grunting”.
They discovered that grunting produced a 3.8% increase in groundstroke velocity for tennis players, while not impairing any oxygen consumption.
So be proud of your kiai, gather all your breath, and harmonize with your energy. On the court or on the mat, you can always tell people you are conducting your own research study.
For those who participated in the instructor seminar this past weekend, here is a past article from Fumio Toyoda Shihan about the importance of meiso ho and kokyu ho in training. This is from “Aikido World”, Vol 11, No. 5.
For a PDF copy, please contact the Aikido Association of America office (firstname.lastname@example.org).