KIAI's - THEIR PLACE IN KATA

Discussion in 'Karate' started by isshinryuronin, Aug 7, 2020.

  1. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    I love watching forms from different styles. So many things different and always things that are similar.
     
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  2. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Senior Master

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    I think...... it would be quite remiss of me.... to not bring this up...

    (AND also it's just been too long since it has surfaced on these forums)





    @isshinryuronin, and well, EVERYONE actually, if you could give me a point by point analysis of the kiais here that'd be swell! Would deepen ALL our understandings of kata and kiais I think.....

    P.S. Apologies if this hurts you @Buka more than it helps your pain!
     
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  3. isshinryuronin

    isshinryuronin Black Belt

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    I have only one thing to say - "YAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!"
     
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  4. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    I hope my last comments on a video were not mixed up with this one. Two completely different animals. I have no idea what the intent of this video is. Not a kiai IMHO.
     
  5. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Ah, Steve... yeah, haven't really missed you, bud...

    No. Says the guy with over 3 decades in dominantly Japanese systems, including those specialised in and focused on swordsmanship, but with a background including Classical Japanese arts (koryu, specifically Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu, Tenshinsho Den Katori Shinto Ryu, and Muso Shinden Ryu, all sword arts), modern organisations and iterations of such (Takamatsuden arts), karate, Tae-kwon Do, Aikido, boxing, judo, jodo, and BJJ... as well as doing a range of seminars and other training events for FMA arts, RBSD ones, Hapkido, modern (Western) jujutsu systems, Seitei Iaido, Wing Chun, Hung Gar, Taiji, Western Fencing, HEMA, and probably half a dozen I'm forgetting. I've trained in modern arts, classical arts, traditional arts, sports/competitive arts, I've competed, I've been involved in real fights and violence. And, frankly, you've been told all this before, and have decided that my experience doesn't count for you. Simply speaking... tough. You've stated that your only background is your BJJ, you haven't gotten into actual fights, and your exposure and understanding of anything outside of your BJJ is incredibly limited, to say the least... hell, you thought the OP, a very reasoned and serious question, was a joke thread, due to your complete inability to understand anything being discussed.

    And, for the record, no, XMA is an exhibition spectacle, it is not anything close to martial arts. To use the video you posted as an example, there is nothing close to anything like an effective understanding of te-no-uchi, hasuji, cutting mechanics, tactical application of a bladed weapon, context of usage of the weapon and much, much, much more. It is just a showy gymnastic show... to consider it anything else is to have no clue about what you're looking at. This isn't elitism, it's simple observation. I mean... the knife fight in West Side Story is more akin to martial arts than that display is. That's not to say that there isn't anything of value in what XMA guys do... just that there's no value from a martial perspective other than physical fitness (which, it must be said, is not equal to martial training in the slightest... there is a cross-over in the Venn diagram, but not as wide as might be believed... especially for this coming from a sports-related background).

    Yep, that's absolutely fair... and, really, deliberate as well. I purposefully didn't go into detail other than to indicate where things were off-base, mainly to see how people would take it... if they'd re-examine their approach to the topic, ask for clarification, or what... so I apologise for coming off as somewhat dismissive of the ideas, as that's not the actual case... but I don't apologise for the lack of detail behind my answers... yet.

    No, I meant what I said. I am, of course, familiar with the far more common quote from Nagamine-sensei, and I agree with it possibly more vehemently than many karate practitioners, but I meant my reference to kiai. Then again, I don't separate them out, as I consider them both integral to karate (and martial arts in general, especially Japanese ones).

    Agreed completely. I think asking about such things as you've done here is exactly what everyone should be doing about their practice, regardless of what they study... ask questions, find out, understand all aspects of your practice if you can. This is why I am so baffled as to what in your OP Steve thought was indicative of this being a "joke thread" as he said.

    You missed my point, I feel. I'm not doubting your study of Isshin Ryu... what I'm saying is that the more you decide to alter the art to suit your personal preferences, the less it remains Isshin Ryu... so to claim it to still be the same art is increasingly inaccurate. Of course, changes to a martial system can and do occur over time... with the strict caveat that such changes are typically from the head of the system on down, for a range of reasons... when someone changes something due to having a complete understanding, and coming to some kind of realisation, or adapting to some change, is one thing... when people change things because they don't understand them properly or fully, that's where it's problematic... and leads to the new version having less and less in common with the purported art it still claims to be. That can lead to new arts (look to Bruce Lee, Ed Parker, Wally Jay, the variant BJJ lineages etc for fairly modern examples), which again, no problem whatsoever... none of them claimed to be the same as their source, and all came from various levels of understanding of their foundational systems... or it can lead to a corruption of the original system itself... which is where there are issues.

    My study of karate began in the late 80's, and I'm aware of who I'm addressing. I did, however, stop my karate training to move onto other arts in the early 90's, but my interest in all martial arts, especially those from Japan (and, by extension, Okinawan ones) has continued since. And, I might note, I began my first response by stating I was coming from other Japanese martial arts as my primary perspective... as that's my major focus... but karate is a big part of my history, as that's my starting point, at least for physical training.

    Very true, Buka... of course, if I may, your case does highlight much of what I talk about above... you do not practice, nor claim to practice, a specific Okinawan or Japanese form/tradition of karate... you are very open in that you practice an American variant, which is a new system based in a personal direction of someone, or a group of people, back in the day... the approach separated from the way it was presented for whatever reasons... so it became it's own thing. Which is exactly what I describe about moving away from the original system, and no longer actually practicing that original art.

    I get the whole "psych yourself up" idea... but that's anathema to martial arts the way it's presented here... a big part of it being that "emotional drain" you're talking about. Ideally, such things should be avoided, or at least minimalised as much as possible, as it only leads to exhaustion (mentally and physically), and, in the middle of combat, that's an equation for death.

    As far as being unfamiliar with what I train, here's one of my main systems. This is the other main line, the Narita/Chiba group (I'm from the Kawasaki one), but the heart is the same:



    One of the most common concepts in Japanese martial arts is that of mushin (無心 - pretty literally "an absence of mind/heart/spirit"), which is a concept of not having emotional extremes, keeping control over yourself internally in order to have external control, and so on. It's not a "soft style" thing, in fact, quite the opposite... it is simply what is required if you want to survive. Watch combat sports... those that keep their cool, stay calm and focused (in a Japanese expression, maintain mushin), are the ones who come across as the professionals... those just running in, emotions all over the place, get cleaned up.

    Yeah... you missed the point. I was using that as an example of a very bad idea, not one that's hard to imagine yourself doing... a meaningless sacrifice grown out of being overly emotionally excited, and not being able to make any kind of clear decision.

    Oh, I'm not talking about the soldier who is ordered to move forward despite the lack of odds of survival... I'm talking about the soldier who gets so hyped up he ignores any orders and just charges forward...

    None of which was in the video Steve linked. That was pure emotional energy, focused, sure, but such an extreme waste of energy with such meaningless action that it is, as I said, the exact opposite of actual martial arts. It's jumping up and down and screaming "LOOK AT ME!!!!!"... it's a show, nothing else... there is no technical aspect related to martial arts, especially not the use of a sword, there is no tactical expression related, there is no mechanical aspect related, and more.

    Then I say again. Put this guy up against anyone with 6 months of sword work, and he does this? Hell, he does anything close to this, or related to it? He dies.

    Sure. I was going to do this at the end, but might as well put it here.

    Let's take this back a bit, and examine exactly what a ki-ai actually is, what it refers to, and what it isn't. But first, let's remind ourselves what I was responding to when I said "Honestly, all of that is almost precisely what kiai is not."
    You had said:
    "I played college football and still remember how loud some guys would get during a game. No, it was not formally known as a kiai but the intent was much the same. My point is there is a very natural element to kiai (kihap) in the everyday, real world. I am sure we have all made the very loud 'grunt' when picking up something heavy. That is akin to the formal kiai."

    So, my disagreement is that "getting loud (during a game of football)" is anything related to ki-ai... as well as that the idea of a "loud 'grunt' when picking up something heavy" is anything close either... and all that comes down to understanding what a ki-ai is in the first place, as most people attribute it to something that it, well, isn't... which is the noise itself.

    Ki-ai (気合) is made up of two characters, as you can see (Korean arts obviously use the Korean Hangul for kihap, but they are actually the same words), with the first obviously being "ki", the second "ai". Both these characters/concepts have a fair amount of nuance to them, which is where it all gets a bit complicated, but to keep it pretty simple, "ki" (気) is often described as "energy" (the character itself represents the steam coming up off a cooked grain of rice... interesting!), with "ai" (会) meaning "to come together/unite"... so the term "ki-ai" means "to unite, or bring together, energy". Okay, but what does that mean? Well, it basically means that a ki-ai is the action, or concept of acting in total concert with yourself. It's the body and intention all working together; your arms, legs, core, breath, mind, intent, and so on. But you might notice that I haven't said anything about any sound or noise yet... and that's because it's not a part of the concept of ki-ai. It is used to express ki-ai, but it's not actually the ki-ai itself...

    So what is the noise/shout, then? In Japanese terms, it's called the kakegoe (懸聲), which is literally a "suspended voice". From this, we can understand that the shout is not the ki-ai, although it can be part of the expression of a ki-ai, and that the presence of a shout (or noise) is not necessarily indicative of ki-ai. The examples of a "loud football game" is more to do with adrenaline, psyching each other up (or yourself), but is removed from the rest... unless the only noises where in conjunction with a particular action, and then also combined with a particular approach to intent... which is why the "grunt" of physical effort is also not related to the concept of ki-ai.

    Now, none of this is to say that simple vocalisation is not valid in and of itself... the military have used it as a psychological tool, both in spurring the recruits into action in training drills, and to increase aggression when facing truly terrible situations. What must be noted there, though (and this is where the whole "I'm a soldier, therefore more of a martial artist than a judo guy" comes into it) is that the aim of the soldiers training is not to keep the soldier (individual) alive... it's to get them to follow the orders as part of the unit so the overall aims can be achieved. Honestly, soldiers are considered expendable in the over-arching scheme of things... that's kind of the point of them... and going into that career knowing that is something that demands respect, clearly. Just in case anyone felt I was speaking ill of military members. The only point I'm making is that the shouting in military training is not a ki-ai, as the aims and reasoning is quite different. By the same token, a "grunt" of effort is simply a way of expelling air, and therefore giving less "space" inside your body, reinforcing it for the action you're asking of it. Yes, it's combined with an action, but it's not so much about focusing the mind/spirit, or anything similar... it's just a physiological reinforcing of muscle groups when under (physical) stress.

    "Something I tell new students (well, all students) is that kihap literally means 'expulsion of air'."

    It doesn't. The term has no reference to air, expulsion, or anything else. In fact, it's about bringing things together (uniting - ai/hap/会), not expelling anything. So when you say it "literally means (this)" when it very literally does not, yeah, I'm going to correct that... saying that your claim of literal wasn't literal, but figurative, well... nah...

    Ha, yeah, I'd suggest that as well... and, again, this isn't in and of itself an issue... but if we're discussing things in a forum dedicated to Japanese martial arts, then, well, I'd suggest we look to the Japanese approach to the concept... without getting into the suppositions of exactly what was brought across to Korea to create much of the modern KMA approaches...

    Yeah... no. Not at all.

    Yeah, I'd say so... but to expand on my comments, if your'e requiring a "forceful expulsion of air", that's removed from being united with the rest of your action... which means it is, again, simply not a ki-ai.

    Ha, cool... I usually tell my guys that breathing is good for you, and I wholeheartedly recommend it for most people... there are always some exceptions, though, ha!

    Firstly, bear in mind that Japanese arts, especially classical ones, utilise kata quite differently to Chinese-influenced arts (karate, TKD etc), in that kata are rarely the long string of solo actions... to see examples of kata in Japanese arts, well.... see the video I linked above. So there's going to be differences there already. That said, in many classical arts, there are a range of kakegoe applied throughout the waza, depending on the tradition... they may have them at the beginning, and end... only on the final action... all the way through... or even not have them at all.

    Okay.

    To finish (for now), @isshinryuronin, I'd like to invite you to ask for clarification of anything I have said here, or in my first post in this thread... as I said, yes, much is "unsubstantiated" in the post itself... deliberately so, aiming to provoke thought... so please, ask anything you want me to clarify or expand upon. Obviously you don't have to agree with me, but it may give some ways to think about this topic you haven't considered yet.
     
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  6. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    But it is not binary, not full on/full off. Just like in your description, an 'athlete' has to train and learn to handle the drain, and to 'open and close' the aforementioned drain as required, to prevent exhaustion. So we are saying the same thing, only differently.

    As far as the video; it was a performance in front of an applauding audience, just like the first video. There is no end all 'real world' difference in either. Just differences is what is seen and appreciated. I appreciate both videos, each in their own way.

    Conservation of energy is exactly what I am referring to above. What you most often do Not see on TV is what an athlete does before/after they compete. Many, not all, to have an emotional release, 'getting up' for the adversity ahead.
    Staying with the football analogy, when you are in the locker room before a game it is quite and a Lot of reflection is going on. There is a Very cool crescendo taking place. Many guys will have vocal expression as time gets closer. It is never a total release (whatever that is) because they understand what is ahead of them. So again, same/same.

    Now you are talking about being irrational. Totally different line of thinking.

    Agree. That is being totally out of control of one's emotions, regardless of the stressors involved.

    C'mon man. Both videos were a performance. Both were a "LOOD AT ME!!!!" Different in content but a performance all the same.

    You are basing this statement purely on one video. You have zero context for the rest of his training. Buyer beware here.

    Thank you for the history less, sincerely. Much of this is common knowledge for many across countries and styles.
    Fair enough on the intent of you correction. I agree it can lead to confusion with people new to an art. I said literal and you took it as such. I will still hold to my point that when using it as a tool, we are saying the same thing(s).

    I acknowledge I am on the JMA forum and that perspectives will be different but I have already stepped in it so will proceed. Much respect for everyone here.

    Never said that at all. I said "expulsion of air". It is an integral part of the whole process.
     
  7. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Which is nothing like the video Steve posted.

    Honestly, if you can't see a difference between those two videos, then I'm not sure what else I can say... other than to say that, to anyone passingly familiar, it's a far more extreme difference than between watching a well-done karate or TKD kata/poomse, and watching Power Rangers... although, honestly, the latter is probably closer to each other than the XMA and actual kenjutsu are.

    Again, no. Look, I get all of that... I've played enough sports, I've done stage performances (as both a musician and an actor), I get it... none of that is related to the XMA performance itself and what I'm discussing with it. And absolutely none of it has any connection to the concept of ki-ai.

    My apologies if I wasn't clear the first time, I can see how the example I chose could be misinterpreted. I had a particular image in my head of someone getting all worked up, standing up, and just blindly charging forwards, without his teammates beside him, and without the order to charge... hopefully we're on the same page with that example now.

    Cool.

    An embu and whatever it was that XMA guy was doing are quite different... the audience isn't actually the audience in embu, for one thing... and the content is one of the biggest things to look at... how it's designed, how it's structured, how it's performed... again, though, if you can't see it, I really don't have any way of making it clearer.

    Ha! No, believe me, I'm not... and, when it comes to swordsmanship, he's dead. That's just reality.

    Honestly, it's really not. I kinda hate to say it, but these kind of details are relatively rare to come across in any depth in most modern practitioners (by which I mean practitioners of modern arts). I'd love it if such things were common knowledge, but my experience has indicated otherwise.

    To that point, the whole idea of defining a ki-ai/kihap as 'an expulsion of air' is okay up to a point... in order for a student to understand a bit about how it's meant to be done... but to use it as a definition of the concept is a bit... lacking, I would say.

    And it's always good to get outsider perspectives and opinions... often having someone from "outside the family", so to speak, can lead to more introspection and thought, as they might ask questions those in the middle don't think to. So it's great having you involved, as it helps me clarify my thoughts, and hopefully can lead to a greater appreciation in both directions.

    Yeah... here I'm going to argue with you, though... here's your quote:

    If the bolded doesn't have you saying a "forceful expulsion of air" is a requirement, then...
     
  8. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    You have a way of stating your credentials that is lengthy, while also being vague and unconvincing. So, three decades of karate? Do you actually have rank in any karate system? Have you been in a fight yet? Been a soldier? Done anything remotely martial, besides teaching the system you are so proud of? As I recall, the answer is always no, in those are times you answer directly. Don't get me wrong. I appreciate your academic knowledge. But I don't think you understand the difference.

    But that aside, what I'm more interested in is why you think you're the arbiter of what is and isn't a martial art. That seems really arrogant. Even for you.
     
  9. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    You know, as I watched that, it really reminded me more of the Pacific Islander war dances, like the Haka or Siva tau. I mean, clear differences, but the way this kata was performed seems more like a firing up the spirit for battle ritual than a training exercise.
     
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  10. JR 137

    JR 137 Grandmaster

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    I love it when people have the authority to determine what IS something and what ISN’T. I’m glad I don’t have that authority. Way too much responsibility and answering way too many questions. And I’ve heard the pay isn’t that great either.

    I’d rather just train. Ed Parker said it best when he said (paraphrasing) “... whenever fist is meeting flesh, it’s real karate.” Real, fake, who gives a damn. As long as you’re meeting the needs of why you train. And why care about why others train? It’s their business, not mine. I love beating people up and getting beat up, but not too much of a beating :) Just enough to make me smile and still be functional the next day. Same for my partners. Some think it’s not enough, others think it’s too much. That’s their problem to deal with if they’ve got to perseverate on what I’m doing.

    Edit: Not my partners’ problem. Always go at a level they’re comfortable with.
     
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  11. isshinryuronin

    isshinryuronin Black Belt

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    We are in complete agreement on this point. I would be considered a strict traditionalist when it comes to kata and a constant defender of the ideas you express here. I was, though, questioning the reason and placement of just the kiai (which does refer to "meeting spirit" or as DV states, "the coming together of energy." The idea is the same. My spirit will remain mine to command.
     
  12. Buka

    Buka Sr. Grandmaster

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    Beautifully said and quite true, Sir.
     
  13. Buka

    Buka Sr. Grandmaster

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    I quite enjoyed that, albeit for probably different reasons. I look at martial things and imagine in the back of my mind the transference of various parts of what I watch into other aspects of real life.

    Having judged Kata for twenty years in tournaments a million years ago, I'm quite familiar with that one.
    But I haven't really been exposed to Kata over the last few decades, so while watching that now, I wonder in what other aspects of life the practitioner verbalises and moves with such volume and vigor.

    Yes, I'm a dog. Guilty, head hung in shame.
     
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  14. Buka

    Buka Sr. Grandmaster

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    As a side note about kiais..... Judging at tournaments back in the dark ages, I was often saddled with judging white belt kumite. Mostly because I had patience, the tourney promoters knew me and none of my students competed in kata.

    Every time I did it there were always a few white belts that would do a kiai when they thought they were striking their opponent. And there were always some of them that actually yelled the word "kiai" as their kiai.

    Now, that's entertainment. ;)
     
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  15. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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  16. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    You aren't serious, are you? Really?

    Look, Steve, I'm sick of this. You've been given these answers before, and they are almost all also answered in the post above, and you consistently ignore them, or discount them with no basis but extreme bias... and frankly, I don't care. As I said above, you're been told all of this before, and you have decided that, for whatever lunatic reason you have, you will act as if you've not been informed. Again, tough. Learn to read, and bluntly, grow up.

    You decided that no-one could teach or learn self defence, as you had no ability to grasp what that actually entailed, and gave parameters that honestly don't match reality... and even when presented with those parameters being met, decided that they didn't actually match your ideals, despite being exactly what you asked for. You have continually discounted all experience, knowledge, understanding, and more... and never once been able to actually argue against anything presented.

    And keep your "appreciation" of my academic knowledge... you don't appreciate it at all. You rail against it, discount it by deciding other factors trump it (even in academic matters, which is just proof that you don't care about anything other than railing against me... again, get over whatever cracked in your head years ago), then discount each example of my experience that does match what you ask for. Stop with the snide "funny" tags, and learn to read.

    Not an arbiter, son, just educated. And you can take that as arrogant as you'd like... your complete lack of acceptance of anything I say means that, really, your opinion is of exactly no value.

    It's not authority, as said, it's education. But yeah, the pay is not something that I'd recommend...

    Of course, you have to realise why he made such a patently inaccurate statement... he was defending the idea that what he was doing (his new American Kenpo art) was a form of karate, when it obviously didn't match what was seen in other (Okinawan and Japanese) forms...

    Ha, I felt we might be... as for the placement of the ki-ai in kata, that is a very insightful question, and something I think should be asked by everyone who wants to understand their art in the fullest. I would personally side with much of @_Simon_ 's ideas, in that they are placed at the culmination of a series of actions, indicating a type of "rest" or "stop" point... but even that is not likely to be absolutely consistent. It is also pertinent to realise that the placement likely is different to how it was done "back in the day"... the concept of your spirit, though, I feel is separate from the concept of "ki" as found in the ki-ai principle and concept themselves... I don't dispute your statement, but feel that's not really that related. The "ki" of ki-ai should be a consistent throughout the kata, rather than being reliant on an internally, potentially less-regulated "feeling".

    Say, here's an experiment... try performing a kata in three different ways... once, the way it's regularly taught... once, putting a ki-ai on every action (possibly differentiating between "offensive" and "defensive" ones)... and once, with a ki-ai where they naturally occur for you. It'd be interesting to see how each changes for you... you may find reasons for the placement that you didn't notice before...
     
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  17. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Senior Master

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    Oh no wasn't referring to your comments, would quote you if I was, just thought a comedic vid loosely related to the thread XD
     
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  18. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    Listen, son, your blustering outrage is noted, though you managed to write three paragraphs with zero actual information. I think you're hilarious, why wouldn't I put a funny tag on your posts?

    Regarding my positions on self defense, boy, I think some folks can teach it effectively. Just not someone like you, with no actual experience, kiddo. If you think my belief is that no one can teach it, you've failed to understand. Which, honestly, doesn't surprise me at all, squirt. To claim to be an expert on something you have no experience doing is funny, champ. I should say, best case is it's funny. I mean, if you charge folks for your lessons, that's more dangerous and potentially unethical than funny. But your posts are funny, at least.

    Regarding your academic knowledge, you know a lot about certain things. You're like a history professor. I appreciate those posts where you're strictly sharing historical information. That seems to be your wheelhouse.
    Wait. so, you're saying that XMA and wushu are not real martial arts, but ninjutsu is. And that any educated person would agree with you? You're confusing your opinion for absolute fact, and that, my little friend, is very arrogant. While I would take you at your word regarding why a samurai might fold his napkin in feudal Japan, I'm sure your opinion about whether something is or is not a martial art is no more valid than anyone else's. You may disagree with that person for any number of reasons, but that doesn't make them wrong.
     
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  19. JR 137

    JR 137 Grandmaster

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    I’ve told this story several times here, but it needs repeating. And it never gets old for me...

    We had this group of students who were about 6 months in or so. They kept saying “kiai” every time they kiai’ed. My teacher explained the concept and made it clear they weren’t supposed to say kiai, but the were supposed to kiai. What do they do? They keep saying it. Over and over, even after being told repeatedly.

    My teacher gets sick of it and has us line up like one of those big Mas Oyama workouts. Standing in place, drilling basic techniques like individual punches, blocks, et al. Kiai on every technique. They just couldn’t stop yelling kiai. We went a good 45 minutes straight. I loved every minute of it. They finally got it about a half hour into it.

    Every now and then, me and another guy would try to get someone to yell kiai. No one had the balls to do it though. If he or I would’ve done it, he’d have seen right through it and I’m sure the sparring session with him wouldn’t have been good. He’s a great guy, but like all of us, he had his buttons. Yelling kiai was one of them.
     
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  20. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    As I'm picturing this unfold, I'm imagining the students lined up, all yelling, 'Keeee-yai!'

    Anyone ever yell, "Hi-ya!" like in the old karate movies?123
     
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