Kiai Jutsu: A Brief History
The word “kiai” means “whoosh.” It’s a sound made when something big or heavy flies through the air. It comes from the Japanese words for “whirlwind” (kyuu) and “sound” (ki). The term was first used in the early days of Japan’s military history, but it wasn’t until the Meiji Restoration that it became common currency among civilians.
In the past, samurai warriors would use their own unique sounds to communicate with each other. They called these sounds “kaikaku,” which literally translates to “a loud noise.” These sounds were used to call upon allies and warn enemies of impending danger. The sound was so powerful that it could even cause someone who had been asleep to wake up! However, due to the high cost of using such a technique, only very experienced samurai would ever employ them.
During the Edo period, the government began to implement some sort of standardized system for communication between soldiers and officers. One of those methods involved having all troops learn how to make a low-pitched sound called “kiyap.” This sound is similar to our “whoosh” except instead of being produced by a jet engine, it’s produced by human beings. The name kiyap comes from the English word “cough,” because coughing produces this same type of noise.
The first time the kiai was ever used in a war was during the Satsuma Rebellion. The Imperial Japanese Army used it for the first time in combat, and from then on out, it remained a part of their military training. One of the first masters of modern-day kiaijutsu is a man named Nakamura Tempu. He served in the Imperial Japanese Army and was wounded during the war. While he was recovering, he began practicing the ancient kiai techniques he had learned as a child.
Eventually he became so skilled that it became part of his military training. By 1895, the War Ministry’s General Staff Headquarters was established. This is an organization of Imperial Army officers who were responsible for directing and administering the organization. In 1896, Nakamura became one of the first adjutants to be assigned to this group.
As a former warrior, Nakamura Tempu always used his kiai to warn his juniors in the military. There are stories of how he never needed to say more than just one word for his subordinate to know what he wanted done. He didn’t even have to speak, sometimes a mere stare was enough to get a point across. The impact of his presence alone was said to be enough to cause others to feel genuine fear. However, Nakamura never had to make a loud sound in anger.
Using the mere power of his presence he was able to get subordinates to obey his orders.
By 1906, Nakamura Tempu was the head of the military’s sword-training department. He combined some of the older kiai techniques with the more modern “kiap.” He later went on to refine these techniques as well as invent new ones. These are the very same techniques that are taught at Master Korogi’s dojo! Of course, the techniques have been modified and are only a small part of the complete system taught to students.
Korogi Sensei’s school has become world famous because of its popularity among entertainers and businessmen. But its military connections have always been there. In fact, the current Prime Minister is rumored to have taken private lessons from Master Korogi when he was younger!
If you wish to learn the ways of the kiai, you must be dedicated. You must learn to forget about all your worldly desires. Only by channeling your inner energy into the ki can you achieve spiritual awakening. Forget the constraints of your male/female form. Forget your own limitations.
Free your mind and body from the trappings of this reality and enter a higher plane of existence!
Let the will of the ki guide you…
On a side note, if you’re interested in learning more about Nakamura Tempu, I’d recommend taking Japanese history classes. The Satsuma Rebellion is a popular topic, as is the Imperial Persecution Movement. Nakamura himself has been the subject of debate among radical intellectuals who claim his ideas promoted totalitarianism.
As for me, I’m going to continue my kiai training! Master Korogi promised to teach me a new technique after I complete my meditation exercises. I’ve been working on extending the range of my aura. I wonder if I can make it large enough to improve my fighting skills without using my hands at all…
Wish me luck, Diary!
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Deaths in the pan-Hellenic games II: all combative sports by R Brophy, M Brophy – The American Journal of Philology, 1985 – JSTOR
Duke Moore on Zen and Meditation: Fighting Spirit of Zen & Holistic Meditation by A Kim – 1998 – Citadel Press
Practical self-defense by RD Moore – 2005 – books.google.com
Remembering o-sensei: Living and training with Morihei Ueshiba, founder of aikido by M Lorden – 2012 – books.google.com
CHARACTER CREATION by S Perry – 2002 – books.google.com
Hypnobirth: Evidence, practice and support for birth professionals by DAN SMITH – dl.putz.in
Secrets of Shotokan Karate by T Gavin-Jones, S Handford – 2016 – books.google.com