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Kihap or Ki-not?
October 19th, 2006 by Ryan V. | Posted in Experience | View Comments

After the last fighting class, I was thinking about sparring — how I spar and the other techniques that people employ. I started to focus on how people kihap before a match, because in my opinion it doesn’t seem to do much. I am reluctant to yell while making a fighting stance because I don’t see any benefit from doing so; in fact it could almost make things worse.

The way I understand is that people yell to intimidate their opponent; but this would only work on a very meek person, who probably wouldn’t do well fighting anyways. Most people who come to train and spar in Taekwondo have a strong mental physique, being able to push themselves and face another in combat. Watching the matches during fighting class, no one seemed to be affected by a yell. Many of the people who did yell seemed only to be doing it as a routine; mouth piece in, bow, yell, fight.

I say it could be worse to yell because it serves as a distraction for you. Instead of focusing on the fight, yourself, your stance, your opponent’s stance, you bellow a yell and the fight begins. Once your opponent is coming at you there is limited time to figure all that stuff out before he launches a kick or punch. I can understand the idea behind yelling as you get hit or deliver a hit, since it serves a purpose. Yelling before a fight just seems to me like a waste of air.

Statements made in this column reflect the personal views of the author. These views do not necessarily reflect those of Lehigh Valley Taekwondo and its staff.

7 Comments

7: "Kwjo" says:

Ok, you want to know the REAL reason kihap is such an effective move? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOO7HYNWM3U&NR This DESTROYS your opponent if you can master it. It also tears at their self confidence, if they are even slightly doubtful.

6: "Christy" says:

When I yell, it’s for me. It has nothing to do with intimidating the other person or following along in class (though it is required at times no matter what). I am even surprised at myself sometimes when a yell comes out. It isn’t forced..I can’t imagine not yelling at certain times.

5: "Ben" says:

Just to add my two cents to what was already said. I used to never kihap. It wasn’t until I trained a week in Korea with private instructions that I started yelling. For one, when you are the only person in the class it is really easy to point out when you miss a kihap. Secondly, when you are the only one doing the techniques, it is way too quiet. A few “swishes” of your uniform but other than that it is quiet enough to fall asleep! Now I am much more vocal when I train. It keeps my energy level up and keeps me focused. Plus I think it encourages lower ranks to put as much energy into their techniques as I am.

4: "Andy" says:

I used to feel a bit self concious about the kihap. Then one day I told myself I was going to either do it, or not do it. Too many people at my club come out with a pathetic “bleh” at the beginning of a round of sparring which is totally pointless. I think I might be the loudest in my class, but never embarassed about it. In terms of competition fighting I think you can usually spot the winner right at the start - the one with a decent kihap who looks right into his opponents eyes usually destroys the one who coughs politely and looks at his feet - I’d put mental attitude as one of the most important factors separating two fighters - skill, stamina & technique won’t help much if you don’t really WANT to win.

3: "aika" says:

That’s an interesting point of view. Do you always feel that the fighters facing you are actually angry? I actually used to feel that way, when I was white-yellow-green belts. I couldn’t figure out how people can be so nice and next minute trying to kill me (or so it felt like) without really hating my guts.

I do yell now but I’m never angry. As a matter of fact, I can’t recall the last time I fought angrily. I wonder when I crossed that line.

2: "Ryan" says:

Perhaps it’s my mental state of mind when fighting that influences my reaction to yelling before a match. I see yelling before a match as a way of psyching yourself up to be angry and intimidating towards your opponent. Your trying to get your mentality geared towards pounding your opponent every chance you get. I do not like to yell before a fight because I don’t think it’s better to fight angry. When emotions drive your moves, you fight hard but sloppy. You might miss a key opening or fail to see an incoming attack because you are more raging at the person than fighting them. Instead of yelling you can focus your mind, from there everything else will fall into place.

1: "aika" says:

Really? You don’t feel yourself getting ready and into “OK, let’s get ready to fight! (… kind of sounds like UFC or something, doesn’t it?)” mode when you yell?

It does, at least, for me. As a matter of fact, if you hear my yells carefully (which nobody has picked up as of yet), you can usually tell what kind of physical and mental condition I’m in … serving as a sort of barometer.

You’re right, nobody at our school (except for the first-timers, maybe) would be intimidated by our yells. I’m not very much expecting that intimidation factor. That’s why we call it “kihap” (”ki-ai” in Japanese), which means “(fighting) spirit” or “will power.” By yelling, you’re putting your spirit to get ready for the event.

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