Yelling

Just about everyone who has ever studied any martial art for any length of time has heard of “kiai”. Many assume that kiai is synonymous with “yelling”, but that is not true. Yelling is sometimes an expression of kiai, and warriors who have never heard of or been taught anything about kiai have used loud shouts and screaming when engaging in close combat. The Marine Corps has always emphasized fierce shouting and growling whenever training with or using the rifle and bayonet in hand-to-hand combat.

For practical self-defense every student should understand that certain tactics automatically enhance the application of techniques. Yelling is one of those tactics.

Every effort should always be made by every student of close combat and self-defense to take the enemy by surprise. The more that is done — at one time — to achieve this objective, the better. When a preemptive attack is accompanied by a fierce, piercing shout (accentuated by a grimace) the effectiveness of the preemptive onslaught is greatly enhanced.

Prove The effectiveness For Yourself

Try the following experiment:

Take some well-practiced counterattack (“self-defense technique”) that you have been working at for a long time. Do not tell your practice partner anything about what you intend to do.

Tell your partner that you’d like to review the technique, and you’d appreciate his being the attacker for a few repetitions. (Note: An excellent technique with which to try this experiment is either a one or a two-hand frontal clothing grab. Be extremely careful if the  technique involves, as American Combato techniques do, eye attacks, ear boxing, throat attacks, or/and knees and kicks to the testicles. Use strict control at all times!)

Have your partner attack you. Go through your sequential practice of the reaction to his attack, using whatever strength and speed you normally use when rehearsing this move. Repeat this a second time.

The THIRD time your partner undertakes to apply the clothing grab attack, react by employing the same technique you utilized the first two times, but when you go into action this time shout out with the most aggressive, piercing scream that you are  capable of rendering, and bolster it with the most fearsome and maniacal scowl of rage and murderous fury you can generate.

The effect of your unexpected shout will be evident. In fact, it may cause your “opponent” to freeze completely in momentary shock, or to pull away in complete surprise.

NOTICE the effect that a surprise shout has on your opponent. Remember: This is merely practice. Your opponent is a friend, and your opponent expects you to apply a counterattack. Imagine what amount of increased effect an actual use of such fierce yelling would have on a real attacker. A real attacker, after all, advances on you because he expects nothing of any consequence whatever to be done by you (or he wouldn’t attack). The combined physical injury and the jarring, jolting psychological shock of your sudden ferocious scream will shift the odds at least 98 to 2 — in YOUR favor! And while your “war face” (i.e. your vicious scowl) might surprise your practice partner — it will often completely unnerve your attacker, when his attack is for real.

NOTICE the effect that your screaming has on you.

In point of fact what you are doing when you shout out aggressively is shifting your entire mental and physical focus on going after  your enemy. Courage, aggressiveness, and the will to win, all combine and intensify, and make you as formidable a foe to your enemy as you could be!

Different Ways To Yell

Ironically, the way in which most karate, taekwon-do, and other “martial arts” people utilize yelling when they spar, compete or practice, is NOT the best way to do it for real self-defense and close combat emergencies. Lots of intermittent shouts and “barks” during freestyle become so “normal” that there is no shock value to them, at all. This is not the way to use yelling in close combat — either for defense or for attack.

Loud barking shouts are often heard in karate matches. This is not really the best way to train for yelling in combat. A real close combat encounter more closely approximates an assassination, than any kind of "match" or "sparring" event.

Loud barking shouts are often heard in karate matches. This is not really the best way to train for yelling in combat. A real close combat encounter more closely approximates an assassination, than any kind of "match" or "sparring" event.

The proper way to yell in combat, when on the offense (ie when preempting) is as one, sudden, piercing, shocking BLAST.  At the very moment when you launch your preemptive action, explode with a shriek that is as loud and as fierce and as unexpectedly sudden as you are capable of making it. Continuing to yell (or growl) following that initial scream is okay — but it is not what you will want to focus on. Rather, remember this: WHEN LAUNCHING YOUR ATTACK AGAINST A FOE, PREEMPTIVELY, LET YOUR PIERCING SCREAM ACCOMPANY YOUR INITIAL BLAST OF PHYSICAL ACTION. Thereafter, if it is to your liking, continuous growling and yelling is fine, but not necessary.

When on the defensive (i.e. when for example, reacting to a sudden seizure from behind, or to an upraised fist, etc.) SCREAM OUT FEROCIOUSLY, and try to continue a maniacal, growling, snarling yell, as you turn the tables on your opponent and continue to counter his aggression. (Note: We did not suggest this particular “style” of yelling when we described the experimental use of the shout, earlier; but that was for simplicity’s sake. As you train and practice, and as you proceed to cultivate shouting and yelling as an ancillary, bolstering tactic, you can “refine your style” so to speak, and actually train yourself to yell in the manner most likely to be optimally effective in a real encounter).

Yelling fiercely induces COURAGE and AGGRESSIVENESS. Use it!

Use With Weapons

Photo from the great Classic on close combat, KILL OR GET KILLED, by one of our mentors, the late Col. Rex Applegate. When attacking with a knife few things are as helpful in startling the enemy as yelling ferociously. It also helps to take your mind off what you in fact are doing (if that happens to bother you).

Photo from the great Classic on close combat, KILL OR GET KILLED, by one of our mentors, the late Col. Rex Applegate. When attacking with a knife few things are as helpful in startling the enemy as yelling ferociously. It also helps to take your mind off what you in fact are doing (if that happens to bother you).

We briefly alluded to the Marine Corps’ method of training recruits to employ their bayoneted rifles in close combat. We are not really certain about how the Army does things today, but during WWII we know that thee Army’s  method was similar. They always instructed the recruit to YELL FEROCIOUSLY when attacking and killing an enemy with the bayonet. We urge that students of modern weaponry, when learning to employ knofework and stick fighting, train themselves to shout and scream aggressively as they attack. There are two reasons for this, when employing weapons — especially when employing the knife:

1. The same reason one employs shouting in unarmed combat,

—and—

2. To take your mind off the (rather gruesome) action that you are performing against your foe.

Basic Training Web 1

Simply and honestly put: It is easier for a man to plunge a knife into an enemy and cut up his insides while he is yelling fiercely and screaming his head off, than it is for him to do so without yelling. This fact was invariably explained to troops during the second world war, although it is doubtful that today’s “politically correct” atmosphere of conditioning the men in our armed services allows for such candor.

We, personally, have no problem stating facts. Or teaching them.

The “Kiai” Connection

“Kiai” (pronounced key’ eye) is the Asian term used to refer to what in reality may not include any vocalizing of sound, at all. In truth it means “spirit meeting” OR “coming together of one’s total powers”FOCUSING, in other words; focusing body, mind, spirit, and purpose 100%, for the executing of a single objective.

Lest any reader begin to think that this is now getting into the insane realm of “mystery” and “secrets” (where too many in the martial arts field enjoy leading people) let us emphasize at once that WEIGHT LIFTERS, BOXERS, WRESTLERS, and just about every other variety of serious, dedicated, and accomplished athlete in any field of physical endeavor, has utilized (albeit without likely even knowing what the term meant) kiai. Just watch an Olympic weight lifter going for a record lift. You’ll understand.

Because “grunting” and exhalation of breath is just about inevitably automatic whenever making any supreme effort, it is true that one often hears individuals “shout” when they apply full force and concentration to an effort of great physical exertion. It is also true that when instructing warriors in the concept of kiai, the Asian fighter was always taught to regard capitalizing on the “grunt” impulse by VOCALIZING A SHOUT as being effective and desirable in combat. However, on some occasions (sentry stalking and killing, for instance; or when abducting a sensitive individual from an enemy camp, etc.) kiai must be SILENT, and — for obvious reasons — include no audible noise.

The same may be true in some self-defense contexts. The personal discretion and judgment of the individual will determine when and where “silent kiai” (i.e. focus of one’s full power to achieve and render a successful technique) may be called for.

Our purpose in this article is to make our readers aware of the tremendous aid that loud, sharp, explosive yelling can provide whenever dealing with a violent assailant. Comprehension of the kiai phenomenon is always a bonus — but remember to YELL LIKE A WILD, INSANE BEAST whenever you defend or attack in an emergency self-defense encounter.

Let your vicious, fierce, piercing scream come “out of nowhere” as you launch your most destructive and merciless preemptive barrage!

It’s one more very useful tactic in your bag of hand-to-hand combat “tricks”.