As everybody knows theres two things KARATE is famous for, one is the never failing to knock 'em out Karate chop beloved of every spy and war film ever made, and ,of course the "hiyaa!" karate yell that was almost, not so much a fighting yell, but a magical incantation to ensure the bad guys would go down and stay down. But where once the martial arts were secret techniques, 'one touch n' yer dead', etc, nowadays training isn't done in a monestary atop a snowcapped mountain in the middle of a mysterious mountain range where the students train 24/7 on a bowl of rice a year, until their master slings 'em out to batter the baddies, or goodies on the outside untrained world.
No, today, clubs are visited by the students a couple of times a week after a day at the office, at a church hall or local leisure centre as part of their membership package. And the training is mainly for competition and is kicks and punches and' gettin' em in' before your opponent does. But although the mysticism and traditionality of the martial arts may well be neglected in these modern days. The training has to be a lot less harsh as ,well, they'd loose members. But one thing thats thriving is the 'KIAI', or to the unenlightened out there the shout.
The basis of most martial arts is internal energy and in Karate the base of the energy ,or CHI, if you want to get technical is the lower part of the stomach, about where the knot of the belt is located and this area is known as the HARA. So when you throw a punch, f'rinstance ,strange as it may seem the muscles in the arms aren't the main motivating areas of force,and should be totally relaxed. The power comes from the lower body, legs and trunk. The breath is exhaled powerfully from the hara by the muscles of the stomach, and the DIAPHGRAM. The big floor of muscle under the lungs.
The KIAII, is an art in itself. If you sit in on a class theres all kinds of shouts ,screams, grunts,snorts, blowing and hissing. Funnily enough some actually say the word as if they were reading it, "kiaii,"or "Hiyaa!"... The idea is to inhale through the nose and use the mouth to exhale, but a combination of respiratory entries and exits seem to take place, depending on how people feel themselves or purely because they're knackered and trying to get the air in and still get the draining power out of their flagging body.
Breathing in through the nose and out through the nose( THE SNORT) can leave you with globules of snot down your face and on the chest of your suit(GI)...Out through the mouth(THE GRUNT) can project spit n' snot globules into your partners face which can complicate things on occassions. There is also when inhaling and exhaling takes place through the mouth(THE GASP), Which can result in much spit and mucus, as exhaustion rears its ugly oxygen starved head, this is often combined with stomach turning wafts of bad breath from deep down in the lower stomach of your opponent. It is one way of spoiling the fight, if you were spoiling for a fight. But the sudden tensioning of the diaphgram and the explosive discharge of the air in your lungs can have a humiliating side effect. While the majority of the stomach tension drives the exhalation up , there is occasions when the explosive tension can drive down and as you go in for the kill with your terrifying "KIAIIIII!!!"....This is accompanied by an equally frightening thunderous "PHARRRTTT!!!!".....But the accomplished martial artist can turn this humiliation to their advantage ,by giving them a smack while they're still laughing.