Friday, 30 May 2008

Kihap - shouting in Taekwondo

One of my favourite topics - the Kihap (the loud shout made when you perform a striking technique or adopt fighting stance before sparring).

When I first started Taekwondo, I (probably like most people) felt very self conscious about shouting at the top of my voice in front of a collection of new people. There were other people in the class (some quite high grades) who were also fairly quiet. On the other hand, there were some people there making more than enough noise for the entire class. It only took a few classes and I decided I wasn't going to be the quietest in the class. Funnily enough, while I see myself as quite self conscious, once I started using a loud Kihap, I actually felt more comfortable in the class. The irrational fear that everyone else would start laughing turned out to be...irrational. From time to time I might get it slightly wrong, and a girlish scream might escape causing the odd snigger, but no matter.

At the Chung Yong club all the instructors encourage both juniors and seniors to Kihap loudly, and aggressively. It really works and is an important thing to get right because:
  1. A loud Kihap right at the beginning of sparring helps you channel up some controlled aggression, and if done right will put fear into the heart of your opponent.
  2. Kihap before performing a break to channel energy and confidence.
  3. Kihap when striking (either with the fist or foot). The exhalation of air helps again in channeling energy, and stops you getting winded if you're counter struck by your opponent.
  4. A Kihap forces you to breath - some students seem to forget to do this at times!
Louder is better ;)



Blogger Colin Wee said...

There are two standard breaths that we teach beginners - both of them feature in our first taekwondo pattern. One breath starts at the start of the techniques and is squeezed out as you perform the entire technique. The next breath type is the one done during the kiai or kihap - 30-50% is knocked out at the end of the technique.

Both breath patterns are featured quite high on my list of important skills for a beginner to learn. The rhythmic forcing out of the breath through all techniques is as important for self defence as any individual technique is. Can't breathe right? Adrenaline dump choking you up? Might as well give up. You need this kind of Taekwondo training to force you to take and push out regular breaths.

Such breathing is also key to successfully navigating your way through sparring sessions. Breath holding will certainly wipe your endurance out, just as quickly as your opponent wipes you out.

Good post.


08 June 2008 13:22  

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