Episode #164: Readings from Zen in the Martial Arts, Ninjutsu History and Tradition, and The Thirteenth Hour – the Kiai
Today, we’re taking a short break from 80s movies to talk about something found in many martial arts – the shout. In Japanese, it’s called a kiai (kihap in Korean). The character making up the term make the most sense in traditional Chinese characters (qi4 he2 – although I’m not sure if that term is actually used in Chinese martial arts or in Chinese at all):
On the left, the topmost radical is used for “steam” or “gas” usually. The star shaped character underneath is the character for rice. So the steam coming off cooking rice is essentially “energy” or “spirit” and a whole host of other more esoteric things, though in the practical sense, if one thinks of rice being the lifeblood of an agrarian region like ancient China, it makes sense that food = energy. The character on the right means “together.” The roof like part of the character is very similar to the character for person. The one below is “one” and the box on the bottom is the character for “mouth.” Though I’m not sure it’s explained this way, I think of it as “person or people with one mouth” – i.e. “people expressing one voice” (Chinese doesn’t necessarily have to distinguish between 1 person and many). Notice there isn’t actually anything about shouting, though that’s how it’s often used practically.
So there are two readings from two martial arts books that discuss this idea of tapping into the universal energy that binds living things: Zen in the Martial Arts by Joe Hyams and Ninjutsu: History and Tradition by Masaaki Hatsumi. We end with a section from The Thirteenth Hour where the main character uses this idea in two separate ways, one defensively, one offensively.
In a way, this episode may be prep for next week’s (likely) episode on Big Trouble in Little China. The podcast now has a page on Facebook, so head over there and to Instagram to check out some scenes from the film over the next few weeks.
Between Two Worlds, the synth EP follow up to Long Ago Not So Far Away is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.
The bonus track, called “Flight of the Cloudrider” has a 80s movie mashup music video (see if you can identify all the movies!) which is available on youtube. This app was largely created with the iphone app Auxy.
Stay tuned. Follow along on Spotify! There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hourplaylist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.
As always, thanks for listening!
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