The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #164: Readings from Zen in the Martial Arts, Ninjutsu History and Tradition, and The Thirteenth Hour – the Kiai

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.

between 2 worlds EP cover 2

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hourplaylist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!



The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #71: Readings from Stephen K. Hayes’ Ninjutsu: The Art of the Invisible Warrior

Episode #71: Readings from Stephen K. Hayes’ Ninjutsu: The Art of the Invisible Warrior

I’ve recently rediscovered ninjutsu after a nearly 20 year hiatus.  After having trained in martial arts more than half my life at this point, it’s fun and eye-opening to start as a beginner at something almost totally new (since I can’t say I really remember much from my initial foray into the art — see Episode #47 for more).  In this week’s podcast, I reflect a little on the journey and read a few segments on conditioning, diet, and meditative practices from Stephen K. Hayes’ 1984 book, Ninjutsu: the Art of the Invisible Warrior.

I totally remember sitting on the floor of my local library reading this book (and the many others Mr. Hayes wrote) when I was a kid (and not really understanding most of it, I should add, since I mostly just looked at the pictures and tried to figure out how to throw shuriken).  Of course, it was much harder to find these kinds of books then (pre-internet), so thanks to so-called modern technology, what were considered priceless secrets to a twelve year old can now be easily found via Amazon, eBay, and by an adult decades later 🙂  Even though the book is over 30 years old, the advice inside is still as applicable today as it was years ago.  It expands the world of the martial arts to the world at large.  It takes specific skills learned for a specific purpose and makes them applicable to the world of everyday life … which, I suppose, is what they are all about to begin with.

In this short clip, Stephen K. Hayes talks a little about his own personal journey and the heroic ideal, which I thought was appropriate for a site that talks about fantasy stories and the hero’s journey:



Click on the image of the book above to read more about it on Amazon. 

Thanks for listening!


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