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The kiai is a technique that involves shouting, grunting or screaming while posing or fighting to audibly demonstrate your bone-crushing power. Often associated with Martial Arts Movies and anime, this has its basis in many real-life martial arts (and thus is Truth in Television).

Kiai (Japanese for "unification of will", and pronounced like the words "key" and "eye" in rapid succession) mainly refers to focus or intensity in its original language. Its secondary definition of respiration has been appropriated in English as the shout that accompanies focused moments in kata (martial arts moves). When Japanese characters actually bring up kiai, this can throw off translations. Especially in supernatural martial arts.

In some teachings, it is believed that the shout 'releases' your inner energy and allows you to use more force behind your blows. In reality strikes synchronized with exhalation are the strongest regardless of sound as it helps in activating the abdominal and core muscles, it's just that the kiai encourages proper breathing during a strike.

Wuxia being wuxia and Anime being anime, however, these kinds of real-life shouts are generally exaggerated into two main forms:

  1. The Powerup-Scream: Utilizes the Kiai in the form of a longer-lasting scream to release dormant or otherwise 'contained' energy akin to tapping into reserves. Expect to see Standard Powerup Poses and Battle Auras, with an addition of Chunky Updraft on the side. These kinds are sometimes required to tap into the Super Mode, and if the kiai is releasing the necessary energy for a Deadly Upgrade or Dangerous Forbidden Technique, you can also expect it to sound particularily pained. If a character has to dig particularily deep, these screams can last for the better parts of a minute, and may require opponets to, for one reason or another, actively invoke Transformation Is a Free Action.
    • Because of their release of energy, these kinds of Kiai can occationally also be used to deflect attacks, by timing them just as an attack is about to strike, utilizing the release of energy as a barrier.
  2. The Amplifier: Utilizes the Kiai in the form of a shorter shout to exert additional effort beyond the norm in the moment. Bolstering a block or parry, or increasing the force of a blow - possibly enhancing it through various means. In the case of something like a Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs, or any other kind of Spam Attack, expect this kind of Kiai to produce a string of these short shouts. These kinds of Kiai are typically proportional to the amount of additional effort being exerted, and may sometimes be channeled into something like a Kamehame Hadouken or Calling Your Attacks: The louder the kiai as the attack is unleashed, the more power is being expended in the attack.

It's commonly seen in martial-arts films, anime, and really, anybody who's Hot-Blooded and kicking ass.

See also Screaming Warrior, as well as Funny Bruce Lee Noises. Also see Super-Scream if a Kiai is weaponized. May overlap with Calling Your Attacks.

Also via Bilingual Bonus, if read in pinyin, it'd be said as "qihe" (chi-huh).


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Bamboo Blade's Tama-chan uses this to stop one of her opponents cold, before executing a brutal throat strike that counts as one of the highlights of the series. Especially impressive considering she's maybe half the size of the other girl.
  • Played with in Bleach prior to the Soul Society arc by Orihime and Chad, who, while receiving training under Yoruichi to tap into their latent spiritual powers, initally believed that executing the trope was necessary.
    • Of course, being a swordsman series, there are a lots of screaming.
  • Digimon Frontier has the characters let out bloodcurdling screams for every occasion, going straight into the best (or worst — depending on your sense of humor versus your emotional investment in the show.) Narm the franchise has to offer. It eventually reached the point where, when the main character got another Evolutionary Level near the end, the American voice actor actually refused to voice the new form — the strain of all the screaming that would be involved was more than he wanted to put his voice through.
    • Ironically, during the new form's scenes, a comparitively smaller amount of screaming was actually involved.
    • Digimon Tamers did it first when Takato's wordless scream of determination actually rejuvenated his partner. When the other Tamers started copying him, Terriermon / Rapidmon asks "What's all the yelling about?"
  • Dragon Ball is, of course, notorious for grandiose shouting during its battles, combined with Transformation Is a Free Action whenever it's used for powering up.
    • Kiai is stated in Daizenshuu 7 to be a ki technique used to knock away opponents or deflect attacks. Indeed, Tien uses one to deflect a Kamehameha and Cyborg Tao's Super Dodon-pa, Goku uses it in his match with Chi-Chi to blow her out of the ring unharmed, and Krillin and Gohan use it to put out a forest fire at the beginning of Tree of Might.
    • Even among the screams of epic seiyuu, Masako Nozawa definitely stands out, giving amazing screams for not only Goku but also Gohan and others, and continuing to do so even today in her 80's! Truly a legend!
    • The Funimation dub seems to take this even further... just check out Goku's Super Saiyan 3 transformation and then wonder how Sean Schemmel is still voice acting today. The editing of the clip suggests that there was some clever editing to reuse the best voice take — but even if this is the case, this still equates to at least 2-3 minutes of non-stop screaming! One can only hope that he got a few days off to recuperate.
    • In an interview at a convention, Sean Schemmel talks of how he passed out in the recording booth after recording a scream for Goku's Super Saiyan 4 form in Dragon Ball GT. This is commonly misremembered as his Super Saiyan 3 scream in Dragon Ball Z.
    • In another interview, Christopher Sabat was asked to do a Super Saiyan transformation shout, and he declined by explaining that doing these shouts is so strenuous that they always save them for the end of a recording session, because it destroys their vocal cords. In this interview, he also explains that new voice actors coming in have the choice to either do the loudest, most intense screams they've ever done in their life, or do them twice, because anything less won't work for the show!
  • In Eyeshield21, many of the characters have a kiai. Kurita has "FUNNURABA!" (here I come), Monta has "MUKYAAA!" (literally a Tarzan yell), and Komusubi has "HUGOOOO!" Even Sena, who rarely seems like he enjoys it (although he does) develops a battle cry of "UOOOOOOO!" during the Christmas Bowl.
  • Fist of the North Star: Even beyond the classic (and arguably most famous of all incarnations of this trope) "ATATATATATATATAAAAAAAAA" of Kenshiro as he's unleashing the Hokuto Hyakuretsu Ken, a few of the other major characters do this to some extent, notably Rei and Raoh.
  • Lampshaded in Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu when Sousuke (as Bonta-kun) is training yakuza. He tells them to not waste movement and not to yell while attacking (this is all translated by Kaname).
  • Initial D has Kozo Hoshino, aka God Foot. He is described as being very loud when driving, and constantly yells out "DORIYAAA" during his battle with Keisuke Takahashi.
  • Knowingly subverted in Inuyasha. Shippo, with a challenge from a strong opponent looming, asks InuYasha how to summon his powerful sword technique, the Wind Scar. Amused by the question, InuYasha replies with blatant lies, telling him he summons the power with chants of "Gagaga!" and "Dadada!". Hilarity Ensues when Shippo tries to use it in battle.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • "Wryyyyyy!" (pronounced "uree", to rhyme with "tree") is a battle-cry that many vampires use, though it is most famously attributed to Big Bad and Greater-Scope Villain DIO (because other vampires stopped being relevant early into part 2) and commonly parodied in fandoms (much like "Za Warudo").
    • Hero Jotaro Kujo has his own battle cry: ORAORAORAORAORA ORAAAAAAAAAAA! This is also used by his daughter Jolyne Cujoh and the two alternative universe JoJos, Johnny Joestar and Part 4 Josuke's alternate universe iteration Josuke Higashikata as callbacks.
    • Dio's battle cry is "MUDA DA! MUDA MUDA MUDA MUDA MUDA!" (Japanese for "useless" or "futile"). His son Giorno also uses this cry, as does Diego Brando from a Parallel World. Giorno in particular even drops a "WRYYYYYYYY" while delivering a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown against Cioccolata.
    • Josuke Higashikata (the original one) belts out "DORARARARARARARARARARARA DORA!" when Crazy Diamond punches.
    • Bruno Bucciarati shouts "ARIARIARIARIARIARI!" while Sticky Fingers attacks. At one point he caps it off with "Arrivederci."note 
    • Narancia Ghirga hollers "VOLAVOLAVOLAVOLAVOLA! VOLARE VIA!" while Aerosmith lets off a barrage of gunfire.
    • Trish Una screams "WANNABEEEEEEEEEEEE!" while Spice Girl lets the fists fly.
    • Pannacotta Fugo has "UBASHAAAAAAAAAAA!" when Purple Haze attacks with its fists.
    • Sheila E from the Purple Haze Feedback light novel has "ERIERIERIERI!" when her Stand Voodoo Child goes on the attack.
    • Other examples include "HORAHORAHORA!" for Jean Pierre Polnareff's Silver Chariot, "SHIBOBOBO!" for Yoshikage Kira's Killer Queen, "URYAAAAA!" for Leone Abbacchio's Moody Blues, "OSHAAAAAAA!" for Ermes Costello's Kiss, "UOSHAAAA!" for Enrico Pucci's Whitesnake, and "MERARYARYA!" for Jobin Higashikata's Speed King.
  • It's more of a Verbal Tic, but in Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, Apachai Hopachai has a tendency to yell "APAPAPAPA!" constantly when he's fighting (or training, though he has a tough time differentiating between the two). Kenichi himself does this at one point when imitating Apachai.
  • Subaru of Lyrical Nanoha is a frequent user of these in battle.
    • Taken to another level when Subaru completely lost it on Nove and Cinque. Sure, yelling can focus your attacks, but hysterical screaming and crying is just that much better.
  • Used in Naruto Shippuuden by Killer-Bee, host of the Eight-Tails, such as after he uses his Lariat attack to rip Sasuke open, complete with using a hand held skyward to throw the horns. "WHEEEEEEEE!!!!!" (sounds better than it reads).
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • Shinji unleashes one of these the first time he dispatches an Angel. Except, instead of a Hot-Blooded roar of determination, it comes out more like an agonized scream of terror...which it kind of was.
    • Asuka plays the trope straight. Especially in End of Evangelion where she appears to be in permanent Kiai mode; considering she just came out of a major nervous breakdown and needs to work off stress, it's not surprising.
  • Ninja Slayer is an interesting example, as a lot of the characters use the same kiai ('YEEART!') as a Running Gag.
  • In One Piece, Monkey D. Luffy usually does this whenever he delivers the final blow to his opponents, even so much that Christopher Sabat (Funimation VA for Zoro) feels sorry for Colleen Clinkenbeard (FUNimation VA for Luffy) whenever he sees such a Kiai scene for Luffy, since Colleen will inevitably have to dub that scene later on.
  • In a somewhat bizarre choice by the current dubbing company for Pokémon, the dubbed version of Diamond & Pearl has gym leader Candice use this term multiple times.
  • Akira Hibiki from Raideen will occasionally let out a loud "RAIIIII!".
  • Like many other things, kiais are weaponized in Ranma ½: the devastating Yamasenken school (created by Genma, of all people) typically opens by yelling "DON'T MOVE!!" at the top of one's lungs. It is powerful enough to stun not just seasoned martial artists like Ranma, but even rampaging bears. It is at this point that the practitioner moves in with a tree-felling kick.
  • Used in, of all things, Smile Pretty Cure!.
    • Cure Happy literally screams "KIAI DA! KIAI DA! KIAI DA!" over and over to get her Finishing Move to work.
    • Ultra Cure Happy takes this up a notch in Episode 47, when she fires her massive Beam Spam against Pierrot. She screams and gets louder and louder and LOUDER every second.
  • Used especially in the battle scenes of Str.A.In.: Strategic Armored Infantry.
  • Street Fighter II V is notorious for all the characters scream like maniacs while fighting. What was pretty awesome for raise the level of emotion in the fights. Also, Fei Long gets even more infamous in the anime for his Funny Bruce Lee Noises.
  • Happens fairly often in Transformers: Cybertron. Even Primus uses it. While swinging moons he converted to maces at an enlarged-to-planet-size Starscream.
  • ∀ Gundam gave us Harry Ord and his UNIVEEEEEEEEEEERSSSSEEEE!
  • Thorkell from the Vinland Saga anime yelled "DORYA!" when throwing a large stone at enemy Danish soldiers, which was translated in the English subtitles as "Take that!" It is an accurate translation, since "dorya" is a kiai which is something a Japanese person shouts as he is initiating an attack, so he is essentially telling his opponent "Take that!"

    Comic Books 
  • Birds of Prey: White Canary uses this as she fights Black Canary. See here.
  • Docteur Justice's finishing move. His "AIIT EIII!" has been known to knock his opponents down, as evidenced here.
  • Iron Fist has "K'ai!". He used it to the point where the K'un L'uns (the interdimensional people who trained him) began referring to him as Daniel Rand-K'ai.
  • Usagi Yojimbo — every fighter has their signature kiai; Usagi's is "RYAAAAH!"

    Fan Works 

  • Jackie Chan takes advantage of kiai in a number of his movies. During a fight, the kiai is a signal between him and his stuntmen so they don't seriously hurt each other while putting up a convincing battle.
  • This is actually discussed in the original Karate Kid when Mr. Miyagi is trying to teach Daniel how to "punch".
  • Imperator Furiosa from Mad Max: Fury Road lets out many short angry screams during close combat scenes.
  • One Cut of the Dead: Harumi demonstrates a self defense move that requires you to shout "Pom!" in the process. When her audience asks, "Did you say 'Pom'?", she explains that it startles the opponent and empowers her move. When she's seen in a flashback watching a video demonstrating the move, the instructor is quite specific about shouting "Pom!"
  • Orgazmo: A-Cup, a not so subtle villain, porn-star, and martial artist does this gratuitously, especially before whaling on Joe Young numerous times. He happens to yell "key-yo" as opposed to "key-eye".
  • They Call Me Bruce (1982). A kung fu master tries to instruct Bruce in this technique. Bruce's shout ends up shattering a nearby display cabinet.
  • All over the place in 3 Ninjas, especially the kids, who regularly shout "eye-ah!" every single time they throw a punch or kick.
  • Undercover Brother subverts this when Undercover Brother gets into fights. His kiais are all names of different black celebrities/musical groups (for example, in one fight he uses "Shaquille O'Neal", "Cisqo", and "Earth, Wind, and Fire" as kiais, all screamed in a high-pitched voice reminiscent of and/or in open parody of Bruce Lee or the blaxploitation kung fu stars).


    Live-Action TV 
  • Andromeda: Possible subversion; While teaching Trance to fight, Tyr advises her to use a kiai to encourage proper breathing. She chooses "Hi-ho," which has the secondary advantage of incapacitating her opponents with helpless laughter.
  • In an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry plays tennis with his wife, who grunts loudly whenever she swings. Larry complains that it sounds like "pigs fucking."
  • The Third Doctor from Doctor Who notably deployed this in his fights, saying things ranging from “Ai-tavitch!” when stunning a henchman, to a garbled shout sounding either like “Ikeda!” or “IKEA!” while disarming the Master in “The Sea Devils”. More information at the show’s meme page, especially the section on the summer 2018 Twitch stream.
  • Mocked on Eve. Michelle, Rita, and Janie's kung fu instructor insists that his profession is a silent art and they should go to a karate school if they want to scream.
  • Old-school Kamen Rider and Super Sentai series would have the heroes yell "Toh!" when jumping.
    Dex, Masked Rider
  • Shows up a lot on Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, especially from Tommy. Big Bad Lord Zedd, after effortlessly trouncing the seemingly unbeatable Tommy, lampshaded his opponent's habit by asking: "Are those hi-yahs really necessary?"
  • Miss Piggy of The Muppet Show uses these alongside her trademark karate chops. She's usually silent when doing the follow up kick when her target has been knocked down.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 had a Running Gag of saying "HIKEEBA!" during parts of films where a Kiai would be appropriate. The cry originated in the film Women of the Prehistoric Planet, during a scene where the Plucky Comic Relief shouts this before throwing himself to the ground.
  • The MythBusters have never studied the effects of a kiai-style outburst on fighting ability, but they do play it straight from time to time when swinging weapons around or punching things (For Science!). Ironically while testing the efficacy of samurai armor, Kari noted that the urge to shout wordlessly while swinging a sword is almost involuntary.
  • Peacemaker: Judomaster actually yells "Kiai!" before attacking.
  • The Professionals. In the episode "Wild Justice" Bodie and Doyle are going through a CI5 training course, which includes an Old Master teaching kendo and combat philosophy. Although he's not shown teaching this trope, Bodie and Doyle are later going through a Shooting Gallery, giving a Kiai shout every time they fire a submachine gun. We never see them doing this in real-life shoot-outs, so it's probably to show how CI5 are willing to integrate Eastern and Western techniques for greater effectiveness.
  • Ultraman and his many successors have lots of grunts they make when they're battling kaiju and aliens. The iconic "SHUWATCH!" was that of Ultraman himself, while the other Ultras have ones of their own.
    • Ultraman Titas and Imit-Ultraman Belial have particularly unique Kiais that are shoutouts to JoJo's Bizarre Adventure; Belial's is "BELI-BELI-BELI-BELI-BELI-BELI!" while Titas's is "URUTORA-RA-RA-RA-RA-RA-RA-RA-RA-RA!" Quite fittingly, these battle cries were used in the episode when the two were performing simultaneous rush attacks.
  • Wonder Woman: In "Going, Going, Gone", the Bruce Lee Clone (from The '70s no less!) who fights Wonder Woman uses lots of these shouts.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: Xena never leaps into battle without letting out a piercing cry of "LILILILILILIIIIIII!"

  • Used in the song Kung Fu Fighting
  • In the track preceding 'Karate' on Tenacious D's first album ('Karate Schnitzel'), JB hits KG while yelling "Kiai!", because the bastard had eaten his schnitzel!
  • The end of several tracks on Ugly Duckling's Audacity has a sample of a British guy dramatically narrating "the sound of the Kiai scream".
    We promise to reveal the sound of the Kiai. Now listen, to the tremendous force of the scream. It is powerful kill.


    Professional Wrestling 
  • Yoshihiro Tajiri has sometimes been heard making high pitched noises when he really gets into kicking someone.
  • Low Ki when delivering his ghetto stomp.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition supplement Oriental Adventures. The samurai and bushi classes had a special ability: they could focus their ki and use a kiai (a loud, fierce shout) to raise their strength to superhuman levels for one round of combat, or to increase their effective level by 2 for one turn (ten rounds), respectively. On higher levels, the samurai learn to paralyze their foes with fear with their shouts.
  • GURPS has a skill specifically called Kiai. It requires the advantage Trained by a Master to use.
  • Orks in Warhammer 40,000 are an innately psychic race; every one of them generating at least low-level psychic fields. The combined force of dozens or hundreds of orks charging into battle screaming at the top of their lungs actually makes them stronger. "WAAAGH!" is not just their Battle Cry; it's their word for war — yes, the exclamation points are part of the word.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • In an old Bill Cosby routine about karate, he postulated why bother with the moves so long as he knows the shout. He so intimidated potential muggers with shout that he ended up holding up 9 people.

    Video Games 
  • Yoshimo from Baldur's Gate II does one of these when he lands a critical hit — after which he laughs. His other dialog suggests that he acts stereotypically 'Asian' because people find it interesting.
  • A number of characters do this in Blaze Union, but Garlot is the worst offender — he even has a "screaming" dialogue portrait. It got to the point that when the opening movie was being made, his voice actor specifically requested that there be a scene with Garlot's kiai in there.
  • Balrog from Cave Story shouts "Doryaaaa!" in the original Japanese, often enough that it's his catchphrase. The Fan Translation rendered this battlecry as "Huzzah!", while the Wiiware version translated it as "Oh yeah!"
  • Chrono Trigger's Slash, and a few other enemies, belt out a harsh "Yah!" during certain attacks. Hilariously, the original English translation turned them into an actual sentence — "Yes, indeed!"
  • Imperial Warriors in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 when using their special ability (pulling out their beam katanas) they will scream UIYAAAAAAAH!
  • Dead or Alive has Jann Lee as possibly the single most annoying example in the game due to his Bruce Lee Clone status. The high pitched shrieks are just as present, and often punctuate the computer using him to counter perfectly and send half your health to the great beyond. On the other hand, they're also interruptible, which leads to hilarious situations where you punch him in the face mid-attack. "WA-T-MMPH!"
    • Hitomi has similar kiais that are more spread out. And by spread out, we mean they're associated with her more powerful attacks. Given this is Hitomi, this often means her distinctive kiai means someone's about to be launched a good twenty feet by the small cannons she calls fists.
  • Gets silly in the Disgaea series, where character will just shout random things or their favorite food.
Flonne: Crab legs!
  • Being a hot-blooded martial artist, Mr. Champloo of Disgaea 3 is prone to yelling, both in and out of combat. When he has something important to say, or is arriving on the scene, he frequently makes himself known with a loud "Kiiiiiaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!".
  • The (first) default name for Ness's Favorite Thing in the Japanese version of EarthBound (1994), which just shows you what you already knew: Boys in Japanese media like nothing more than to yell for seemingly hours on end before attacking. For those curious, the Japanese name for the attack is PK Kiai, and the English name is PSI Rockin'.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the PC is able to unleash special Shouts that have various effects, from sending the enemy flying backwards to dealing straight-up fire damage to freezing them solid.
    • Also done when doing power attacks, both by the PC and others. Dremoras in particular do this in over the top manner on every swing of their weapons.
  • In Final Fantasy IV, we have Yang's (and the rest of Fabul's monks') "ACHOOOO!" Later translations restored their honor by making it simply "KIAI!"
  • In Guilty Gear we have Justice. "SHAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"
  • There's a cheesy arcade beat-em-up called "Hachoo!" The grunt enemies actually say that word in a very high pitched Bruce Lee voice when they punch or kick. Yours sounds more like "Yap!"
  • Another early example is Karate Dou (AKA: Karate Champ'') which has the two competitors do this in both the original and "Player vs. Player" games.
  • Being a fighting game, The King of Fighters has TONS of this.
    • Though many people hate Maximum Impact 2 (KOF 2006) with a passion, it can't be denied the Japanese version game has some really good Kiais. Kyo Kusanagi and Iori Yagami are good examples, as well as K' and Ryo Sakazaki.
    • Kim Kaphwan, since day one of the series!
  • Thomas, the main character in Kung Fu Master (known on the NES as Kung Fu) does this for all his attacks.
  • Shouts of this nature make up most of the "dialogue" Silent Protagonist Link, of The Legend of Zelda series, gets.
  • In Mega Man X4, Zero does this when using the Z saber on the ground. He also does this when he unleashes certain special attacks.
  • Mortal Kombat:
    • Liu Kang does this trope to death enough to make you fall off your chair laughing. He even does it when he gets hit, but stops that around Deception.
    • Raiden applies as well.
  • Subverted in the Nancy Drew game Danger By Design, in that the villain's use of this trope actually gives Nancy clues about what attack the culprit is about to make, allowing the player to block each blow.
  • Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan is all about Kiai. C'mon.
    • The PC-based clone osu! even has a special visual-enhancing mode called Kiai Time.
  • Furio Tigre in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations, in keeping with his name, will outright roar when angry. At the end of the case, he roars so loudly he blows out the lights in the courtroom.
  • In Pokémon Black and White Alder literally screams "Kiai" just before the second time you battle him.
    • However, it's first seen the first time you face Marshal of the Elite Four.
  • In the Wii version of Punch-Out!!, Great Tiger gets his own yell in his Title Defense version of the Mirage Dance, made even more epic due to the camera switching positions on him immediately following up with him creating a cyclone of illusions. SALZARAAAAAAAAH!
    • Preceded by Dragon Chan in Super Punch Out!! who would shout a rather primitive kiai while delivering his (somehow legal) kicking techniques.
    • And Piston Hondo, being the proper Japanese stereotype that he is, lets out a good yell with every punch he throws like he's in a Street Fighter game. (His voice actor actually played Abel in Street Fighter IV.)
  • Pretty much the whole cast of Sengoku Basara feel compelled to do this, but the trope winner has to be Sanada Yukimura, who shows off his impressive lung capacity EVERY FEW SECONDS!! OOOOOYAKATA-SAMAAAAAAAA!!!!!
  • In Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, the main character can learn a move like this. It more than doubles attack power when used. Sadly, there is no shouting sound effect, and it's simply called Kiai, and only in the original JP version. A more straight example might be War Cry, which decreases all enemies' attack power... by a whole freaking lot.
  • Soldiers in Silent Storm will unleash various kiai-esque cries when executing a long burst with a machinegun. As if it wasn't badass enough already to fire a light machinegun on full auto whilst standing.
  • During battles in Skies of Arcadia, using the Focus option with any character results in a "haaaaaaaAAAAAHHHH!"
  • In Sonic Adventure 2 Sonic does this while leaping at least three stories into the air to kick the Egg Golem in the face!
    Sonic: TERIAAAAAA!
    • Knuckles also does this whenever he digs in the ground.
      Knuckles: ORAORAORA!
  • In Space Invaders Extreme 2, all stages have their own music and sound effects for spawning, firing, contact, etc. In the most difficult stage, the music is high-tempo J-core and the firing sounds are girly kiai.
  • Shofixti Captain Tanaka (and his twin brother Katana) in Star Control II. With announcement: "And now I howl the scream of death! KYAIEEE!"
  • Fei Long from Street Fighter runs his status as a Bruce Lee Clone into the ground with his high-pitched shrieks every time he throws a punch. A running joke among the community is, "What does Fei Long love to drink? 'WA-TAAA!!'"
    • The trope is openly lampshaded in Street Fighter IV, with Juri Han complaining about how Fei Long's screams are "like nails on a chalkboard".
  • Super Mario 64: "YAH! WAH! HOO!"
  • Rishu Togo of Super Robot Wars: Original Generation and all of his students (most famously, Sanger Zonvolt) all use the battle cry of "CHESTO!"
  • Most characters in Super Smash Bros. Brawl use Kiai.
  • Multiple characters in the Tales Series do this, usually when performing a Mystic Arte/Hi-Ougi or when activating the game's Super Mode.
    • In particular, Stahn from Tales of Destiny yells his head off before performing any of his many hi-ougis and uses a typical stance while doing it.
  • Team Fortress 2 (or at least, the supplementary official comics): Soldier's "HUTTAH! NECK SNAP!"
  • The Way Of The Exploding Fist is one of the earliest examples.
  • The World Ends with You: "Sine! Cosine! Tangent!"
  • While pretty much everyone in the Like a Dragon/Yakuza series pull off some particularly impressive Kiais when fighting, Majima in Yakuza 0 definitely deserves particular mention for the ones he pulls off in Breaker Style, which range from a simple "Yahoo!" to a satisfyingly drawn-out "YYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!" uttered while carrying out a spinning attack.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • In the Japanese dub of RWBY, Yang Xiao Long unleashes an "ORAORAORAORAORA!" while taking down the Ursa that swiped off some of her hair.
  • Whenever Ross appears in Steam Train playthroughs, he has a habit of using a sharp, quick "kee-YAH" to punctuate his attacks.
  • Chaka in the Whateley Universe actually uses this as an attack, screaming out "KIIIII-YAAAAAAAAH" in such a way that it stuns everyone nearby.

    Western Animation 
  • Used occasionally while practicing by various characters in Avatar: The Last Airbender, particularly firebenders, since "power in firebending comes from the breath." It's somewhat less prevalent in actual combat.
    Zuko: Now let me hear you roar like a tiger-dillo!
  • In The Boondocks, Ed Wuncler III uses this when he's committing crimes.
  • Yumi and Ulrich occasionally go into action with this in Code Lyoko, but Yumi does it more than he does.
  • Leela would occasionally use these in action scenes in Futurama. As time went on, the sounds were used in mundane scenes as a joke (e.g. when pulling a plug out of a socket).
  • In Road Rovers, Colleen often did this, but in the form of pop culture references and various celebrity names (e.g., "Sharon...STONE!!!").
  • Robin occasionally does this during action scenes in Teen Titans.

    Real Life 
  • Bruce Lee popularized the kiai as part of kung fu films in the west, to the point that no over-the-top kung fu imitation would be complete without his signature whooping. First-hand accounts of him actually fighting for real state that he was actually quiet.
  • In traditional eastern martial arts, the Kiai is supposed to serve a variety of functions. The shout is supposed to increase the force of your blows. It also helps keep the fighter breathing during a fight. It expels all the air from the lungs, preventing you from getting the wind knocked out of you. It also flexes the abdominal muscles before a potential counterattack. It can also have a psychological effect on opponents, depending on the strength of the yell. Self-defense classes generally advocate shouting when you're attacked in order to summon help.
  • In kendo, kiai are actually required in matches in order to score, as it represents your intent to get the point. Sometimes even shouting the bodypart you are intending to strike (in Japanese) is necessary.
  • Occasionally seen in Mixed Martial Arts, though not that often. A notable example would be Joe Stephenson in his fight with BJ Penn. He loudly kiai'd with almost every strike he threw, leading to repeated shouts of "Arsh! Arsh! Arsh!" He lost.
  • Seen in Professional Wrestling, though it's to hide the fact that they aren't really hitting each other. Mick Foley would often yell "AH-SHA" and Rey Mysterio would loudly yell "WAA-TAH" during strikes.
  • Tennis players are known to shout with each swing, particularly the women. Unlike other examples, this is not generally used for distraction but rather to help the player exhale and swing harder, much like a weight lifter does when lifting large amounts. Although some of the loudest "grunters", such as Monica Seles (the measured sound level of her grunt, 93.2 decibels) or Maria Sharapova (101 decibels), have been accused of doing it to distract their opponent and cover up cues from the sound about what shot they're playing.
  • Basketball players often shout, with the intention of getting a foul called on your defender.
  • Some fencers use loud, sudden yells to startle their opponent into reacting. In sport fencing, it might also convince the director that you had the initiative.
  • Often a coach or physical trainer will provoke a training subject to yell. Drill sergeants will order trainees to 'sound off'. Raising one's voice raises energy level and motivation as well.
  • Similarly, those in professional weightlifting or throwing (e.g. shotput and hammer-toss) will use a variation of this.
  • To some extent, the Kiai has its roots in human and animal behaviour. When squaring up to each other, most animals, especially terrestrial mammals, will become extremely loud right before initiating an attack; cats, for example, will increase their volume drastically, and their yowls may become an all-out scream immediately before the first swipe is thrown.
  • Believe it or not, the Kiai does have a purpose when used in self-defense classes. Most people will freeze up in stressful situations — for example, being assaulted or mugged — and shouting tends to help snap them out of it. Any shout would do (hence the concept of a battle cry) but it being the phrase people associate with martial arts makes this a partial case of the Coconut Effect.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Wryyyyyy, Power Up Scream


Kaioken times ten!

Goku powers up using the Kaioken to multiply his power.. and you have to feel sorry for Sean Schemmel's vocal cords as he screams throughout.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (15 votes)

Example of:

Main / Kiai

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