In our class, the benefits of yelling/shouting, i.e. Kihap, in sparring are sometimes pointed out. If yelling is so beneficial, why MMA fighters don't yell often? Or do they?

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    I suspect an additional factor is that the standard yell you hear in class that people recognize is also more about synchronizing a group movement. Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 12:07
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    I definitely see fighters of all strikes kiai. It may not be as stylized as the synchronized yell found in karate/TKD/etc, but it's definitely common to brace and exhale when executing technique. Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 12:26

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As per the provided link, there's a number of factors going on.

  • First of all, a kiai is as much about a forceful exhalation and a focus of purpose as it is actually yelling. Many of the fighters do just that, grunting or exhaling on a heavy strike without actually yelling.
  • One of the other purposes of a kiai is to startle the opponent. In the Octagon, most fighters are prepared for battle, so to speak, so there are less likely to startle if someone yells.
  • There is also the cultural difference that many people get into MMA from boxing, which doesn't tend to do the yelling thing.
  • The kiai is often done on a single decisive strike, something that a TMA like Karate tends to emphasize whereas MMA tends to focus on multiple successive blows.
  • Lastly, the traditional kiai in martial arts, especially during forms, is often used as much to synchronize movements (or to indicate such precision) as to actually generate power to attack.
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    As a shotokan karate practitioner, I'd like to say we've never used kiai in group katas to synchronise. If you have to use kiai to synchronise, you're not synchronised at all. I also think that the actual movements are better indicator of precision than kiai.
    – GChuf
    Commented Apr 16, 2021 at 13:28

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