What Does It Mean To Say ‘Kia’ In Taekwondo? (Should You Say It?)

Taekwondo is a martial art form created in Korea in the mid-twentieth century.

It’s a blend of Korean and Chinese martial art techniques that focus on punches and kicks, concentrating on making smooth, fluid movements.

Other than physical techniques, Taekwondo also requires focus and discipline of the mind.

What Does It Mean To Say 'Kia' In Taekwondo?

A popular technique used to gain mental control is kihap.

The word can be translated as ‘yell’ or ‘shout’, but this doesn’t explain what the exclamation really means.

Kihap, also known as Kia, is a combination of the Korean words ‘ki’ and ‘hap’.

Ki is a Korean word that means air, breath, or gas, but it can also be used to mean a person’s life force and energy.

Hap is a word that can be translated as focus, gathering power, and collecting energy.

When you think about what these words mean, kihap goes beyond a basic translation.

It’s not just yelling out – kihap points towards a martial artist gathering their life force and power into their core.

Once they have built this energy up in their center, they will release it as a powerful yell.

Kihap doesn’t just involve the basic shout, it involves developing one’s lifeforce into power.

We’ll cover more about kihap and taekwondo in this article.

You’ll learn how to carry out kihap correctly, as well as why the action is so useful in martial arts.

How To Execute Kihap Correctly

Executing kihap correctly involves the martial artist concentrating on their core muscles within their abdomen.

You should keep these muscles tight to avoid rupturing your stomach. As you tighten the muscles, you need to breathe out with enough force.

This powerful breath shouldn’t come from your throat, but from your diaphragm.

These techniques, when performed correctly, will result in a powerful, loud, shout. Kihap shouts will differ with each taekwondo school.

Some might last longer than others, but both kihap methods try to expel as much power and force as possible.

Kihap doesn’t need to result in any particular sounds, but some popular sounds are ‘hi-yah’, ‘ai-yah’, and ‘ah’.

You can even execute kihap without a particular shout. Kihap isn’t about the sound made when yelling, but the formation of energy at one’s core.

Very advanced taekwondo artists might carry out a silent kihap, as these can be beneficial when performing certain techniques.

Despite this, you should know that a silent kihap is thought to be less useful compared to the standard form.

Unless stated otherwise, make your kihap sounds sharp and short, as this will help you direct your power and concentration.

Aim to expel the sounds from low and deep within your abdomen. Practice it often and don’t be scared to shout.

Shyer individuals and younger students might feel uncomfortable shouting, but you need to understand how significant the kihap is within martial arts.

Keep practicing and you should see a difference in your mental and physical composure.

Techniques That Are Like Kihap

Techniques That Are Like Kihap

Korean Taekwondo uses Kihap specifically, but the technique has features in common with other forms of martial arts.

Kiai is an expression used in several martial arts, including karate, judo, Japanese aikido, and kendo.

The manifestation and use of kiai is very similar to kihap. Some might confuse Hapkido and kihap for each other.

Hapkido is another Korean martial art that has similarities with Japanese Aikido. Taekwondo used swift kicks and straightforward movements.

Hapkido is different, as it focuses on diverting the energy of an opponent through techniques, like strikes, grappling, and throwing.

Individuals will use momentum and the force of their adversary against them, attempting to throw them off without using brute force.

Hapkido is a type of martial arts, and kihap is a technique used in Taekwondo, but these terms do have similarities with each other.

Hapkido is made of the same words within kihap, ‘hap’ and ‘ki’. The word ‘do’ is added to the end, which translates to path, or way.

Hapkido is often interpreted as ‘the path of coordinated harmony’, or something along those lines.

Kihap is an expression that involves generating energy, but the martial art Hapkido involves controlling energy.

Both of these forms are present inside the individual and the person they are fighting.

Why Is Kihap Important?

Kihap is an adaptable technique that can be used in many ways when practicing Taekwondo.

The first is that it involves producing a forceful burst of energy. A martial artist can use kihap to add more strength to their movements.

This is particularly important within Taekwondo, as the form involves swift, quick, and precise kicks and punches.

If kihap is used correctly, the technique can make these movements a lot more powerful.

Kihap also involves mental focus, as you have to concentrate on producing power at your core.

With this, kihap can help martial artists become more confident, helping them overcome opponents that they face.

If kihap is used when an opponent strikes you in your abdomen, experienced users can divert some of this force back out.

They can also mentally block some of the pain felt from the strike.

When kihap is performed correctly, it will strengthen the user’s mind and body, but it will also serve to deter opponents.

This is less likely with experienced Taekwondo artists, but may occur with beginners and untrained fighters.

A kihap expression generates a lot of force.

When this is expressed unexpectedly, the sound and power of the shout might be enough to distract someone.

This may only occur for a couple of seconds, but this is all you need to turn a fight in your favor.

For instance, martial arts help us prepare for occasions where we might get attacked.

Locating your spirit and tapping into that power may help you gain a few seconds in which you can beat an attacker.


Kihap is a very important technique used in Taekwondo. It doesn’t just involve yelling.

Correct execution involves generating energy right at one’s center, then releasing it forcefully.

Kihap can help martial artists make their movements stronger, and can also help them gain mental focus.

This can make a big difference when sparring, tournaments, and occasions where self-defense is necessary.

Christopher Anderson
Latest posts by Christopher Anderson (see all)