When we think of the sounds often heard in martial arts the kiai is what initially comes to mind. However, one overlooked sound comes from the practitioner’s uniform, and is most often seen in Taekwondo and karate katas when practitioners attempt to create a snapping sound with them.
The sound itself is made by executing individual techniques at a very high speed, and ending them with an immediate, abrupt stop. This results in an audible “snap” sound made from the practitioner’s limbs striking against their uniform. It is only by combining your speed, timing, and balance that you will generate enough power to make this whip-like sound.
Due to the intense focus needed to make such a sound, being able to create the snap serves as an indication of the martial artist’s power, as they have to be entirely in control of their own strength and power to do so. The sound is also something that judges take into consideration at competitions, as they understand the amount of skill martial artists must possess in order to create the snapping sound.
Since the snapping noise is made from skin striking the inside of a uniform, the material of the gi also comes into play, as the heavier the material the louder the snap. Because of this, many karate practitioners prefer a heavier weight gi for kata work in competitions, as it helps accentuate the ‘snapping’ sound. However, it is important to note that if you have not mastered the proper technique, then no gi will give you the snapping sound you desire.
To learn how to make the sound yourself, check out Jesse Enkamp’s great article about snap techniques in karate.
Read The Sounds of Martial Arts Part I here.