Among many, many other interpretations and uses the one most interesting to me is as an exclamation
, though one whose precise meaning is difficult to pin down; when shout
ed by practitioners of Rinzai zen
, its utterance indicates satori
or the attainment of enlightenment
, though claims are made that the yell
is used not only as an announcement but also as a tool by masters "to help students to overcome dualisms and ego-centric thoughts," no doubt in conjunction with slapstick-ly absurd violence and koan
It can apparently be employed in a broader sense as a "kiai"-style yell in martial arts.
Sometimes the Japanese yell is translated as khatz or kwatz; apparently the exclamation ho is used to similar effect in China.
"Katsu!" was reputedly the last word of 13th-century monk Hosshin, uttered as he completed his death poem:
Coming, all is clear, no doubt
about it. Going, all is clear,
without a doubt.
What, then, is all?