The Background of Shorinji Kempo

The Shorinji Kempo | What is Shorinji Kempo | Shorinji Kempo History | Shorinji Kempo Description | The Founder of Shorinji Kempo | Background of Shorinji Kempo | Shorinji Kempo Philosophy | Technical Requirements for Belt Ranks | Shorinji Kempo The Art | The True Strength | The System of Shorinji Kempo

Right after World War II, the Japanese were deeply depressed. Many people thought that what had been thought important or precious in their lives no longer had meaning. Friendship, love of family, helping people and so on, these things were truly important in other times and seemed to have been discarded. Many seemed to seek their own interests by taking advantage of others. Those who had little money or power were suffered greatly.

The founder of Shorinji Kempo, Doushin So, wanted to do something to improve the spiritual wellbeing of these people. He knew that regardless of how society worked, the key to personal development lay within each individual. He had learned from his experience in China that everything depended on the individual. Even in unfair system, it is up to individuals to show mercy and kindness to others. One can save others even if society does not provide ready made supports for every situation. For the most part, it is every individual’s thought and action that make the world what it is.

Doushin So mixed this conviction with Buddhism and began teaching young people who had lost their way. He soon found it useless to try to make them listen to his philosophy or principle. They simply walked away. Just sitting in the class room and listening to principles, no matter how wise, sparked no interest of the youth of the day. He realized that he had to create the new philosophy, a “Kongo zen”, or something relevant to attract the youth.

Before World War II, Doushin So had learned various Kempo in China and was officially designated the successor of the leader of the north Shorinji school. He cast his convictions into a system incorporating Kempo as a way of physical training and meditation. He began to teach youth how to practice Kempo. Soon those who were taught Kempo by Doushin So became enchanted by its wonderful techniques and, at the same time, deeply impressed by Doushin So’s philosophy.

Today, Shorinji Kempo is widely spread all over the world and the world wide network of people who love Shorinji Kempo is growing rapidly. Although Shorinji Kempo’s self-defense techniques are superior, its ultimate goal is not to develop a skill to knock down a person by its techniques, but to help people establish themselves as kind, generous individuals.

Shorinji Kempo, or Kongo zen’s principle, is very simple: “Everything depends on individuals.” Social systems or rulers may cause hardship and injustice, but even in such situation, well developed individuals can change any situation for the better. Furthermore, even within the best social systems people may suffer from selfish individuals.

For these reasons, Shorinji Kempo does not support any specific political party or specific social system. It is not political in nature, focusing on developing dependable individuals who can lead themselves and others to a better society.

There is a phrase which states the essence of these principles simply and elegantly: “think of others’ happiness with the first half of your being and think of your happiness with the remaining half”. This can be interpreted in many ways. You may take it as: “try to make others happy by using half of what you have and try to make yourself happy by using the remaining half”. Or you may take it as most important of Christian principles: “Do unto others as you would have do unto you.”

Too simple? Simple in principle is often difficult to practice. The goal of Shorinji Kempo is to develop dependable individuals who think of others’ happiness as well as their own and, through harmonious leadership or influence, improve the world for better human relationship.