The 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

Shorinji Kempo (少林寺拳法)—note that the World Shorinji Kempo Organization prefers the Romanization kempo to kenpo—is a martial art form of Kempo that was invented by Doshin So (宗 道臣, 1911-1980) in 1947, who incorporated Japanese Zen Buddhism into the fighting style.

This form of Kempo can be both a religion and a fighting form at the same time much like Shaolin kung fu, on which it is based (少林寺 is the Shaolin Monastery). Looked at from a Japanese martial arts perspective, it could be described as a combination of karate, judo, and aikijujutsu built on a Kung Fu framework, except that this art generally has no killing moves because of its respect for life. It is a form of Kempo that tries to get its practitioners to move through life doing minimal damage whenever possible.

The Buddhist influences of Shorinji Kempo emphasize cooperation and is almost exempt of the bias that competition brings – turning martial arts into sports. Instructors are forbidden from making profit from their tutelage and there are no ladder-based competitions.

Shorinji Kempo competition relies on paired demonstrations called embu where the accuracy, the rhythm, and the realism are noted and compared (with something like “technical” and “artistic” marks, as in gymnastics or ice skating).

Shorinji Kempo has grown into a popular art form in many countries outside of Japan; United States, Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sweden, the Philippines, Iran, France, United Kingdom and Australia being the most notable. The practitioner of Shorinji Kempo is known as a Kenshi (拳士).

Shorinji Kempo is a Japanese Martial Art. This is one of the most popular and well put martial art that is practiced in Japan, despite being relatively recent. It was founded in 1947, by Master Doshin So, after the Japanese defeat in the Second Word War.

In 1945 the Second World War ends, Japan is forced to an unconditional surrender. This experience of defeat and its consequences droved Master Doshin So upon the genesis of what was to become Shorinji Kempo. The confront with this new reality allowed a new conception of the world and the planning of a new objective for life. For Master Doshin So: The person, the person, the person. Every thing depends on the quality of the person.

Using this personal concept of every thing depending on the quality of the person, Master Doshin So created Shorinji Kempo in 1947, with the purpose of educating the population in the sense of courage, compassion and justice.

After the Second World War, Japan lived moments of social disorder and many of the people lost notion and purpose for their lives. Never the less, many of them responded to the appeal of Master Doshin So, now Kaiso (the Founder), and joined him. This appeal is still alive, and nowadays, Shorinji Kempo is spread throughout more than 30 countries.

Shorinji Kempo, now more than ever, is a martial art to represent Japan. However, among Japan’s many martial arts, the history of Shorinji Kempo is very young – only 60 years have passed since its creation. In this time, over 1,500,000 people have joined. The number of branches within Japan is about 2,950, and it has also spread to 33 countries worldwide.

Shorinji Kempo has as basis, the terms “peace” and “persons”. Master Doshin So, opposing the war and dedicated to the peace, set him self in to developing the real peace for mankind. To do so, he understood that countries and societies should transform though the development of the peaceful intentions and of the human hearts.

Peace will only be possible when the “ideal places” and the “human development” are established. The concept of “ideal place” corresponds to the construction of war-free societies where its inhabitants find themselves complete, spiritually and physically. By “human development” we understand, people’s education trough the following principles:

  • To live believing in our own individual potential;
  • To guide our lives by the point of view that we believe in;
  • To act in consideration to the happiness of others;
  • To act with Justice, Courage and Compassion; and,
  • To act and guide our lives in cooperation, creating community bonds.

Shorinji Kempo teaches a wide variety of techniques, ranging from goho (hard techniques) such as kicks and punches, juho (soft techniques) such as grappling and throwing, to seiho (correcting methods) acupressure techniques for revival of unconscious persons.

These three types of techniques are further divided into kogi (offensive techniques), bogi (defensive techniques), shuho (defence methods, mainly against soft techniques), tai gamae (body position), sokui ho (foot position), umpo ho (footwork), and tai sabaki (body movement). Techniques are seldom practiced in isolated form. Often a technique is put into a context, or pattern, also known as hokei. The hokei is typically a defense paired with an attack.

Hokei is practiced either in isolated form, or during randori (free fighting, a more literal translation being “to bring Chaos under order”, which is philosophically rather different to simply fighting for its own sake). The relationship between technique, hokei and randori is similar to that of the relationship between words, sentences and essays. A word forms the basis of the sentence, just like the technique forms the basis of hokei.

The sentence forms the basis of the essay, just like hokei forms the basis of randori. In order to master the art of writing good essays, one must first have a good vocabulary (words), and how you put them together to form sentences that conveys meaning. Similarly, in order to master the art of randori, one must know how to perform techniques, and how to put them together into hokei.