The System 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

Shorinji Kempo was founded by Doshin So in 1947 in the Japanese town of Tadotsu. His inspiration for creating Shorinji Kempo was based on his personal experiences of Japan’s defeat at the end of World War II.

Doshin So (also referred to as Kaiso, which means founder) had lived for many years in what was then called Manchuria (now the Northeast Region of China). During this time he had studied various Chinese martial arts. He was also very well versed in many Japanese martial arts. It was during the Soviet invasion of Manchuria where he witnessed fully the wretechedness and sorrow of a defeated people.

Kaiso concluded that the course of the world’s events was not dependent on ideology, religion or nationalism, but on the quality of the individual person and particular actions, especially at difficult or critical moments. In one of his most famous expressions, he proclaimed:

The person! The person! Everything depends on the quality of the person!

This conclusion strongly influenced the shaping of Shorinji Kempo and its philosophical base. Returning to the devastation of postwar Japan, Kaiso found the youth of his homeland discouraged, and with little, if any, sense of purpose.

His great concern for their moral welfare and the future of his country caused him to devote his life to training young people, with “courage, strength, mercy and a sense of justice,” principles that in the fullness of time would find international acceptance.

Kaiso reformed and revised the martial art techniques that he had studied in China, and added to them his philosophical insights to create Shorinji Kempo. As both a training place and sanctorium he established the Shorinji Kempo Hombu (headquarters) dojo on the Island of Shikoku, Kagawa Prefecture, in the town of Tadotsu. The original 12 square meter dojo behind his house in Tadotsu has grown over the years into a very substantial training facility, to which students from all over the world come to train.

On May 12 1980 Kaiso died of heart disease. Since then, his daughter, Yuki So, has continued his work as the head of the Shorinji Kempo movement. Currently the world federation Kaiso formed is called the World Shorinji Kempo Organization – a federation of all Shorinji Kempo dojos around the world. Countries outside of Japan have national, and sometimes regional federations, where they periodically meet together as a group. Worldwide, there are about 1.5 million members at across 31 countries. In the United States, there are currently 32 branches.

Shin means mind, the faculty of reason and control. Many believe that dependability goes hand in hand with developing mental power.

Juho is a set of techniques which let you escape from holds and enable you to throw someone who is attacking you.

Goho is a set of self-defense techniques using kicking and punching.

Seiho is a set of techniques of theraputic massage and relaxation techniques.

Chi means wisdom, intelligence, mental ability. Practicing Shorinji Kempo develops one’s mental faculty through human relations and the disciplined execution of physical techniques.

Shorinji Kempo is a conglomerate of the above three. Even to execute physical techniques there always must be Shin, mental power, to overcome the fear and Chi, to find out the weak point of the aggressor. And also, in physical techniques, Goho and Juho are not independant, they can work best with other’s help.

Principles in learning physical techniques:

kenzenichinyo The body and the heart, they must go together.
Development of one’s body is greatly aided by one’s control of one’s mind.
rikaifuji Power and love, they must go together, too. Power without love is nothing but violence. Love without the power to sustain it is useless.
shushukouju Do not try to defeat someone without thinking of defence. Offense without defense will lead you to lose.
fusaku Do not try to harm anyone. Shorinji Kempo is intended to assist and develop people.
gouju Goho and Juho cannot be separated. They will work most beautifully in combination. You must practice both of them for good results.
kumite Try to practice Shorinji Kempo with a partner, who can help you practice in realistic situations. You can learn from each other.

Training tips:

  • Seek to understand the principles behind each technique. If you know why a technique, a waza, works, then you can learn it more quickly.
  • Practice as often as you can. Repeated practices will make your techniques almost instinctive.
  • Try to practice a variety of techniques. They will work well in combination. Well balanced training will develop your skill best. For example, try to use both hands until you feel equally comfortable with both.
  • Do not go overload. Shorinji Kempo is not asceticism. Practice it at level suitable to your skill, physical condition, and range of interests.
  • Continuity is the most important factor for development. You may feel your progress is slow at first, but continuity can make you an expert in Shorinji Kempo.

Three stages in learning:

shuhariThe literal meaning of these three characters are Obey, Break and Leave. Their meanings are thought to be essential for learning the profound techniques.

Obey, in this context, means “do exactly as you are taught”. Sometimes, you will think of a better way to execute some technique or other however, such kind of casual idea will not help your progress. Understanding each technique can be achieved only if you have come to be able to do it as you are taught..

Break means modifying what you are taught to fit yourself, but after you fully understand what you were taught. You come to a level of modifying the techniques for better performance and bigger effect.  Leave means establishing ones own techniques. You can develop your own techniques after going through the Break level. Always try to go through these steps. You have to be modest to master the important fundamental techniques of Shorinji Kempo. ~ K.Hayashi