Shorinji Kempo
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What is Shorinji Kempo?


Shorinji Kempo was initially developed for the goals of self-defense, physical and mental balance, and mutual growth through practice.

Shorinji Kempo is not practiced just for the sake of winning over your opponent, but rather to "conquer yourself". The main purpose is to develop the character, to train the mind, and to bring it into contact with reality.

Though deeply imbued with the theory of calm in action - seated Zen meditation represents the calm, and Kempo the action - Shorinji thought maintains that neither of these aspects of the whole can exist independently. In Shorinji Kempo, both facets (soft techniques - throwing, twisting, grappling; and hard techniques - strikes, kicks) are given equal importance. Furthermore, since all Shorinji training requires the cooperative effort of two people, practicing its techniques encourages mutual respect, understanding and growth.

Shorinji Kempo techniques are based on natural body movements and therefore do not involve any rigid or uncomfortable motions. As such, it is easy to switch from technique to technique, from hard technique to soft technique, from soft technique to hard technique, or any combinatoin thereof, without sacrificing fluidity or power.

The techniques are logically created on the basis of dynamics and physiology to enable the weaker to control the stronger. Anyone, regardless of sex or age can practice these techniques.


"Live Half for Yourself and Half for Others"
-Doshin So, Founder of Shorinji Kempo

"Shorinji Kempo" was founded by Doshin So in 1947, after witnessing the extreme conditions resulting from World War II in the North-East region of the People's Republic of China (formerly Manchuria), where many people had lost all forms of moral values. He realized how laws, politics and the military were shaped by the personalities and the beliefs of the people involved.


"People, People, People, Everything Depends on the Quality of People"…

Doshin So came to the profound realization that since everything in the world is dependent on the "people," the only way to attain peace for which all humans yearn is to educate and train as many young people as possible to have a strong sense of justice, courage and compassion. Thus he decided to start educating young people. For this purpose, he combined the techniques of various martial arts he had mastered in China with his own original techniques and named it "Shorinji Kempo." He developed a new way to build better individuals based chiefly on Shorinji Kempo training.


World Shorinji Kempo Organization

Shorinji Kempo has spread, now active in 26 countries, the World Shorinji Kempo Organization was founded with Doshin So II as President. Its headquarters is located in Tadotsu, Japan. An International Exhibition Meet, held every four years is one of the main programs of the World Shorinji Kempo Organization.



A Method to Train Mind and Body Together

Shorinji Kempo is a method of training both body and mind together. Through this training, one develops a strong body and an indomitable mind, building a self-reliant individual capable of living as a positive force in this world.

Basic Principle

Shorinji Kempo's basic principle is "to build a better society by developing as many people as possible, who can become self-reliant by training both their mind and body together, and who can act seeking not only their own happiness but also the happiness of others."


How to Practice

There is no competition in Shorinji Kempo. All the practice should be conducted in pairs, with one partner being the defender and the other the attacker, and changing these roles. One's partner is not a competitor or opponent. The aim is not to find out which of the two wins, but together to improve techniques through cooperation.


Brief History

On the ninth of August, 1945, Kaiso [our founder] was in Eastern Manchuria, in the Chinese village of Anyang when the Russian army broke their treaty with Japan and crossed the border into Manchuria. Under the occupation of the Russian Army he tasted the misery and suffering of defeat in a foreign land, where the interests of nations came before the claims of ideology, religion, and morals. For nations had fought nations, and victory went to the people whose country was best able to organize them to kill and defeat other people. It was a world in which might made right. Amidst this bitter reality, Kaiso found a lesson which shaped the principles of Shorinji Kempo. He realized that it was neither ideology, nor religious differences nor national policies which determine the course of events, but rather, the character and the way of thinking of the people involved. Giving his thoughts words, he said, "the person, the person! Everything depends on the quality of the person. If the course of human events depends entirely upon the actions of people, then in order to establish the peace that we all long for, the only way is to develop as many people as possible with mercy, courage, and a sense of justice."

Upon Kaiso's return to Japan, he found that injustice and violence prevailed as if morality, law and order had never existed. Most of the country's youth had forgotten or given up their dreams and hopes for the future, and were trying to hide themselves in a world of pleasures and instant gratificatin. It was a world in which people had forgotten to consider or help each other, a world in which the future held threats but no promises for the young.

Kaiso determined to do what he could to rebuild the foundations of his country, to teach its youth what the future could hold, and to re-establish the credibility of the Japanese in the eyes of the world. In his own words: "For the restoration of my country, I will devote the remaining half of my life to training young people with courage, strength, mercy,, and a sense of justice." In the town of Tadotsu he founded a dojo based on the philosophy taught by Budda.

But lecturing and abstract theory were not enough to change people's minds. Kaiso answered this challenge by teaching the techniques derived from Aranhan no Ken, which he had praticed and mastered during his youth in China. These techniques which Kaiso brought back from China are the starting point of Shorinji Kempo, and they require discipline and ability to work with others. From these beginnings physical and spiritual fulfillment can grow, and work with others. From these beginnings physical and spiritual fulfillment can grow, and through them are built the foundations of a peaceful society.

Kaiso not only instructed people in the skills of kempo, but he used the opportunities of practice and his role as teacher to teach a way of self-development based on Budda's framework of development through self-inquiry. Thus he made a way for people to learn to establish mutual trust and cooperation to found the core of a peaceful and prosperous society where there had been war, starvation, and the law of the strong.

The art which Kaiso studied in China was known as the Ken (fist) of Kita Shorin Giwamon, and was originally a martial art and training method in the teachings of Budda. It was not designed for the goals of fighting or defeating others, but as a method of learning self-control, physical and mental balance, and mutual growth through practice. Shorinji Kempo re-establishes this tradition and holds that the three principal benefits to kenshi of practicing are: ability in self-defense; spiritual development; and improved health.

Kaiso taught Arahan no Ken to the young people who gathered at his dojo, and through it, he gave them the necessary experiences to meet the chanllenges of their lives without giving up on their values or dreams. He realized that through Arahan no Ken's mental and physical training, young people could gain self-confidence and courage as well as healthy and strong bodies. He created an educational method through practrice of ken zen ichinyo and attention to the balance of riki ai funi. Shorinji Kempo is its training method. Taking the name Kongo Shin from the Zen name for the Nioson (Deva Kings who originated the art of Arahan no Ken in ancient India), he named the teaching Kongo Zen.

This is how Shorinji Kempo began in Japan. Today the techniques and philosophy are practiced by young people in many countries, and they are working together to develop Shorinji Kempo around the world.


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