What is Shorinji Kempo ?
Although martial arts movies and magazines have caused the popularity of numerous arts to skyrocket, Shorinji Kempo remains a mystery to most people. Even martial arts enthusiasts are frequently ignorant of Shorinji Kempo’s techniques and philosophy.
And they are almost always astonished to learn that the style has accumulated some 1.5 million students in more than 3,000 dojo in 27 countries. A single group, headquartered in the town of Tadotsu on the island of Shikoku, Japan, regulates all that training and testing.
Shorinji Kempo (少林寺拳法 shōrinji-kempō, meaning “Shaolin Temple Fist Law”) is a Japanese martial art which considered as the modified version of Shaolin Kungfu. It was established in 1947 by Doshin So (宗 道臣 Sō Dōshin), a Japanese martial artist and former military intelligence agent.
Shorinji Kempo is a system of “self-defense training” (護身錬鍛: goshin-rentan), “mental training” (精神修養: seishin-shūyō) and “promoting health” (健康増進: kenkō-zōshin), whose training methods are based on the concept that “spirit and body are not separable” (心身一如: shinshin-ichinyo) and that it is integral to “train both body and spirit” (拳禅一如: kenzen ichinyo).
Through employing a well-organized technical training schedule (科目表: kamoku-hyō), Shorinji Kempo claims to help the practitioner “establish oneself” (自己確立: jiko-kakuritsu) and to promote “mutual comfort” (自他共楽: jita-kyōraku). The philosophy and techniques of Shorinji Kempo are outlined in their handbook, (少林寺拳法教範) Shōrinji-kempō-kyōhan.
Shorinji Kempo: A Complete Martial Art
As a religion registered with the Japanese government, shorinji kempo seeks to follow in the ancient traditions espoused by the Shaolin monks — in short, unifying the mind and body through spiritual and physical development in accordance with the teachings of the Buddha. Because the art revolves around Zen meditation and Oriental medicine, it can offer students three main benefits: improved health, spiritual development and self-defense.
The self-defense component stems from the shorinji kempo’s reliance on combinations of “soft” and “hard” techniques designed to allow a weaker defender to control a stronger attacker by dynamically applying the laws of physics. That makes it perfect for women, children and people of all ages. Its curriculum can be broken down into four basic parts:
• Goho, which refers primarily to punches, kicks, hammers (non-punching hand strikes) and slashes.
• Juho, which is composed of close-contact techniques, including releases, joint locks, reverses, throws and pins.
• Seiho, or Zen acu-therapy, which offers health promotion through the prevention of illness.
• Zazen, or seated meditation, which promotes spiritual and mental development through Zen Buddhism, ultimately fostering the ability to seek a solution to conflict without unduly harming others.