with Reverend Toshio Kuramoto
the Hollywood Shorinji Kempo Dojo
Interviewer: Richard Killion - Dragon Times #16
Kuramoto is a former student of the founder of Shorinji Kempo, Doshin So,
and currently the chief instructor of the Hollywood, California, Shorinji
When did you start Shorinji Kempo?
In 1968 at the Kongo Zen Sohonzan Shorinji, in Koshigaya Doin, Saitama-Ken,
How long have you been a Zen Acu-Therapist ?
30 years. I learned through the Shorinji Kempo dojo in Saitama Prefecture.
What inspired you to join Shorinji Kempo?
When I learned of Shorinji Kempo, I wanted to challenge my life through martial
What inspired you to join the Los Angeles Shorinji Kempo dojo.
I first heard of Yamamori Sensei while I was in Japan; Doshin So read many
of Yamamori Sensei's letters to us during seminars at the Honbu (headquarters)
dojo. I came to the USA in March 1972. I was travelling all over looking for
a dojo where I could continue my training. Yamamori sensei's personality and
technique attracted me to the LA dojo. The only Shorinji Kempo at the time
that I felt I liked was at the LA dojo. I stayed there for about one and a
I went back to Japan to help with my father's business
where I almost died. A truck I was driving was involved
in an accident and I was trapped between the steering
column and the body of the cab. My chest was crushed,
I broke sixteen ribs, ruptured my spleen, and almost
bled to death as a result. Unconscious and close
to death I remember walking amongst the clouds and
meeting my mother who had died several years before.
extensive surgery to repair the damage to my body
I woke up on the operating table. My miraculous
survival was followed by a period of difficult,
protracted, and very painful healing. During this
trying time I bolstered my spirits by thinking always
of the teachings of our founder (Doshin So). For
example, the need to remain strong, to be patient,
to look forward to better times. The concepts that
I had learned in the dojo kept me going.
didn't forget about my training even though I couldn't
move. In my mind I was always practicing. In extreme
pain, and able to move only my mouth and eyes, my
waking hours were filled with "mind training" while
my dreams were always of Shorinji Kempo.
I finally recovered I decided to return to the Los
Angeles dojo and Yamamori sensei.
Is there anything in Yamamori Sensei's teachings that has made an impression
on your life?
I like the way that Yamamori sensei deals with life by the means of the Shorinji
sensei is very faithful to Doshin So's teachings,
and follows exactly what the Master taught him.
Because I have great faith in, and loyalty to Doshin
So, his teachings, and his methods I knew that Yamamori
sensei was the person with whom I could continue
to practice the real Shorinji Kempo.
sensei's body movement is dynamic, full of energy
and impressive. His energy comes from the heart
of Shorinji Kempo. There is nothing fake or superficial
about him. When I saw Yamamori sensei's technique,
I fell in love with Shorinji Kempo for the second
time. I realized that Yamamori sensei had inherited
the heart of Doshin So's original method, the technical
core of our school.
What was your impression of Doshin So?
I met the Founder, Master Doshin So in 1971 when I went to Honbu to take private
lessons from him for 2 weeks. My first impression of him was of a great person
who cared deeply for other people. His Hohwa (lectures) during the practice
sessions were very impressive. As I listened I could feel myself changing.
As if I had been struck by lightening and was burning inside. In that moment
I decided to devote myself and my life to Shorinji Kempo.
him in person and hearing his lectures really changed
me and my attitude towards life. His words impressed
me greatly. Kancho (the founder, Doshin So), as
I call him, instilled in me the discipline, energy,
courage, patience, and a caring attitude that I
had been seeking. I found all this in Shorinji Kempo
and have been inspired by the Founder ever since.
used to say that Shorinji Kempo is not a Budo, it
is more than that. Breaking ceramic roof tiles with
the fists to demonstrate one's physical strength
means nothing. Real strength comes from within.
What is important is to learn how to use one's strength
wisely and for the benefit of society. Shorinji
Kempo does not teach you to fight, or to break hard
objects. It shows you how not to defeat yourself.
In Shorinji Kempo it is not considered necessary
to become a strong man physically, it is very important
however not to be a failure as a person. By practicing
Shorinji Kempo, I can teach you how to become a
truly strong person physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Kempo will show you how to be a role model to those
around you. A leader of youth, the community, and,
ultimately, the world. In order to be a respected
leader, you must learn to lead yourself; love yourself,
as well as others; love your parents, your teachers,
and your country. Do not be a slave to your skills
and strength. Polish your personality, learn everything
about yourself before you speak of yourself as a
Shorinji Kempo practitioner.
What are the aspects of a dojo that is called "traditional" ?
Shorinji Kempo is not a sport and does not function as one. Its concept comes
from Mahayana Buddhism, which is the origin of the Buddhist philosophy. Many
of our techniques come from the teachings of Buddha. Kancho used to call Shorinji
Kempo the teaching guidelines Buddha taught to his disciples. Shorinji Kempo
practitioners must understand what they are doing and why they are doing it.
If you just want to become strong, go somewhere other than a Shorinji Kempo
dojo. Shorinji Kempo expects you to achieve much more than that from training.
Shorinji Kempo expects more of you not just a mastery of technique; Shorinji
Kempo expects you to master things like love, compassion, patience, respect,
and loyalty through your practice.
yourself first, love and give compassion to others
(your training partner), and learn from others.
Respect your seniors, your parents, teachers, elder
brothers and sisters, older kenshi and the country
where you live.
Kempo should not be taught for the purpose of fighting
or to harm others but to polish your own skills
in order to become a better person. Learn about
yourself first; listen to yourself. Learn to respect
yourself, and others. Become a person who is worthy
of the respect of others. Shorinji Kempo believes
in working with your training partner (as in enbu)
in a spirit of mutual aid and development. With
things like sotai practice, you show consideration
for others from which will spring spiritual partnership.
All these facets of training should be practiced
What would you tell someone that is interested in starting to learn Shorinji
Everybody can practice: young and old, men and women.
How do you feel about carrying on the traditional style of training of Yamamori
sensei and Doshin So?
I value greatly the originality of Shorinji Kempo. I want to go back to the
starting point where the Founder wanted the younger people to start their
training. Everybody can practice, for everyone there is a beginning to life,
just like a baby starts to crawl, then to stand, then to walk. I want to show
beginners how to train correctly. After all, every beginner is a potential
master of Shorinji Kempo.
I want to teach students how enjoyable it is to
overcome difficulty one step at a time. To reach
a final goal you must overcome each small step.
These steps start from being a beginner through
the different levels of black belt. This is how
to progress to become a master of Shorinji Kempo.
want students to experience how wonderful it feels
to triumph over adversity. How achieving your goals
will bring you self-confidence, courage, and happiness
Another aspect I want to emphasize in my dojo is
the importance of health maintenance through Seitai
jutsu as we teach it in Shorinji Kempo. This is
an aspect of training that is not given sufficient
attention these days which is sad.
After 30 years of training, I want to pass all that
I learned from Kancho to the next generation, I
feel it is my responsibility before I leave this
world. I feel it is my duty to pass on Doshin So's
teachings to others. I want others to experience
a love of Shorinji Kempo and be inspired by it as
I was on October 3rd, 1968 at the age of twenty.
Thirty years later I opened my dojo in Hollywood,
California, and in a way my life began again with
my new students as they put their feet on the path
for the first time.
Is there anything else you would like to comment on?
Only that I am blessed with my own special family all of whom practice Shorinji
Kempo. I met my wife while practicing, and my daughter, now nine years old,
also trains. We are united as a family through Shorinji Kempo and its teachings.
Reverend Kuramoto, thank you very much for this interview.
can be contacted at the Shorinji Kempo Hollywood Dojo, 3939 Middlebury St.,
Los Angeles, CA 90004 (626) 333-3025. Richard Killion, a long term Shorinji
Kempo Kenshi, is a computer scientist specializing in robotics with NASA.