Richard Killion - Dragon Times #14
of Shorinji Kempo
1928, Doshin So, the founder (also refered to as
Kaiso) travelled through China studying as he did
so various forms of Chinese Kempo. Under the guidance
of the head of the North Shorinji Giwamonken School
of Kempo, Wen-Lanshi, he studied its techniques
in great depth including the practice of embu, a
kata-like form that requires two people to perform,
and a hallmark of modern Shorinji Kempo. (Note that
the word Shorinji is the Japanese pronounciation
of Shaolin Temple Boxing.) In 1936, at a ceremony
at the school, Doshin So became the official successor.
the Russian Army's occupation of Manchuria, 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
of his or her actions. This conclusion strongly
influenced the shaping of Shorinji Kempo and its
philosophical base Returning to the devastation
of postwar Japan he 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.
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 honbu 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 where students from all over
the world come to train.
in the USA
In the 1950s Yamamori Sensei trained at the Kyoto
Betsuin Dojo in Kyoto. Doshin So would come to Kyoto
for two weeks each month to train Yamamori and his
classmates. In 1968 Yamamori Sensei founded the
first United States Shorinji Kempo dojo in Los Angeles,
where he continues to teach today. Yamamori Sensei
holds a 7th dan rank and is an ordained priest of
Located in a large port city of the Pacific Rim,
the Los Angeles dojo is comopolitan in outlook and
attracts an international cross section of Shorinji
Kempo students. Yamamori sensei is noted for his
lectures as well as his teaching and both act as
magnets for students travelling in America as well
as visiting instructors from Japan, among them:
Morikawa, Zeo Sensei; Arai Sensei; Misaki, Toshio
Sensei; Goda, Kiyokazu Sensei; Yamazaki, Hiromichi
Sensei; Miyoshi, Kenji Sensei; Kurata, Kenji Sensei;
Akiyoshi, Yoshimi Sensei, and Bando, Kunio Sensei
In 1969, Kuramoto Sensei began studying Shorinji
Kempo at the Koshigaya Doin in Koshigaya city in
Saitama Prefecture, Japan. He had no previous martial
arts training prior to joining Shorinji Kempo. He
started training under Yamamori Sensei at the Los
Angeles dojo in 1972. He holds a 6th dan rank and
is an ordained priest of Kongo-Zen. He has recently
established his own dojo in Hollywood, California.
religious organization is called Sohonzan-Shorinji,
and its sect is called Kongo Zen and is registered
with the Japanese government. The martial art organization
is officially called Shorinji Kempo Renmei.
is also a world federation called the World Shorinji
Kempo Organization WSKO - 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.
The British Shorinji Kempo Federation, founded by
Mizuno Sensei and Yoshida Sensei is a very active
federation in Great Britain. Worldwide, there are
about 1.4 million members at 3,000 dojos in 20 countries.
In the United States, there are currently 27 dojos.
philosophy of Kongo-Zen comes from the word Kongo,
which means diamond, and Zen, from the teachings
of Boddharma, whose essential teaching was that
the kingdom of heaven lies in the heart of man.
Essentially, this is a belief of self-dependence,
as can be seen in the Seiku (meditation). At the
beginning of practice, the meditation, oath and
creed are recited. At the Los Angeles dojo this
is done in Japanese.
am my own refuge and source of strength. On whom
may I rely if not myself? With a wisely disciplined
self, I find a truly rare and precious fountain
of strength. By doing evil, I contaminate myself.
By not doing evil, I purify myself. Purity and impurity
come from within, and others cannot purify my heart.
pledge to follow the principles of Shorinji Kempo
in practice and in daily life:
To be honest with our teachers.
To respect those ahead of us.
To not disdain those behind us.
To give as well as receive help.
To cooperate, and to give ourselves to contributing to the Way.
We pledge to set aside our preoccupations in learning this art as if we
were newborn children.
We pledge to use this art only to help people, never for our reputation
that our spirit came from Dharma and our bodies
from our parents, we acknowledge debts and express
out gratitude by applying ourselves to the fullest.
resolve ourselves to making the country worthy of
love by improving the lives of its people.
resolve to become men and women of true courage
who love justice, foster peace, respect humanity,
and act with decorum.
strive to improve the world by practicing the principles
of Kongo Zen, strengthening ourselves mentally and
physically and sharing this purpose with others
in mutual friendship, respect, and support.
ultimate reality cannot be comprehended by human
thought and Kongo-Zen does not recognize an invented
reality that projects human's fears and needs. There
is no need for humans to claim to be gods or profit
from being intermediaries for gods. Praying to gods
will not solve problems. Kongo-Zen states that problems
are to be solved by man by acquiring more knowledge
and becoming one with the spirit of Dharma.
is the important Kongo-Zen concept of the Middle
Path of Harmony. It states that extremes must be
avoided. For an individual to recognize and attempt
to solve the problems of the world it is necessary
to have both a strong mind and a strong body. Ignoring
one aspect would not make a completed human. Both
the mental and the physical aspects of the world
must be acknowledged and be in balance.
also is a middle path relationship between the individual
and society. There must be a middle path between
selfishness and selflessness. Humans must realize
their dependence on others, but preserve their individuality.
is Shorinji Kempo
spiritual teachings of Shorinji Kempo, are, of course,
based on Kongo Zen principles.
believes in balancing the spiritual aspects of the
East with the material and scientific approach of
are four essential teachings of Shorinji Kempo,
which will be briefly explained:
Answer Lies in Man
individual is responsible for his own welfare and
happiness, and should not blame others and society
for what befalls him. Training aims to produce responsible
individuals who can relate to society in a meaningful
and fruitful way.
Unity of Ken and Zen
refers to the body or action. Zen refers to the
mind or composure. The mind and the body are inseparable.
A troubled mind can lead to poor health, and, conversely,
poor health can bring about a troubled mind. Both
mind and body need to be cultivated for a complete
Unity of Strength and Love
reality of life is that justice must be enforced
by strength. Passive submission is not beneficial
to anyone. Forgiveness, coming from love, must be
supported by the power to punish. Shorinji Kempo
uses strength for preservation of life, not for
killing. Force is to be used as a final measure
and only for the purpose of self -preservation.
Half for Oneself and Half for Others
must think of the welfare of others as well as their
own. One must not deprive others at the cost of
the individual. While pursuing the benefits for
oneself, one should also benefit others.
symbol of Shorinji Kempo is an commonly seen Buddhist
symbol of Indian origin, and great antiquity. In
Japan it is used to denote a Buddhist temple, on
maps and the symbol itself is displayed in and around
the temples. The religious device is composed of
four Ls at right angles to each other similar to,
but not to be confused with the swastika used in
Nazi Germany which is its mirror image. Another
form of the Manji in Shorinji Kempo is two flowing
lines within a circle, somewhat similar to a double
yin-yang symbol. This modified symbol commonly used
in Shorinji Kempo dojos in the West.
hard aspect of Shorinji Kempo techniques called
Goho consists of thrusts, and kicks. The soft aspect,
called Juho, consists of twists, throws, eluding
(releases), and pinning. There are over 600 of these
techniques as well as 142 points located in the
body that can cause pain or fainting when pressure
consists of a mutually cooperative effort between
two persons in an experimental manner by receiving
and applying these techniques. An embu is a planned
two-person form that reinforces reflexes, distance
judgement and overall techniques. There are standard
embus, and also partners can create their own embu.
No floor mats are used during practice. Most dojos
have wooden floors.
(referred to as kenshi) greet each other with a
gassho, with the palms of the hands held together
at eye level. When listening to instruction, they
stand at attention with the hands clasped in front
of the body.
Kempo techniques use the coordinated power of the
entire body, especially the hips and shoulders.
This is especially emphasized in hand thrusts. During
warm-up, there is one particular training exercise,
where the body motion used in hand thrusts are practiced
while keeping the hands behind the body. While practicing
this, the shoulder, knee, hip and overall body position
is carefully checked.
thrusts are varied and can be closed or open handed.
There is also an eye strike (Mae Uchi) where the
arm is relaxed and is whipped so that the fingers
flick at the eyes.
stances are not deep enough to prevent mobility
in any direction. There are various hand positions
that students can further vary with open hands and
closed fists. The basic Chudan Gamae stance using
both fists is somewhat similar to a boxer's hand
position, except the lead fist is lower.
footwork taught allows for mobility in any direction.
Turning, stepping, sliding and leaping movements
are used. When moving into an opponent the approach
is not straight in but to the side. Dodges are also
practiced in order to avoid attacks and are frequently
combuned with blocks which are performed "inwards"
or "outwards." Kicks are immediately withdrawn into
a position from which the leg itself can be used
to block an opponent's kick and then counterattack
with yet another kick. Ukemi (rolls) are practiced
and culminate with a standing or kneeling defensive
position from which further defensive and/or counter-attacking
techniques are launched.
coordination of the power of the body, especially
the hips, shoulders legs and positioning of the
arms contributes to the effectiveness of the techniques.
Releasing (eluding) grabs of either the hands, wrists
or clothing are practiced. This can result in the
opponent releasing his grip or can develop into
a throw that simultaneously causes pain in the gripping
hand and arm before the opponent reaches the ground.
Once on the ground pins are used to increase pain,
if needed, and to contain the opponent. After control
is established, a coup de grace in the form of a
hand thrust or kick is delivered.
are a large number of eluding and throwing techniques
and variations due to the the differences in the
opponent's grab, the relative height and strength
of the opponent and his reaction to your defense.
The finer points in making a Juho technique more
effective are not obvious to a casual observer,
or even a student, unless the technique is directly
experienced. A subtle shift in relative positioning
of the hands, elbows, arms, hips, shoulders can
create an unexpected magnitude increase of pain
or an increase of throwing force.
is based on ancient methods used to regulate the
body by application of pressure to various known
points on the body. This relaxes the muscles and
improves circulation. The most commonly used techniques
are applying pressure to the muscles surrounding
the spinal column and the neck muscles, as well
as the pulling of the rib cage.
meditation is employed to cultivate cultivate proper
breathing, increase mental awareness and concentration.
Zazen is based on the concept of the mind-body unity
and is important for ensuring a balanced human being.
Appo and Kappo.
literally means "resuscitation." These are collections
of techniques to revive a person who is unconscious.
There are seven technical maneuvers available (according
to the Honbu Manual, demonstrated by Bando Sensei)
by which Kappo can be used to revive an unconscious
person. Appo literally means "the technical application
of the pressure points," is the collections of tecniques,
called O-atsu waza (or technique used to paralyze
an opponent by applying the correct amount of pressure
onto the correct pressure- points of the body).
can be used by a kenshi to defeat the offender by
applying the correct pressure, even without applying
strong power. Therefore, even the young children
or women can defend themselves if they perform this
technique. The knowledge of these pressure points
originated from the Oriental medical practices of
some 5000 years ago.
teaching can be thought of as continuation of a
culture. What is taught are not just the facts that
can be recorded in a book but the human-to-human
transmission of a way of doing.