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Interview of Rev. Yamamori
by Richard Killion - Dragon Times #15

Yamamori sensei is one of the pioneering instructors who introduced America to Shorinji Kempo.

Richard Killion: When did you start Shorinji Kempo? Did you study any other martial art before this?

Reverend Yamamori: April 8, 1960 started at the Kyoto Betsuin Dojo. Previous to this I studied in Judo up to the 2nd degree Black Belt.

Richard Killion: What inspired you to join Shorinji Kempo?

Reverend Yamamori: To make my soul, mind & body strong.

Richard Killion: When did you train at the the Kyoto Betsuin ?

Reverend Yamamori: In the evenings, after work 5 times/week, until I left for the United States in 1968.

Richard Killion: What was it like to train under the founder, Doshin So, at the Kyoto Betsuin dojo?

Reverend Yamamori: Training under the founder, made me very happy inside my heart.

Richard Killion: Is there anything else you would like to say about Doshin So and his teachings and philosophy?

Reverend Yamamori: His teaching was very simple, nothing over-complicated. His philosophy was to learn the true meaning of life and what is a real man. Don't ever copy others, be yourself. Grow up on your own. Always keep a strong heart. Having a feeling that you would do anything for your family and die for your family.

Richard Killion: What dojos now exist in Kyoto?

Reverend Yamamori: Over 100 dojos exist in the form of temples, high schools, colleges.

Richard Killion: When did you establish the Los Angeles dojo ?

Reverend Yamamori: April 2, 1968

Richard Killion: What inspired you to come to Los Angeles and establish the L.A. Dojo?

Reverend Yamamori: To train myself, heart and spirit. L.A. is a big place and there are so many martial arts but nothing like Shorinji Kempo. I wanted to expand Shorinji Kempo and teach the same way the founders taught me. My dream is for Japan and the United States to never get into a war again. I told my parents I would come back to Japan in 2 to 3 years, but my feelings inside my heart was that I would stay, die and be put to rest in the United States.

Richard Killion: Along with Doshin So, the picture of Morikawa Sensei is in the place of honor, at the Los Angeles dojo. What can you tell the readers about Morikawa Sensei?

Reverend Yamamori: Morikawa Sensei and I trained together at the Kyoto Betsuin Dojo. He now teaches at his Rakuto Doi dojo in Kyoto. Morikawa Sensei was a sponsor for the L.A. Shorinji Kempo dojo when it was formed. Ever since the Kyoto Betsuin Dojo days, Doshin So was like a father to me in Shorinji Kempo and Morikawa Sensei was like a big brother to me.

Richard Killion: What are the qualities of a dojo that makes it a traditional dojo ?

Reverend Yamamori: Learning the basics, listening to lectures. Learning the basics is very important to life in general.

Richard Killion: You have said that Shorinji Kempo is not a sport and not just a martial art. Can you describe this to the readers ?

Reverend Yamamori: Shorinji Kempo is not to win or lose like other martial arts. It is to train your (spiritual) heart and body. It includes meditation to calm the (spiritual) heart and body and keep your mind clear. When you are meditating, the Heavenly Father is holding you in his arms like a child.

Richard Killion: What would you tell someone who is interested in starting to learn Shorinji Kempo ?

Reverend Yamamori: I would tell them to not ask me any questions and come to watch the class several times. Also, I would ask them to go to see other martial arts and compare them to see the difference. I would tell them that Shorinji Kempo is not a sport like other martial arts

Richard Killion: Is there anything you would like to say regarding the state of values and morals in the United States and the world.

Reverend Yamamori: There are a few Japanese with pure Japanese spirit and a few Americans with pure American spirit. These few people would trust in God and follow God's true way and follow their own true heart.

Richard Killion: Yesterday, you were a guest of honor at the opening ceremony of Kuramoto Sensei's dojo, who has been L.A. dojo's senior student of many years. It must be fulfilling that your senior student Kuramoto kenshi is following your traditional teachings of yourself and of Doshin So. Through you, the path of Doshin So has now walked to America and now will continue through Kuramoto Sensei. Is there anything you would like to say about the opening of this new dojo or the spread of Shorinji Kempo ?

Reverend Yamamori: I have confidence that Kuramoto Sensei will teach the true meaning of Shorinji Kempo and will follow the Founder's way.

Richard Killion: Reverend Yamamori Sensei, I thank you very much for this interview.