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Shorinji Kempo

Shorinji Kempo History*


Shorinji Kempo, now more than ever, is a martial art that represents Japan.

However, among Japan's many martial arts, the history of Shorinji Kempo is young - only 70 years have passed since its creation.

In this time, over 1,500,000 people have joined Shorinji Kempo. The number of branches within Japan is about 2,950, and it has also spread to 37 countries overseas.

If you would like to learn more about Shorinji Kempo please visit the World Shorinji Kempo Organization web site.

The fundamental approach and goals in creating Shorinji Kempo

In 1945, World War Two came to an end. In that war, Japan surrendered unconditionally, and Kaiso (Japanese for founder), Doshin So experienced defeat in war. However, in that experience of defeat in war was contained the origins of Shorinji Kempo's creation. Kaiso spoke about it as follows:

"With my own body I experienced the realities of harsh international political realities in which power seems to be the only justice, and the state and nation's interest took priority over ideology, religion, and morality. The precious experience I gained amidst this was that the conduct of law, the military, and the government were not simply determined by ideological and religious differences, or by national policy, but that they are changed dramatically by the character and way of thinking of the people who are in the positions of action. Thereupon, my view of the world transformed, and I came to see a certain aim for my future way of living. - The person, the person, the person. Everything depends on the quality of the person."

Based on Kaiso's viewpoint that "everything depends on the quality of the person," Doshin So created Shorinji Kempo in 1947 in Japan with the aim of educating people with strong senses of compassion, courage, and justice.

At the time in Japan, social order had been discarded, and many people had lost sight of their goals in life. However, people with a sense of purpose responded to Kaiso's call and gathered around him. Now, Shorinji Kempo is spreading from its base in Japan to a broader presence in the world.


The principles of Shorinji Kempo have their base in "people" and "peace."

Kaiso hated war, the symbol of all of humanity's foolishness, he loved peace, and he sought for the development of a real peace for humankind. Moreover, he contended that "countries and society must transform by the improvement of human hearts and by peaceful means."

To make that hope reality, he set as goals "the enrichment of people and the establishment of ideal places" when he created Shorinji Kempo.

What "the establishment of ideal places" means is that the building of societies that, while free of wars and conflagrations, are bright and plentiful both physically and spiritually.

The meaning of "Shorinji Kempo's enrichment of people" is the educating of people who can live their lives as:

  • People who can live with faith in their own individual potential.
  • People who can guide their lives from their own standpoint.
  • People who can act with consideration for the happiness of others.
  • People who can act with justice, courage, and compassion.
  • People who can lead lives of cooperation with strangers and acquaintances alike.
One of Kaiso's sayings is, "half for one's own happiness, and half for the happiness of others." This is a representative principle of Shorinji Kempo, and expands on the phrase, "self construction and happiness for self and others."

"Self establishment" means being able to realize the nobility of the wondrous potential one possesses, to have a standard for how human beings should live, to possess the confidence to build on oneself, and to be able to live a worthy life.

"Happiness for self and others" means recognizing the existence of both oneself and others, and living in a way that consistently seeks the improvement and development of oneself as well as others and society.

More history information can be obtained at the World Shorinji Kempo Organization web site

* - Excerpts from the World Shorinji Kempo Organization Web Site