About Shorinji Kempo

(Frequently Asked Questions about Shorinji Kempo are also answered on the WSKO site)

Shorinji Kempo was originated in 1947 in the Japanese town of Tadotsu.

Shorinji Kempo’s founder, So Doshin, faced Japan’s defeat at the end of the Second World War in what was then called Manchuria (now the Northeast Region of China), and there he experienced fully the wretchedness and sorrow of a defeated people. In such times it was not ideology, religion, or ethics, but rather the interests of nations and peoples that took priority, and the harsh reality of international government was that it operated as if only power constituted righteousness. Amidst that experience, Kaiso saw that the way law and government worked was not determined simply by distinctions of ideology or religion, or of national policy, but that a great difference was made by the character and way of thinking of the person in the particular position of authority. What he had noticed was that everything depends on the quality of the person!

Later, Kaiso returned to Japan, but the aftermath of war had left Japan in turmoil, and he found that people’s spirits were in ruins. So, in order to put his beloved home country back on its feet, he resolved that he would dedicate the remainder of his life to educating youth with the spirit and the backbone that the country needed. Because it was the youth who would take care of the future, he had them train both indomitable spirits and sturdy bodies, gave them strong confidence and courage, and cultivated many true leaders who would rebuild their native Japan. To construct a world in which everyone could live in happiness, he took the Chinese and Japanese martial arts that he had studied and reformulated them into a single, unique technical structure, thus originating Shorinji Kempo.

Kaiso used the historical Buddha’s teaching of building the self and Boddhidharma’s (the founder of Zen’s) teaching of indestructible and indomitable spirit to make the foundation of Kongo Zen, and he located Shorinji Kempo within Kongo Zen as its primary discipline.

Afterwards, however, these teachings and techniques could not be contained within the boundaries of religion, and Shorinji Kempo expanded to become a Way which anyone could study so long as they desired to improve in good balance both mind and body, to mutually affirm one another’s value, and to construct society as best as possible together with comrades whom they could trust. This change was recognized within Japan and broadly around the world.

Then, the World Shorinji Kempo Organization was formed as Shorinji Kempo’ global framework, and people of truly diverse religious, cultural and ethnic backgrounds have joined the organization. Going beyond national borders and generational differences, these members seek to become people who can contribute to world peace and well being by working hard at their daily training.

History of Shorinji Kempo” copied from WSKO official site


“The person, the person, the person. Everything depends on the quality of the person.”

Our founder, So Doshin, declared:
“given that everything is conducted by people, then there is no other way to achieving real peace than to make as many individuals as possible with strong senses of charity, courage, and justice!” Thus Shorinji Kempo was born. The purpose in this was not to make strong people or people with great technique, but to work through the practice of Shorinji Kempo and through people’s work to acquire healthy bodies, indomitable courage, and well-rounded character in order to make individuals capable of leading happy lives. At the same time the purpose is to nourish in them the courage and enthusiasm that will allow them to act aggressively to achieve a peacefully and prosperously ideal society, and to raise people well endowed with good judgment and a sense of justice who will serve as true leaders.

While Kaiso was still alive, he made use of a broad spectrum of opportunities to explain to kenshi how human beings should live based on his personal experiences.

“Kaiso’s philosophy” copied from official site.  For more of Kaiso’s philosophy, please visit WSKO official site.


Shorinji Kempo techniques are to be used only for self-defence, and not for personal reputation or profit.  The techniques must be applied using the principles of true budo.  Shorinji Kempo teaches that the essence of budo/martial arts in not to fight and defeat enemies, but to stop fighting between people, and to enable the harmony for a peacful society.

Shorinji Kempo’s techniques include the use of various strikes, kicks, blocks, ukemi/breakfalls, and pressure point healing/attacking.

The techniques of Shorinji Kempo rely on various principles to be effective.  This enables Shorinji Kempo techniques to be effectively applied regardless of age, sex, or strength.

Through focused practice of techniques, one’s understanding of living half for yourself and half for others (Ken Zen Ichinyo), and the union of heart and form can be deepened.

Here are some of the principles taught in Shorinji Kempo:

Ken Zen Ichinyo: Body and Mind are the Same
Riki Ai Funi: Strength and Love Stand Together
Shushu Koju: Defend First, Attack After
Fusatsu Katsujin: Protect People Without Injury
Goju Ittai: Hard and Soft Work only Together
Kumite Shutai: Pair Work is Fundamental

About the symbol

The Shorinji Kempo mark of the double rings carries numerous meanings.  The circle represents the cycle of learning, development, and then helping others with one’s growth.  This is a continuous process, as represented by the circle.  The interlocked rings signify the various ideas of self and others, sprit and body, and yin and yang, among others.  The shields represent the beliefs that we should protect/uphold.  The dots in each shield represent the ideas of heaven, earth, yin and yang, which express Shorinji Kempo’s connection with the east.

Content of this page taken from the Shorinji Kempo Text Book, Copyright © 1991 World Shorinji Kempo Organization and Kongo Zen Sohonzan Shorinji.


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