Japanese Language Blog

Japanese Martial Art: Shorinji Kempo Posted by on Dec 3, 2013 in Culture

Have you heard about Japanese martial art called Shorinji Kempo?  Shorinji Kempo is one of the martial arts originated in Japan, just like Karate. Although Karate might be much more popular in the U.S. compared to Shorinji, there are about 27 Shorinji branches throughout the U.S.  Here in Portland, Oregon,  there are two branches where you can join and practice. My 7 and 9 year old boys attend their practice on every Saturday evening for a hour long practice.

Shorinji Kempo was established in 1947 by So Doshin(So Doshin, 宗 道臣 ).  He was a Japanese martial artist and former military intelligence agent. After World War II, when he returned to Japan from Manchuria (now the Northeast Region of China), he found that people’s spirits were in ruins being left in turmoil after the war . In order to put his home country back on its feet, he decided that he would dedicate the remainder of his life to educating youth with the spirit and the backbone that the country needed. He 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 called “Shorinji Kempo”.


Techniques of Shorinji Kempo are logically created on the basis of dynamics and physiology to allow anyone to protect him/herself regardless of physical strength or body size. Members of Shorinji Kempo study the fundamentals of mutual human recognition and respect through technical practice. The Shorinji Kempo training facility (dojo,道場) is a place bearing important responsibilities, especially in the process of character formation for youth learners(Kenshi,拳士).

I am always impressed to find that their weekly practice starts out with the cleaning process by students(Kenshi,拳士). They each grab a cotton towel and start to wipe down the Dojo floor. It teaches them a responsibility that they are to clean their own practice floor.

According to World Shorinji Kempo Organization (WSKO), Shorinji Kempo is practiced at 2,900 smaller Dojo’s and branches in 33 countries world wide. The current group president So Yuuki, the daughter of So Doshin, has guided Shorinji Kempo so that it is very popular among women.

This past summer, Shorinji Kempo world tournament was held in Osaka, Japan. I found the following video to give you a better idea on what the Shorinji Kempo is like.

I hope you had a chance to learn one of the martial arts from Japan!

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About the Author: keiko

Born and raised in Japan. She currently lives in U.S. with her husband and two kids.