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 Shorinji Kempo traces its origins back almost 5000 years to India.

From India, Buddhism spread to many countries, including China. Bodhidharma, the sixth century founder of Zen Buddhism, introduced Kempo to the legendary Shaolin Temple ("Shōrin-Ji" in Japanese), located in Honan prefecture. Here kempo became the main form of spiritual training for the buddhist monks and the monastery became famous for its fighting arts.

Wall paintings can still be seen today in the Shaolin Temple of dark-skinned (Indian) monks practicing and teaching kempo to light-skinned (Chinese) monks.

The Imperial Chinese Government, feeling threatened, destroyed the temple and persecuted the monks. The techniques however continued to be taught and practiced by various secret societies as a means of protection against bandits and corrupt officials. Many different forms of kempo were developed and kept alive by these secret societies.

Born in 1911 in Okayama prefecture, the eldest son of a customs officer, Doshin So was sent to live with his grandfather in Manchuria upon the death of his father.

From the age of 18, he travelled extensively in China and studied many of the scattered remnants of Chinese kempo. In Beijing, Doshin So studied under Wen Laoshi, the 20th Master of the Northern Shorinji Giwamonken School. At a ceremony held at the Shaolin Temple in 1936 Doshin So became Wen-Laoshi's direct successor, the 21st Master.

On the 9th of August 1945, Doshin So was in Eastern Manchuria when the Russian army broke their treaty with Japan and crossed the border. On the 15th of August, the war ended in Japan's defeat. During the next year, under the occupying Russian army he experienced the misery and suffering of defeat in a foreign land, where the interests of nations had come before the claims of ideology, religion, and morals. Nations had fought, and victory went to the country best able to organise its people to defeat and kill others. The strongest ruled, and the defeated Japanese in Manchuria were on the wrong side of that rule.

Amidst this bitter reality, Doshin So found a lesson which shaped the principles of Shorinji Kempo. He realized that it was neither ideology, religious differences nor national policies which determine the course of events, but rather the character and the way of thinking of the people involved. He put words to this realisation saying, "The person! The person! Everything depends on the quality of the person".

The defeat of Japan in the war brought about the repatriation of Doshin So and indirectly became the cause of the transmission of kempo to Japan. On his return, in June 1946, he found a people in turmoil, confused and lacking any hope or sense of purpose. Doshin So could see that they were lacking in morality and pride, so he set about teaching the arts he had learnt.

Source:  Oxford University
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2 Comments:

  1. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou said...
    martial arts are now spread world wide - which is great...i did not know that kempo is from india...
    Bronson said...
    Me neither. I love little interesting tidbits of information like this.

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