History of Shorinji Kempo


Doshin So (1911 - 1980)

Shorinji Kempo was founded by Doshin So (known as Kaiso, literally meaning "founder") in 1947 in Japan. Kaiso was born in 1911 in Japan but was sent to live in Manchuria, a North-Western region of China for much of his childhood. He studied a wide range of Chinese martial arts from various masters, culminating when at the age of 25 he succeeded his master at the Northern Shorinji Giwamonken School.

He was still in Manchuria at the end of the Second World War, when Russian forces broke a treaty with Japan and crossed the border into Manchuria. Kaiso was deeply troubled by the terrible toll taken by war on the protagonists of it, and noted the suffering of the defeated at the hands of the victors. He determined that the course of action taken by human beings was not a question of their nationality or their religious convictions, but a matter of their own morality.

He returned to Japan in 1946 to find a nation writhing in the turmoil of defeat, a crushed people whose history of dignity and mutual respect was shaken by war. Shocked by this diminution of his country's pride, he set about doing something to fix it. He promoted his philosophical teachings to young people, but found that they would not come to hear this alone. Consequently he devised Shorinji Kempo, an amalgam of these philosophical beliefs developed in Kaiso through his experience of the world together with the system of techniques he formed and categorised, with the aim of creating a system of learning which trains mind and body simultaneously to develop people to have the conscience to seek the right actions and the qualities to achieve them.