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7th June 2002, 01:08
Just ran accross this and thought other kenshi might want to see it. It provides a little more info about the Shorinji Kempo "name" issue. Any comments? Anyone know if this is accurate?

The following is from: A Chronological History of the Martial Arts and Combative Sports 1940-now (rev01/02) <http://ejmas.com/kronos/NewHist1940.htm>)

A Japanese named Nakano Michiomi -- he later changed his name to So Doshin -- incorporates his martial art school as a Kongo Zen Buddhist religious order. (So said that he taught martial arts mostly as a way of attracting young people to Buddhism, and that it was the latter, not the martial arts, that would make them better people.) However, the tax breaks given religious orders were probably a consideration, too. At any rate, until 1972, So claimed to be the twenty-first grandmaster of an esoteric northern Shaolin system called Iher Man Thuen. What caused him to change his mind was a Japanese court ruling that his style was not Chinese, but instead a mixture of karate (perhaps Wado-ryu) and jujutsu (perhaps Hakko-ryu). As a result, the style’s name was changed from "Shorinji Kempo," meaning "Shaolin Temple kung fu," to "Nippon Shorinji Kempo," meaning "Japanese Shaolin Fist-Way."

Mike Johnson

7th June 2002, 15:39
seeing the teching in dojo or in books, shorinji kenpo as no connections with any traditional karate because:

-the parry are done with hand rather than forarm
-vertical fist only is use instead of horizontal fist
-no horse positions work and low position work present in other karate
-no hand to the heel when doing a technic

but more than that the spirit is very different, karate has become very hard martial art with time and his philosophie is often "ippon"
on winning blow, than is absent in shorinji kenpo.

on my reasear in book and training dojo, i was surprise to notice that most of martial art now enphasis stance train and do hand to the heel when doing a technic, even in shaolin they do that now, and also:
-karate (almost all style)
-wingtsung (fist to the heel only)
-white crane
-praying mantis....

so i wondered if the claimed of SO Doshin was justified, but, reading the book
"okinawan karate" from mark Bishop
i noticed that all karate that claim to came from shaoling and where the founder maid a trip to china used vertical fist.

also the more restrected style do less form teachin and no hand to heel as i know, so i think its a caracteristic for mass teaching to make a shape for everyone.
so i that the old shaoling quan look like shorinji kempo but was modified to fit the mass teaching requierement after the comunist revolution in china.

so to me shorinji kenpo is closer to the old shaoling quan, whever so doshin was ever recognise as a master of it or not.
for the spirit is more important.

well, now,all this things are just my theory. any other ideas?

Gary Dolce
7th June 2002, 16:08
Hand to the heel? Do you mean "hand to the hip", as in the position of the pulling arm during a punch in traditional karate?

I agree though that Shorinji Kempo goho does not look like karate. The combination of higher stances, vertical fist, pulling arm to chest rather than to hip, different style of blocking (although I don't agree that SK emphasizes use of the hand over the forearm), emphasis on dodging, etc. all seem to distinguish it from any form of karate that I have seen.

7th June 2002, 19:55

First of all the reference to registering to SK for tax purposes is badly stated since the author offers no further background. It is not even worded as a factual statement but as a probable suggestion.

Now in regards to the "Karate-Jujitsu" description of SK, it should all be obvious to anyone who has seen the style that our Goho is nowhere near like Karate provided of course one knows what Karate looks like.

With that said, I have to admit that when describing SK to anyone, I would always say that it is somewhat of a mixture of Karate and Aikido which is really the only point of reference most people can understand. Several well known martial arts FAQ or books that summarize popular styles always list SK under the catagory of Karate whereas Ed Parker's Kenpo Karate style has a category onto itself.

For example:


Makes me wonder if an active effort must be done to revise this.

7th June 2002, 21:06
yes, i meant hand to hips, please forgive me for my ugly english -_-;

anyway, anyone got an idea where this position come from?

8th June 2002, 13:34
I actually have no knowledge about this, but I'm taking a stab.
My Iaido teacher often compares the holding of the saya(sheath) in Iaido with Karate punches which end at the waist. The purpose seems to be for centripedal force to counter balance the punch, or in this case, the sword arm. We pull back the saya when we unsheath the sword and strike. The same principal exists in Iaido, Karate, and in Shorinji Kempo. By pulling our fist to our chest we create even more force through our punch.
The exact reason why Karate has its style and Kempo another beats me...can it be that Iaijutsu was prevalent at the time?

Shaunessey Joudrey

8th June 2002, 15:28
this principle is absent in shorinji kenpo, jet kune do, bujinkan taijutsu and muay thai to my knowledge.
if you try to punch or slash while contracting your rear arm toward the back, you will loose power beacause half of your bodie goes against the attac motion.
that is why it is never used in randori and maybe why it is absent in go rin no sho too.
it also expose your body to a counter.

Gary Dolce
8th June 2002, 22:30

Perhaps this is another language misunderstanding, but I think you are wrong in saying that the principle Boris describes(i.e, pulling one arm back while punching with the other) is absent in Shorinji Kempo. We may pull to the chest instead of the hip, but we still pull. I was taught and continue to believe that we do this for three reasons - to put the arm in a position to protect the side of the body from counter attack, to add force to the turn of the shoulders during the punch, and to put the arm in the best position to follow with a second strike.

9th June 2002, 01:47
maybe i missunderstood but in vietvo, taekwondo and other traditional martial art, i was taught never move my shoulder back while puting the fist to the hips
that is why i found diference in shorinji because you move the shoulder like in boxe, not rigid like in karate
also the hip doesnt move in kata, well not back, while it is deferent in shorinji
hip move back only for kick in traditional karate
or maybe i am wrong?

9th June 2002, 12:26
Regarding the registration of Shorinji Kempo as a religious order, I think that there was pressure against traditional Budo in Japan following the war becayse it was related to the nationalist imperial spirit during and before the war. I heard that Shorinji Kempo was registered as a religious organization to avoid this pressure.

Regarding the relationship between Shorinji Kempo and Karate, I think some of Jimi's comments are incorrect:

-the parry are done with hand rather than forarm
-vertical fist only is use instead of horizontal fist
-no horse positions work and low position work present in other karate
-no hand to the heel when doing a technic

Parrying is done with the forearm in forms of Karate, and also in Shorinji Kempo. We use both a vertical and a horizontal fist in Shorinji Kempo. There are low squatting positions in both Shorinji Kempo and forms of Karate, even going by the same name, horse stance. In general though, its true that in Shorinji Kempo we don't do the fist to hip motion during punching in the same way that can be seen in many Karate and some Kungfu styles.

I think the reason for that is the whip-type strikes used in most Shorinji Kempo goho. There is a nice three-type classification of punching that I think can be extended to kicks as well: whip-type, driving and bludgeoning. Whip-type strikes are based on generating a high velocity at impact to transfer a large impulse into the target and cause localised disruption. Driving strikes are forceful movements that aim to put the fist through the target. The impact is slower, but not necessarily the strike itself. This seems to be common in Karate. Bludgeoning strikes aim to deliver momentum into the target rather than break through it, but the transfer of momentum is based on organizing a large mass rather than velocity. This type of strike is common in boxing where the presence of gloves means that the impact is necessarily too elastic to transfer a short duration impulse.

The fist to hip motion strengthens the posture, facilitating a strike that can be supported by relatively stiffly contracted muscles throughout the motion and thus drive through the target. This type of strike is not very common in Shorinji Kempo, although sokutogeri and morodrizuki both seem close.

On the other hand, its not really safe to talk about Karate in general terms because there are so many different styles. To what technical extent Shorinji Kempo is similar to various Karate styles is an interesting question, but like most people it seems I find that the description of Shorinji Kempo as "half Aikido, half Karate" is often very handy. For people with little martial arts experience thinking about training, the images of those two arts are an easy way to communicate the general feeling of Shorinji Kempo technically.

9th June 2002, 17:05
thanks for the informations:)
do you other an other martial art wich use whipe fist strike exept
fun fan gungfu?


10th June 2002, 11:24
In response to Shugyosha's question. I'm afraid I don't have any first hand experience of other martial arts based around whip-like strikes. I get the impression that it is fairly common among Kungfu styles.

I've seen Bruce Lee performing strikes in this way, and recall an entertaining black and white television interview of Bruce Lee -forgive the phonetic spelling:

"A kawate punch is wike an iwon bar, and it go WACK.
...a Kungfu punch is wike an iwon baw on a chain,
and it go wwaaAAAAANNNNNGGG!"

12th June 2002, 07:37
In relation to the original posting. It was stated that So Doshin claimed to be the 21st grandmaster of an esoteric northern shaolin system called Iher Man Thuen. What made him change his mind was a Japanese court ruling that his system was rather a mixture of karate and ju-jitsu. My questions are (1) who instigated the court proceedings; and (2) what evidence was presented to suggest that Shorinji Kempo was derived from karate and ju-jitsu rather than Iher Man Thuen.

Paul Bradsell

12th June 2002, 12:28
In reply to Alexander's question, I don't have any more information about the trial myself but it seems that some other members may have information, and I suggest the following posts are relevant:

Mäki-Kuutti Vesa's post and Yamantaka's reply in the "Shaolin history" thread, and Colin Linz's post in the "Doshin So's jujutsu experience" thread.

I suspect that the trial was conducted in Japanese, and possibly incorporated Chinese. It seems unlikely that it was ever formally translated into English so there may be few if any informed westerners. Likewise, its not an issue that many Japanese kenshi consider relevant or interesting.

George Hyde
12th June 2002, 15:29
Hi All,

I've asked this question in a number of quarters and received no answer at all...

If the court case of '72 required "Shorinji Kempo" to become, "Nippon Shorinji Kempo", what happened since to facilitate the reversal?


14th June 2002, 22:05
Thanks Kikazaru and George Hyde for your replies, and for the additional information. I have searched for more information relating to the court case on the internet in Japanese. Unfortunately, there doesn?ft appear to be any information. So, I would certainly agree, that it is not an issue relevant or interesting to Japanese budo students, at least not those training in Shorinji Kempo?c.:D

So it would seem, without access to court records, all we can do is speculate.
And as far as the reversal is concerned, this would also appear to be the case.

Paul Bradsell