View Full Version : Shorinji punch vs Karate punch

Benjamin Peters
24th November 2002, 21:19
can someone please describe generally, the differences between a shorinji-kempo punch and a karate punch? i perceive that their is a lot of upper body turn in the shorinji method, maybe even a small difference in the foot movement (more agile)?

Anders Pettersson
25th November 2002, 02:59

If you compare the basic punch done in Shorinjikempo with the basic punch in Karate, yes it is very different, as the present result of the poll is showing (100% yes and 0% no).

However there are 46 different types of offensive hand techniques in Shorinjikempo, so there is a lot of different ways to strike and it will still be Shorinjikempo.

I am not trained in Karate, but from what I have seen there is a big difference in most cases between how we punch in Shorinjikempo compared to Karate. The way the hands is held when punching, both the fist that hit the target and the position of the other hand, the body movement and the footwork are essentially different.

It is somewhat difficult for me (as a non native English speaker) to describe the way we punch in writing, I will try to dig up some pictures, or hopefully some other kenshi can make a good description. (if nobody else can do it in a good way, I will try, but you have to give me some time)


25th November 2002, 04:16
Anders Sensei,
I suspect that Benjamin-san is interested in Kihon Gyaku Zuki, rather than Shuto Giri, Ipponken, or other striking techniques in the Shorinji Kempo repertoire. To that end, I would like to try explaining the nature of the punch. I'm going with Gyaku Zuki rather than Jun Zuki because the hip twist is more emphatic.
Excluding footwork (because the punch can theoretically be executed without Sashikomi Ashi, Sashikae Ashi, or other Umpoho), the mechanism is as follows:
Lean in using irimi so that your weight is fully on the front foot. The knee should cover the foot so that if you look down, you cannot see your foot. (I.e., do not allow the knee to fall to the side.)
Kick the floor with your back foot, allowing the power created to travel up through your leg and body. Pull back the non-punching hand as if drawing a bow, and twist the upper torso 180 degrees, using the non-punching hand as a counterweight and capitalizing on the momentum generated by kicking the floor. both fists are lightly clenched and held vertical ("tateken"). Clench only on impact, and recoil immediately, creating a shockwave. Make sure you twist only the upper torso, and do not allow the head or neck to swivel away from facing the target. Also, make sure both feet, front knee, shoulders, and fist are all aligned and facing towards the target.
Of course, there are many other elements, but I think this covers all the basics. See the picture for a better idea of my description. (Upper torso at least.)

Anders Pettersson
25th November 2002, 04:32

I think Tony made a good and understandable description of our most basic punch (thanks for that Tony).

Benjamin, how come you ask about the difference?


Benjamin Peters
25th November 2002, 05:20
:smilejapa gassho - thank-you for your generosity in sharing your time and thoughts.

well...it began like this: I asked a bunch of e-budo members about the effectiveness of a strike to the brachial-plexus a while ago (see the cqc thread (http://www.e-budo.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?threadid=15028) ). Someone in that thread actually mentioned that the BBC documentary for Shorinji-kempo displayed a master who actually knocks someone out with a strike to this area.

this began my search: i found a copy of the bbc documentary and watched it. when the young shorinji-kempo masters practiced punching, i noticed a slight difference to that of what I've seen in karate, and it was also different to what I perceive to be the generic boxing punch.

a few notable things in the footage I saw sparked the question: is a shorinji kempo punch different to a karate punch?
1) footage of a group of people advancing along the dojo practicing punches (here I noticed the hip/upper torso movement/fist)
2) footage of children practicing similar advancing movements (here I noticed the hip/upper torso movement)
3) footage of a pair practicing an outside wrist twist defense to a single hand grab; the defender turned the opponent over onto his stomach with both body weight and a strong upper torso turn. (here I noticed the hip/upper torso movement)

i noticed these things and knew that shorinji-kempo experts like yourselves might be able to help me clarify.

so - i guess it's curiosity!!

I guess to be more specific about the punch - it would have to be the advancing punch (right foot steping forward/right punch) and
the reverse-punch which would interest me if discussed.

again, thank-you for your generosity in sharing your time and thoughts. your discussion is much appreciated!!

Mr Kehoe - thank-you very much for your explaination!

i wasn't sure, but i guess because you guys feel/see the difference also....i guess i'm not so crazy afterall! :look:

25th November 2002, 05:38
This is turning into an interesting thread for several reasons, one of which is that in answering Benjamin-san's questions, I have to think rationally and perform a total breakdown analysis of the mechanics of our techniques.
Ben-san, in Shorinji Kempo, punching can be performed as you described in Way of the Warrior, moving down the hall. This is called Ido-zuki. The punching application I described above omitted any footwork, but there is another possibility, the Sashikae-ashi and Sashikomi-ashi that I mentioned above. Basically, if you assume that optimum distance ("maai") before a fight starts is approximately six inches beyond the reach of your opponent's longest kick, then to strike them, you will have to move in towards them. This is accomplished in one of two ways, Sashikae-ashi, the movement style you witnessed in the video footage from Hombu, and Sashikomi-ashi. With Sashikomi-ashi, whichever foot is in front doesn't change. Instead, slide smoothly forward one feet's-width. So, for example, if the left foot is in front ("hidari mae"), slide the left foot forward, and then immediately pull up the back leg so that although you have advanced by one step, the relative distance between front and back foot remains unchanged. If you then perform this action repeatedly, you will move down the hall in the same way as with repeated numerous Sashikae-ashi, such as in the video. Alternatively, after sliding in with Sashikomi-ashi, you could repeat the movement in reverse, sliding the back leg one step backwards, followed by pulling back the front foot, so again at movement's end the relative width between your feet remains unchanged, but you have now retreated one step to return to your original position of six inches out of range of your opponent's reach. HTH.

Benjamin Peters
26th November 2002, 00:09
as i am uninitiated into your tradition, i thank you for your openness in sharing your knowledge.:)

26th November 2002, 00:19
OK, who's the one, lone dissenting voice who voted NO? And, why?

26th November 2002, 00:33

Hello all.

I used to study Karate ( Goju Ryu Kai ) before I started Shorinji Kempo. In my humble opinion I found that the Karate punch seemed to focus more on doing the punch using the muscles from the shoulder down to the hand. Using strong quick movements of the upper arm seemed to be the way to developing strong punches. The punch started with the hand on the hip as well. In Shorinji Kempo the essence of the punch is more based on whole body movement, relying more on momentum than on physical strength. As you noticed in the video, many Shorinji Kempo movements use upper body twisting. Most of the mass of the body is carried in the torso, so by rotating this mass we gain a lot of momentum for any technique. This enables someone of small stature to still deliver an effective blow or throw.

There are differences in hand position and the striking surface used as well. I believe that a Karate punch impacts on the knuckles of the index finger and the middle finger with the fist horizontal. Shorinji Kempo however uses the knuckles of the ring and pinky fingers with the fist vertical, making sure that the wrist is not bent. As I mentioned above and Tony illustrated as well, that all of the body is used. If you watch closely, the actual extension of the arm to do the punch is the last thing to happen.

I hope this was helpful for you. I have not taken any Karate classes for more than 12 years, so if my understanding of the Karate punch is wrong, please excuse me.


Onno Kok
Alberta Shibu
Calgary Canada

tony leith
27th November 2002, 13:35
I can't profess to be an expert re. karate punching (I did practice wado ryu, but for less than a year and not all that consistently), and I should probably be circumspect about claiming expertise in Kempo punching techniques. As other contributors have noted, Kempo actually offers a pretty wide and varied repertory of striking techniques with the hands, but regarding straight zuki waza, we had a visit from Mizuno Sensei last weekend. He had some interesting things to say about optimal striking distance and the focus point of punches, with reference to striking a do (chest armour for the uninitiated).
To summarise he talked about a kind of triangulation point, defined in terms of the atemi point on your partner, your own shoulders, reach etc. etc. His main point seemed to be that Kempo punches are aimed at imparting concussive energy to the particular atemi point in question - he made an analogy between that and playing golf(!), how the critical point is when the ball is actually struck. In Kempo then there might be less continuous movement through the aiming point than in some other styles.
A karateka once told me that in Shotokan the idea is that is the strike is powerful throughout its execution. The implication of the 'wave form' idea in Kempo strikes implies that this won't be true of them for the most part - that the strike will be moving fastest and thus communicate the most energy and power at a particular point in its development, coincident with the atemi point being aimed at and just before it is whipped back.
Doubtless there will be other very different and equally valid takes on zuki and keri waza in Kempo, but that's my tuppenceworth..

Tony leith

28th November 2002, 08:50
Hello everybody.

If by any chance it can help, I would like provide to you a pair of links on the vertical fist in Isshin-ryu Karatedo. This one, and not the twisting punch, is the fundamental way of punching in this style, although it is made with a bodily mechanics different to the Shorinji Kempo’s one and rather more similar to the one of the rest of the karate styles:


Also it could come out interesting to you to read the following article in pdf format on the different ways of fundamental punching in karate:


Greetings to all the forum.

Benjamin Peters
2nd December 2002, 20:51
Originally posted by Tony Kehoe
So, for example, if the left foot is in front ("hidari mae"), slide the left foot forward, and then immediately pull up the back leg so that although you have advanced by one step, the relative distance between front and back foot remains unchanged. If you then perform this action repeatedly, you will move down the hall in the same way as with repeated numerous Sashikae-ashi, such as in the video.

Mr Kehoe (too many Tonys),

Gassho - thanking you again for your openness.

Although I do not intend to receive online instruction, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on the above subject in view of the knees and sliding movement. Going from recollection, I note that the movement (similar to the above description) was portraited in the up-and-down movement along the dojo floor. Regarding the sliding, I think I saw almost a diagonally/forward motion of the opposite (lead) leg to the punching hand (with the rear foot sliding up).

Can you assist my interest by commenting on:
(a) the flexing inward of your knees (it's purpose and relationship to movement) in your stance; and
(b) the diagonal/forward movement of the lead and rear legs (in relation to the reverse punch movement).

I hope I make sense?!

tony leith
4th December 2002, 12:00
I imagine its the same with all styles, but I'd have to admit I've seen a fair amount of variation in the manner of delivering even basic kempo zuki waza from various senior instructors. In the UK it's somewhat homogenised because of the influence of Mizuno Sensei, our Chief Instructor, but even so.. it's also quite difficult to be sure of exactly what you're asking about. However, from my understanding (significant caveat):-
1)Optimally for delivering straight zuki waza the knees and the feet should be oriented towards the target at the point of impact so as to commit as much of one's body weight and whole body power to the strike (which will then recoil ahfter impact).
2)Foot sliding is a bit a vexed point - I've seen very different approaches to punching footwork. I can only tell you about what I do, which is to attempt to make a fluid transition between any necessary footwork and delivery of the strike. The way I've tried to convey the feeling of what I want to do when teaching is to say that it's almost as if my forward body motion stops, but the punch just carries on to the target.
Doubtless this has just contributed to any confusion you may already be feeling, but I tried...

Tony leith

Tripitaka of AA
4th December 2002, 18:20
What was that quotation from Yamasaki Sensei in a recent thread, from a seminar where the simultaneous translation to other languages was causing more confusion and delay than helpful explanation;
don't listen to the words, just watch the magic of my movements

I didn't use quotation marks as I don't know the correct phrase, but I think I relay the gist...

It is a shame that we can't learn Kempo by sitting in front of a screen holding a cup of coffee in one hand. If that were true, I could still call myself a real Kenshi.... and I might be 4th Dan by now :D .

8th December 2002, 21:56
Originally posted by Benjamin Peters
Mr Kehoe (too many Tonys)
I know, it's a two-tone effort.:D