View Full Version : fragmentation of shorinji

9th February 2003, 22:40
i see that with a lot of the 'older' martial arts, that there is some fragmentation and debate about their art and the deviance from the original...one i can think of but is not that old is jeet kune do...what are the odds of shorinji changing and fragmenting in a similar fashion?

paul chan

Tripitaka of AA
11th February 2003, 08:42
We'd all like to know the future, and the answer to your question would have to be "no-one knows".

I don't know about Jeet Kune Do, but I believe it was more of an "approach to training" than a style of its own, stressing that it is best to take the good bits from whatever is available. Study boxing to learn punches, study Judo and wrestling to learn groundwork and grapples, study athletics to improve fitness, etc. As such it was always about adapting to an individual's own requirements, so split-paths in its evolution sounds like a predictable outcome.

A solid organisational structure, a comprehensive range of techniques, a syllabus that has new techniques at every stage (for at least the first five years of training - personal experience) and a not-for-profit style of instruction would be the signs that Shorinji Kempo can retain its unique position for a long time to come.

I haven't been training since 1988, but from what I have learned on E-Budo in the last few months, it seems that the instructors, the training and the spirit remain unchanged. No transformation into a whole new style, no sudden introduction of purple Dogis for training, no extra-charge seminars in Iaido/Nunchaku/Pistols/Dog-handling/Ikebana, no bitching and legal action between leading practicioners (AFAIK :eek: ). It all sounds like the same Shorinji Kempo that I studied, but with even better instruction ;) .

Edited because my "w" key is sticky and keeps going missing

11th February 2003, 12:08
There are a number of reasons why this shouldn't, and hopefully won't, happen;

The first, and most important, is the idealistic aim of Shorinji Kempo; if we are trying to establish an ideal world, then it doesn't make any sense to fragment, since by doing so we are working against that aim.

The second is that there doesn't appear to be any point at which an individual has learned everything about the art, and can therefore think about leaving it; the depth of the art, and the number of masters, seems to be beyond any comparable martial art.

The third is the international nature; many of us have contacts throughout the world; I've trained in Japan, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and am still looking forward to more training opportunities; maybe South East Asia or South America next. It wouldn't make sense for anyone to create a splinter group and loose this comradeship.

The reasons for most splits are probably either money or ego; one of the reasons for Shorinji Kempo being non-commercial is to remove the potential for this kind of disagreement.

Indar Picton-Howell

12th February 2003, 12:55
Here Here Indar! The reason that many of of keep coming back to Shorinji Kempo is the people. Where else can we meet such a range of people who have nothing to do with work. But somehow each person you meet has some spark. Remember at the end it is about the people. or as was once said "The person The person"

14th February 2003, 06:11
i agree that you can't predict the future and so on, and i guess jeet kune do was a bit bad of an example, but from the articles of read, there's debate about it's 'concept's vs its applications vs what bruce lee taught vs it's changes etc...

-and what about aikido then? doesn't it have a philosophical grounding as well about developing the person to be in harmony with the universe, as well as the movement of its opponents? but didn't aikido fragment as well into different branches and applications of what it's founder taught?
-i know, not really shorinji kempo talk, but like indar said, we are international, and we all have different influences, cultures, points of view and backgrounds, wouldn't these differences lead to changes in shorinji kempo into different forms(ie: how techniques should be taught, applied, used, modifications of technique, adding/removing techniques, etc)

thanks for humoring my questions...
paul chan

14th February 2003, 08:40
It is true that other martial arts have split. I believe that Shorinji Kempo has avoided this mostly due to the strength and depth of the WSKO organisation. From what I have read one of the most likely time for a Martial Art to split is on the death of the founder, or head. Kaiso died in 1980, yet his organisation is still strong and unified.

14th February 2003, 09:32
My question:

Is Shorinji Kempo practiced by human beings?

The Answer:

Yes it is.

The Future:

Your art will have splits, schisms, fragmentation, etc..

It may take a few years, maybe a decade or two, but unless your art dies out - there will be fragmentation.
Get over it.

The separatists will then be accused of many things by the loyalists: outright fraud, historical revisionism, poor technique, or to borrow a favorite quote from another MA website about their former members leaving the parent organization:
"Dishonored Fallen Knights... who do not speak the Truth".

In fact, fragmentation will often have positive results, especially when related to growth.

My reasoning is not my passing judgment towards Shorinji Kempo; it is simply history and psychology on my side.

14th February 2003, 09:55
History is on your side, I agree. And what I am about to say is not denial, just a thought. I don't need to 'get over it' ;)

In order to fragment, the 'splitters' would usually have attained a reasonable level of skill in the martial art. Now, that obviously takes time. The consequence of this is the amount of time they will have spent studying the underlying philosophy of the art, and in my experience philosophy plays a large part in keeping kenshi interested in the art. It becomes very important to them and if not I think they might find it hard to stay with SK to such a level required before splitting.

Therefore I think we are less vulnerable to fragmentation then other arts, but that doesn't mean it won't happen.


15th February 2003, 10:07
I don't think that the purpose of the question was to invite yes/no answers. To say 'yes, there will be splits', or 'no, there won't be splits' is not very interesting.

It's more interesting to consider the question of why there might be splits, and how this could be avoided. If we look at the past, possibly we can learn from our own and other peoples mistakes.

Before I became involved in Shorinji, I trained in a kung fu style which was, and probably still is, the biggest single kung fu style in the U.K. The head of the style is Chinese, and (as far as I can tell) is a genuine Master. My teacher at that time was a full time instructor, teaching 5 nights a week, and making his living from teaching. He decided to leave the parent organisation, because he had to pay a percentage of his income to his instructor. So, as far as I know, his motivation was entirely financial. When he left, his solicitor advised him that he could no longer use the kata that he had been teaching, since these belonged to the parent organisation. So he immediately lost a large part of what he could teach (and make money from).
I think that the lesson here is that as soon as you start to teach for money, you have lost sight of why you are practising a martial art. This has always been recognised within the Shorinji Kempo organisation, which is why our regulations clearly state that no one can make a profit from teaching Shorinji Kempo.

Indar Picton-Howell

15th February 2003, 11:21
The loss of the kata is an interesting point. If someone were to split from Shorinji Kempo then they would lose the resources of WSKO. I would have though that to be a geat loss.

If SK were to split then what would happen to WSKO? Would there be two competing organisations each saying that they are striving for an ideal world?

15th February 2003, 23:34
Mike, as the Shorinji Kempo name and logo is copyright, people couldn't, for example, set up a "Global Shorinji Kempo Federation" in opposition to WSKO. They could, however, teach all Shorinji Kempo techniques and kata under the banner of, say, "Chinese Karate". I'm not sure what the legal response could be; it's possible that as the kata are recognisable as Tenchiken, Giwaken, Komanji-no-kata, etc., no matter what you call them, it could be argued in court that these kata are clearly the intellectual property of Shorinji Kempo.
Regardless, I think anyone who attempted to secede like that would get a visit from some very high-ranking instructors.
Incidentally, there's a discussion on this very issue (http://www.e-budo.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?s=&threadid=17210) raging in the Baffling Budo forum. Captain Indar's points are particularly salient, IMHO.

16th February 2003, 07:50
When he left, his solicitor advised him that he could no longer use the kata that he had been teaching, since these belonged to the parent organisation.

I wonder if that would have been enforceable in a court of law? Or was the parent organization just busting his balls with the threat of legal bills.

Kimpatsu states the "Shorinji Kempo name and logo is copyright". Okay I totally can see that as enforceable - depending on the country's court system/legal culture.

However if I may respectably ask; how proprietary to the Shorinji Kempo system are the katas mentioned?

Do these aforementioned katas have lineage outside the SK system?

For example, there are over a dozen well known "Okinawan/Chines kata" with minor variations practiced by multiple mainline-styles today. As examples: Niahanchi (Tekki) or Empi (Wansu) and Hangetsu (Sesan).

Who owns the rights to these katas?

If good o'le Billy Bob of "Billy Bob's American Karate" in Little Rock, Arkansas decided to "copyright" Empi into his system; so does that means MA people in Okinawa and across the world have to start paying Billy Bob?

I have seen American MA web-sites where the system founder to add "gravitas" have listed "distinct techniques or systems" as proprietary knowledge. Sometimes it is quite amusing. "Block that knife or bleed" system (I'm making that one up, but readers get the idea).

Techniques such as punches, strikes, kicks, blocks, locks, throws, breakfalls & rolls - how much of this can be considered proprietary?

16th February 2003, 08:27
Originally posted by Senjojutsu
If good o'le Billy Bob of "Billy Bob's American Karate" in Little Rock, Arkansas decided to "copyright" Empi into his system; so does that means MA people in Okinawa and across the world have to start paying Billy Bob?
No, because it can be easily shown that the technique existed long before Billy Bob was born, so he is therefore attempting to copyright as his own something that existed beforehand (i.e., was created by someone else). Shorinji Kempo kata, however, are unique to Shorinji Kempo in that they were created by Kaiso, and are sufficiently distinct from their Chinese roots to be declared original intellectual property.
If you want to start teaching "Chinese Karate" (see above post), however, you can at the very least expect a visit from senior Shorinji Kenshi.

16th February 2003, 10:30

Your comments about copyright are meaningful, but the point I was really trying to make is that WSKO represents the research side of Shorinji Kempo (amoungst other things) and also contains an amazing amount of martial art experience and knowledge. If one were to try to set up a new art, they would not have this as a resource. How then would they compete with Shorinji Kempo?

Of the arts that have split, Aikido, Karate and so on, how strong was the central organisation in these cases?

16th February 2003, 10:57
If you want to start teaching "Chinese Karate" (see above post), however, you can at the very least expect a visit from senior Shorinji Kenshi.

For clarification, you mean as Bruce Lee was "visited" by ethnic Chinese Martial Art seniors - when Lee had the crazy notion of opening up his art to non-Chinese in his Oakland CA days?

16th February 2003, 11:09
Originally posted by MikeCarew
Of the arts that have split, Aikido, Karate and so on, how strong was the central organisation in these cases?
Very weak and fragmentary, because they didn't have the single-minded purpose of Shorinji Kempo.

16th February 2003, 11:11
Originally posted by Senjojutsu
you mean as Bruce Lee was "visited" by ethnic Chinese Martial Art seniors - when Lee had the crazy notion of opening up his art to non-Chinese in his Oakland CA days?
I don't know what you mean. please clarify.

18th February 2003, 07:00
hey guys, thanks for the different points of view...i guess there isn't a 'yes, it will split' or a 'no, it wouldn't' answer, i was just wondering about shorinji kempo growing as a system, and developing as a martial art as it branches out globally and is exposed to different environments( and different martial arts), or whether it would stagnant, just practicing the different techniques without thought to as the why...

paul chan

21st February 2003, 14:01
Please clarify what is meant by a visit from seniors?

Please, some more about the specific policy of characterizing techniques being trademark of only Shorinji Kempo and not of any other martial art?

Seems a little narrow minded in light of all the students taught the same techniques and then modifying them to fit their particular style?

I don't know.

If I was to take the blending of Aikido with Karate and China hand teachings, but still keep it with the tenents of Aikido, it would still be Aikido. Stated earlier .... what makes a technique a Shorinji technique or makes it a unique distinctive technique that identifys it from any other style of Martial arts?

I am a bit curious as to how Chinese arts and Japanese arts combined to not be the same as Ginchin Funakoshi's Karate, and is able to be Identified as Shorinji?

What makes anyone think that students who study the combination of arts that make up Shorinji are any less qualified?

Wouldn't that be as narrow minded as not recognizing Shorinji Kempo as a distinctive identifable art, but calling it by its pieces and not its whole content?

Although my Kempo lineage goes to Japanese who lived in Hawaii but studied in China and Japan, we turn a blind eye to those who limit their studies to their own teachings .. the world is a big, big place.

I don't mean to flippant, but maybe this question has a bit more depth to it.

21st February 2003, 14:37
Concentrating on the pure techniques misses the point of Shorinji Kempo. The goal is to teach philosophy through the techniques. If the techniques are taught and even understood (although I am not sure this is possible), but there is no philosophy, then what you know is not Shorinji Kempo and must not be called as such.

Therefore you must learn SK through the recognised dojos.

21st February 2003, 23:03
My earlier comment "visit by Chinese seniors" seems not to be as common knowledge as I would assume.

In 1965 Oakland, several months after opened his own school, Bruce Lee is challenged by a practitioner from the established Chinatown Martial Arts Community.

The challenge being if Bruce looses, he will, either close his school, or stop teaching Caucasians (which was the point of contention).

Bruce doesn’t waste much time on this match defeating his opponent - although legend says he is not satisfied with his own performance.

I have heard Bruce's wife, Linda Emery Lee, mention this challenge match in a Cable TV documentary.
It has also been over-dramatized when reenacted in some movies about Bruce Lee's life, but it did appear to have happened.

If someone knows this to be a "Bruce Lee Urban Myth" then I guess I won't be buying "The Green Hornet, the Complete Season One Episodes" on DVD whenever it comes out - if it ever is sold.
Well at least I still can buy a set of the four "Billy Jack" movies. ;)