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Thread: Denying Shorinji Kempo's Chinese heritage...

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    Default Denying Shorinji Kempo's Chinese heritage...

    I came across a forum and these are some of the posts I found regarding Shorinji Kempo and Doshin So.

    All this stuff about history and who started what and where it came from and all that is meaningless.

    The guy who "started" the art did so in the 20th century. He adopted Jigoro Kano's ideas of belts (obviously). It looks a lot like Karate. Our resident Chinese Martial Arts expert (who has more experience in Chinese Martial Arts than the guy who created this art, I will point out) is saying that it mostly looks like a Japanese stles based purely on it's aesthetics.

    If the whole story about how it came to be was a complete lie, would you really even care?
    Someone else can decide how much relevance this has, but "Tang Soo Do" (my chosen art) means Tang Fist Way or more loosely Chinese Fist. Even though it has little to no actual CMA influence. It's mostly a conglomerate of what was remembered of KMA before Japanese occupation with a few technical aspects of JMA due to that occupation. I guess I'm just saying that names can be deceiving. They're little more than convenient labels.

    Listen to these guys, though. All that really matters is, if it hurts, it works. Matter of fact, I've probably spent more time researching Shorinji Kempo independently than any other martial art. It's very interesting.
    Shaolin will recognize a lot of things. My previous sifu is recognized as a 31st generation diciple of Shaolin. his kung fu, while based on Shaolin, has a lot differet from the temple systems.

    Bodi darma teaching the monks kung fu is a myth. It's a nice story and all, but it is a lot simplier than the truth. I'll not argue that an Indian Buhdhist monk came to Shaolin and taught. I think that is probably true. However, Shaolin kung fu or chuan fa is an amalgamation of many, many, MANY, different types of fighting that was known throughout China. Martial fighters, bandits, and military men would retire from thier professions (or many times be retired) and take up residence in Shaolin Temple. As the pragmatist they are, the Shaolin abbots and elders persuaded these men to share thier knowledge of fighting. Between the religious phylosophies of the practicing monks and the fighting methods of these many, many, 'retired' men, Shaolin Chuan Fa was born. Just look at what is Shaolin chuan fa and some of the recognized systems outside of shaolin chuan fa for the similarities...Mongolian wrestling and the Crane system from Fukian province pop to mind immediately. Both these systems exsisted BEFORE Shaolin temple.

    If Kempo is based off of a northern kung fu system it would have far more leaping kicks and low stances. These are hallmarks of a Northern CMA.

    The Chan (zen) approach to self defense is to deny the violence offered by an attacker. If the attacker is injured by the return of his offerring then perhaps he should not have made such an abundant offerering. I do not see this in the technique shown in modern day Kempo.

    As I stated earlier, perhaps Kempo was at one time based upon CMA. Today it no longer is. While I have no issue with that as long as it works for the purposes advertised, I think it is somewhat dishonest to say it is Shaolin chuan fa, when in reality it is not. I do not think this dishonesty is done with malice, I think that the proponents of Kempo being a CMA based system would rather believe the lore, legends, and myth, rather than thier own eyes. Basically they are fooling themselves, then they fool others.

    This is madness and is an insult to Shorinji Kempo of the highest order! They think we are using Shorinji Kempo's Chinese heritage as a marketing tool, and that our history is most likely to be fake an untrue.

    This is an outrage!
    少林寺拳法

    1996-2006

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    Without citation, those quotations can only be taken at face value. They sound to me like fairly well argued points and from people who don't appear to hold much malice toward Shorinji Kempo. The words that they say should be digested and when you have an opportunity to ask people who know any better, then you should do so. I would suggest that it might be time to have a more open mind about the history of Shorinji Kempo if you find their words an outrage.

    There's a lot of myth and "good stories" in the martial arts. Scholars have a hard time finding hard evidence to back up even some of the most well-known stories. Word-of-mouth tales that have been used to pass on the teachings can't always be proven, and occasionally turn out to be a lot more recent than we might have thought.

    None of this should detract from a modern analysis of the value of Shorinji Kempo. It doesn't hurt to be better informed about the Art that one wants to learn, no-one says you have to believe in every single line of the song.

    For some people, The Holy Bible is the word of God, to be believed in its entirety, without exception and without question. Scholars are gradually discovering evidence to show when and where sections of that book were written, and by whom. The science and the history don't always match up with the "accepted" version. I don't mind that apparent contradiction, as I hold it to be an accumulated wisdom of centuries of smart people - making it rather special, maybe even "Good". I don't say this to offend those who take their Christianity intravenously - I'm only offering it as an example that might make a relevant comparison. In many ways, of course, such a comparison might in itself be considered deeply offensive... but that is unintended.
    David Noble
    Shorinji Kempo (1983 - 1988)
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    For now, I'm just waiting for the smack of the Bo against a hard wooden floor....

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    Which forum did the quotations come from? I've knocked around a few over the years.. I even wondered if I had written some of those excerpts!
    David Noble
    Shorinji Kempo (1983 - 1988)
    I'll think of a proper sig when I get a minute...

    For now, I'm just waiting for the smack of the Bo against a hard wooden floor....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tripitaka of AA View Post
    Which forum did the quotations come from? I've knocked around a few over the years.. I even wondered if I had written some of those excerpts!
    It wasn't you, they were posted today.
    少林寺拳法

    1996-2006

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    Good grief, I just saw Dave Lowry reading this forum!! He is one of the most respected authors of martial arts books. He is a researcher and expert in the history of Japanese martial arts. Welcome Dave.
    David Noble
    Shorinji Kempo (1983 - 1988)
    I'll think of a proper sig when I get a minute...

    For now, I'm just waiting for the smack of the Bo against a hard wooden floor....

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    Gassho,


    Good reply Dave

    I gave up worrying a long time ago about the origins of this and that martial art. As you say many, if not most arts have history's ancient or modern that don't bear close scrutiny.
    I simply look at the content of my art and the skill of my seniors and see that it bears comparison with other arts out there. That is enough for me.
    Anyway these seem to be written in response to the earliest published origins of Shorinji kempo. Current explanation is that it is a combination of Doshin So's Chinese martial experiences combined with his Japanese ones and reorganised. Is this true? Who knows? Who cares? Why waste energy on it?

    As for being an insult. Twenty years in a confrontational occupation have taught me I can only really be offended by my friends words and actions, those of strangers are just an irritation to me.

    Regards
    Paul
    Kesshu
    Last edited by paul browne; 2nd December 2009 at 20:23. Reason: re-phrasing

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    So which forum was it, Kemal?
    David Noble
    Shorinji Kempo (1983 - 1988)
    I'll think of a proper sig when I get a minute...

    For now, I'm just waiting for the smack of the Bo against a hard wooden floor....

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    It was from Kraik's introduction thread at Martial-Forums.com. See the thread here.
    David Noble
    Shorinji Kempo (1983 - 1988)
    I'll think of a proper sig when I get a minute...

    For now, I'm just waiting for the smack of the Bo against a hard wooden floor....

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    Default A few thoughts, fwiw

    Kemal (and others) - don't want to get in a slanging match, but I do want to point out something interesting. Back in the 60's and 70's, Shorinji Kempo, to some degree, at least in Japan, denied Chinese martial art's Chinese heritage. Seriously - there was a paper fight between, if I recall correctly, between Sato Kinbei (who can be credited as bringing in some of the first high level Chinese martial arts teachers post WWII) and official representatives of SK.
    He attacked Shorinji Kempo very strongly, for the reasons some of the other posters gave - and more. As I said, I'm not going to get into what can/should be thought of the veracity of cliams that SK is a complete transmission of a northern Chinese martial arts.
    I read the articles, finding them in one of my teacher's bookshelves. What was most remarkable - [and NO, I have no idea of the titles, we are talking 30+ years ago!] - anyway, the representatives from Shorinji Kempo counter-attacked that a) Shorinji was the last authentic Shaolin art - that it had totally died in China, and anything seen these days was re-creation b) t'ai chi was merely an exercise system that "recently" was retrofitted to make a competitive form of practice c) that bagua and xingyi, that Sato practiced, DID NOT EXIST. They were, the writer said, fiction.
    I remember reading this vividly.
    One can imagine, certainly subsequent to that, that the Chinese were not, at the time, too fond of SK.
    Now loop to the 1980's - and the movie "Shaolin" came out. And in the last scene, the hero is teaching a new generation of monks and they are doing SK. Very jarring end to the movie as the movements were totally different from anything else previous. I happened to meet the head of the Beijing Martial Arts Society, one of the largest national groups. I asked him about SK and the movie. He looked at me like, "Kid, why do you want to make things difficult for me?" and said carefully, "We Chinese martial arts practitioners have somewhat different ideas regarding the historical facts concerning our national heritage from the ideas of Shorinji Kempo. But we must feel a lot of gratitude to them as well - without them (hint - $$$), "Shaolin" would not have been made, and the buildings of the temple would not have been restored."
    Final item - related only peripherally to the above. This is a paraphrase of an article/interview that was in T'ai chi magazine:
    Even Master Wang Pei Sheng became largely unknown to the younger generation because traditional martial art practice was forbideen for a long time. And as you know history in martial art is mostly orally transmitted. He had to reestablish his repution by defeating Yamazaki of Nippon Shorinji Kempo.
    Per the article, Yamazaki had more or less run the line of the traditional Chinese martial artists he met during a visit to Beijing. In other words, one of the biggest guns of all of China had to be called in to handle Yamazaki. As I recall, the article goes on to say that Wang was then prevailed upon to teach some of the high level SK people. And all were happy on both sides.

    FWIW - might be an interesting story to f/u from the SK side.

    Best
    Ellis Amdur

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kraik View Post
    This is madness and is an insult to Shorinji Kempo of the highest order! They think we are using Shorinji Kempo's Chinese heritage as a marketing tool, and that our history is most likely to be fake an untrue.

    This is an outrage!
    Frankly Kemal, who gives a hoot. I, for one am not offended or outraged. I practise a MA with a commonsense and responsible approach to self-defence. I have access to great teachers and one of the best (if not the best) MA headquarters in the world, this MA has a strong moral and intellectual underpinning and progressing in it requires an appreciation of this unpinning (essays for grading) and it also has second to none quality control. Frankly, whether SK's heritage came from China, Japan or the Tiwi islands is irrelevant to those practicing it. It is only relevant to historians.
    Robert Gassin
    Melbourne ShorinjiKempo Branch
    Australia

    "Never fight an idiot. He'll bring you down to his level and then beat you with experience"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ellis Amdur View Post
    Final item - related only peripherally to the above. This is a paraphrase of an article/interview that was in T'ai chi magazine:

    Quote:
    Even Master Wang Pei Sheng became largely unknown to the younger generation because traditional martial art practice was forbideen for a long time. And as you know history in martial art is mostly orally transmitted. He had to reestablish his repution by defeating Yamazaki of Nippon Shorinji Kempo.

    Per the article, Yamazaki had more or less run the line of the traditional Chinese martial artists he met during a visit to Beijing. In other words, one of the biggest guns of all of China had to be called in to handle Yamazaki. As I recall, the article goes on to say that Wang was then prevailed upon to teach some of the high level SK people. And all were happy on both sides.

    FWIW - might be an interesting story to f/u from the SK side.

    Best
    Ellis Amdur
    Hi Ellis,

    Interesting post, I was aware of a few of the issues you discussed. However, i was completely lost by your discussion re. master Wang Pei Sheng and Yamasaki. Could you please give some background and expand on these comments?

    Cheers,
    Robert Gassin
    Melbourne ShorinjiKempo Branch
    Australia

    "Never fight an idiot. He'll bring you down to his level and then beat you with experience"

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    Wang was considered by many to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest contempory "internal" (t'ai chi, bagua, xingyi) practitioners in the later 20th century.
    I came across this story and was struck what a) a hell of a man Yamazaki must have been, to go to another country, on their ground and willing to take on the best they had to offer - pretty much having his way with them. Which says to me that whatever the antecedents, SK has produced some really stellar martial artists b) That Wang, an internal martial artist of 60+ at the time, could handle, per the story, one of the best young practitioners around
    c) (with tongue in cheek) - not only did t'ai chi exist as a fighting art, so did xingyi and bagua, and despite the earlier claims of their non-existence, he was able to prove it. d) and when two men cross hands with respect - there's a good chance that all the admin b.s. no longer matters - - - - -
    Gosh - I thought I made that clear in my earlier post -

    Best

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    Very interesting posts form Ellis, I almost gave up when I read "It looks a lot like Karate" in the opening post

    Edit: I went to have a look at the source thread and I think you've dug yourself a hole which others have also jumped into.

    When I was 5 I started Shorinji Kempo, meaning 'Shaolin Boxing'. It's a Japanese Martial Art with many Japanese techniques from Judo, Aikijujutsu and Karate built on a Kung Fu framework.
    Shorinji Kempo does not mean "Shaolin Boxing". Shorinji is there as a symbolic gesture to the roots of Doshin's training of Chinese martial arts which have the (supposed/symbolic/traditional) home at the Shaolin temples. Kenpo defines it as a martial art, as much as I hate it "the way of the fist" is the literal translation, the meaning being that IS a physical activity.

    SK is not based on Judo, Aikijujutsu or Karate, saying its based on a "Kung Fu framework" is a half-truth. SK does have a bias against Judo (while not containing any actual Judo that I am aware of), and does have some similarities to other Japanese MA, it is not a direct translation of any particular art. If you want the finer details go read some biographies.

    The easiest way to say it would be Doshin So went out and did various things, mixed them together in a way he felt was logical, applied some simple rules and then taught it to the masses. He aimed to have something that was simple, effective and flexible - something that worked 90% of the time and avoided anything that was overly dangerous or difficult to do.

    If you wanted to be technical SK is merely the bait to get you in and bash howa into you

    People can deny the heritage of SK all they want, I really don't care. SK exists, I enjoy it, and for me that is enough. What I won't abide is outright lies or untruths being told about SK - so if you can't prove it, lets just leave it out? I think we can all deal with that
    Last edited by Ewok; 3rd December 2009 at 05:40. Reason: Additions...
    Leon Appleby (Tokyo Ouji)
    半ばは自己の幸せを、半ばは他人の幸せを
    SK Blog at http://www.leonjp.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tripitaka of AA View Post
    It was from Kraik's introduction thread at Martial-Forums.com. See the thread here.
    An in that thread, Kraik is once again using the So-en as his avatar. Kemal, please. Hombu have very strict rules about where the logo can and can't be used - if you don't have their written consent for its use on a website, don't use it. I think this page sums it up.

    Ellis - excellent posts, very informative! Of course, one could interpret that as "China's greatest martial artist could only defeat Yamazaki-sensei once he'd been worn out by fighting a host of other martial-artists" If one were so inclined (tongue very firmly in cheek).

    Leon - couldn't agree more.
    Steve Malton
    Shorinji Kempo
    Oxford Dojo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Malton View Post
    An in that thread, Kraik is once again using the So-en as his avatar. Kemal, please. Hombu have very strict rules about where the logo can and can't be used - if you don't have their written consent for its use on a website, don't use it. I think this page sums it up.
    I made the avatar myself using GIMP, how can that be breaking copyright?

    And as for the translation of Shorinji Kempo, there are quite a few ways you can translate it including "Shaolin Temple Fist Way", "The Way of the Shaolin Temple Fist", and in turn "Shaolin Temple Fist Way" can be simplified to "Shaolin Boxing".

    I also think it's silly to say that Shorinji Kempo resembles Karate, because I know from experience that it doesn't. I've practiced both and there is a real difference in stance and punching among other things.
    少林寺拳法

    1996-2006

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