Opinion: Shorinji kempo

 

Prologue

Influences on the brain should be kept in mind when we practice or train in all kinds of Budo (martial arts). The point is that the influences on the conscious and subconscious of a person should be considered, not on the physical damage to the head.

Each movement in martial arts is a meaningful reaction against an opponent, so that the repetition of those movements might affect our character.

In Japan, skills and arts which provide positive influences on the formation of character are respectfully named by adding an additional phrase “Do” (the Way). A similar respect may be found in other fields of sport such as baseball, fishing etc., not only in Japan but throughout the world.

It is common around the world that one properly spends a lot of time to master these skills and arts, develops a close relationship between a teacher and a pupil, and has a strong will to master the techniques.

The Way will form our character in such an environment. There are many types of martial arts or hand-to-hand fighting arts. One type is where they try to knock down another with one punch. Our Shorinji Kempo, however, is where the skills and arts are not for killing nor harming. It is therefore natural that the influence of each type of martial arts on the formation of the character may differ.

In my view, martial arts, when discussed from the standpoint of education, should cultivate a spirit of respecting life. Respect for life is one of the greatest virtues which all human beings all over the world commonly desire. I believe that no one will object to the view that the significance of the martialarts currently resides in this virtue.

Even if the practice of martial arts gives a kind of strength, when the spirit of harming life is incubated, it is not too much to say that martial arts are of no value at all. It is not ・worthy of martial arts which incubate such a destructive spirit.

Fortunately, Shorinji Kempo has a religious philosophy behind it. It easily introduces the idea and the technique of not killing nor harming. We are so lucky that Shorinji Kempo which, we take for granted, is the Shumon No Gyo (discipline of the sect) and has no conflict with the spirit of respecting life in the course of its training, practice and instruction.

I believe that the educating method of the Founder, So Doshin, is characterized in being able to harmonize the conscious and sub conscious. No other martial arts besides Shorinji Kempo is aware of the formerly described meaningful reaction against an opponent.

Some of the examples of the harmonizing philosophy of Shorinji Kempo are Gassho-Rei which symbolizes a mind of mutual respect, Keshu which symbolizes a spiritual readiness of non-fighting, and ・Hokei-Enren (practice based on the typical formations of techniques) which is headed with the letter of the universal law, Dharma. With the repetition of these typical formations, Kensi (pupil) will acquire a physical constitution and a mental character to easily absorb the teachings and philosophy of the Founder.

On the whole, Shorinji Kempo is a system of skills and arts which coordinates a philosophical system, i.e., a special technique system of not killing nor harming. This special characteristic will direct us, the discipliants, to Katsujin-Ken (a punch for getting the best out of a person). The process or journey to Katsujin-Ken is a tough and hard one.

The Showa 30 (1955) edition textbook describes the Randori (free practice) but only through a mere 5 lines, while the Showa 40 (1965) edition raised the Randori as a significant item to explain “the Randori with a protector” using a full 4 pages. The Randori is one of the traps for all discipliants. The Founder was considerate enough to warn us, “Do not be trapped”.

I was very impressed with the 1st chapter of the 15th volume titled “Kumi-Embu” (which was added to the Showa 48 (1973) edition) which he completed in his later years. I saw the ideal form of Katsujin-Ken in this chapter.

Aiming for the completion of the true Katsujin-Ken means to me that I am to unfold and study the Katsujin-Ken in detail myself. In other words, it is a way to change or improve myself with others. Additionally, the more fun one has on the way, the better.

While I am still at the foot of the mountain, i.e., on my way to the farmost summit, I have given my view in this prologue and would like to extend it hereafter.

In my next column I will relate how I often find similar points between the skills needed in Shorinji Kempo and those of my hobbies. I sincerely hope you will keep an eye out for this column and enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

September 1, 2000  Shin-ichi Atsumi