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SHORINJI KEMPO's roots date back 5,000 years to ancient India. Shorinji Kempo is a version of the martial art that was taught to the Buddhist priests at the Shaolin Temple in Honan Province, China in the sixth century A.D. and is the practice for a philosophy known as Konga Zen (moving meditation).

During WWII, Doshin So, founder of Shorinji Kempo, traveled throughout China learning and practicing various martial arts styles under several masters. Later, he was introduced to Bun Taiso, a grand master of Quan Fa and became a student. After several years, he was taken to the Shaolin Temple and made the 21st master of the Giwamonken style of Quan Fa.
Doshin So
After witnessing the moral devastation of war, Kaiso had an epiphany, expressed in his famous utterance, "The person, the person; everything depends on [the quality of] the person!" Kaiso decided to dedicate himself to educate individuals to become spiritually and physically fit enough to build a better world.

Upon returning to Japan, he carefully analyzed and systematized his spiritual philosophy and his knowledge of both Chinese and Japanese martial arts; he re-established the techniques he had learned and added some of his own.

In 1947, in the town of Tadotsu in Kagawa, Japan, Doshin So developed Shorinji Kempo as a way for people to learn to establish mutual trust and cooperation. The techniques originate what Kaiso, the founder, learned in China.
Today, 1.4 million members are practicing worldwide, in 26 countries and 3,000 dojos.
Since Doshin So's death in 1980, his daughter has been continuing her father's vision and teachings as president of the World Shorinji Kempo Organization, with the headquarters located in Tadotsu on the island of Shikoku in Kagawa-Ken, Japan.

Why open the secrets of Shorinji Kempo? Only the name of Shorinji Kempo is new to the ears of the people of America and the rest of the world. In 1946, So Doshin returned to Japan from the mainland of China and, at the time, few knew the name of Shorinji Kempo or of its far-reaching philosophy. Those familiar with the name had read it in novels which told how the monks threw big iron balls and flew through the air with little effort.
Alabama Branch Headquarters
Although the fables of Shorinji Kempo were told by other martial artists, no one had introduced it to the Japanese people. Even today, many people are still unsure of its distinction from Judo, Karate or other martial arts.
Let's find out just what Shorinji Kempo really is? Shorinji began in the Honan province of China at the famous Shaolin-ssu Temple by Bodhidharma of India. The Buddhist monastery was given Zen meditation and Kempo by Dharma for their protection, and the development was given mental and physical health in his teaching. During this time, there was a simultaneous growth and parallel development of seated Zen meditation, and for the hundreds of years following, Shorinji Kempo was a closely guarded secret known only to those within the Shorinji temple and those entering the Buddhist priesthood at the Shorinji temple. Why is that Shorinji Kempo was never taught to those outside the temple? The techniques of Shorinji Kempo were so powerful and lethal that if imprudent people learned them, harm could come to everyone. These techniques were so highly developed, due to the acupuncture points and areas used to expose the opponent's vital organs, that little strength or hard force is required. Even a small woman was able to control the largest man when this method of Shorinji techniques was used. It was to be taught only according to the traditional Chinese method, and only to those devoting themselves to Shorinji Kempo and its way of life. The ideas and philosophy of Shorinji Kempo were needed by students, for it was the quality of the secrets that should be closely guarded and not the secrets themselves!
The purpose of this writing is to open these secrets of Shorinji Kempo to the world. After reading this, you will be able to understand some of Shorinji Kempo's complexities even if you are unfamiliar with the martial art, for much effort has been placed upon achieving the reader's complete understanding. Since Shorinji Kempo is one of the world's most efficient and effective martial arts, it is hoped that the reader will be left with a complete and beneficial understanding of mankind's oldest known martial art.

Much of this information has come from the translations of Shorinji Kempo textbooks, written in Japanese, by Dr. Shingo Fukinbara, a former branchmaster of Iowa and South Carolina Shorinji Kempo branches. Dr. Fukinbara was one of Japan's leading body builders who turned to a more spiritual lifestyle and pursued the newly developed ancient Zen Buddhist concept of So Doshin, the founder and developer of modern Shorinji Kempo. Dr. Fukinbara, also a renowned doctor of Acupuncture, came to the United States to study Chiropractic in 1971, at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa. It was in Davenport that Dr. Fukinbara met John Stump, a former high school biology teacher and Athletic director. Stump had also experienced a turn in events and lifestyle from an accident, which directed him to Davenport to also study science, art and philosophy of Chiropractic. Stump had attained a second-degree Black Belt in Karate and a Shodan (1st degree) Black Belt in Judo before becoming a football coach and teacher. Dr. Stump believed that his martial arts training had helped him become a faster and more disciplined football player during high school and college years.

Dr. Stump urged Dr. Fukinbara to teach him the ancient arts of Shorinji Kempo and Acupuncture. In exchange, Stump agreed to teach him English and to tutor him in the medical terminology that would be needed for the four years of chiropractic education before them on their journey to becoming Doctors of Chiropractic.
It was then that Shorinji Kempo's seed was planted in the heart of America, for from that day out in 1972, John Stump was a devoted disciple of So Doshin and the philosophy of Shorinji Kempo.

After the four years of study in Iowa, he went to Japan to continue his study of Acupuncture and Shorinji Kempo. After four years of further study in Japan and China, Stump returned to the United States and started one of the first holistic practices in the country involving Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Nutrition and the martial art of Shorinji Kempo!

Over the next decade, from when Stump met Sensei Yamamori in Los Angeles, who was the only Kempo teacher in America for ten years before meeting Stump, Kempo began to spread from the seeds in Iowa and South Carolina. Up to that point Sensei Yamamori had only taught Japanese; he only used Japanese in his teaching because he did not think Americans would take the time to master the language and the martial art. After meeting Stump, his mind changed and he opened up his Doin (Temple/School) to the round eyed Americans!

Stump then opened a school in Delaware and Maryland where he began his practice. It was called a DEL-MAR-VA dojo because of being located on the Delmarva Peninsula. Here Stump taught for 11 years before moving to the shores of the Gulf of Mexico.

Now, 30 years later, the story is being told of Shorinji Kempo in America, especially in the south, where it was brought by Stump and Fukinbara in the early 70's. At that time, Dr. Kenny Seals had come to Iowa to study with Sensei Fukinbara. After three years, he was sent by Sensi Fukinbara to Atlanta, where Seals was to enter a new Chiropractic school being built - Life University as it is now known. Sensei Fukinbara, Stump and Seals bought an old church in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and started a school for Seals.

Todo Sensei – Birmingham Bracnchmaster
Stump Sensei – Alabama Branchmaster
Delmarva Branchmaster

Since 1990, Stump has been teaching in the Point Clear/Fairhope, Alabama area. Now, over 10 years later, the Shorinji Kempo group has grown to include Huntsville, Birmingham and Foley.

The Birmingham group is in its second year and growing, and the Foley group is in their first year and very enthusiastic. For more detailed information and a look at this long secluded and secretive martial art, please come by any of our schools for a visit and talk to the instructors in charge at that location.

Bodhidharma, (6th century), semi-legendary Indian Buddhist monk, 28th in the line of transmission from the disciple Kasyapa (a student of Buddha, the founder of Buddhism) and the founder of the Zen (called Chan in Chinese) school of Buddhism. He is said to havce come from Conjeeveram, near Madras (now Chennai), India, and to have traveled to Guangzhou (Canton), China in 520, where he impressed the Liang-dynasty (502-557) emporer Wudi by declaring that good deeds were useless for gaining enlightenment. He then went to a monastery near Luoyang in eastern China where his teachings emphasized meditation and he allegedly spent nine years staring at a wall.

Bodhidharma's actual role in the emergence of Zen is obscure, since most authorities regard the sect as a Chinese fusion of imported Mahayana Buddhism with native Daoist (Taoist) doctrines, but legends abound of his spiritual determination. For example, it is said that he cut off his eyelids after once falling asleep during meditation and meditated so long that his legs fell off. Also there is the account that one of his disciples, Huik'o, was so earnest in proving his devotion that he cut off his own arm in front of Bodhidharma. Having attained enlightenment at Shao-lin temple, a temple associated with the martial arts, Bodhidharma is credtied with being the founder of Shao-lin boxing (Japanese, Shorinji Kempo).  In Japan, where he is called Daruma, the image of Bodhidharma is represented by a red papier-mache' doll sitting in meditation. He is considered the protector of households, political campagins, and businesses. When first purchased, the doll has no pupils; thses are painted in when the possessor's wish, such as a profitable year or a victorious electrion, has been achieved.

*taken from

The teachings of Shorinji Kempo are based on the original philosophy taught by Buddha, which is aimed at refining man's physical and mental abilities as a whole unit. There is no thought given to an afterlife, worshipping Deities, or God. The central theme is to develop a well-balanced person with the self-discipline to look after himself/herself and be productive to society as a whole.

Whils some schools or systems of martial arts can lay more or less legitimate claims to being moral, spiritual practices, Shorinji Kempo is explicitly and essentially such a practice. It is a way for people to cooperate and learn mutual trust, as well as self-control.

Ken Zen Ichinyo (Body and Mind are the Same) Ken refers to the body, and Zen to the spirit. Shorinji Kempo Kenshi (students) should seek to develop both body and mind.

Riki Ai Funi (Strength and Love Stands Together) Strength supported by Love, and Love supported by Strength. The condition, in which the two apparently opposites are unified as one, is what a man's way of thinking and acting should have as the core.

Shushu Koju (Defend First, Attack After) Shorinji Kempo is a method of self-defense. Its techniques start with a defense against the opponent's attack.

Kumite Shutai (Pair Work is Fundamental) In Shorinji Kempo training, there are two roles: offender to attack the partner; and the defender to protect him/herself from the offender. Cooperation among the two is the most important requirements for an improvement.

Fusatsu Katsujin (Protect People Without Injury) Never seek fighting. Protect your body. Just hurting people is not the purpose of learning Shorinji Kempo.

Shorinji Kempo is a method of self-defense, to protect yourself from violence and is a training method to become self-reliant. In Shorinji Kempo, we are all equal, there is no sense of competition. Anyone can become proficent, regardless of sex, size, age, etc, becuase it is not based on strength, but instead uses rational, scientific and medical principles. The techniques are created on the basis of dynamics and physiology, so that the weaker can control the stronger as well. Anyone, can practice these techniques.

Shorinji Kempo uses four techniques:

Testugaku - philosophy; specifically Konga Zen (moving meditation), a humanistic philosophy with roots in Buddhism (however this is by no means a religious organization. We do not study Buddha, we study philosophy on being a better person in general).

Juho - Soft Techniques - Throws, locks, twists and pins.

Goho - Hard Techniques - Kicks, punches, blocks, etc.

Seiho - Healing Techniques - The use of pressure points for therapy and/or combat.

Shorinji Kempo is an effective method of self defense. It is not about winning a match or beating up others, but instead about mastering oneself. It teaches you to do so through developing physical strength, leading to good health, training and disciplining the mind.

Training in Shorinji Kempo leads to better health by reducing stress, providing weight control, increasing flexibility, sharpening the mind and providing individuals with stronger self-confidence.

The Manji symbol was originated in ancient India, and has been used for over two millenia in Buddhism. Though it does have a common origin with the Swastika, they have completely different meanings. The manji symbol is found in Buddhist temples and Buddhist artwork throughout China, Japan, and S.E. Asia. In Japan, the symbol is found in temples and used on maps to mark locations of Buddhist temples.
The manji is used becuase of its Buddhist connotations, as well as the fact that Shorinji Kempo seeks to follow in the tradition of the original Shaolin Temple, where Bodhidharma taught the Chinese monks to develop their spiritual and physical sides. In Buddhism, the manji signifies the source of life, the ever-changing universe. According to Buddhism, everything in the universe is, at the same time, opposing yet balanced elements (like Heaven and Earth, Yin and Yang). The vertical line in the manji, connects Heaven and Earth; the horizontal line connects Yin and Yang. This signifies that when these join, forming a "+", a power arises, which gives birth to all things. All things result from the interaction of these two forces; just like in physics, everything has an opposite reaction. As the universe continually changes, the trailing lines are added to the manji to indicate that it is in perpetual swinging motion. The manji is a symbol of the universe and its every-changing nature.

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