Shorinji Kempo is an esoteric Japanese martial art considered as the modified version of Shaolin Kung Fu. It was established in 1947 by Doshin So, a Japanese martial artist and former military intelligence agent.

Shorinji Kempo claims to be a holistic system, whose training methods are divided into three parts: self-defense training, mental training, and health training. The basis are the concepts that "spirit and body are not separable" and that it is integral to "train both body and spirit".

Through employing a well-organized technical course outline, Shorinji Kempo claims to help the practitioner "establish oneself" and to promote "mutual comfort". The philosophy and techniques of Shorinji Kempo are outlined in their handbook, Shōrinji-kempō-kyōhan.


Shorinji Kempo incorporates zen for mental training. Techniques are mainly divided into 3 categories.

  • Gōhō: hard techniques - hand strikes, chops, hammers, elbows, knees, kicks, reaps, stomps, and blocks.
  • Jūhō: soft techniques - throws, pins, chokes, joint manipulations, dodges and releases.
  • Seihō: healing techniques - acupressure, bone setting, and resuscitation techniques.

Doshin So in his book, "What is Shorinji Kempo?", said that he pursued his revelations and the development of the fighting technique of Bodhidharma known as the Arakan no ken or the Arhat fist. He believed this to have originated in India around 5,000 years ago. He was inspired by seeing representations of the wall paintings at the Shaolin Temple in China.

Those who practice Shorinji Kempo are called kenshi. Kenshi always salute with "gassho" the greeting commonly used among Buddhist pupils. The gassho-rei is also "gassho-gamae" stance, with both palms put together and raised in front of one's face.

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