What is Shorinji Kempo? (WSKO website)

Shorinji Kempo is a dynamic training system founded in Japan in 1947. The Founder (Kaiso) of Shorinji Kempo was Doshin So. He created Shorinji Kempo in order that people could build self-reliance, strength, compassion and a desire to help others. Since it's foundation, Shorinji Kempo has spread to 32 countries and has over 3,100 official Branches. Shorinji Kempo has remained a unified art and is overseen by the World Shorinji Kempo Organization Hombu in Tadotsu, Japan.

Shorinji Kempo practice involves the study of self-defence techniques as well as seated meditation (zazen) and philosophy.

Training in Shorinji Kempo produces three main benefits

With development of these qualities, an individual experiences greater self-confidence, improved health and is better equipped to deal with the stresses and strains of everyday life.

Technical Basis of Shorinji Kempo

There are two main physical systems in Shorinji Kempo

Goho technique

Goho is the positive or "hard" system of techniques. Goho is comprised of punching, striking, kicking, cutting and blocking techniques. The emphasis is on accurate and speedy counterattacks to an opponent's weak points (Shorinji Kempo uses 138 such weak points or Kyusho in its repertoire). Shorinji Kempo techniques depend on careful and coordinated use of body motion (Taisabaki) and footwork (Umpo-ho).

Juho technique

Juho is the passive or "soft" system of techniques. Juho is comprised of eluding, twisting, pinning and throwing techniques. Juho techniques rely upon "capturing" an opponent's balance or causing them acute pain (i.e. pain compliance techniques). Juho compliments the goho system well since it allows a Shorinji Kempo practicioner to deal with close range attacks and grabs. Both Goho and Juho techniques use the same taisabaki, umpo-ho and basic principles to form a seamless whole.

Shorinji Kempo Practice Methods

Basic techniques.

Prearranged patterns of movement which encompass the major principles of Shorinji Kempo technique. Many of the Shorinji Kempo kata are designed as "mirror image" attack and defence sequences which can be performed solo or in pairs.

Hokei is the study of application techniques. Shorinji Kempo places heavy emphasis on practicing such techniques with a partner. Hokei differs from the study of kata in that there is a higher emphasis on understanding the underlying principle rather than on duplicating an external form. Hokei can be considered the central form of practice in Shorinji Kempo.

Pairform sequences of Hokei techniques that use full speed and power. This allows partners to improve timing, accuracy and awareness. A strong bond of friendship usually develops between embu partners. A good example of embu from Kurita-kenshi (4th dan) and Yusaku-kenshi (4th dan) of Atsugihokusou Doin is shown below.

Free or limited practice of Goho or Juho techniques. Often one person acts as attacker and the other as defender. The goal is not to decide winners and losers, rather it is to enhance the ability of practicioners to effectively apply technqiues in an unpredictable situation.

Practice of breakfalls to the fore, rear and side. Since Shorinji Kempo contains numerous throwing techniques ukemi practice is important to ensure safety.


The study of our philosophy is a fundamental element of Shorinji Kempo and is perhaps the main reason the system was created. The members of Shorinji Kempo actively practice this philosophy in their daily lives. The teachings of Shorinji Kempo relate to self-establishment (wisdom, strength, compassion and courage) and dedication to improving the welfare of others.

Some key Shorinji Kempo concepts...

Training in Shorinji Kempo techniques, meditation and philosophy helps our members lead a positive, balanced and healthy life.

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