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  1. #1
    Member sheb's Avatar
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    Sven Hebbe
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    Default reputation of shorinji kempo

    after reading in other martial art forums i have the impression that shorinji kempo has a bad reputation in the sights of some "martial art people". the reasons seem not to be a kind of "my martial art is the best ever" ... for example there is the opinion that shorinji kempo is more a cult than a martial art or that shorinji kempo hasn't "own" techniques. do you have read things like these also? what could be reasons for the bad reputation of shorinji kempo (ignorance - by them or us?; the fact of existence of wsko/philosophy?)? what can we do to "defend" our martial art?
    sven hebbe

    there will be nothing ...

  2. #2
    Member sheb's Avatar
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    Default an example

    i think it's better to give an example
    http://judoforum.com/index.php?act=ST&f=10&t=8559 :
    Now interestingly enough an alleged former member of the Japanese secret police, the Kempen Tai, was Shike Doshin So (very active in China during WWII) who founded the controversial style of Shorinji Kempo (not to be confused with Shorinji Ryu Karate). Shorinji Kempo is controversial because Doshin So claimed it is derived from the Shaolin Temple by monks who taught him 'Giwa Mon fist' while he was an operative in that area of China. The Chinese have largely refuted this claim. Doshin So developed 'Kongo' Zen (Diamond Eye) as the basic spiritual foundation for his form of Kempo. The 1968 cover of the BLACK BELT MAGAZINE YEARBOOK has a fantastic picture of a Shorinji Kempo priest fighting off two attackers. Critics have said Shorinji Kempo is simply a combination of Aiki-Jitsu and Karate. And I believe since the 1995 Sarin gas attack on a Tokyo subway by the nutter group 'True Teaching' (AUM Shinrikyo), the Japanese government cracked down on all eccentric religious groups, and had designated the 'Kongo' version of Zen as a cult.
    i know this could be controversial, but at least for my own: i know not very much about doshin so. i like the ideals of shorinji kempo (and shorinji kempo as martial art) and i think important are the people who practise and "live" it, but why should i/we trust in doshin so (and the people which continue his work)? is this important/should we?
    Last edited by sheb; 08-10-2006 at 07:31.
    sven hebbe

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  3. #3
    Member Luar's Avatar
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    These are my thoughts

    1. Shorinji Kempo is considered to be a modern martial art such as Aikido, Hapkido, Judo, Brazilian Jujitsu, Kempo, TKD and Krav Maga, etc. While it is unique, it is not entirely original in its techniques. There is only so many ways you can execute a Gyaku and Mawashi Geri. The same applies to all of the arts I mentioned above. In my opinion we never said we were original, we just have a certain way and focus on doing things.

    2. Particularly in this country many people are not comfortable or do not wish to comprehend the strong philosophical base that we have. For them, all of this philosophical stuff is nice but they do not see this as having anything to do with defending themselves or kicking butt. It seems to me if you are doing SK it is because you were searching for something else besides self-defense. If you want to learn self-defense and fighting techniques then go to another style as they will take you to this goal much quicker than we can.

    3. Everyone still thinks Don Draeger's book is the final word.

    4. Hombu is in need a of a good PR firm.
    Raul Rodriguez
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  4. #4
    Senior Member TEA's Avatar
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    Default

    I think the ambivelance that many non-Shorinji MAists feel towards Shorinji stem from Doshin So's claims with regards to Shoriji Kempo being a direct transmission of the Shaolin Quan Fa (yes, I know, its the same characters) that he claims to have studied in China. The Shaolin Temple in China actually took Shorinji Kempo to court over using its name and won. As a result, Shorinji Kempo is supposed to have added "Nippon" to its official name, thus becoming Nippon Shorinji Kempo.

    In the Japanese language text that was given to me to study in Japan (the dojo I studied at in Japan only had Japanese language versions), it states that Doshin So was a member of the Kokuryukai (not the Kempeitai, although the two organizations had close ties) and was sent to spy in Manchuria. While there, he began to study Quan Fa (Giwa Mon Fist). I don't remember if the textbook mentioned any dates for his Manchurian training/spying, but since Japan conquered Manchuria in 1932 and the Kokuryukai was most active in Manchuria following WWI and leading up to the Japanese conquest, it would most likely have been sometime during this period.

    The text goes on to state that to further his studies in Quan Fa, he left Manchuria (no mention in the text if this was part of a mission following Japan's conquest of Manchuria and growing ambitions in China or if he was going AWOL from the Kokuryukai) and joined the Northern Shaolin Temple. After years of study (I don't remember there being a mention of the number of years in the text), he became the head abbot of the Northern Shaolin Temple and remained there until the conclusion of the "Great Pacific War." Returning to Japan through Manchuria, he became aware of all of the suffering caused by the war and decided to dedicate his life to promoting a philosophy that would lead to World Peace. Thus, he founded Shorinji Kempo upon his return to Japan.

    Leaving now what the textbook says, the Shaolin Temple in China, in its court case, refuted Doshin So's claims to have studied at the Northern Shaolin Temple (I think they even were able to prove that no such temple had existed since the early in the Qing Dynasty) and Shorinji Kempo was unable to prove that Doshin So had studied there. There have also been claims by some in Japan that Doshin So founded Shorinji Kempo as a religion during the American occupation to either get around US restrictions on the practice of martial arts or just so he could get tax exempt status. I'm not saying I believe these claims, especially the last, but this is just what is grumbled about in some dojo in Japan. FWIW, I've also heard a few similar grumblings about Ueshiba Morihei's actions during the American Occupation.

    Now, from an American standpoint, these types of rumors and grumblings tend to strike a nerve in a culture that has been swamped by psuedo-soke and phoney grandmasters of made up martial arts. I think this is unfortunate because all of the Shorinji practitioners I trained with in Japan were extremely hones, forthright, sincere and also very skilled. I think Sheb has a point with the need for Shorinji Kempo as an organization to do a better job with its PR. I think one place to start would be to come clean about Doshin So's activities in China and the origins of Shorinji Kempo.

    On a side note, I wonder what kind of nerve is struck in China and other East Asian countries that were invaded by the Japanese that Doshin So is a self proclaimed former agent of the Kokuryukai. Of course, he was not the only Japanese martial artist of influence in post-war Japan that had been involved in Japanese imperialism in Asia, so if one is to hold that against Shorinji Kempo, then one should hold it against pretty much every Japanese martial art equally.
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  5. #5
    Member sheb's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Luar
    3. Everyone still thinks Don Draeger's book is the final word.
    what is written in this book?
    sven hebbe

    there will be nothing ...

  6. #6
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    Default

    Please don't take this as an attack against SK but having observed classes and being allowed to sit in on a mudansha test, I've never seen anything remotely resembling kung fu. I'm well aware that there are many "flavors" of kung fu and some do resemble karate more than others but the waza demonstrated by the SK practitioners I've watched was a obvious mix of karate, judo & aikido.

    This is not to say that it won't work, only that I doubt the historical account.

    If, however, you enjoy your training and feel at home in your dojo, don't sweat whatever problems others may have with your system's history or founder. In the words of St. Francis of Hoboken, "Whatever gets you through the night, Baby."

  7. #7
    Member Luar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Barlow
    Please don't take this as an attack against SK but having observed classes and being allowed to sit in on a mudansha test, I've never seen anything remotely resembling kung fu. I'm well aware that there are many "flavors" of kung fu and some do resemble karate more than others but the waza demonstrated by the SK practitioners I've watched was a obvious mix of karate, judo & aikido.

    This is not to say that it won't work, only that I doubt the historical account.

    If, however, you enjoy your training and feel at home in your dojo, don't sweat whatever problems others may have with your system's history or founder. In the words of St. Francis of Hoboken, "Whatever gets you through the night, Baby."
    Hey Mark,

    There are senior kenshi who can respond to this much better than I can but Kaiso was literate in various many martial arts but selected and reworked many techniques to fit his vision and his own fighting experience.

    Also in regard to Kaiso's connection to the Shaolin Temple, he drew his inspiration from its ideals and training concepts but did not set out to copy kung fu. As far as I am concern, I am studying a Japanese martial art that acknowledges influences from India and China but never did I think I was learning a Kung-Fu variation.
    Last edited by Luar; 08-10-2006 at 13:47.
    Raul Rodriguez
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  8. #8
    Moderator Mark Barlow's Avatar
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    Rodriguez Sensei,

    I'm the first to point out my limited contact with SK and I appreciate any insight you can offer. Whether you believe the stated history or not, you have to admire the organization's growth and the loyalty of the students.

    Mark

  9. #9
    Member Luar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sheb
    what is written in this book?
    Its been some time since I read his book but Don Draeger was a reknown researcher of the Martial Arts. His chapter on Shorinji Kempo was in my opinion not very positive. Although he does state that the philosophical aims are admirable he goes on into a lengthy but overstated rant about how questionable the accuracy of our history.

    BTW, whenever you get a chance look up William Durbin and see what he says about Shorinji Kempo.
    Raul Rodriguez
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  10. #10
    Member Luar's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Barlow
    Rodriguez Sensei,
    Oh I love you already LOL


    I'm the first to point out my limited contact with SK and I appreciate any insight you can offer. Whether you believe the stated history or not, you have to admire the organization's growth and the loyalty of the students.

    Mark
    This is why I mentioned William Durbin. As far as I'm concern all history is questionable (and mostly written by the winners). Lately I have heard interviews from people who knew and trained with Bruce Lee and they paint him as being a very arrogant and at times a very insecure man. Regardless of these human flaws, they still acknowledge his genius.

    BTW, Killing Machine did more harm than good if you ask me. I long to see a good remake.
    Raul Rodriguez
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    Lesson 1: Kesshu is not some kind of Japanese Ketchup

  11. #11
    Super Moderator Tripitaka of AA's Avatar
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    Hi Sheb

    Most of the negative impressions that you describe in your opening post can be traced back to the image of Shorinji Kempo described in Donn Draegger's book, published in 1974 (I think). When you talk to detractors or people who make snide comments about Shorinji Kempo as a style or Doshin So as a Founder, it often turns out that they are basing their opinions on what they'e read in Draegger's books. In fact nowadays, they are likely to be reading the third-hand views of someone who read an article that was based on Draegger's work. From what I'm told (no, I haven't read the books), he was the foremost Western authority on Japanese martial arts. In other words, an English-speaking author who became the expert. His knowledge was more extensive, his research more personal and his credentials more accepted than most of today's self-styled experts. However, people who have read his article on Shorinji Kempo (particularly those with an in-depth knowledge of the art and some of the people), have said they detect a subtext that suggests he didn't like the people he trained with, or that he took a dislike to the art and came away with a negative impression. Either way, his articles are treated as though they are a "gospel", with generations of martial artists now happy to dismiss Shorinji Kempo as "that cult thing invented by the Japanese spy".

    The calls for a better PR for Shorinji Kempo have been answered in part, by the changes in the WSKO organisation over recent years. The impressions are that they are taking a more "professional" approach to maintaining the image and integrity of Shorinji Kempo and their strict control of website content is an attempt to present a more authoritative account of the history, with a little less "local interpretation". Personally, I feel that informed local interpretation is probably a good thing, as different readers will approach the source material with different preconceptions and local authors can cater for this.

    The Court Case is a red herring. Shorinji Kempo is a quality martial art based on good intentions, excellent technique and a reasonable history. The Founder had his training from childhood. Whether the art he created has much connection to the surviving strands of Chinese boxing is irrelevant. Although clearly it would be uncomfortable if fabricated history was being perpetuated, it has also been proven unnecessary. Frankly, if there were any skeletons in the closet, I'm one that would prefer them out on show with the full story. Like the old question about how many times was Kaiso married, and how many children did he have...
    David Noble
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  12. #12
    Super Moderator Tripitaka of AA's Avatar
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    Barlow Sensei is too kind. Raul laughs as he has never been called Sensei before

    Webmaster of the New York City dojo (a fine piece of work), a frequent poster here and on E-Budo, a multi-lingual and no doubt handsome Kenshi... but not a Sensei... yet.

    Nor me.

    David Dunn can lay claim to that title, as can Anders Pettersson.
    David Noble
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    The lone Kenshi beats the giant drum, increasing in tempo as he builds to a crescendo - "Yaaaaah!" - Bang!...
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  13. #13
    Account Suspended: Noncompliance with full real name rule SteyrAUG's Avatar
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    As an outsider looking in I'd like to offer the following advice.

    1. Don't worry about it. Just train. If your system is what you are looking for and meets your needs then who cares.

    2. Don't worry about it. Foundation stories for various ryu are often like Genesis stories. Guess what? A lot simply aren't true or are dubious at best. A lot of founders, despite being brilliant martial artists did some questionable things. We pretend they are flawless Gods because we practice their art.

    3. Don't worry about it. Creation stories and personalities aside, either your system can stand alone as a valid martial art form or it cannot. If it can, the fomer issues don't matter, if it can't a great guy for a founder or a completely legitimate creation story won't matter.

    4. Don't worry about it. Accept what is true and realize other things might be true. When you deny truth you destroy your art and do far more damage to the prestige of the system than any faults of previous practioneers. Dogma is not a good thing. Try and remember the Volkswagen was named by Hitler and made at his behest. Doesn't mean it's a bad car.

    Next thing you'll tell me is all systems of Kung Fu weren't really practiced at the Shaolin Temple.

  14. #14
    Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by TEA
    The Shaolin Temple in China actually took Shorinji Kempo to court over using its name and won. As a result, Shorinji Kempo is supposed to have added "Nippon" to its official name, thus becoming Nippon Shorinji Kempo.
    Forgive my bluntness, but this is rubbish, utterly incorrect. The Shaolin Temple has never taken Shorinji Kempo to court. Hombu has an excellent relationship with the Shaolin Temple. In the late 1970s Doshin So visited there with, among others, Yamazaki Sensei. The Shaolin Monks invariably provide a display team for any big event that WSKO put on - I've seen them several times.

    The idea that we had to change our name and add Nippon to the name is also incorrect. The only source of this is Donn Draeger's book, which claims that a local (i.e. to Japan) Chinese martial arts organisation took Shorinji Kempo to court for the reason TEA gives. I've said here and many times on e-budo - produce the evidence. [b]IF[/ib] there was a court case of the nature described, then it will surely be documented and reported on. Find any evidence that doesn't track back to Draeger. You cannot because it doesn't exist.

    If you want something that is a bit more substantial, and perhaps hinting at the origin of these ideas in the mists of time, then you can find Ellis Amdur's posts on these subjects on usenet (or nowadays Google groups):
    http://groups.google.co.uk/group/rec...83259194d73940 The spat between Kimbei and Doshin So is obviously a matter of fact. Shorinji Kempo is a member of Nippon Budo Kyogikai, the gendai budo organisation in Japan (other members are judo, naginata-do, aikido etc), which was established when Kaiso was still alive in 1977, and which is sanctioned by the Japanese ministry of Education. As far as the modern budo authorities in Japan are concerned Shorinji Kempo is a fully fledged member. That's pretty much all you need to know. You could further ask why there is no "nippon" in our title these days? In the early 70s Shorinji Kempo changed its status from a public corporation (shadan hojin) to a religious foundation (zaidan hojin), and correspondingly changed the name from "Nippon Shorinji Kempo Renmei" to "Shorinji Kempo Renmei". You can find a history of the various Shorinji Kempo organisations on the Swedish Federation's website.

    Why don't hombu counter the Draeger-sourced claims? They didn't even know about them until 3 or 4 years ago when a BSKF kenshi asked Mizuno Sensei to explain the details. Mizuno Sensei didn't know what he was talking about, so hombu were asked to clarify - they said no action of that sort had ever happened. There have been a couple of actions relating to names, but they were brought by Shorinji Kempo against other groups. Shorinji Hombu therefore came to know about Donn Draeger 30 years after he wrote his book. That's why we have never counterclaimed - in Japan Donn Draeger is not well-known, Shorinji Kempo is a massive mainstream martial art, with a transparent history. Moreover, anyone who wanted to hold martial arts classes after the US occupation of Japan had to pretend they were doing something else didn't they?
    David Dunn
    British Shorinji Kempo Federation

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    In case anyone is still following this...

    This book, and the bigger "What is Shorinji Kempo?"
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?redirect=true
    was contemporary with Draeger's. There is no "nippon" anywhere to be seen.
    David Dunn
    British Shorinji Kempo Federation

  16. #16
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    Hey guys, I would not sweat the small stuff. Like Richard stated, the proof is in the pudding. As far as creation stories... well at least SK's founder didn't learn his art by having a tengu bash him on the head with a stick on some remote mountain top!

    From everything I have read, the "stories" do seem to all go back to Draeger's book. While DD was certainly an unmatched authority on Japanese MAs in the Western world, he was not perfect. I think it is probable that much of the information he presented in his book was from "dojo scuttlebutt" with other Budoka within his circle.
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  17. #17
    Super Moderator Tripitaka of AA's Avatar
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    Stand by your beds!

    Nice of you to drop in Robert. We don't often get a visit from the Benevolent Dictator that provides us with this dedicated forum, you have honoured us .

    Would you like some tea? Or a drop of the hard stuff?
    David Noble
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tripitaka of AA
    Stand by your beds!
    Just what the he11 goes on in here? None of the other rooms have beds!

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tripitaka of AA
    Stand by your beds!

    Nice of you to drop in Robert. We don't often get a visit from the Benevolent Dictator that provides us with this dedicated forum, you have honoured us .

    Would you like some tea? Or a drop of the hard stuff?
    I like to make sure that you guys are not conducting some weird cult mind-control stuff in here!

    Now, would you happen to have an asprin?
    Robert M. Carver
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    "We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force." – Ayn Rand

    “In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” - George Orwell

    "A man with a gun is a citizen. A man without a gun is a subject."

    "A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have." Gerald Ford in a Presidential address to a joint session of Congress (12 August 1974)

  20. #20
    Super Moderator Tripitaka of AA's Avatar
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    No aspirin required here, we all love pain and can endure hours of exruciating agony (and still smile when we pay the dojo fee). There is a good kyusho point in the fleshy part between thumb and finger that can relieve pain from things like toothache

    I've seen some gallon tubs of Kool-Aid around here somewhere if you really want... but you'll have to say the secret password and give the secret handshake.
    David Noble
    Shorinji Kempo (1983 - 1988) Retired

    The lone Kenshi beats the giant drum, increasing in tempo as he builds to a crescendo - "Yaaaaah!" - Bang!...
    Rei, naore. Time to begin.

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