History – Japan

Shorinji Kempo was originated in 1947 in the Japanese town of Tadotsu.

Statue of Doshin So

Statue of Doshin So (Kagawa, Japan)

Shorinji Kempo’s founder, So Doshin, faced Japan’s defeat at the end of the Second World War in what was then called Manchuria (now the Northeast Region of China), and there he experienced fully the wretchedness and sorrow of a defeated people. In such times it was not ideology, religion, or ethics, but rather the interests of nations and peoples that took priority, and the harsh reality of international government was that it operated as if only power constituted righteousness. Amidst that experience, Kaiso saw that the way law and government worked was not determined simply by distinctions of ideology or religion, or of national policy, but that a great difference was made by the character and way of thinking of the person in the particular position of authority. What he had noticed was that “everything depends on the quality of the person.”

Later, Kaiso returned to Japan, but the aftermath of war had left Japan in turmoil, and he found that people’s spirits were in ruins. So, in order to put his beloved home country back on its feet, he resolved that he would dedicate the remainder of his life to educating youth with the spirit and the backbone that the country needed. Because it was the youth who would take care of the future, he had them train both indomitable spirits and sturdy bodies, gave them strong confidence and courage, and cultivated many true leaders who would rebuild their native Japan. To construct a world in which everyone could live in happiness, he took the Chinese and Japanese martial arts that he had studied and reformulated them into a single, unique technical structure, thus originating Shorinji Kempo.

Kaiso used the historical Buddha’s teaching of building the self and Boddhidharma’s (the founder of Zen’s) teaching of indestructible and indomitable spirit to make the foundation of Kongo Zen, and he located Shorinji Kempo within Kongo Zen as its primary discipline.

Afterwards, however, these teachings and techniques could not be contained within the boundaries of religion, and Shorinji Kempo expanded to become a Way which anyone could study so long as they desired to improve in good balance both mind and body, to mutually affirm one another’s value, and to construct society as best as possible together with comrades whom they could trust. This change was recognized within Japan and broadly around the world.

Then, the World Shorinji Kempo Organization was formed as Shorinji Kempo’ global framework, and people of truly diverse religious, cultural and ethnic backgrounds have joined the organization. Going beyond national borders and generational differences, these members seek to become people who can contribute to world peace and well being by working hard at their daily training.


History – New Zealand

Shorinji Kempo was founded in Auckland, New Zealand in 1973 by students from Kyoto University of Foreign Studies.  The founding branch was Auckland Central and over the years the Auckland clubs have grown to three, plus branches in New Plymouth and Blenheim.  New Zealand is fortunate to have a sixth dan black belt within its kenshi.  Peter Monk was Branch Master in Auckland for over 20 years and is now the Branch Master in New Plymouth.  Peter Monk was the first foreigner to live, and be trained at the headquarters in Japan.  Today, between the Auckland branches, we have two 5th dan black belt and six 4th dans, plus a great team of Kenshi from white belt through the various grades. Our ages range from 7 years old to 58 years old but we have had Kenshi training well into their 60s.

In 1974 the World Shorinji Kempo Organisation was inaugurated.  At this point, 15 overseas countries, including New Zealand, were active in Shorinji Kempo.  Today there are 38 countries active in Shorinji Kempo.  One of the benefits of training in Shorinji Kempo is that many Japanese students studying in New Zealand will often join our training, as do visiting tourists from all around the world.  Our Kenshi have also experienced training in various country dojos around the world.  Through a common bond, friendships span the globe.


Auckland Central History

New Zealand Shorinji Kempo’s beginning go back to 1973 when a Japanese student from the Kyoto University of foreign studies, Suguru Kunita, came to NZ to study English and teach Shorinji Kempo.

He first started teaching early that year and had his club officially recognised in October 1974 as the NZ Shorinji Kempo branch. The first dojo was on Darby St, Auckland, the original building has long gone however the Auckland central club has operated continuously in the CBD since 1973.

In 1975 Suguru Kunita returned to Japan, he was followed by another student from Kyoto, Takeshi Hamada, who taught the Auckland club until 1978. It was in this time the club became and incorporated society.

Takashi Uenishi, also from Kyoto was the last student from Kyoto to teach here until 1981.From 1980 until 1983 Peter Monk studied Shorinji Kempo in Japan and on his return took over running the branch and had the name changed to Auckland Central Shorinji Kempo. Since 2002 Steve Young has been the branch Master for the Auckland Central Shorinji Kempo club and Peter Monk has been teaching a New Plymouth branch since that time.

It was the early dedication of the of the Japanese instructors from Kyoto that laid the foundation for Shorinji Kempo in New Zealand, for this they should be remembered and respected.