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History of Shorinji Kempo

The Upbringing of Kaiso Doshin So and His Encounter with Kempo.

Kaiso's mother and younger sisters .
Youthful days alone in the world.
Shorinji Kempo Kaiso (Founder) Doshin So was born on February 10, 1911, in a small village deep in the mountains on the border of Okayama and Hyogo Prefectures. With two younger sisters, he was the oldest of three siblings.
His father's affection for alcohol was his downfall, and when Doshin was 8 his father was dead at the early age of 30.
After his father died, his mother had to leave the house early in the morning to go to work to support the family. Doshin, who had just turned 9, took over all her housework.
Speaking about those days, Kaiso once said, "Going to elementary school while taking care of five and seven year old little sisters was a tough life, but working my hardest every day in affectionate intimacy with my mother was definitely not any kind of suffering. Those two plus years of my life - when centering on my mother we young children helped each other and took good care of each other - live on in my heart as the richest, most pleasurable memories of my entire life."
Yet the mother, who with her nightly sewing of clothes under a low lamp had always provided for the family, ruined her health and finally collapsed. To escape the suffering and worries of the life she entered a religious institution. As a result the family was split up to live apart from each other.
His two younger sisters were entrusted to his mother's family, and Doshin, by his own request, went to Manchuria (now China's Dongbei Province) to his paternal grandfather's place. This grandfather was a man always busy dashing back and forth between Japan and China. Also famous for his budo, especially kendo, sojutsu (spearmanship), and jujutsu, he often taught Doshin when he had the time.

Every night, the mother sewed dresses as her side job under a dark lamp.
However this easy life did not continue for long. There was a message from Japan, and when Kaiso returned to Japan early in May of 1926, his mother died. Closely following this his youngest sister died in August, and in April of the next year the older sister died too. Then, piling misfortune on misery, his paternal grandfather who had always been healthy died suddenly, and Doshin was left completely on his own and cast penniless and unprotected into the world. After this, left with no family, Doshin went to Tokyo to live at the home of an acquaintance. It was in this period that fate would change the latter part of Doshin's life.
Activities on the Continent.
Japan at that time was at the nadir of a depression. After the end of the First World War, the storms of a terrible economic panic were raging everywhere, and Japan was no exception. There were rushes on banks everywhere; companies and factories collapsed one after the other; caught in the middle, the unemployed were virtually overflowing.
Hearing many stories from military personnel who came in and out of the acquaintance's house where he stayed, and reading of affairs in various books, Doshin finally was unable to simply stay in place. "To break through the unprecedented national difficulties, I would be happy to be come a sacrifice pawn for the growth of the Japanese people." This is what Doshin set his heart on when he volunteered to cross over to Manchuria again. When he went in January 1928, he was 17 years old.
The assignment given to Doshin in Manchuria was as a Special Maneuvers personnel. To receive the education necessary to his position there, Doshin was brought to a Daoist school for religion and placed under the care of an elder teacher named Chen Liang. This was his first connection to Buddhist law. And by becoming Chen Liang's pupil and sharing many experiences with him, Doshin also gained his first connection to the study of kempo as a Chinese martial skill.
Master Chen was a man of importance in the Zaijia Li secret society and the Shifu (Master Teacher) of the Northern Shaolin White Lotus Fist society, which traces its roots to the Songshan Shaolin Temple.
In the spare moments of life together with Master Chen, Doshin trained on the kempo techniques, learning their ins and outs little by little. We use the word "technique" here, but at that time not only were there no systematic training methods or schematized organization, some things didn't even have names yet. So, Doshin assigned a Japanese-style name that only he would know to each technique as he learned it, and thus organized and remembered them.
At one time, Doshin, Master Chen, and several others were joined together for an assignment to make an extensive tour covering all of what is now Dongbei Province. This extensive tour was, for Doshin, the second connection to Buddhist law. Blessed with the opportunity to meet the leaders and masters of all the secret societies that existed in the northeastern province, it was a one in a million chance allowing him to learn the various fighting arts and technical - skills that still remained. This time would be the direct cause of his entering more deeply into these studies in later years.
At this time, Kaiso still harbored youthful dreams of glorious deeds on horseback or the thrill and romance of espionage. However, he had gotten sick and the difference between dream and reality was so vast that he felt a bit down. In fact, he had begun to feel disappointed with his path.
After grappling with this problem at length, he decided, "As long as I'm going to lay down my life for my country, I want to work at something a bit more glorious." Then, using recuperation from his illness as an excuse, he returned home to Japan.

Kaiso in his pilot uniform.
Entrance into the Air Corps.
Kaiso in his pilot uniform. The recently returned Doshin applied for admission to the Air Corps, and in January 1931 he joined the First Air Corps at Kagamigahara in Gifu Prefecture. In April, he collapsed due to the onset of a terrible fever during night flight training. Admitted to an army hospital in this state, he received his discharge orders after six months of convalescence.
"Of those excused from military service by the army hospital, 70 percent die within one year. Most of the remaining 30 percent die within three years; so you take note! If your luck holds out and you make it for three years, then you might be able to live out your life a little, you know." At these words from his commander, Doshin received a tremendous shock.

Third time to the Continent.
Thinking there was only one year of life left, Doshin set his heart on doing whatever he wanted till he died, and in the end he decided to cross over to Manchuria once again, relying on the kindness of his fondly remembered Master Chen. This was October, 1931. Somewhat given to self destructive impulses, Doshin was volunteering for dangerous assignments and threw himself into carrying them out.
One day Master Chen took him aside and asked him, "It seems like you're in such a hurry to die. So what happened?" When Doshin told him that apparently he had less than a year left because of a valvular disease of the heart, Master Chen replied, "Who decided that you would die within a year? Heaven's fate for us is a mysterious strand beyond the knowledge of human beings. Within the span of your life, you will not die. Until heaven's allotted time has run out, it is best that humans work with all the spirit they can summon. Don't fret away your days." Then he went on to say, "Yet, one must exhaust all human resources to hold on to the life that heaven gives us. Alright then, starting today I will treat you", and Master Chen put Doshin's physical condition aright. This was the first time that Doshin had ever learned of the existence of keimyaku iho (medical treatment of body meridians and flows), and thus he directly experienced the effectiveness of seitai treatments.
Afterwards, Doshin's work took him to Beijing where he was immediately assigned to a behind the scenes operation. Most fortunately Master Chen's teacher, the famous Master Wen Taizong, had secluded himself in Beijing. Master Wen was the Shifu of the Notthern Shaolin Yihemen Quan (Giwamon Ken) society, and in his youthful days he had become a monk in the Shaolin Temple and learned the discipline, then became the pupil of 19th generation Yihemen Quan Master Huang Longbai, and finally succeeded him as Shifu.
With Master Chen's introduction, Doshin was permitted to become Master Huang's direct pupil. Under him he learned the 36 grappling techniques known as the secret Dragon Techniques (Longxi Zhuji) -the greatest repository of fundamental training moves as martial techniques in the Northern Shaolin Yihemen Quan. He also learned the correct methods of goju ittai throws known as the Goka Ken (Wu Hua Quan), and direct and transverse methods of grabbing.
Having learned martial arts since he was a child, and having been instructed in the fundamentals by Master Chen, Doshin progressed rapidly and so became the recipient of the childless master's strong affection.

The Song Shan Shaolin Temple in 1979.
Inheriting the Mantle of the Yihemen Quan.
In the fall of 1936, Doshin took the opportunity of going to Xian in Shanxi Province to accompany Master Wen to the ruins of the Songshan Shaolin Temple. The demolished Hall of the Founder remained in name only, but with the Master's old friend the Head Priest presiding, the Yihemen Quan ceremony was performed to pass on the mantle of leadership, and Doshin received recognition of his status as the 21st generation Shifu.
However, left with no family connections at all, Doshin had no desire to return to Japan under the conditions of the time, and he planned to reside permanently in China. Moreover, in an era which had developed modern weapons, his succession to the headship of an ancient martial tradition which took years to learn was not, in itself, especially exciting to Doshin at the time. "On top of how interesting the techniques themselves were, I was taken by the character of the Master himself, and it was just the result of my being drawn in ever deeper without really meaning to. I received the tokens of succession to please the Master who seemed so happy to have found a successor." said Doshin in explaining those times.
The History of Shorinji Kempo (2).
The True Character of People as Learned from the Aftermath of Defeat in War.
The army abandoned peripheral settlers.
Before the dawn of August 9, 1945, history was on the march with new shocks that would stir up a maelstrom enveloping Doshin's fate, indeed the fate of all Japan. Out of silence, a sound resolved into the keen whine of diving planes, and then a great roar of explosions came rumbling - Doshin tore open his eyes with a start and leapt to his feet. When he looked out the window, he saw below a great confusion of people running to and fro wailing something he could not make out. At first, Doshin had no idea what had occurred, but at last he realized that it was the opening shelling of the Soviet Army.
Then, with the dawn, the Soviet Army crashed through the Soviet - Manchurian border like a great breaking wave washing over the land. With eight months still left in the Japan-Soviet Non-Aggression Treaty, they had unilaterally broken the agreement.
Because of his duties at the time, Doshin had a house in the eastern Manchurian towns of Suifenhe and Suiyang, each touching the border. There was a Japanese Army command post there, but the main forces had already moved, and when word came of the Soviet initiation of war it retreated to the rear to join its forces, leaving not even a single soldier in Suiyang, abandoning the town like a discarded snake skin.
In the streets, the military branch of the police had called up a provisional force of ordinary citizens to stand guard with wooden guns, but before long even the police had vanished along with their families, leaving only the women and children of those who had not been informed of the situation. Japan's army had simply turned its back on its own people there without even the slimmest pretext. They had broken without even fighting.

Escaping from the town, as the Soviets invaded.
The soldiers spread out along the vast border lands had been, from the beginning, sacrifice pawns used only to gain time. The Japanese settlers and developers, also strung close to the Manchurian border, were fated to be abandoned to their deaths.
Doshin stayed until the Soviets had crossed the border and invaded, but when the mass of huge tanks approached so close by the road paralleling the railroad tracks that they shook the ground with a terrible roar, he decided that this was enough and that he should escape, indeed that he had already delayed too long.
Fortunately, his work had taken him walking all over the region, and he knew it well. Moreover, he was aided by comrades in secret societies located in every region, and managed to make his way out across hundreds of kilometers with relative ease.
Doshin had long attended to the relations he had built on foundations of friendship and good will, and he had always made comrades in whom he could trust. Even when the positions of Japan and China switched, however, his Chinese friends maintained their generous friendship with him, and there was never even the suspicion of a betrayal of him.
International politics of "only might is right".
In Manchuria, occupation by the same combat troops of the initial Soviet Army incursion continued, and the arrival of administrative outfits to keep peace came much later. In the interval, rampaging and plunder by the Soviet troops went on ceaselessly, and even after the occupation by administrative units, the looting continued just the same as before.
Military administration by the Soviets in Manchuria at this time proceeded by using up facilities, things, and people, and then carting off what remained. As the commanding officers' policies were based on plunder, the competition of all, from officer to footsoldier, to be the first to loot for personal gain was probably the natural course of behavior.
Those who suffered the most miserably in that time were the sacrificial pawns of the Japanese Army and government's Manchuria-Mongolia Development Policy. This policy was to dispossess the Chinese who had painstakingly carved out the fields and to drive them off to peripheral lands as a matter of course. Then hundreds of thousands of Japanese immigrants and Manchuria-Mongolia Youth Volunteer Army troops were funneled in to take their place.* Because this was designed only for Japan's national interests, it is no surprise that the payback of the Chinese farmers amidst the maelstrom of war was directed at the Japanese developers and immigrants.
Through many experiences, Doshin tasted to the full the terror and piteousness of a defeated people in enemy lands. All around Doshin were people driven to extremes, people who would do anything to survive no matter what happened to anyone else. The ugliness of their actions showed more of a repulsive vindictiveness toward life itself than a desire for it. And the interests of nation and ethnicity took priority over all ideology, religion, and morals. It was as if only might made right; this was international politics' harsh reality.
However, even within this extreme conflict in which the strong ate and the weak were the meat, it is also true that there were some, albeit only a few, who restrained their personal desires and sacrificed themselves for others.
Doshin used to say that "even among the Soviet army of occupation who pillaged and plundered freely, there were some officers who executed subordinates engaged in theft in order to keep martial regulations".
* A special youth corps in Manchuria and Mongolia that was composed of Japanese youths 12 to 16 years old.

Requested for a talk, the guard pointed a bayonet at Doshin.

Personal character is unrelated to status, school background, and rank.
The following occurred in Changchun:
Changchun was the capital of Manchuria when it was a country (1932-1945), and was known as the "New Capital" (Shinkyo). Japanese settlers and developers who had fled northern Manchuria were placed under Soviet Army administration and were allowed a minimum of self-government. Already the vicious winter of 1945 had arrived, and they lived quietly huddled together amidst a ceaseless stream of deaths from starvation and cold.
However, the story went around that there was an old Japanese Army warehouse with large quantities of army issue cold weather overcoats on the outskirts of Changchun. Actually, it had been commandeered by the Soviet Army, but those responsible for administering the warehouse were officers of the former Japanese Army. The Changchun City Committee for Japanese Self-Government negotiated their disposal with the officials of the Soviet Occupation Army, but there seemed to be no prospect of a settlement.

Doshin, taken a few years before the end of the war.

Mountains of overcoats were directly at hand. Many Japanese would survive if they had those coats. Moreover, these coats had originally been the property of Japanese.
"I want to do something."
Doshin briskly recruited several comrades, and they set off together to the warehouse. In front of the warehouse, Japanese soldiers with guns were standing guard. Doshin called out his name and approached to convey the distress of the settlers and make his request:
"Even when we petitioned through the proper channels, the Soviet officials refuse to release the overcoats inside this warehouse. This is the time fellow Japanese have to help each other. I know this isn't proper, but I want to confer with the army officer in charge, so please convey this message."
However, the guard suddenly pressed his bayonet to Doshin's chest, bellowing;
"You're out of line. We administer this clothing warehouse under orders of officials for the Soviet Occupation Army. If you take one more step forward, I'll shoot you dead!" Realizing that there would be trouble if they were overheard and taken in by Soviet military police, Doshin and the others backed off that day.
The next evening, Doshin and the others set out again. This time, if circumstances permitted, they were determined to get the coats even if by force. They simply couldn't let themselves stand by and abandon their thinly clad compatriots to waiting for frozen death.
When they approached and checked out the situation, the guard was different from the previous day. Giving it one more try, Doshin explained things just as he had before and inquired whether or not something could be done. As Doshin talked to the guard, others stealthily moved around behind him. Everyone was positioned to wrestle him to the ground if necessary, but the most surprising thing happened. Doshin, taken a few years before the end of the war.
The soldier replied, "I see. Okay. You're quite right. Not only that, but Soviet Army administration is careless, and they probably have no idea of the exact numbers. I'll act as if I saw nothing, so just take them. However, you really have to take just enough for the people suffering; keep it as limited as possible!" Doshin was delighted to discover that such a man existed even among the same Japanese soldiers.

Suiming Dormitory, Doshin once lived in before the end of the war.
"In times of peace, people can hide their true characters as much as they want. They can decorate the exterior, but when chaos arrives their raw. Naked character becomes exposed. Moreover, whether you look at law, the military, or the government, it is the character and way of thinking of the people who run them that makes a great difference in the results of these processes - this is something I have discovered amidst suffering and trial. These results are most definitely not influenced by status or educational background. Being thrust into this kind of hell was an unfortunate event, but as a result I saw through to the core of people, and my view of human life was transformed. It was a precious experience that I could never find again.
The person, the person everything is in the quality of the person. (" • Hito! Hito! Hito! Subeta wa hito no shitsu ni aru.") If we wish to achieve true peace, then as long as it is human beings who run things on this planet, there is no way to do so other than to make as many people as possible who are full of courage, the sense of righteousness, and a sense of mercy people strong, upright, and generous. I felt this intensely while still in Manchuria. Thus I decided that if ever I managed to return to Japan I would open a private school, gather together youths, and nourish their courage, confidence, and stoutheartedness, readying them to serve in restoring the native land to peace and prosperity.
The History of Shorinji Kempo (3).
Return to the Desolation of my Native Japan.
Repatriation as the Commander of a Returnee Company.
After the war's end, the return from China of all Japanese, excepting war criminals, was initiated.
At the time, Doshin was in Shenyang (Fengtian before the war), and because he had been assisting a certain organization on the Chinese side in its work, the good will of some of his Chinese friends enabled him to return home earlier than most as the commander of a returnee company.
However, at first his Chinese friends encouraged him repeatedly to settle in China. The local rumor was that Japan had become nothing but scorched earth, and moreover was split up for occupation. They told him, "there will be nothing for you if you try going back to your country". They told him that in China there was work, he had many comrades, and he would lack for nothing.
"His majesty the emperor has said that Japan lost, but I haven't lost. First of all, isn't it your belief as Chinese people that even when the country is extinct the people are not? It's precisely because I too believe this that I want to return to Japan. What I want is to go back and do whatever I can to aid in rebuilding a peaceful Japan."
In this way Doshin repeatedly explain himself until they came to understand, and so they afforded him all the aid he needed.
For the purposes of the return, however, men and women were crammed together in great companies of 1500 people. These companies were "units" clumped together entirely from people wounded by their experiences of defeat, from people who had been bounded into distrust of all humans. Taking control of such a group was by means no means any easy thing. For starters, the loss of the war had cut away the roots of order that had once bound them. Moreover, all authority had been lost, and everyone had been driven to a point of precariousness where each could believe solely in him or herself; there was a murderous edge to the air such that none gave any consideration to anything outside the self. Of course past status and social rank were absolutely useless. On the contrary, they could even arouse antipathy. With the situation like that, if a few outlaws with strength to boast of even hinted at violence, no one would complain no matter what was done; things had come to a point of utter helplessness. One could talk of morality and righteousness, but justice without strength behind it was absolutely powerless.
Strength as the backing of justice.
The company given into Doshin's hands also had several of this kind of outlaw. What they did was to bully people with violence and act as they pleased, and they ignored and rebelled against all rules. Doshin thought that he ought to do something about it, and one night when they were placed in a temporary holding site, he called to the man who had the status of boss over these outlaws.

Maki gote (Kaiso).
As the man strolled over with an impudent air, Doshin suddenly said, "You look awfully strong, but I'm much stronger. I'll show you, so you see if you can twist my one arm with both of yours."
In the instant the man grasped the arm, Doshin applied the technique maki gote, and he thumped the man painfully into the ground. Without letting go, Doshin waited for him to get up before using kote nage to throw him in the air. Then, as he forcefully applied a painfully tight pinning technique he calmly said, "What do you think? Strong, eh?" When he said this, not only the boss but also all of the others who had taken resistant attitudes were all suddenly deflated.
Then, pursuing them to the end, Doshin raised his voice and yelled to them, "How about it. Why not help me till we get back to our land. Even if we did lose the war, what do we get from hurting fellow Japanese and snarling at each other? What's important now is that we all get home to Japan safely. As fellow people of Japan, why not band together and help each other! That's why I need the assistance of healthy young men like yourselves. Will you help me?" Perhaps they were overcome by the earnestness of Doshin at that moment, but they were deeply touched and shook Doshin's hand, saying, "Let's do it! I mean, please let us," and gave him their approval without reservation. Thus at a single stroke, Doshin gained three ready and able young men who could act as his Shin Eitai 1, and with their help Doshin's company was the only one in which orders were carried out. After that time, not a single incident of trouble arose again.
For Doshin, this experience was a rich one. Had he attempted to convince them solely with words, it would have fallen flat, and the young men undoubtedly would have snickered down their noses at him. It was only because the kempo that he had learned gave him the backing of strength that his sense of justice got through to those hardhearted and crooked youths. Moreover, even if he had simply beaten them and "convinced" them with his strength, it is hard to believe that they would have agreed from the heart and given their cooperation willingly.
If strength is used in bad ways, it becomes violence. However, Doshin firmly believed that if strength is used unfailingly as the backup for justice, then justice will surely be protected. Later on, when he returned to Japan, this faith contributed greatly to the way he lived his life.

"What do you think? Strong, eh?" When he said this, not only the boss but also all of the others who had taken resistant attitudes were all suddenly deflated.
A Tale of Valor Aboard a Train.
In Showa 21 (1946), Doshin and his company, aboard the long awaited return boat, pulled in and landed at Nagasaki Prefecture's Sasebo Port, and it was with unbounded emotion that he set foot again on his native soil.
Though he had come back to his beloved Japan, there was no home to which the orphaned Doshin could return. He decided that he should at least go to his deceased mother's home town, and he boarded the train to which he was assigned.
When the train eventually pulled into a certain station in an area famous as a trading center for fish, it happened. In a train so overcrowded that one could hardly move, seven dangerous looking youths with armbands of the federation of foreign countries squeezed open the windows and shoved their way into the car. This septet pushed the people around them out of the way, loaded on a large number of boxes of fish crates with stinking melted ice water, and then chased seated passengers out of their places so that they all could sit down. Looking around themselves as if proud of some victory, not only did they meet without a single reproachful glare, but everyone averted their eyes to the ceiling in fear of getting involved, as if they had seen nothing. After suffering through this scene, Doshin asked the person next to him what was going on, and it turned out that they were citizens of victor countries and had extraterritorial rights. Next, one of the group said, "Well, I think I'll get some sleep", stood up and began to sweep luggage wildly from the netted shelves. He actually intended to sleep in the netting. Using standing passengers shoulders as stepping stones, he clambered up into the nets and stretched himself out as long as he could go. For good measure, still lying down, he kicked the luggage that met his outstretched legs down from the shelf.

Doshin yelled out to everyone in the car: "Will you do it together?".
Unfortunately, however, the luggage fell on a baby in a woman's arms, giving it a sound blow, and the baby wailed out as if it had caught on fire. Doshin, who had restrained himself from reacting over and over again, finally couldn't hold back any longer and without thinking bellowed, "Stop it, now!". Instantly, the man lying down in the nets snapped upright and jumped down. Stepping on the shoulders and knees of the other passengers without a second thought, he closed in to Doshin. Spitting out, "You bastard, you got something to say?" the man grabbed Doshin's lapel with his left hand and moved to punch with the right.
With his right hand, Doshin grasped the man's left hand from below, and as he pinned it to his chest he struck the man on the Adam's apple with a knife hand, stopping the oncoming punch. Then, as he wrapped both of his hands around the left hand still pinned to his chest, he twisted and dashed the man to the ground. That was kata muna otoshi. A sharp crack rang out; the man's elbow had been dislocated, and he fainted from the intense pain.
At this point, there was no stopping things. Another man shoved through the crowd, and when he came close Doshin applied me uchi with his left hand and delivered a powerful series of punches to the solar plexus with his right fist, knocking the man out. One after another, Doshin disabled wrists and dislocated shoulders till the rest got scared, and as he did so the rest got scared and stood still in fear and submission. Then Doshin yelled out to everyone in the car, "Almost everyone in this train is Japanese, but while I fought all these thugs alone, not one of you raised a hand to help me. What is going on here? This isn't a foreign land. It's the native soil of Japan, isn't it? Even if we did lose the war, we're still in a train on our own soil in the homeland of Japan where ninety million Japanese live. Here in Japan, with hundreds of Japanese in this train, why are you letting a few foreigners lord it over you so viciously?
I'll bet you all have a wretched core rotting away your hearts that says, I don't care what happens to anyone else so long as I'm okay. Yes, Japan lost the war. But there are still almost a hundred million Japanese living, right around you. From now on, no matter what difficulties lie ahead, what other way do we fellow Japanese who have survived have but to live our lives by helping each other out. What do you say; will you do it together?" As Doshin was speaking, the listless and somehow defeated faces of the passengers around him gained back the life in them. Scattered applause arose in the car, and several of those nearby came up to shake his hand.
With this turning point, the atmosphere in the train changed completely; everyone's spirits revived and the passengers pitched in with Doshin. With the aid of several, Doshin massaged the knocked out men back to consciousness and put the dislocated elbow back in place. Then, as he helped get the revived men's clothes back in order, Doshin spoke to the youths gently. "From your viewpoint now, you all are living in the foreign country of Japan. From here on out, fellow Asians, neighboring peoples have to join hands and help each other or real peace will never arrive. For that reason as well, it's up to folks in Japan like yourselves to strive to share good fortune together with Japanese people. Of course, as a Japanese, I too intend to strive to share the taste of good fortune with you. I want you to promise never again to pull the kind of haughty stunt you did today."
When they got off the train, Doshin and the other nearby passengers helped unload the crates through the windows. Repeating again and again, "thank you for your help", and, "sorry for the trouble", the men stepped down to the platform.
Through this incident, Doshin was forced to ponder the Japanese people' national characteristic of lacking in brotherly love and the ability to stick together as a people. No one could come out and call a bad man bad, and what's more everyone pretended not to see anything when a brother or sister was in trouble; it was disgraceful. He was deeply impressed with the need that the Japanese people had at that moment for the spirit to join together and to come to each other's aid.
Whither the Pride of the Descendants of Heaven. 2
When, after returning to Japan, Doshin finally reached his mother's home, he found it stripped completely bare. Of course, there was no way his relatives in town could put on a good face, so he left quickly. At the time, he had a cousin working as a policeman in Osaka, and he went to stay with him.
For about a year after that, he started and ran a business together with an industrial chemicals broker and a Chinese man, and he managed to earn enough money to live on for the rest of his life. Still, somehow he couldn't stand the state that Japan was in.
There in the homeland that he had nostalgically dreamed of in the past, all Doshin could see now was a land blasted by the fires of war and suffering under relentless inflation, housing shortages, and daily lives of suffering. Amidst all that, fellow Japanese snapped and slashed at each other, each seeking only his or her own happiness, and they were accustomed to acting as if the suffering of others never happened. Moreover, the kind of injustice and violence that he had met with on the return train was going on in broad daylight? with neither moral sense nor order, the country had become a bloody battlefield from hell.

Doshin, right after returning to Japan.
Because of the loss of the war, Japanese had lost both past prosperity and hope for the future. Having lost the pride of the past, Japanese could no longer find an internal mainstay and even came to despise the very fact of being Japanese.
Mistaking the meaning of the word "freedom", people became caught up in gambling and other pleasures of the moment. Others sought to escape and hide from other harsh situation. Still others sought salvation in the doubtful teachings of new religions that promised benefits in the here and now. In either case, these conditions were consonant with those of vanishing peoples that Doshin had seen or heard of overseas. He couldn't stand to think of it, but if things went on this way the future of the Japanese people, with their splendid tradition, would be in danger.
Among all this, the problem of the youth, who would bear the weight of Japan's future, was dire. Teachers who, until only days ago, had lectured on the invincible country of the gods, were now sermonizing in silky tones on democracy. Textbooks had been ordered to be blacked out with ink that could sometimes cover whole pages, thus spurring on their loss of all faith. Though they were in the years that required the most nutrition, all of Japan was starving and there was not enough food for all of them. On the black market, hidden supplies from the army were overflowing, but for the children these only spurred on their hunger. The sheer number of orphans that camped in the underground passageways and followed passers by to beg for food was staggering. Also, the youthful soldiers who had survived the war and been repatriated were looked upon by society as pariahs. In reaction to nationalistic militarist education and daily suffering, many youths lost sight of their country and were even on the verge of forgetting that they were Japanese. Precisely because it was such an era, it was the perfect time to realize his dream of opening a private school and teaching the Way. Doshin resolved to spend the remainder of his life on educating youth who would be capable of bearing the future of tomorrow's Japan.
1. Shin Eitai: The Shin Eitai was a band of warriors organized in Kyoto in 1864 (a key time in moving toward the 1868 national revolution) and paid to put down the attacks of masterless warriors who had gathered in Kyoto and gained a measure of control over national political events through a campaign of assassinations.
2. Descendants of Heaven: Before losing the war the Japanese people were sometimes referred to as the "Descendants of Heaven" to indicate a special, divine place amongst the peoples of the world. This is relationship descended directly from Heaven through the emperor (the child of Heaven), and thence to the people who were conceived as his children.
The History of Shorinji Kempo (4).
Beginnings as a Religious Practice.
The young won't come just for lectures.
Tadotsu Township, Kagawa Prefecture, Shikoku - at the time it was a rustic town of about 10000 people. The story began with Doshin erecting a small hall there in order to satisfy his heart's desire to gather the local youth together and teach them his way of building people up in October of 1947. At the time Osaka was one great burned out field. Doshin had been living and working in Osaka, but just at that time a man offered him land in the town of Tadotsu, a once-prosperous port of the Sanuki area. From that point on, Tadotsu has been the Mecca of Shorinji Kempo.
Nowadays the importance of building people up seems to be shouted from many corners, but in the social conditions of a devastated postwar Japan no amount of teaching of the Way or appealing to the necessity of building people up earned a serious response from anyone. On the contrary, people looked upon it as nothing but a half crazed conservative backlash. Moreover, as an outsider, Doshin received a generally cool reception from everyone in the town. The young also did little to get closer to him. Of course, not all the young people at that time were swept up in pleasure seeking and nihilism. Like new shoots, growing up from charred ground, many whose spirits were devastated, sought after ideals, blindly seeking for something. However, without knowing what that something was they were swayed in different directions, and some had come to the point of losing sight of themselves.

Buddha and disciples.
Through the experience of exploring many philosophies and religions, Doshin had come to the conclusion that the teaching that was most rational, that had most deeply delved humanity, that could set at ease both body and mind, this teaching was none other than the proper teaching of Buddha. However, it was clear that this could not mean the funerals, memorial services, sutra chanting, and prayers that contemporary temple Buddhism entails. Magic and spells to ward off misfortune or the teaching of hell and heaven after death were also not it. Emphasizing humanity-denying and impossible to uphold monastic codes, or compelling outdated ascetic practices, teaching a verbal Zen offering only enlightenment of the mouth were all most definitely not this proper teaching. Doshin believed that essence of the teaching offered by Buddha contained something that would offer people a spiritual stronghold in this world, something that would gain people both physical and mental peace, and that would make people's lives both more plentiful and more enjoyable in both material and spiritual ways. However, amongst actually organized Buddhist groups, not a single group existed that seemed to fit his model.
To begin with, the idea that one can soothe or save the souls of the dead is written nowhere in the proper Buddhist sutras. A famous discussion between Buddha and his disciple proves this.
Once a disciple asked, "They say that when the Brahman priests chant sutras while circling the dead, the dead will be reborn into a good position, but is that true?" Buddha responded definitively, "Throw a stone into a pond, and if the Brahman priests chant to their utmost for the stone to come floating up, do you think the stone will float?"
Stones sink because of their mass. Leaves float because they are light. Taking these as a common sense analogy, Buddha taught that the good and virtues compiled while living determine the value of a human being.
Given the above, when Doshin contemplated how one should spread Buddhist teachings in the contemporary era - how to make it effective in people's daily lives, and what methods one should use to accomplish this - he found himself at a dead end.
Until that point, with only explanations and lecturing, even the few youths whom he had managed to gather together did not last for long in the end. Amidst the complex contemporary social machinery, in a capitalist economy based on competition with the strong consuming the weak, modern people had to survive a fierce competition for their very lives. While it might well mean seeking the Way, abandoning one's home, spouse and children to hole up on some mountain or in some temple for three to five years to sit in Zen practice for spiritual peace was nearly impossible for ordinary people to do.
Eyes opened by Dharuma's revelation.
Doshin had been worrying about all these things and more, when one night he had a dream. In the dream, Dharuma appeared with a bushy beard, and he was walking rapidly away from Doshin while saying something to him. Doshin tried to run after him, but his legs were somehow to heavy to move. "Wait" cried Doshin, and then he awoke at the sound of his own yelling. Then he fell into thought, and amidst his thinking a realization flashed across his mind. No matter how splendidly he had been able to preach the Way verbally, no one had ever followed for long. If that was the case, then he must have some sort of accompanying activity with sufficient interest and depth for young people to enjoy it while practicing over long periods of time. First of all it must be a method of gathering people together, so wherein should he seek this? At that time, Doshin spent both his waking and sleeping hours contemplating this.

Kaiso had a dream about Daruma.
That's it! This was what Dharuma's, signaling to follow him had meant. Dharuma had traveled all the way from India to China in order to transmit proper Buddhism, and Doshin took inspiration from the ancient disciplines through which Dharuma had made his disciples learn. Now more then ever, concluded Doshin, this was the time for himself to resurrect those practices in Japan.
Emboldened a hundredfold, Doshin built a new 60 mat practice hall on some open land behind his house. Thus he embarked on a new Way with martial technique as the main practice.
This Indian tradition known as the Arahan martial technique was, as noted earlier, essentially different from ordinary martial arts in that it did not take beating and defeating opponents as its goals. Rather, winning over oneself, aligning body and mind, and gaining skill both for oneself and one's partners while enjoying the techniques characterized this method. If he taught the Way while teaching these methods over the long term, then the young who would be responsible for the next generation would certainly be able to join indomitable spirits together with toughened bodies, and Doshin was certain that he could bequeath to them confidence, courage, and an ability to get things done.

In 1950's, Shorinji Kempo was established as a religious practice.
In this way, Doshin put together the Buddha's teachings of building oneself and mutual happiness of both self and other together into the fundamental mottoes, "Body and Mind are the Same, and Strength and Love Stand together." He reorganized the various kinds of martial arts that he had learned in China and gave this all a theoretical backing. Further adding the precious experiences he had gained during the war and his own creative insights, he founded Shorinji Kempo as a religious practice. For the organization's name, he memorialized northern Zen's transmission of the true Buddhist tradition by making the name, "Nihon Seito Hoppa Shorinji Kempokai (Japan True Transmission of the Northern Sect Shorinji Kempo Association).
More "Fighting Monk" than "Kempo Monk".
The town of Tadotsu had managed to escape the destruction of war but the town had not been spared the massive postwar social chaos and especially the personal devastations of the times. Amidst all this Doshin instructed his disciples in the rough and ready kempo techniques virtually every day. Considering the social conditions of the day, he taught them first to become stronger. Then, in the times between practicing kempo, he used the views of life and the world that he had gained through personal experiences to teach and explain Buddha's teachings and to carry out those teachings real. Of course, it goes without saying that he pounded his own convictions on being Japanese into their heads till he grew tired of talking - that, as Japanese, they should love their home country: that Japanese should help and befriend each other.
Right before his eyes his disciples grew stronger in both body and mind. As they grew stronger, so too grew their confidence, and confidence bred the ability to accomplish things. When Doshin found just cause, he took along his disciple's and went hunting for gangsters also as a method of applied practice. They also engaged in other activities such as sending out volunteer patrols in cooperation with the police during flower viewing season.* He used the power of Shorinji Kempo to its full as a strength for justice and a fist to crush social villains. Doshin, of course, always stood at their head. Doshin and the rest came to be feared even by the gangs, among whom the advice was passed around not to touch anyone wearing a kempo badge because it was just asking for trouble. Gradually, the town became a peaceful place. In the period of chaos immediately following loss in war, the only way to bring criminals to bear is neither law nor principle. Only stronger force will do.
Thanks to this, Doshin gained the nickname of "Fighting Monk", and in no time the group took on the form of a band for warding off local gangs. Among Doshin's disciples, not one was unemployed, and there was neither motivation nor desire to build turf or payoffs, so there was not reason for them to get caught up in sordid connections. Furthermore, so long as the gangs weren't carrying out crimes or starting fights, the disciples were trained not to bother them. That is, Doshin took the strategy of making criminals aware that starting fights would make them the victims and pursuing crime in the town would lead to painful results.

A photo taken at a practice in 1950. .
Furthermore, Doshin succeeded in physically teaching his disciples the importance in life of having a sense of mission backed by justice. If he had simply set up a branch of fighting arts and gathered together students from whom he could profit, he would have been little different than a gang head, and Shorinji Kempo probably never would have achieved the development that it has today.
Rumors about the Tadotsu training hall bred more rumors, and young people seeking something began showing up one after another.
However, it was the time of occupation under the Allied Forces, and the practice of anything with the character bu (military) in it was absolutely forbidden, even in movies and plays, for concern that it would drum up the way of the warrior (bushido) and restore a national militancy. Moreover, any gathering of five or more people without official notice was forbidden.
At first, there were only a few student's, and the group didn't stand out sharply, but as the number of entrants rapidly increased, it began to be difficult to conduct practice in secret. Furthermore, as Doshin's name as the Fighting Monk became better known, it became impossible to prevent things from becoming more and more widely known. The local police at the time were locally controlled police and Doshin was covering their lack of forces, so they returned the favor by looking the other way. Yet it was only a matter of time before the occupying army learned of them.
A Buddhist dancing religion.
After thinking through various approaches, it occurred to Doshin that it would work to take up the fundamental principle of "freedom of religion" emphasized by the Occupation Army as if it were their official banner and put it into practice. That is, since Shorinji Kempo had always been handed down as a religious practice, it would not be strange to emphasize its nature as a religious group. As soon as this occurred to him, he completed all the paperwork under the law for religious bodies.
Explaining, "We are a Buddhist dancing religion that was begun postwar, after my return from China", Doshin gained official approval. Looking back, the explanation sounds quite contrived, but the forbidding of the activity had threatened to bring everything to a halt. Judging that some way of escaping the net was necessary to realizing Dharuma's teachings, Doshin made do with such an occupation forces-oriented explanation and somehow got their permission.
At the same time, Doshin also founded a private school called the Zenrin Gakuen (Zen Woods Academy). Nowadays this is known as a special institution for the training of Shorinji Kempo's leaders. It is the starting point of what is officially named Nihon Shorinji Budo Senmon Gakko (The Shorinji Kempo Academy of Japan).

1963, Kenshi performing Chinkon.
In 1951, the association received official recognition as the religious corporation, Kongo Zen Sohonzan Shorinji. In 1963, the propagation of Shorinji Kempo as a religious practice, an independent corporation for the wholesome education of youth was officially established as Shadan Hojin Nihon Shorinji Kempo Renmei (The Japanese Shorinji Kempo Federation Corporation). This is now officially the Zaidan Hojin Shorinji Kempo Renmei (Shorinji Kempo Federation Foundation). In 1974, Shorinji Kempo Sekai Rengo (WSKO) was born to bind together federations for the various nations to which Shorinji Kempo had spread, bringing us down to the present day.
Half for oneself, half for the happiness of others.
Doshin transplanted Shorinji Kempo to Japan, reviving a long dead practice of properly transmitted Buddhism. The motives and goals for its revival lie in the detailed witnessing of the raw actions of people in the extreme conditions of defeat in a foreign land, and the lesson he drew from this that government, economics, and law all issue forth from and are given direction by the human heart. Doshin's motives and goals, then, stem from this realization that, in short, everything is determined by the quality of the person. Rather, everything springs from the human heart, and people are influenced in one direction or the other by their own hearts - from this was gained the lesson that everything is determined by the quality of the person.
Based on the above, Doshin wanted to reach the Japanese youth who had lost their moral sense, their love of country, and even their ideal for life, and give them confidence, courage, and charitable hearts founded on rugged bodies and an indomitable spiritual energy such that they could build themselves up to be true strongholds for themselves. To a Japanese people who did not know social cohesion but crumbled like sugar cubes, he taught how to have fundamental human relations, the importance of horizontal connections, and he desired to build a paradise of mutual happiness for self and other in his own country of Japan. This desire was the beginning of his quest.
For his method to that end, he chose Shorinji Kempo as an interesting and difficult set of techniques that would take many years to learn, and to those youths who gathered in search of strength, he pounded home these essential ways of thinking and living as human beings.
The world changes based on the state of peoples' hearts.
Through the medium of Shorinji Kempo, Doshin spent 30 years relentlessly pursuing this movement to build up people. Raising legions of young people who value their own happiness but also act half out of consideration for the happiness of other - raising youth with a new national consciousness, with the abundant courage, abilities, and overall ruggedness to realize social justice - may seem particularly roundabout. However, Doshin did so because he believed that it was the sole path that would open up the future of Japan. In every field and at every social level, if one can raise as many people as possible who can think from the position of others and also act effectively, then the world will surely change.
No matter what changes come with new eras, as long as people operate society, social revolution without accompanying revolutions of the human heart are impossible. By planning the reformation of human hearts, one can work for the realization of an ideal paradise on earth. This is Shorinji Kempo's most significant aim.
Shorinji Kempo's propagation as a kind of civic education movement may seem rather plodding, but in time it has begun to claim a special place for itself in society.

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