Shorinji Kempo As A Discipline
Shorinji Kempo was established by Doshin So as a physical and mental discipline, a gyo, whose main purpose was to build character. As such, Shorinji Kempo has never been about trying to be the toughest fighter, or learning showy techniques to impress girls. Instead, it is focused on helping each student find within themselves the wisdom, the courage and the ability to become better individuals and worthwhile members of society.
Practically speaking, Shorinji Kempo aims to provide three benefits to its kenshi: self defense, spiritual cultivation and improved health - or in other words, a healthy mind, a healthy body and the ability to act if the need arises:
- A Healthy Mind
All the self defense techniques in the world won't help you or anyone else if you don't know when to apply them, or are too scared to apply them, or overreact and end up being a danger yourself. A healthy mind means that you can think clearly and calmly and decide what's the right thing to do, at the right time. It also means that you have enough self control and discipline to make up your own mind, follow through with action once you've made your decision and keep your emotions in check, even in a very stressful situation.
- A Healthy Body
A healthy mind is a great start, but if you don't have the strength to follow your words with actions, then it's still pretty useless. One of the most obvious benefits of taking up a martial art is a healthier body. This doesn't mean you have to have abs of steel or biceps to rival Popeye, but even a moderate workout once a week helps to keep you limber and fit, so that when you really need to act fast, you won't be huffing and puffing after only a few minutes.
Learning a martial art obviously involves learning how to hit someone in order to inflict damage. In Shorinji Kempo, we learn goho and juho techniques which can be to protect yourself or others if necessary. Learning these techniques is important for use in the last resort, when you're backed into a corner and need to defend yourself physically.
Even more important than this however, is learning that the best self defense is to never get pushed to the last resort in the first place. This means learning to stay alert (..Oops, dodgy area to be in, better not go any further.."), learning to evaluate each situation accurately ("The bloke waving the knife around might be kidding, but then again, he might not..") and in many cases, just learning to trust your own instincts and common sense ("something's not right, lets not go in").