Philosophy of Shorinji Kempo

Shorinji Kempo is not just a physical discipline. Deeply intertwined with the purely physical techniques taught in this art is a philosophy, or a set of principles, which are considered to be the heart and soul of Shorinji Kempo, as Kaiso had intended it to be.

After the traumatic events Kaiso experienced during the war years in Manchuria and the deep upheavals in the shattered Japanese society upon his return to Japan (see History of Shorinji Kempo), he was determined to help his fellow countrymen regain their sense of purpose and worth and again rebuild their society.

The principles of Shorinji Kempo revolve around the idea of enriching a person, mentally, spiritually and physically, in order to create a peaceful, harmonious society. The principles are summarized in the 6 Characteristics of Shorinji Kempo.

Though these principles are often taken to refer only to the physical side of this discipline (how to train, etc), they are just as relevant to a student's mental and spiritual development. When taking their grading exams, each kenshi is required to demonstrate a knowledge of this philosophical side of training as well as their physical techniques, In everyday life, each kenshi is also asked to strive to master him- or her-self, to perfect their minds and bodies to their fullest extent and to seek the knowledge to solve their problems wisely and peacefully.

Kaiso summed up the principles neatly when he said,

"Live half for yourself and half for others."


Updated August 2021.