The Three Stages of Learning

The literal meaning of these three characters are Obey, Break and Leave. Their meanings are thought to be essential for learning Shorinji Kempo techniques:

  • Obey
    Obey, in this context, means "do exactly as you are taught". Do do so means leaving aside all your pre-conceived notions, assumptions or preferences - a willingness to trust your teacher is essential for this step to be successful! Understanding each technique can be achieved only if you have come to be able to do it as you are taught.
  • Break
    Only after thoroughly understanding the basic techniques can you then Break them, which means modifying the moves taught to fit yourself, for more effectiveness or for a better effect.
  • Leave
    The final stage Leave means establishing ones own techniques, based on the principles of Shorinji Kempo but expanding on the repertoire of techniques.

An analogy for the 3 stages of training is learning to write. As a child, when you first learned to write, you had to trace out each letter of the alphabet, again and again.Then, once you had thoroughly understood the forms, you could begin modifying the letters to suit yourself - maybe the dot in the i is now written as a heart, or maybe you write a bit more slanted because it's more comfortable for your hand. Finally, after years, you develop your own handwriting, that is unique to you. In many ways, learning the techniques for Shorinji Kempo is similar to learning to write.

Updated August 2021.