confused about kempo.....

Discussion in 'Kenpo' started by kryptonite, Sep 3, 2004.

  1. kryptonite

    kryptonite New Member

    I've been trying to grasp what kempo (kenpo) is and I thought I found the answer. But then I think I've been wrong. I just started training in 'kempo' and from what I've read, it just seems like it's a blend of other martial arts. It seems more like an ecletic art (though I could be wrong). Before I joined the school, I asked the chief instructor if they taught a specific style (ie shorinji, ryukyu kempo, etc.) but he said no. He told me there is 'no stlye'....kempo is just kempo. Now I'm wondering, maybe he was referring to the 'original' kempo before people started to add their own components into the art. But what was the original kempo like? Also, I heard that kempo is the Japanese term for Chuan Fa. Is chuan fa a particular style? Or is it a term that means something like 'martial arts'?
  2. Z-Rex

    Z-Rex Valued Member

    Ask him what's his lineage. That sort of comment makes me wonder...

    Kenpo is the Japanese word that means Chuan Fa (chinese). The word, not necessarily the styles. Rough translation of both is fist law/method.

    Now there are technically two broad branches of Kenpo (over simplified). The traditional Japanese or Okinawan and the Modern that stems from Chow or in some cases Mitose. If he uses the term Kempo Karate, then most likely he is from the Chow tree.

    Anyways, ask him questions about it. Especially about the lineage. Such as who taught him and who taught his instructor.
  3. Colin Linz

    Colin Linz Valued Member

    Kempo is the Japanese translation of Chuan Fa, and literally means fist method, or fist law. There are a number of styles. American Kempo seems to be big in America and the west in general, although there are a number of other styles, some related and others not. From my perspective I see a great difference in what they teach, and how they are taught.

    I think that Shorinji Kempo, although not well known in the west would be the largest organization. Since this is the art I practice I will describe in general what is taught, this may or may not broadly align with other forms of Kempo.

    Shorinji Kempo teaches Goho, techniques that involve striking kicking and blocking. Juho, techniques employ throws, joint locks, pins, chokes, and escapes. Seiho, techniques that use massage, manipulation, and pressure points to heal. As well as the physical studies we also study the philosophy of Kongo Zen Buddhism. The Goho techniques are quite different to Karate and rely on fast flowing attacks, aimed at particular weak spots of anatomy. Juho techniques superficially resemble Aikido, with smaller circles. Goho and Juho are designed to complement each other and work best when used together, pressure points can be used to increase the effectiveness of both Goho and Juho techniques.
  4. Z-Rex

    Z-Rex Valued Member

    Shorinji Kempo is off the beaten path as far as origins go. The system is new, relatively speaking. The system is really independent from other Kenpo/Kempo systems.

    On the other hand, when I read Collins description of Shorinji, I see some similarities (minus the traditional names and spirituality). Which goes back to the original post. " just seems like it's a blend of other martial arts. It seems more like an ecletic art...". Yes you could say it is an eclectic art.
  5. Colin Linz

    Colin Linz Valued Member

    While Shorinji Kempo is relatively new, it was formed in 1947. Shorinji Kempo comes directly from China, Kaiso (So Doshin) at the age of 18, started studying Byauren-monken Kenpo under Master Chinryo (Ch-Chen Liang), at the Palace of Great Parity (Ch-Tai Qing Gong) in the Taoist university Shi Fang Coghin.

    After making considerable progress with his studies, Chinryo took Kaiso to Peking where he introduced him to Master Buntaiso (Chi Wen Taizhong), who was living in recluse at the time. This man was actually Chinryo's own teacher, being the 20th Master of the North Shorinji Giwamonken School of Kenpo, the fist of righteousness and harmony (Chi Shoalin Yihemen Quan). It was from the results of this meeting that Kaiso became a direct disciple of Buntaiso's, continuing to study under him for many years.

    In 1939, Kaiso was unexpectedly assigned to do some work in Kain. After discussing this matter with his teacher, Buntaiso suggested he should take this opportunity to visit Boddhidharma's memorial at Mt Song. This is where the Shaolin temple is situated, and is the place where Dharma is said to have first introduced Zen and Kenpo into China. Buntaiso and Chinryo in fact accompanied Kaiso on this trip, using the opportunity to perform the transmission of the law ceremony, which formally recognised Kaiso as the 21st Master of the North Shorinji Giwamonken school of Kempo.

    While it may appear eclectic on a superficial level, it is not made from individual arts and all the techniques are of one within the art. This art is said to be directly related to Arahan no ken, the art that Boddidarma brought from India to China. When describing these arts they can seem to be made from a number of different arts, this is due to the need to use a familiar mental image so people can have some mental picture of what it is you do. I may say there is a resemblance to Aikido in our Juho, but the fact is that the Aikido has come from Aikijutsu, which in turn has comes from the Chinese arts. What was originally taught as a whole system has been broken up and modified over years to conform to individual teacher’s perceptions and needs. Karate was developed from Kempo by the Okinawan’s to defend themselves from the Japanese occupational forces, they needed an art that worked against an opponent that used body armour and lacked the mobility. Power was needed to break through the armour, so deep stances where introduced. This was not a hindrance because the Samurai were not as mobile. As Karate has become used in competition against mobile opponents the stances have retuned to more mobile ones.

    It is true to say that Shorinji Kempo is a separate art and not related to any other Japanese form of kempo; however it is related to Chinese kempo. Shorinji Kempo is the most popular martial art in Japan, and although relatively unknown in the west the World Shorinji Kempo Organisation is the largest single style organisation in the world. So Doshin’s experiences have certainly shaped Shorinji Kempo, but it would be a mistake to think that the techniques are just a mixture of different arts. How this relates to other modern forms of kempo I can’t really say as I lack any experience with them, I have seen them and they are visually quite different from Shorinji Kempo, but as to being eclectic or not I don’t know.
  6. Omicron

    Omicron is around.

    This is probably the most important thing. If he can't even tell you what style it is that he teaches, or he can't give you a reliable list of his own instructors, I'd be very suspicious indeed.
  7. kryptonite

    kryptonite New Member

    thanx guys. I'll try to ask about lineage. It's not shorinji kempo for sure.
  8. Tripitaka of AA

    Tripitaka of AA Valued Member

    Some thoughts on Lineage;

    Most Instructors will be keen to convince you that they have the skills and experience to teach you something of value. The "fast-buck, fast-belt, McDojo" Instructor will offer familiar phrases, names or movements to associate themselves with whatever is thought to be the most attractive package, hence the phenomenal growth of Kung Fu in 70s, Ninja in 80s, Brazilian Jujutsu in 90s.

    If the instructor says he is teaching his own thing, then you just have to exercise your own judgement on whether it is any good or not. You (being the student) may not have much to compare it against, and may therefore be unable to see whether it is crap or not. If he claims to be part of a well-established "chain" or organisation then he will hope that you will consider this to be some kind of confirmation of his legitimacy. You will trust that his rank and authority have been granted by people of great experience and wisdom.

    So iflineage and style are important to you (you want to know that you are learning the "real" style and not just a feeble parody), then it's worth doing some checking. If he says it is traditional, and you want traditional, then he'd better be doing it right. If the style is not important, just the results, then take a look at the students. If you want to end up like them... then go for it. If the senior students are lazy, bullying, abusive or generally obnoxious ... then this should be seen as a reflection of the Instructor... and I'd walk away.

    These days, it is quite easy to ask around, particularly on a forum like this. We should be joining together to ensure that charlatans and thieves leave the world of Martial Arts teaching to the genuine enthusiasts and experts.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2004
  9. Colin Linz

    Colin Linz Valued Member


    Nice to see you around here.
  10. Tripitaka of AA

    Tripitaka of AA Valued Member

    Hi Colin

    Just thought I'd pop in. I see you have been making some excellent posts since the last time I looked in. It's a shame that the site hasn't seen fit to support a separate forum for Shorinji Kempo yet, but perhaps with a few more threads that highlight the need then perhaps we shall make a case. At the moment it is like looking for magazines about Morris Dancing, in a bucket full of mags about Line Dancing, Break Dancing and Lap Dancing.
  11. Colin Linz

    Colin Linz Valued Member

    There are only two kenshi that post regularly here so I guess this is why. It can be a bit of a catch 22 though. American Kenpo is just so different that we are not really relevant to each other, so many kenshi looking for information or others that share their art may not even bother to look.
  12. KenpoDavid

    KenpoDavid Working Title

    I like having all the different "fist law" styles in one forum, if the 2 of you had your own forum then I would probaby never get to read what you post :)
  13. kempocos

    kempocos Valued Member

    Colin wrote "Karate was developed from Kempo by the Okinawan’s to defend themselves from the Japanese occupational forces, they needed an art that worked against an opponent that used body armour and lacked the mobility. Power was needed to break through the armour, so deep stances where introduced. This was not a hindrance because the Samurai were not as mobile. As Karate has become used in competition against mobile opponents the stances have retuned to more mobile ones."

    Okinawians did not add deep stances that would be the japanese. I am dan ranked in RYUKYU KEMPO, ISSHINRYU, SHORINRYU. I have also taken Goju for some time but never attained rank. All Okinawian styles and NONE taught deep stances training I recieved we used a natural stances. It is true that Karate was derived from mixing the Okinawian TE with the teachings of chinese fighting systems. since there were large chinese populations in the Naha Te,Tomeri Te and Shuri Te regions.
  14. Omicron

    Omicron is around.

    Come on all you Shorinji Kempo lurkers out there! We need some more good Shorinji Kempo discussion going on here.
  15. Colin Linz

    Colin Linz Valued Member

    This was just an observation of mine from looking at pictures and watching instructors like Morio Higaonna perform kata and kihon on documentaries like the BBC way of the warrior. I have never studied it, so I can’t say what is taught. Certainly whenever I see a picture of basic punching it appears to be from quite a deep stance, but then again I probably have a difference reference point.
  16. Tripitaka of AA

    Tripitaka of AA Valued Member

    This highlights one reason why people come to boards like this. We sometimes need to stock up on the infop about other styles in order to better explain our own. Colin has spent many years studying Shorinji Kempo, but would not, I suspect, claim to be a Karatedo historian.

    It is unfortunate that when it comes to Internet research, there is just tooooo much info of dubious quality out there. It is easier to pick up scraps of info here and there, than it would be in a library, but you are never too sure just how reliable it is, unless you know the source.

    That's why we all try to get things sorted out here... isn't it. :)
  17. kempocos

    kempocos Valued Member

    Or as in any style it could have just been my instructor way of doing things.
  18. powerof0ne

    powerof0ne Valued Member

    I like shorinji kempo a lot but disagree with you saying it is the most popular martial art in Japan. I've spent time in Japan and am going back next fall and staying with friends of mine that live there..some of them are natives and probably never heard of shorinji kempo but have heard of kyokushinkai, goju, ****o, wado ryu, and shotokan. Here in seattle where I'm from we have a pretty good shorinji kempo club.
  19. Tripitaka of AA

    Tripitaka of AA Valued Member

    Shorinji Kempo has clubs in High Schools, Universities and elsewhere all over Japan. The "most popular" claim is evidenced by numbers of people regularly training.

    The other arts you mention, while very popular and highly thought of, have smaller organisations, some with splinters and separate factions.
  20. Colin Linz

    Colin Linz Valued Member

    Yes, the Seattle branch seems to be pretty good. A couple of ex Brisbane kenshi are training there now. One of them was back in the country a couple of weeks ago. He had a lot of good things to say about the Seattle branch master, and the branch.

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