why shorinji kempo
As indicated above, in the material from the syllabus,
shorinji kempo is based on the kongo zen philosophy:
main purpose of kongo zen practice is to discipline the mind and body. It is particularly designed to benefit the practitioner in three areas of life: self defense, spiritual development, and improved health.
As such shorinji kempo, the discipline of kongo zen, may be regarded as a vehicle to develop people who will help others, who have bravery, motivation, intelligence, and a sense of what is right ...
Reading in the philosospy of Kaiso, I am struck by some already familar phrases:
These phrases emphasize for me, respectively,
how important it is to break through hierarchic, institutionalized
relations, and communicate from person to person,
to maintain personal strength and refuse to be seduced
by in the end powerless altruism,
and to keep an eye on the future, in establishing goals
and committing oneself to what is worth striving for,
which includes to built a community as exemplified
by shorinji kempo all over the world, where people find
both individual training and mutual support.
The actuality of these visions may also be seen
in our current society,
(from a more professional perspective)
for example horizontal communication
its worth in innovations in a range of areas in a connected world,
that is via social networks and interest groups.
The other items in the philosophy may (again from a professional
perspective) be seen as counterbalancing the risk of losing
oneself in technology and entertainment, resulting in
indifference and a lack of commitment.
Although the current situation is radically different from
the one in which Kaiso founded shorinji kempo, the basic tenets
of individual responsibility and strength, while building
on a community, still hold strong in the world of today,
that is characterized not only by technical affluence but also
the de-personalization through institutionalized relations,
and, let's not forget, as a remedy against an unhealthy lifestyle!
- horizontal communication
- half for yourself, half for the others
- plan for 10 years ahead
2. what I have gained in training shorinji kempo
Having practiced shorinji kempo for almost twenty years,
the main purpose in continuing is still to exercise
a proper discpline of mind and body, or in other words
the meaning of shorinji kempo may be characterized by the
japanese word gyo, in its dual meaning of calling
and discipline, or a habit of training responding
to a need for movement and a long standing attraction for the martial arts.
My attention to shorinji kempo was attracted by the phrase
shorinji kempo is an intellectual martial art,
and in a time where I worked too hard, spending many hours
in front of the computer, and I also had to deal with some personal
issues, I started training shorinji kempo at the age of 43,
curious whether I could keep up with a group of younger people.
After some time, thanks also to appropriate training partners,
I felt confident and enthusiast to tackle the challenges
in shorinji kempo, that is to participate in a taikai,
take grading exams, attend training seminars and
even visit hombu for the summer camps, which
only strengthened my interest and determination to pursue
the path of shorinji kempo, even though shorinji kempo must
explicitly be considered as a method (ho) instead
of a path or way (do).
Apart from being an adequate remedy against the problem of
aging, as I can also see with the senior sensei in hombu,
at the age of 62 I still enjoy training, teaching younger kenshi,
and having the confidence of being able to defend myself and
my family (that is my wife and two daughtes of five and one and a half)
against the threats and dangers that may occur when traveling
in remote regions, such as the border area of Tibet and China,
as we recently did during a sabbatical leave.
On a more general level, I do regard shorinji kempo as an
effective counterweigth against the disadvantages of an
institutionalized existence, and the
unhealthy life style that (too often) comes with
a life of technical affluence.
Also my contact with kenshi both from my own dojo as in dojos
of other countries (including Japan!) is usually a refreshing
experience, that breaks through fixed patterns of thought
that, on closer inspection, limit my perspective on life.
In other words, it is fun to train with other people
and often surprising what they have to tell you!
From my professional perspective,
as a professor creative technology / new media,
I teach (both computer science and engineering) students
which may be regarded
as powerful tools for behavioral change
and teaching (e.g. mathematical) skills,
the teaching methods as well as the essential content of
may act as a model for a discipline or approach
that effects what is often called transformative experiences,
in the sense that it brings about a change in attitude, as well
as lifestyle, and associated basic skills.
both the self-confidence and the ability to co-develop with partners
in developing martial skills, may be regarded as essential
to live a life of value, overcoming selfish behavior and strive
for a better life in contributing to the community.
Apart from the benefits, the inherent complexity
of the system of techniques shorinji kempo teaches is in itself
intriguing and proves to be a constant challenge for learning
and improvement. Also, the lessons of my sensei (Hiromi Tojo)
often provided inspiration for my own efforts at teaching.
To conclude, it is not easy to summarize what I have learned,
and, quoting Kaiso, I still value to look at shorinji kempo
from a beginner's mind, and unrelentingly set myself
the goals of improving my techniques, finding a proper way
to do techniques together with a partner, and getting above
the possible confusion that may occur in randori exercise.
Yes, I learned a lot, including control of movements and a great variety of techniques,
I gained strength and martial skills,
yet I am still in search for a proper
balance between physical energy and spiritual development,
for which shorinji kempo provides me with a unique opportunity!
A. Eliens, 22/10/2014
online version: sk.eliens.net/essay-dan-4.html