The martial art form of Shorinji Kempo was founded by Doshin So (1911-1980) in 1947 in the Japanese town of Tadotsu, who incorporated Japanese Zen Buddhism into the fighting style. This form of Kempo can be both a religion and a fighting form at the same time much like Shaolin kung fu, on which it is based.
Shorinji Kempo's founder, So Doshin, faced Japan's defeat at the end of the Second World War in what was then called Manchuria (now the Northeast Region of China), and there he experienced fully the wretchedness and sorrow of a defeated people. In such times it was not ideology, religion, or ethics, but rather the interests of nations and peoples that took priority, and the harsh reality of international government was that it operated as if only power constituted righteousness. Amidst that experience, Kaiso saw that the way law and government worked was not determined simply by distinctions of ideology or religion, or of national policy, but that a great difference was made by the character and way of thinking of the person in the particular position of authority. What he had noticed was that "everything depends on the quality of the person."
Later, Kaiso returned to Japan, but the aftermath of war had left Japan in turmoil, and he found that people's spirits were in ruins. So, in order to put his beloved home country back on its feet, he resolved that he would dedicate the remainder of his life to educating youth with the spirit and the backbone that the country needed. Because it was the youth who would take care of the future, he had them train both indomitable spirits and sturdy bodies, gave them strong confidence and courage, and cultivated many true leaders who would rebuild their native Japan. To construct a world in which everyone could live in happiness, he took the Chinese and Japanese martial arts that he had studied and reformulated them into a single, unique technical structure, thus originating Shorinji Kempo.
Kaiso used the historical Buddha's teaching of building the self and Boddhidharma's (the founder of Zen's) teaching of indestructible and indomitable spirit to make the foundation of Kongo Zen, and he located Shorinji Kempo within Kongo Zen as its primary discipline.
Afterwards, however, these teachings and techniques could not be contained within the boundaries of religion, and Shorinji Kempo expanded to become a Way which anyone could study so long as they desired to improve in good balance both mind and body, to mutually affirm one another's value, and to construct society as best as possible together with comrades whom they could trust. This change was recognized within Japan and broadly around the world.
Then, the World Shorinji Kempo Organisation was formed as Shorinji Kempo' global framework, and people of truly diverse religious, cultural and ethnic backgrounds have joined the organization. Going beyond national borders and generational differences, these members seek to become people who can contribute to world peace and well being by working hard at their daily training.Looked at from a Japanese martial arts perspective, it could be described as a combination of karate, judo, and aikijujutsu built on a Kung Fu framework, except that this art generally has no killing moves because of its respect for life. It is a form of Kempo that tries to get its practitioners to move through life doing minimal damage whenever possible.
Shorinji Kempo teaches a wide variety of techniques, ranging from goho (hard techniques) such as kicks and punches, juho (soft techniques) such as grappling and throwing, to seiho (correcting methods) acupressure techniques for revival of unconscious persons. These three types of techniques are further divided into kogi (offensive techniques), bogi (defensive techniques), shuho (defence methods, mainly against soft techniques), tai gamae (body position), sokui ho (foot position), umpo ho (footwork), and tai sabaki (body movement).
Techniques are seldom practiced in isolated form. Often a technique is put into a context, or pattern, also known as hokei. The hokei is typically a defense paired with an attack.
Hokei is practiced either in isolated form, or during randori (free fighting, a more literal translation being "to bring Chaos under order", which is philosophically rather different from simply fighting for its own sake).
The relationship between technique, hokei and randori is similar to that of the relationship between words, sentences and essays. A word forms the basis of the sentence, just like the technique forms the basis of hokei. The sentence forms the basis of the essay, just like hokei forms the basis of randori. In order to master the art of writing good essays, one must first have a good vocabulary (words), and how you put them together to form sentences that conveys meaning. Similarly, in order to master the art of randori, one must know how to perform techniques, and how to put them together into hokei.