On Feb. 17th, World Campus – Japan participants got to try out our Kempo-skills with children and instructors from Omura. I personally have little experience with martial arts, only in Judo. Shorinji Kempo has a few elements in common with Judo, and it also seems very similar to karate. There is a lot of punching and kicking, even though one of their main principals is not to attack first. It is important for them to focus on self defense and to use their strength to protect the weak.
Furthermore, Kempo is more than just martial arts, as it has strong relations to Buddhism. The ultimate goal of Shorinji Kempo is to prepare students to be respectable members of society. Half of your focus should be on your wellbeing, and half should be on the welfare of others. With this mentality they hope to create a better society.
With that said, the first impressions I had after seeing the demonstration by the trainers, and talking about the “Kyusho” (weak spots), I feared being beaten and hurt for a couple of hours. In the end, this physical part of Kempo holds great value as it is important to know the pain you may have to inflict onto others.
It was actually more of the fun and less of the pain. We started out with a warm-up, which was nice because I was cold after taking off my two pairs of socks and long underwear. We followed the kids as well as we could, and after some time we paired up with them for a fun competition.
Later on the kids taught us some movements after the instructor showed us the basics. It was not scary, it was not painful. I am even considering learning martial arts when I return home.
(Henning Rodtwitt, Norway)