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Japan Shorinji Kempo's views on its internationalization 少林寺拳法の国際化における日本の少林寺拳法について

Official picture of this year's seminar participants. From here.

This is my fourth post on different Japanese Budo group's perspectives on the internationalization (globalization) efforts of their respective Budo arts (see Karate, see Kyudo, see Judo). These come from the official 25th International Seminar of Budo Culture report, as the seminar was held in March.

This is not an exact or perfect summary, but it should be enlightening in regards to what Budo leaders in Japan are thinking. Any mistakes are my own.

Shorinji Kempo
Tokyo Office Advisor, Mr. Kuida Kaname
Instructor - World Shorinji Kemp Organization (1996), Mr. Toyama Masakazu
  • The founder Doshin So started SK after WW2 based on his experiences learning Chinese martial arts on the mainland, while also seeing the hardships of the war and post-war period in both countries.
  • The founder stressed kenzen ichinyo (train the physical and spiritual side to be complete) and rikiai funi (physical/intellectual strength plus benevolence & kindness). 
  • The founder determined the problems he saw was caused by poor top-down societal leadership, therefore helping develop good leaders was important.
  • At first the founder did not have any plans to internationalize SK, but due to interest from initially Indonesian exchange students practicing Sk at Japanese university clubs, international growth opportunities emerged.
  • Indora, an Indonesian exchange student, started the first club in his country in 1966.
  • With this interest in SK from outside of Japan, the founder saw that SK's philosophy can help anyone become a good person. 
  • There is a now World Shorinji Kempo Organization (WSKO) with 36 country members.
  • International championships are held every 4 years.
  • WSKO appoints instructors for overseas teaching.
  • Difficulties for internationalization include;
    • nationalities with different customs
    • differences in religion
    • differences in law
    • accuracy of translation/interpretation
    • proper teaching of techniques
    • protecting & managing Shorinji Kemp name (differences in state laws)
(source pages 38-39, 77-78)

Review of comments
From Shorinji Kempo's initial starting period, internationalization is at its roots since it's based on Chinese martial arts at their own certain point of existence in the early 20th century.

The overseas challenges for Shorinjin Kempo are similar to other Budo groups so it would be interesting if these comments had included a few examples of how they have overcome some of these challenges in different countries. Hearing how some teaching methods that worked well in one place were be able to be adopted somewhere else (or didn't work well in when transplanted elsewhere) are things other Budo groups can learn from.

Unique in comparison to the other Budo speaker's comments are the SK problems with other religions and the challenges to maintain branding control of its name - I think other Budo groups have the name-brand problem too, but here SK speakers actually mention it. Hearing about what the WSKO has done to be on good terms with other belief systems and how they have also taken steps to protect their global identity would be quite interesting. Well, hopefully next year these questions can be asked.

To register for next year's Budo seminar, keep an eye on this Nippon Budokan webpage.