Techniques of Shorinji Kempo
The technical side of Shorinji Kempo consists of three main parts. These are: Goho 剛法, or hard methods, which include tsuki 突き (strikes),
keri 蹴り (kicks),
uchi 打ち (hammers),
kiri 切り (cuts),
kawashi かわし (evasions), etc.
Juho 柔法, or soft methods, means techniques when an opponent grabs hold you and one do shuho 守法 (defence methods), nuki waza 抜き技 (release techniques), gyaku waza 逆技 (reverse techniques), nage waza 投技 (throwing techniques), katame waza 固技 (pins), etc.
Seiho 整法, roughly means correcting methods and is techniques to recover the body. In essence, it means acupressure massage and simple forms of bone correcting (primarily the spine). Shorinji Kempo is mainly practiced in pairs, with one person taking the role of attacker and the other practice the technique itself, then one switch roles. Shorinji Kempo provides techniques against all possible types of attacks, which can be adapted depending on the situation.
Parts of the Training System
The actual training in Shorinji Kempo can be divided into four equally important parts. These are kihon 基本, hokei 法形, randori 乱捕り (unyoho 運用法) and embu 演武. Each part is equally important and in order to be able to improve one’s skills one must devote time to each part in the training. Kihon, which can be translated into basics, is training to master the basic way to move the body and perform individual movements, punches, kicks, blocks etc.
Hōkei is performing various self-defence techniques. Through the training of hōkei one learn the basic principles of Shorinji Kempo techniques, especially physical principles, and it gives an understanding of the movements in the techniques. Randori (unyoho, application method) means the study of how to apply methods of (unyoho) of hokei. It is a process of testing how skilled one is at using hokei and making combinations of them (strategy, senjutsu 戦術). The goal is to clearly identify the gaps in one’s own technical skills and overcome them. Embu (which can be translated as “demonstrate fight”) means that together with a training partner take the basic hōkei that one has learned and then changing roles of attacker and defender so that both can be the one executing the technique as well as the one receiving the techniques. One work together in creative ways to combine one technique to another and then put together the techniques to a demonstration.
Kihon (basics) are all individual techniques such as tsuki(strikes), keri (kicks) and uke (blocks) and kamae 構え (body positions), sokuiho 足位法 (ways to stand), umpoho 運歩法 (footwork) and taisabaki 体捌 (body movements). Kihon are the basic elements that make up Shorinji Kempo techniques. The key to kihon is to train a conscious movement and change it to an instinctive movement. The goal of solo kihon training of tsuki, keri, uke and other movements that we take for granted is to develop them into a personal repertoire of Shorinji Kempo movements.
When you meet different variations of the attack from an opponent, it is important to respond with an appropriate techniques. Embu practice is very effective training in how to combine one technique to the next without effort or pause. Of course, each partner should focus on the accuracy of each individual hokei learned and focus on doing an embu which emphasizes the connecting techniques (waza no renraku 技の連絡) and shifting from one technique to another (waza no henka 技の変化) and to perform an embu which is simple yet strong, and performing an embu that the pair themselves have adapted creatively.
Fixed patterns of movements in martial arts is often referred to as kata (型 or 形), or “form” in English (kata is an alternative reading of kei, which is the second character in hōkei 法形). Written with the character 型 kataexpress the shape of a clay “mold”. When kata is written with the character 形, it was in ancient times used to describe different “patterns” of military strategy. The key to the significance of practising Shorinji Kempo is that there is a path (a tool) to understand the meaning of ken zen ichinyo 拳禅一如 and jita kyoraku 自他共楽. That’s why we use the character for “pattern” and call it hokei (law-pattern) and we consider the name a clue to the true meaning of hōkei. Training of hōkei take the skills learned in kihon in solo practice as its base and is designed to enable a move in response to an opponent’s movements. One have to get one’s body to learn the elements that can not be learned in solo practice, how maai 間合 (distance) works, how to use kyojitsu 虚実 and how to capture kikai 機会 (opportunity) in attack and defense.
Randori 乱捕り is a training method to learn on how to apply (unyoho 運用法, application method) hōkei. As kenshi one need not only to train the basic techniques and hokei, but one also need train to face an opponent in order to learn maai 間合 (distance) and to smoothly switch from one technique to another. Randori/unyoho is also an opportunity to test the knowledge one has built up in kihon and hokei.
However, depending on how randori is practised, one can slip into focusing only on winning, on defeating one’s opponent, and then the training is no longer to overcome oneself. Always practice randori as a way to achieve jiko kakuritsu 自己確立 (“building up one’s own self”) and to develop a spirit of jita kyōraku 自他共楽 (“mutual happiness for oneself and others”). Whether training is conducted with or without bōgu 防具 (protectors), you must always be very careful about safety in order to avoid injuries.