While I was having a clear-out this weekend, I found a single sheet of paper tucked amongst some leaflets and other papers from my first trip to Japan (and one and only visit to Shorinji Kempo headquarters), for a world taikai back in 2005.
It was an extract from a talk given by the founder of Shorinji Kempo, Doshin So, back in the 70s. I'm not totally sure home I came into possession, but re-reading it, I was struck by how relevant the words were to the current political climate. Against a renewed backdrop of isolationism, it’s a pertinent reminder that changing the world starts with the individual; that we must build up not just strength and resolve, but also consideration for others, in order to stand up to injustice.
Given I have no idea of its provenance, I can't comment on the copyright status of the text. So until someone tells me to take it down, the full text is replicated below. Enjoy.
Speech by the Founder at the Shorinji Kempo 30th Anniversary National Taikai (1977)
It truly gives me great pleasure that the Shorinji Kempo 30th Anniversary Taikai is being held here today on such a grand scale. After Japan having lost in World War II, I returned to Japan to start my life all over once again, together with many other Japanese people. I thought that we could work things out together by helping each other when I returned to Japan. However, Japan at that time was in a really terrible state. Some behaved like gangsters to other Japanese, or those from some of the victor nations committed many overbearing acts. Despite seeing such acts, nobody tried to help. Under such a situation I honestly felt regret about having to return to Japan.
My stay in China had lasted nearly 30 years. During that stay, I experienced the wonderful wisdom and way of life of the Chinese people. Regardless of the state of politics, Chinese people had a strong will to help each other and were thoroughly acting as such among themselves. Unfortunately such an attitude was missing from the Japanese. I started my activity to create that spirit among isolated Japanese. However, when somebody with power is behaving violently to get their own way, you cannot do anything about them just by urging justice without you yourself also being strong.
Thus, initially, I tried to make everyone to be tougher. Shorinji Kempo began, in fact, when I invited people by saying, "Why don't you come as I will teach you how to fight." My grandfather was a samurai who had mastered kendo during the end of the Meiji period. He gave me me a thorough martial arts training. He beat me up while saying: "Don't think of me as your grandfather. Come to me as if I were an enemy of your parents!" He also said, "As long as you pursue martial arts, you must win!" I believe the result of such a method of training in martial arts is one of the reasons for making Japanese so isolated. The martial arts I learned in China were not like that. To spread those martial arts and to seek the happiness of Japanese people through united groups of Japanese people, I began to teach Shorinji Kempo.
Thirty years ago, that was merely a single seed. However, over a short period of thirty years, over 2,000 branches have been established in Japan as well as branches in a dozen other countries. I am proud and pleased that young people are voluntarily growing who can sacrifice themselves for justice and who have consideration for their own home country. I believe that to make Japan better, the Japanese people themselves must do so. It is easy to talk about global peace in mere words alone. However, in order to realize that global peace, the only thing we can do is to increase the number of people who can serve the world's happiness with half of their efforts while considering themselves with the other half, which is our motto.
I was shocked to read a certain article in the newspaper this morning. A person said to be an influential figure in the financial world commented that Japan cannot recover unless it makes much more money to the extent of tens of billions of yen through wars, despite the fact that we are already having trouble with excessive imbalances made from trading in black figures. Such a comment is outrageous. War is the cruelest act imaginable. Reducing the numbers of Japanese who are willing to make money only for themselves over the sacrifice of others is the main purpose of Shorinji Kempo.
I did not decide to begin unarmed martial arts or to cultivate you in the era of the atomic bomb or sub-machine gun that can shoot 2,000 rounds per minute. I believe that cooperation and harmony, or the true spirit of harmony, is the way to generate peace. Because of that reason, I believe that we should not cultivate Japanese who expect wars and think about becoming rich over the sacrifice of other ethnic peoples or others in future as well. I sincerely wish for you to remain as kenshi who can stand up against all the injustice of the world endorsed by strength to seek true peace and protect justice. More than anybody else, I am really pleased with all the congratulations I received from so many of you and for having gathered her to day to celebrate the 30th anniversary. Thank you very much indeed. I hope my humble words can express my gratitude.
Ben is instructor at East London Shorinji Kempo. He has been practicing for 20 years and has reached the rank of 4th dan.
Shorinji kempo stances