Frequently asked questions
This is a selection of frequently asked questions. If you do not find your answers here
or elsewhere on the site then please contact us.
What makes Shorinji kempo different from other martial arts?
- There are many ways in which Shorinji kempo differs from other
martial arts in terms of content, practice and application. See
the section on philosophy for further
How fit do I have to be?
- If you decide to participate in Shorinji kempo it is assumed
that you do so on your own assessment of your physical fitness.
- Providing your participation does not contravene professional
medical advice you will be welcome to participate.
- Many people have taken up Shorinji kempo as a means to improve
personal physical fitness and found it ideal for this purpose.
- For further information see the section on healthy
Do I need to be flexible?
- It helps, but it is by no means necessary.
- Shorinji kempo is a dynamic art and involves a wide range
of movements. Those who are naturally flexible will of course
find it easier than others who may not be so blessed. However,
there is plenty of instruction and guidance towards improving
your flexibility and mastering the requirements within your
Is Shorinji kempo effective in a 'real life' situation?
- Shorinji kempo is designed to be of practical use
in self-defence situations. However, it should be
clearly understood that like any self-defence discipline,
Shorinji kempo is not a magic cloak of steel that
you pull from your pocket when faced with an attacker.
The techniques that you learn will only be of use
to you if you acquire the correct mental attitude
required in their application. As a consequence, this
mental attitude, along with very practical advice
as to how to avoid and/or prepare yourself for the
eventuality of a physical confrontation play a significant
part in the Shorinji kempo curriculum.
Is Shorinji kempo suitable for women?
- Very much so. BSKF has many female students and instructors.
- The techniques of Shorinji kempo are designed to ensure that
strength and size are not an issue.
- For further information see the section on self defence.
How safe is Shorinji kempo?
- BSKF has an excellent safety record.
- The essentially co-operative nature of practice
ensures that each individual practitioner gives due
consideration to the abilities of their training partner
regardless of their grade or experience. However,
it is a dynamic, energetic contact activity and accidents,
though very rare, can happen.
- The techniques employed are designed to exploit
the weaknesses of the human body without causing injury.
Whilst pain is inevitable, when combined with the
co-operative spirit, this makes for very safe practice.
Are there any competitions in Shorinji kempo?
- Shorinji kempo is essentially non-competitive and
is not regarded as a sporting activity. Tournaments
that extol the virtues of individuals overwhelming
and defeating opponents run contrary to the ideals
- This does not mean that Shorinji kempo does not
have a practical self-defence application or that
it provides no opportunity to compare one's own abilities
with other practitioners. See the sections on
for further information.
How often do I have to train?
- Most venues offer two training sessions per week
and most people find that this is sufficient time
to make steady progress. Attending only one session
per week will inevitably slow your progress but there
is no minimum requirement.
- Full Membership of BSKF provides for practice
at any recognised branch so according to your personal
schedule and the availability of other branches, you
are free to train as regularly as you choose.
How long will it take to get a black-belt?
- The simple answer is that you can pop into any sports
shop and get a black belt any time you please! In
Shorinji kempo, whilst the grading system provides
a practical means to measure and plan your progress,
acquiring grades is not the ultimate objective.
- With regular practice, most people will be ready
to take their first grading examination (yellow belt)
after around three months. Thereafter, the grading
opportunities will arrive in three to six month intervals
with up to one year minimum practice between brown
belt and black belt. In short, with regular dedicated
practice it is possible to attain a black belt grade
in around three years.
- A black belt is often perceived as the mark of one
who has mastered an art. In Shorinji kempo this could
not be further from the truth. The black belt grade
is also referred to as "sho-dan" - in English
this means, "first step". It is the point
at which true learning begins.
- For more information, see the section on
Is the philosophical component likely to conflict with my beliefs?
- Whilst based on fundamental Buddhist ideals the
philosophy of Shorinji kempo, is a practical modern
day philosophy concerned with issues faced in everyday
life regardless of religious distinction.
- As evidenced by the rich religious diversity among
its practitioners, it does not require that its students
to make any fundamental change to their beliefs.
- It is, nonetheless, a vital component of practice
and practitioners are required to demonstrate their
understanding of its concepts in order to advance
through the grades.
Is there a beginner's class?
- Some venues will make special provision in the form
of classes for beginners at busy times of the year.
- Since the basics of practice are covered in every
session, there is little need for this. Throughout
the class you will receive help and guidance from
more experienced students and the instructor will
place no minimum requirements on your ability.
- Don't be daunted by the apparent experience and
ability of those around you - they all went through
the same experience as you and you'd probably be surprised
to discover how recently.
- If you'd prefer, you'll be welcome to watch a class
When can I join?
- Unless your local venue has made other arrangements
for beginners, you'll be welcome at any time. Simply
confirm the details prior to visiting.
How much is it going to cost?
- Shorinji kempo is not an expensive activity.
- Membership of BSKF is currently £40.00.
However, BSKF offers a Provisional Membership
(enquire at the branch for details of costs involved),
which provides insured practice for up to 30 days.
This time provides you and the instructor with an
opportunity to decide on your continued participation
prior to making any substantial financial commitment.
- Full Membership may be acquired by paying the remaining
fee at any time during the Provisional Membership
- The regular training fees involved will vary according
to the venue and the instructor and the contact person
for each venue will be happy to provide details on
- Each branch is required to charge the Provisional
Membership fee in order to provide accident and liability
insurance cover. However, many branches will wave
the regular training fees for the first one or two
sessions to offset this cost.
- Equipment requirements are minimal and inexpensive.
A training outfit (dogi) will cost in the region of
£15.00 and is available from most branches.
You are not required to purchase a dogi until you
are sure that you wish to continue practice. Prior
to that, loose sportswear will suffice.
Where is my nearest training venue?