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 details.

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 body

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 natural limitations.

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 of budo.
  • 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 randori and embu 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 advancement.

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 first.

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 period.
  • 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 request.
  • 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?

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