Kosho Shorei Ryu Kempo
About a year ago, Bruce Juchnik Hanshi told my class that the ultimate
art involves no physical contact. It is this main principle that is behind
Kosho Shorei Ryu Kempo (not to be confused with Chinese Kenpo).
Kempo is translated from Japanese to mean “Fist Law” and was
developed by a Buddhist monk in Kyushu, Japan. It is far more
than just a style of fighting; it is a philosophy about how we interact with
the universal laws of nature.
Kosho Shorei Ryu Kempo is a style based on the natural laws that
govern the way we live and resolve conflicts. Kosho, meaning "old pine
tree," and Shorei, meaning “school of encouragement,” hold a far greater
significance for this art then at first glance. The origin of this art dates
back to circa 1235 AD. A Buddhist monk, who was also a talented martial
artist, was contemplating his troubles with combining both his religion
with fighting under a pine tree.
This particular pine tree was special because a fire in the temple nearby
had driven the spirit of Buddha from the temple and into the pine tree.
While meditating close to his god, he became aware of a way to
combine his path to spiritual enlightenment with martial arts. The
philosophy that was spawned from this monk in the age old days of Japan
is now known as Kosho Shorei Ryu Kempo which means The
Study of the Old Pine Tree School of Encouragement.
Kosho encompasses the “ultimate art” which is that of no physical
contact. It is this concept that the Buddhist monk discovered while
meditating under the pine tree. The goal of this art is to cause no
damage to either opponent. No contact gives way to an easy escape
and thus it is the truest and purest form of self-defense.
One of the most important principles to understand in Kempo is
movement. In class, students learn how to trust their instincts
and to do what flows naturally. Using the minimal amount of energy to
spoil the opponent’s attack and throw them off balance is the goal. Just by
focusing on the movement of the opponent, even after contact is made,
the student can remain in control and overcome the opponent.
There are a number of very basic rules in Kempo, one being the Octagon.
By using one of the eight angles of movement when being attacked by an
opponent, the monk was able to use the attack against them. He uses a
simple movement to get out of the way and this will revert the attack so
that it backfires and throws the opponent off balance. The system of
angles that the monk developed is called The Octagon and is a
part of the Sho Chiku Bai Mon which is the crest of Kosho Shorei
The Sho Chiku Bai is still used today as the symbol of Kempo. It means
"Pine, Bamboo, Plum Crest" and it's importance in the study and
philosophy of martial arts is as deeply rooted as it's origin. It was
originally the family crest of the Buddhist monk 750 years ago.
Thanks to the KSRK site for historical references: