Defense is primary, attack subordinate

Shu Shu Kōjū

Shorinji Kempo is an “art of physical defence” to protect the body from an opponent with harmful intent.

The technical method of Shorinji Kempo is constructed around defending against any unjustified attack, and after completely protecting oneself, counterattacking.

By making your position impregnable, you will be able to calmly observe the condition of your opponent, which you can take advantage of when you deliver an effective counterattack.

In our objectives as well, our first desire is not to beat tour opponents, but to not lose to them. This way of thinking is one of the six fundamental characteristics of Shorinji Kempo, “shushu kōjū” (defend first, attack after).

Kaiso used the following example to explain shushu kōjū: “When an opponent strikes out, the first thing is to avoid the blow, then one should counter-attack effectively.” In Shorinji Kempo one begins with the problem of the opponent’s attack and defending against it. One blocks and deflects any punch, kick or other strike that comes. Or, when grabbed, it is important to be able to protect against any grappling attack without breaking stance. It is after that that one turns to the counter-attack. If one is able to protect and counter-attack at the same time that is the ideal.

Skipping the defensive moves and finding a way to knock out the opponent is not Shorinjikempo. According to Kaiso: “I’ve written a great deal about fighting, and I’ve done a lot of it too, but I’ve neither lost a fight nor lorded it over a defeated opponent. When someone has done something wrong, if you can stop them and prevent the problem, that is all the ability you need.“

Since Shorinji Kempo is an art of defence, it is not part of the world of winning and losing. Shorinji Kempo doesn’t make athletes. There is no need to make tough guys. All we need to do is make people who won’t lose. It is not necessary to win in order to protect the body. The important thing is to not lose. Kaiso once said: “If we temper our bodies so that we can protect ourselves unarmed and protect others as well, that is sufficient for us.“

Confidence that one can protect oneself physically in a dangerous situation may be a small thing. Nevertheless, when one has the confidence that says, “I won’t lose”, isn’t that enough to make one face up to anything without giving up? As Kaiso said: “Until you’re dead, you haven’t lost. There’s no reason to give up until you’re dead.”

This is shushu kōjū.