According to the legend, during the 6th century, a man came from India to China. He has been remembered as Bodhidharma or Daruma (Japanese). This man first settled down in the Liang province where the local patron Wu Di studied Buddhism. Daruma who was teaching meditation and intuitive capability was though misunderstood by Wu Di, who’s Buddhism was aimed for the salvation of people to a life after this, and he was thrown out from his domains. Daruma continued his travel and finally settled down at Shaolin, which was a temple at the mountain Hao-shan in what today is known as the Hunan province in China. Here he became accepted and the Buddhism that now came to be spread from here became known as Chan or Zen in its Japanese translation.

Mural painting from the Shaolin temple in the province Henan, China.

Daruma’s main practice of Buddhism was sitting meditation (zazen 座禅), which his disciples practiced eagerly. The disciples’ long meditation sessions made their physics weaker and therefore Daruma decided to teach the fighting techniques that he learnt in India. Through this the disciples’ physics was improved and they could then more easily manage the long sessions of meditation. After some time it turned out that the fighting techniques was as good practice as the meditation and the fighting techniques soon became the main practice. It is this evaluation that has made the Shaolin temple famous all over the world.

In Shaolin there is a room with a big mural painting of Indian and Chinese monks that apparently smiling and in friendship practising with each other.

This painting was the source of inspiration for the founding of Shorinji Kempo, 1947 in Japan.

Modern Shorinji kempo is the work of Doshin So, who, before the Second World War, traveled in China and studied the scattered remnants of Chinese kempo. In Peking,

Doshin So studied under Wen-Laoshi, the head of the North Shorinji lhermen-thuen (a school whose techniques center on embu). The institution preserved kempo in a form closest to the orthodox North Shorinji line. At a ceremony held at the Shaolin, Doshin So became Wen-Lnoshi’s official direct successor.