Origin

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 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.

The founder of Shorinji Kempo was Doshin So who during 17 years lived in China working for the Japanese intelligence service. Doshin So’s cover during these years was that he was a Taoist monk and through this he easily could travel around in the country and do his work for the Japanese army. During these years he studied several different martial art schools and became in Shaolin appointed as master of the 21:st generation in the Shaolin Giwamonken School by his teacher Wen Taizong. But it was above all the mural painting at the Shaolin temple as he had studied at the many occasions he had visited the temple that inspired him mostly when he founded Shorinji Kempo.