How will my child benefit from practising Shorinji Kempo?
The purpose is to develop both the mind and body. The physical aspects will improve fitness and flexibility, and help children understand how to take care of their bodies. The mental aspects will teach consideration for other people, and how to co-operate and learn together with others. The self-defence aspects will give children the confidence to stand up against bullying or attacks.
What is the age range for children practising Shorinji Kempo?
Generally from 5 years to 13 years old. The minimum age depends on each individual child, but experience suggests that children younger than 5 lack the necessary levels of concentration for safe, productive practice. Children will normally transfer to the adults’ class at 13 – 15 years old.
Is there an introductory/beginners’ class?
Children are welcome to begin learning Shorinji Kempo at any time of the year – there are no special beginners’ classes. The assistant instructors will offer extra help to beginners, but we have found that the best way to begin learning this style is by copying and training with other children who practise it. We are happy for parents to bring their children for a trial lesson, to see how they get on.
What will my child do in the class?
Each class will start with a warm-up, to loosen up joints and muscles. The children will then practise basic movements such as kicks, punches and blocks. After the whole class has practised basic techniques together, the children will split into groups and learn specific techniques according to their grade, and the length of time that they have been practising. The class will end with some games or races to warm down and improve agility, followed by the register, when information is given to members and attendance recorded.
The class also includes a short period of seated meditation (3-5 minutes) and discussion of the basic principles of Shorinji Kempo philosophy.
What about the safety aspects?
Shorinji Kempo has a good safety record, because the emphasis is on co-operation, not competition. We do not have sparring competitions, although the children can take part in carefully supervised sparring in the class, with very light or no contact, using padded mitts. Speed is always checked carefully, so that children don’t get carried away when practicing in pairs.
Children do not practise techniques that involve twisting or locking joints, since these techniques can damage growing bones.
Can girls do Shorinji Kempo?
Many girls practise Shorinji Kempo, and their standard is as good as, and often better than that of the boys. The techniques do not need a lot of strength, but are based on balance and understanding how the body works.
How can my child start learning Shorinji Kempo?
Take your child along to see the class and talk to the branch master or his assistant, to make sure that both you and your child are happy with the way that the class is taught. You need not purchase a uniform before starting – loose sportswear will be fine.
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.
Is Shorinji Kempo effective in “real life” situations?
Shorinji Kempo is designed to be of practical use for self-defence. 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.
If you have any unanswered questions, please feel free to contact us. You might also find some answers on other Shorinji Kempo websites in the Links section.