Nippon Shorinji Kempo: Donn Draeger Exposes So Doshin

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I have written a number of articles critical of the manner in which fascistic Japanese martial arts were spread to the West following WWII – and in those texts I have often quoted Donn Draeger’s work on the subject of the far-rightwing nationalist from Japan – So Doshin (1911-1980) – who, whilst a member of the Japanese imperial army that had invaded China and committed routine atrocities on the Chinese people, claimed to have learned Shaolin Temple martial arts from a recognised Chinese master  (in his spare time), and to have eventually inherited the lineage of that school.  The absurdity of this claim is beyond description, as it would suggest that when So Doshin was not busy brutalising the Chinese people during the day, he would like to relax in the evening partaking in Chinese gongfu practice, an aspect of the very Chinese culture he (and his country of fascist Japan) was seeking to destroy (and thus render the Chinese people defenceless against further Japanese aggression). In 1972, (the year US President Nixon visited China), a Chinese pressure group brought a prosecution against So Doshin in the Japanese Courts and proved that So Doshin had not trained in authentic Shaolin Temple martial arts, and nor had he inherited any lineage pertaining to that school. In other words, the Japanese Shorinji Kempo School was a well-orchestrated ‘fraud’ that for a time saw a great popularity in the West, together with the highly ‘amoral’ and distorted Kongo Zen it advocated.  In 1980, as part of its ‘Way of the Warrior’ series, the BBC screened a special episode featuring Shorinji Kempo (shortly after the death of So Doshin), which carried a script (read by Denis Waterman) eulogising fascist Japan, and the wartime antics in China of ultra-nationalists such as So Doshin (and other men of his generation).  At no time did the BBC documentary mention the fact that just eight years earlier, So Doshin and his Shorinji Kempo had been legally declared a ‘fraud’ in a Japanese Court.  The only legal punishment applied by that Court was an order for So Doshin to change the name of his style to make it clear that it was not ‘Chinese’ in origination. In complying with this order, So Doshin simply added the prefix ‘Nippon’ to the name – meaning ‘Japan’, or ‘Japanese’.  Following his death in 1980, as he had no son to inherit the school, So Doshin’s soar-faced daughter took over the leadership – and is featured in the BBC documentary (although never actually practising the art). I am of the opinion that that the Shorinji Kempo deception is indicative of a much wider fraud perpetuated by the US government whilst pursuing its policy of Cold War lies and deception aimed at Communist China.  Below, I reproduce Donn Draeger’s article in full, for all to read.

Draeger, Donn, F, Modern Bujutsu & Budo – The Martial Arts and Ways of Japan, Volume Three, Weatherhill, (1990), Chapter Nine – Nippon Shorinji Kempo, Pages 163-172

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