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40 years of Shorinji Kempo in NZ

This year Shorinji Kempo New Zealand will be celebrating its 40 year anniversary.

Although martial arts movies and magazines have caused the popularity of many arts to skyrocket, Shorinji Kempo remains a mystery to most people. Even martial arts enthusiasts are frequently ignorant of Shorinji Kempo’s techniques and philosophy and they are almost always amazed to learn that the style has accumulated some 1.5 million students in more than 3,000 clubs in over 30 countries. A single group, headquartered in the town of Tadotsu on the island of Shikoku, Japan, regulates all that training and testing.

What most New Zealanders would be surprised to hear is that New Zealand was one of the first foreign countries to join the World Shorinji Kempo Organisation (WSKO), being established 40 years ago in 1974.

Shorinji Kempo is a modern self-defence, based on unarmed combat methods. It differs fundamentally from most other Japanese martial arts, in that its movements are circular rather than linear. It is characterised by defensive movements before counter attacking with multiple strikes. The emphasis is on technique and reading the opponents body movements, rather than strength.

The first Shorinji Kempo Club in New Zealand opened in 1973 when Okada Sensei came out from Japan. Together with Rick Littlewood, originally a judo practitioner, they started a Shorinji Kempo class.

In 1974, the instructor become Hamada Takashi and he registered the New Zealand Shorinji Kempo Federation. He inspired a group of members to go train in Japan, with one of those members being Peter Monk.

In August of 1977, Hamada Takashi was succeeded by Uenishi Takashi who taught for 3 years till July 1981. There was then a period of about 2 years when the club had no official teacher, but two senior members Tom Sherlock and Bruce Robinson taught throughout this period.

In 1983 Peter Monk returned from headquarters in Japan and became the official branch master in Auckland and the first New Zealander to run a branch. In 1984, the club name was changed to officially become Auckland Central branch.

There are now 5 official branches throughout New Zealand, with three of these located in Auckland. Peter Monk, now a 6th Dan Black Belt, still trains and runs the New Plymouth Branch.

Shorinji Kempo New Zealand is a not for profit incorporated society. All instructors teach for no fee and each club gives back to the community. The philosophy of Shorinji Kempo is to give half for yourself and half for others, creating well balanced human beings. Members range from seven to sixty, from students to mothers, technicians, managers, and accountants. Whether young or old, male or female, slight or large, Shorinji Kempo can be learnt by all as the martial art relies on body movement and technique, rather than strength.

During the history of Shorinji Kempo in New Zealand, the clubs have performed demonstrations at malls, schools and Japan Day events, hosted instructors from Japan, coordinated group trips to Japan and to Australia, had training camps throughout New Zealand, held fun social events, held joint training events, ran combined black belt trainings for all clubs, and seen over one thousand students grow and develop themselves.

To celebrate Shorinji Kempo New Zealand’s 40th anniversary they will be holding several events throughout the year including a past and present member’s reunion, lantern festival demonstrations and Japan day demonstrations.

Shorinji Kempo is seeking all past members from over the last forty years and is encouraging them to make contact and to join in the celebrations. If you have trained in the past, or are interested in training, please contact a branch near you or visit for further information.

Flyer: A5_FLYER_3.pdf


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