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Shorinji Kempo was originated in 1947 in the Japanese town of Tadotsu.

Shorinji Kempo's founder, So Doshin, faced Japan's defeat at the end of the Second World War in what was then called Manchuria (now the Northeast Region of China), and there he experienced fully the wretchedness and sorrow of a defeated people. In such times it was not ideology, religion, or ethics, but rather the interests of nations and peoples that took priority, and the harsh reality of international government was that it operated as if only power constituted righteousness. Amidst that experience, Kaiso saw that the way law and government worked was not determined simply by distinctions of ideology or religion, or of national policy, but that a great difference was made by the character and way of thinking of the person in the particular position of authority. What he had noticed was that "everything depends on the quality of the person."

Later, Kaiso returned to Japan, but the aftermath of war had left Japan in turmoil, and he found that people's spirits were in ruins. So, in order to put his beloved home country back on its feet, he resolved that he would dedicate the remainder of his life to educating youth with the spirit and the backbone that the country needed. Because it was the youth who would take care of the future, he had them train both indomitable spirits and sturdy bodies, gave them strong confidence and courage, and cultivated many true leaders who would rebuild their native Japan. To construct a world in which everyone could live in happiness, he took the Chinese and Japanese martial arts that he had studied and reformulated them into a single, unique technical structure, thus originating Shorinji Kempo.

Kaiso used the historical Buddha's teaching of building the self and Boddhidharma's (the founder of Zen's) teaching of indestructible and indomitable spirit to make the foundation of Kongo Zen, and he located Shorinji Kempo within Kongo Zen as its primary discipline.

Afterwards, however, these teachings and techniques could not be contained within the boundaries of religion, and Shorinji Kempo expanded to become a Way which anyone could study so long as they desired to improve in good balance both mind and body, to mutually affirm one another's value, and to construct society as best as possible together with comrades whom they could trust. This change was recognized within Japan and broadly around the world.

Then, the World Shorinji Kempo Organization was formed as Shorinji Kempo' global framework, and people of truly diverse religious, cultural and ethnic backgrounds have joined the organization. Going beyond national borders and generational differences, these members seek to become people who can contribute to world peace and well being by working hard at their daily training.