In 1928 a Japanese man who became known as Doshin So was commissioned as a spy for the Japanese military. He was to travel through China as an undercover cartographer, drawing maps that would then aid the Japanese troops. His cover was that he was studying Chinese martial arts. This gave him an excuse to travel all over the country, and he visited and trained with many different masters and styles.

After the Second World War, Doshin So returned to a defeated Japan. His country, once proud and strong, was now crippled. Their military strength was non-existent. Their national morale was broken. The villages and towns were lawless and subjugated by yakuza, gangsters, and the cities were even worse.

Like many, Doshin So had grown weary of fighting. He came home determined to preach the peaceful and compassionate was of Buddhism, but found no willing audiences. The yakuza had seized the food supplies, and people were starving to death. The only way that the monk could teach them how to live was if he also taught them how to fight. He began teaching a few students, and liberated his town. Word spread quickly, and towns from further away started to send their youths to Doshin So, so that they could return and overthrow the yakuza.

Doshin So created a syllabus out of everything he had been taught. His techniques incorporate almost every contemporary martial style, and how to defend against them. He also taught defences against armed opponents. But, in accordance with his Buddhist beliefs, every technique is at heart defensive, and the original philosophy still remains an actively taught part of every class.

The purpose of Shorinji Kempo is not, and never has been, to create violence. Instead it aims to create individuals who can, with surgical precision, quell violence and restore order.