Points

Kempo, sometimes spelled Kenpo, is a Japanese striking art with origins in China. In popular usage, "kempo" - like "karate" and "kung fu" - is occasionally a generic term for all Chinese and Japanese striking arts. Here it refers specifically to Shorinjikempo: the Shaolin Kung Fu-based style founded in 1947 by Doshin So.

Shorinjikempo teaches hard-style strikes similar to those of modern Karate (pp. 169-172) combined with soft-style grapples and throws akin to those of Aikijutsu (p. 149). It puts artistic kata on an equal footing with combat techniques and expects students to learn its underlying philosophy alongside its fighting methods. Doshin So founded Shorinjikempo to teach both martial arts and Buddhist philosophy, which he felt was lacking in postwar Japan. The goal of its training is to make the student a peaceful, better person in harmony with Buddhist principles.

Unlike karateka, who usually twist their fist into the horizontal plane when punching, Kempo stylists throw vertical punches. Kempo shares Karate's practice of aiming strikes at vital locations, however - indeed, cinematic masters often raise their Pressure Points skill to extraordinary levels. Kempo fighters train to parry their attacker and then counter with a punch, kick, or throw. A common follow-up to a grapple or a Judo parry is an Arm Lock, with the usual goal being not to injure the victim but to cause him pain and then exploit his shock by attempting an immediate throw or takedown. Practitioners integrate all of these responses seamlessly, flowing back and forth between striking and grappling as they counter their opponent's actions.

Shorinjikempo includes weapons training for very advanced students - although few actually receive it. Weapons include the staff, baton, and yawara (p. 226).

Until recently, Kempo's official symbol was the omote manji: a counterclockwise swastika traditionally used in Buddhism to denote the location of temples. Decades of difficulty in persuading outsiders that this swastika was in no way connected to Nazism eventually took its toll, however. In 2005, Kempo changed its symbol to a pair of interlinked circles set in a four-pointed badge.

Kempo schools vary greatly in their teachings. Some proffer kung fu variants modified to incorporate elements of Jujutsu (pp. 166-168) and Karate. Others teach Karate or kung fu forms that are only nominally Kempo. There are even Christian schools that offer a style very similar to Shorinjikempo but with Christian prayers replacing Buddhist rituals.

Skills: Breath Control; Judo; Karate; Karate Art; Philosophy (Buddhism); Savoir-Faire (Dojo).

Techniques: Arm Lock; Back Kick; Breakfall; Elbow Strike; Kicking; Knee Strike; Spinning Kick.

Cinematic Skills: Body Control; Immovable Stance; Mental Strength; Pressure Points; Pressure Secrets. Cinematic Techniques: Pressure-Point Strike. Perks: Special Setup (Karate Parry > Judo Throw).

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