Doshin So - 21st Successor of Shaolin Temple

[In the following chapter, which is a translation of the Kyohan, Kaiso relates the experiences he had in China]

During the spring of 1929, Kaiso Doshin So, at the age of 18, set out for Manchuria with the noble thought of giving up his life, if necessary, for the Japanese and their country. Part of his assignment on arriving in Manchuria was to become a disciple of Master Chinryo (Chinese-Chen Liang), a master of Byahuren-monken Kenpo.  As a cover while working for the Japanese Imperial army, he took up the study of this art under Chinryo, at the Palace of Great Parity (Chinese-Tai Qing Gong) in the Taoist university Shi Fang Conghin.

Master Chinryo, being an expert in quan-ta, put Kaiso through the rigorous training methods of this ancient martial art. Kaiso, while persisting through this grueling method of instruction, learnt and mastered the essence of each technique involved in this art.

Since Kaiso was originally assigned to do geographic surveys throughout China and make maps for military use, he had the opportunity to meet the few remaining quan-ta masters scattered around the country. It was during these travels he saw the techniques of these masters and learnt how to apply them.

After making considerable progress with his studies, Chinryo took Kaiso to Peking where he introduced him to Master Buntaiso (Chinese- Wen Taizhong), who was living in recluse at the time. This man was actually Chinryo’s own teacher, being the 20th Master of the North Shorinji Giwamonken School of Kenpo, the fist of righteousness and harmony (Chinese – Shodin Yihemen Quan). It was from the results of this meeting that Kaiso became a direct disciple of Buntaiso, continuing to study under him for many years.

In 1936, Kaiso was unexpectedly assigned to do some work in Xian. After discussing this matter with his teacher, Buntaiso suggested he should take this opportunity to visit Boddhidharma’s memorial at Mt.Song. This is where the Shaolin Temple is situated, being the place where Dharma is said to have first introduced Zen and Kenpo into China.

Buntaiso and Chinryo in fact accompanied Kaiso on this trip, using the opportunity to perform the transmission of the law ceremony, which formally recognized Kaiso as a master at the Shaolin.

It was on this occasion that Kaiso received the seal of authority from the Shaolin, making him the 21st Grand Master of the Northern Giwamonken Tradition.

As momentous as this occasion may seem, Kaiso relates that his feelings then were less enthusiastic than one might imagine:

“During these times even the monks of the hallowed Shaolin tradition carried firearms and dressed in western style clothes. It was very hard to become excited about receiving the mantle of leadership for this tradition of combat, which requires many years of hard practice to master, when anyone who merely wanted to defend himself could do so easily by purchasing a Mauser rifle and a hundred rounds of ammunition for next to nothing. In any case, since I had intended to make China my home there was no necessity to consider teaching Kenpo as a means to make a living. Once I had started my practice however, I found the techniques most fascinating and I became completely immersed in pursuing this discipline in depth. But to be blunt about it, I only accepted the seal of authority making me Buntaiso’s successor in order to please him.”