||Gold Coast Branch, Australia / Mar 2003
Contributor: Branch Master Jungo Mizumoto
The history of the Shorinji Kempo Gold Coast Branch began 13 years ago, when the Gold Coast was riding the waves of a massive tourism boom. At the time, masses of travelers were crowding in to the area, and tourists were getting robbed and purse-snatched, and even residents from Japan had become targets of robbers, cat burglars and purse snatchers. This was before the bubble burst. The police were absolutely no help at all. Japanese residents learned what it meant to suffer robbery and beatings.
Managers of tourism companies and duty-free stores, tour guides, and other Japanese people around me who felt the sense of danger gathered together. After asking the Southport Elementary School principal, we borrowed a class room there and began practicing. The instructors were myself and my partner Dean Ocorner. This gathering of people who worked in suits totally mismatched with the Gold Coast atmosphere, came together with a shared spirit of wanting to get stronger. It was skin-to-skin interaction, screams and strikes among acquaintances, so whether we enjoyed all of it or not, a feeling of camaraderie grew up among us. We came to the feeling that "If something happens, let's get through it together." Participants steadily gained confidence, and reports came in one after the other of how people had been able to defend themselves when they were attacked by criminals.
Now, the Shorinji Kempo Gold Coast Branch records 28 official members, and eight tenths of these are local Australians. Eight members are children under 13, and three kenshi are Japanese women. Another characteristic of the branch is that we have many Australians who work in security jobs.
The job of security on the Gold Coast is no ordinary task. One misstep and your life can be on the line. The people one encounters are often drunk, regular drug users, and criminals. Drunks and drug users have their nerves senses dulled, and moreover they become frightfully stubborn. Strikes with merely average force won't have an effect in such cases. Pressure points - already hard to apply on Australians - lose even moreof their effectiveness when people are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Here, one might be tempted to say, "Strike the eyes and groin! Use low kicks!" In the end, however, this can make terrible problems for the aftermath of a fight. People can be forced to take responsibility for use of excessive force. To state an extreme example, if a person with experience in martial or fighting arts were to take a stance, that would be viewed as an aggressive posture. For example, if one said, "You're ticking me off, you jerk," and hit or kicked someone once, that would be sufficient to constitute an assault. Even if an opponent attacks first, if one thrashes the person in counter-attack it will be viewed as excessive violence. In short, violence and physical force are seen by general society as separated by a mere hairsbreadth. Things almost never turn out as one sees in the movies or comics. Nevertheless, Shorinji Kempo is organized as an art of self defense and has many advantages. Thus, people in the line of security treasure it. Moreover, Shorinji Kempo makes paired practice fundamental (kumite shutai), so oneself and a partner try to grow skillful together.
In Australia, Shorinji Kempo is still not very well known. So one often gets asked, "Is karate stronger, or Shorinji?" or, "In a fight with K-1, who would win?" People use the phrase, "the strongest something or other," but I think this very idea of "the strongest" is vague. In matches and tournaments there are rule, but self defense is about street fights, and in reality there are no rules. The members who practice Shorinji Kempo on the Gold Coast have various ages, genders, and jobs. The body sizes and constitutions are also all over the chart. Of course this is normal, but it's also very important.