WSKO Board Member
WSKO Official Instructor
Vice President, Indonesian Shorinji Kempo Federation
Indonesian Shorinji Kempo Federation has 50,000 kenshi, being the second largest Shorinji Kempo Federation after Japan. He is one of the vice presidents of the Indonesian Federation and a member of the WSKO Board. Above all, he is one of the persons who sowed the seed of Shorinji Kempo in Indonesia.
Mr. Kartasasmita: We haven't had enough legal systems concerning sports in Indonesia. I would like to establish a system that guarantees the lives of players after they retire from active players, or in case of accidents. We want to establish laws to support good players. That's what we are talking about at my committee that consists of members of parliament, where I am the chairman.
- How did you know Shorinji Kempo?
Mr. Kartasasmita: I was a student at Tenri University and Doshisha University Graduate School. I learned Judo, Karate, and Iai-do as well. One day, Ginanjar, one of my friends who was also studying in Japan, told me to throw him. So I tried, but he threw me. I asked him what the budo was, and he said it was a secret. How frustrating!
Later I found out that the technique I experienced was Shorinji Kempo, and finally found out Kyoto Betsuin, where Kaiso and other instructors were teaching.
Kaiso was teaching there for 5 to 7 days once a month. He applied his technique to me, and when I said "itai yo, itai yo (it hurts)", he said "Look, this technique works even on a foreigner." (laughter)
However hard the practice was, Mr. Kartasasmita went to the dojo as early as possible and left there after everyone. After the practice when Kaiso applied his techniques to him, Kaiso would say "your arms and legs must be hurting a lot", and would buy him a bowl of udon noodles. Warm words from Kaiso "You like it?" touched deep inside his heart.
- What do you remember most vividly about what Kaiso said?
Mr. Kartasasmita: Kaiso repeatedly told me "Master Shorinji Kempo and promote it in Indonesia. That is not for myself but for Indonesia."
On September 30, 1965, there was an attempted coup by communists in Indonesia. It was not successful, but the people were feeling unsettled. Young people were feeling frustrated. It was under such circumstances that Mr. Kartasasmita started teaching Shorinji Kempo.
Mr. Kartasasmita: Young people would form gangs of hoodlums at that time. When I was passing through a park, a gang came to surround me. I drew a circle of around 3 meters in diameter on the ground, and told them to come inside of it one by one. I waited for them in taiki gamae. When one of the hoodlums grabbed my wrist, I gave him gyaku gote, and then to ura gatame. Then I told the other hoodlums that the guy would die if they let me continue. (Laughter)
Two of them became students of Mr. Kartasasmita. He made them promise not to do anything nasty again and let them join him. The new kenshi sometimes showed the attitudes they had when they were hoodlums. At such times, Mr. Kartasasmita warned them with harsh words, until they do not show their bad egoism, in his words.
Mr. Kartasasmita: Indonesia is a Muslim country. I often said very insulting words like, "You, babi (pig)!" Then I would give them a long sermon. They needed a drastic remedy to fully receive what I was trying to convey to them.
Mr. Kartasasmita presenting a new rank to his student, taken in 2002 in Indonesia
It should be like Japan right after the defeat in the war.
He did not allow a kenshi to show the techniques to anyone until he passes 3rd kyu. He kept the techniques secret, so that the learners feel proud of Shorinji Kempo they are learning. When they pass the 3rd kyu test, they were allowed to bring their friends, but one or two only.
Mr. Kartasasmita: You may wonder why we kept it so strictly secret. One reason is that we would have to stop practicing if anyone brings in a communist to our group.
This system continued until the 6th term students.
While teaching the philosophy of Shorinji Kempo, he increased the number of members little by little. One of the first term students has become a president of a German bank.
Mr. Kartasasmita: In Indonesia, we have a saying that if you say you will build a house, you have to do so. This is the idea of self-actualization. I tell to my kenshi that if they say they would pass a grading test, they have to pass. However, I will never accept arrogance.
When a kenshi passes a test, he is thrown into a muddy river instead of saying "congratulations" to him, because if I say congratulations to him, he would stop practicing.
This tradition continues today.
This happened on the last day of their Gasshuku. After receiving the new ranks, all the male kenshi who passed the tests were taken off their upper dogi, and made to lay on the floor half naked, and hit with belts by their "sempai". They were forced to do sit-ups, while senior kenshi step on their bodies. There were screaming everywhere.
However, when looked at closely, even they are screaming, the new rank holders were smiling, and the both parties were enjoying it as a traditional crazy but fun ceremony. Then they all went into the river outside the dojo and came out with their bodies muddy all over, showing bright smiles on their faces.
Mr. Kartasasmita: The reason why Shorinji Kempo in Indonesia has become such a big organization is that because the instructors were Indonesians, who understand the Indonesians, and taught them with the way that works for the Indonesians. People follow us because we teach them in a strict way. (Laughter)
(February 4, 2006, at the Indonesian Federation 40th Anniversary,
reported by Toru Hatsuki, Chief Editor of Kaiho Shorinji Kempo)