Additional Information

Sho-rin-ji translates as "young forest temple" and denotes the system's birthplace, which is

currently known as the Honan Province in China. It was here that the system began as a single

art known as Chu'an Fa, which means “way of the fist”. Tora-ken (or "tiger fist") gives insight

into the aggressive nature of the system, and symbolizes the systems philosophy of attacking first

with overwhelming force when fighting cannot be avoided. Tora-ShinDen Ryu was adopted to

mean “Tiger Godly Spirit. Ryu (or "formalized martial tradition") denotes the system as a sect of

martial philosophy.

The Shorinji Toraken Ryu and Shorinji Torashinden Ryu systems of fighting arts traces their

origin to the former kingdom of Wei in Northern China, currently known as Honan (Henan)

Province. Core development was through association with monks of the Sau-Lin Szu (Young or

small Forest Temple). It began as an individual style of ancient Chinese Chu'an Fa (Fist Way).

The temple built on Hao-Shan Mountain (Shangshon, Song-Sham) in the Sung Mountains is the

temple of origin of the father art or Chu'an Fa. It is located on a mountain approximately 40

miles from the city of Lo-Yang, Imperial capital of the historical kingdom of Wei. This main

temple appears to meet the criteria for the temple of origin. There were over 1000 temples in the

general area. Many temples were reportedly burned during the Buddhist persecution in the 800's

1700's A.D., and then rebuilt. The temple, isolated from the mainstream of life at the time of the

Mongolian invasion of China from the North, provided a place for peaceful monks, for whom the

temple was built, to spend most of their lives in meditation. At this time Buddhism was the more

dominate religion, in the northern Wei kingdom. The temple possibly could have been Taoist

originally or a blend of the two religions, with one being dominant at the time. Taoism and

Confucianism preceded Buddhism in China, lost favor, and then eventually Taoism regained its

pre-eminent status. Buddhism used thoughts from both Taoism and Confucianism to gain foot

hold in china.

Buddhism had been expanding to China slowly for several hundred years. In about 500 A.D.,

Bhodhidharma (Tamo) arrived in China. Chinese boxing existed in some form before Tamo. It

was said that Tamo introduced exercises to strengthen the monks. Whether or not these

"exercises" included fighting skills, is unknown. There was, in any case, a more organized

system of fighting recognized around this period of time. The fighting system in this center of

Buddhism became known as the Respectful Fist Method due to the Buddhist teachings. The

Mongols were either in control of Northern China or were in the process of fighting for control

for several hundred years. During the period of Mongolian invasion and control, the Yuan period

from approximately 1279 to 1368, it is believed that a number of warlords went to this temple to 

hide from and form a resistance effect against the Mongols. This style was based on the five arts

of the original five warlords. This art, organized by the warlords from their collective experience

evolved into and became classified by the names of the five animals of Chinese temple boxing,

from which all other boxing forms are thought to be devised from or influenced by. The major

core of the fighting system was the five animal styles including the Dragon: using swift power

and leaping, the Tiger: using the arms and hips in total body movement, the Leopard: leaping

nimbly and moving on the ground with agility, the Snake: becoming fluid in body movement and

striking with power and fluidity, and the Crane: moving arms and legs in gracefully executed

sweeping movements.

Soji Yang, a warlord, was founder of this discipline. We believe this to be in 1377 A.D. The long

staff, fist, and foot techniques were the basis of his personal system of fighting. The monks were

peaceful. Their belief was of tolerance and therefore offered no resistance to the warlords. In

return, the warriors coexisted peacefully with the monks. The warlords, after organizing a school

of fighting arts, taught their methods to young men who also wished to resist the Mongols. The

monks exerted their influence on the warriors through their teachings and manner of dress.

The Taoist and Buddhist monks traveled across China spreading their doctrine. As they traveled

their hands were held in a prayful manner. The warrior monks began to travel with the peaceful

monks for two reasons; one, to protect the more passive monks, and two, to use their avocation

in society as a cover to spread their knowledge to force the hated Mongols out of China. When

some of the monks began to fight with great ability, rumors began to spread that all of these

monks were fierce warriors.

There were many secret societies at this time. The warrior monks, many who were members of a

secret society developed the hand salute, hand over fist, as a variation of the praying hands of the

peaceful monks. This continued to be the "greeting or salute" used today by this system. In 1644 the Manchu, (Qing) Ching Dynasty, wrested control of Northern China for the last time, using

trickery coupled with military strength. Soji Yang's system was taught in China preceding and

during this period by masters whose names and times are unknown. The style is believed to be

related to the Pau Ch'uan and Long Tong Pei schools of those times. The ancient development of

the art encompasses the Chinese Hand styles of Tang Su and Kong Su. The system was taken

from China to Korea. Here, the Chinese Hand styles were combined with the native art of "Tye

Kwan" known for its jumping and kicking. This led to the formation of a somewhat strong

system of self defense.

While the Chinese-Japanese (Sino-Nippon) war was being fought, Korea was used as a

battleground for both the Japanese and Chinese. At this time, the Japanese yielding forms of Aiki

Jutsu and power striking techniques of Okinawa Te were introduced to the Koreans, and

assimilated into the art. As a result of combining and blending systems, this particular system,

Shaolin Ji Tetsu Ken Ryu (Young Forest Temple Iron Fist System), gained techniques likened to

the Korean art of Hapkido.

The system at this time in history is found in Yong Dong Po, Korea. This is located in South

Eastern Korea, a part of Korea nearest Japan, the former Silla Kingdom of Korea. The Silla

Kingdom (100 to 900 A. D.), by this time had been defeated and absorbed into the Koryo

Dynasty (900 to 1400), which was absorbed later into the Yi Kingdom unifying Korea. The style

was last found in Korea under the leadership of Soji Kooh C. Kim. In 1954 Soji Kooh C. Kim

sought medical treatment in Japan, an option, at the time, not available in post war Korea. In

Japan the system became known as Kooh Ha Shaolin Ji Tetsu Ken Ryu, one individual style of

the ancient Chinese Ch'uan Fa (fist way) arts formed in ancient China. This then became the

FATHER style of Kamishin Ryu.

The Japanese in 1922 established federations to provide registered diplomas of instruction. All

fighting arts were divided into categories according to fighting methods such as Kara-Te,

primarily strikes with hands and feet; Ju-jutsu, primarily throwing techniques; Kobudo, weapons

techniques; and Kempo Jutsu, Sogo Budo or combined martial way). While in Japan, the system

was arranged by fighting method in order to conform to Japanese customs. The style was defined

by its laws (called Kami-Shin or Godly / Devine Heart) in format and referenced as "empty hand

way", "fist way" (kenpo or kempo), and "aiki jutsu (jitsu)" It is a Sogo Budo or combined

martial way.

Even though the Japanese identified the art as empty hand (Kara Te), only arts of Okinawan

origin are called "Karate". The Soji refused to combine his art with the existing Japanese Martial Arts. He instructed the style in a "closed dojo", retaining the aiki jutsu, fist, and foot forms. The

name, now Shorinji Tetsu Kempo, reflected the fact that it was a composite system. This allowed

acceptance by the All Japan Karate Way Federation and the All Japan Ancient fighting Way


When Master Kooh C. Kim knew he was dying, he summoned Albert C. Church, Jr., his former

student of Shorinji Tetsuken Ryu (Shorinji Tetsu Kempo), to Japan. In Mishima Shi, Shizuoka-

ken, Japan, Soji Kooh C. Kim (called Wang in Japanese) reunited with Albert Curtis Church, Jr.

an American Serviceman with an extensive martial arts background. The reunion, in 1967, of

Master Kooh C. Kim and student Albert C. Church set the stage for the American connection to

an ancient oriental martial art.

Soke Kooh C. Kim, in a surprise move, presented Master Church with the scroll of successor

ship, representing nearly 600 years of succession. The reason being simply that Master Church

was the only student continuing to instruct, (as he had been doing for sixteen years), in the

manner by which Soji Kooh had personally instructed him when in Yong Dong Po, Korea. As a

boy, Soke Church had studied Daito Ryu Aiki-jujutsu under Sagaru Yokohto, a student of

Sokaku Takeda. Master Church remained in Japan for two years, working as a civil servant for

the USA Army, while studying Hakko Ryu Jujitsu under founder Ryuno Okuyama. He also

studied Soke Siyogo Kuniba's personal style of Iadio, Judo, and Jujitsu, along with Motobu Ha

Shito Ryu under Soke Kuniba and Teruo Hayashi.

After review of the Shaolin Ji Tetsu Ken Ryu scroll of succession by Soke Kuniba, Church's

personal system, (Kanda Ha) Kamishin Ryu, was sponsored for recognition in Japan. It is

recognized as an art of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese origin. The Japanese authorities (The

Nippon Karate Do Seishin Kai Committee Shihan), based on review of the succession papers by

Soke Kuniba and his sponsorship of Master Church, would charter the art if two conditions were

met. The first required Master Kuniba to provide Master Church with secondary accreditation as

Soke of Shaolin Ji Tetsu Ken Ryu Karate Do, under the sponsorship of the Nippon Seishinkan

Kokusei Sogo Budo Renmei, using the new title of Nippon Kobudo Kamishin Ryu (Japanese

Ancient Martial Ways Devine Heart Style). A special certificate was presented to Master Church

confirming him as Soke of Nippon Kamishin Ryu at the grade of Hachidan. (Master Kooh had

presented Church his last formal grade in Shaolin Ji Tetsu Ken Ryu of Kudan or 9th Dan). The

second condition was the cross grading of Master Church to Godan and Shihan in the Motobu Ha

Shitoh Ryu Nippon Kobudo Karate Seishin Kai. The certification was given by Teuro Hayashi,

Hachidan and President of the Seishin Kai. In May, 1969, Master Church returned to the United

States to begin the development of the art of Kamishin Ryu, continue propagating the art of

Shorinji Tetsuken Ryu, and teach Motobu Ha Shito Ryu.

In 1970 Master Church organized the Nippon Kobudo Rengokai USA, with the approval of

Master Siyogo Kuniba, his Japanese sponsor. Then in 1971 Kamishin Ryu, the SON art of

Shaolin Ji Tetsu Ken Ryu was used by all Nippon Kobudo Rengokai USA schools in America

and Japan to confer kyu and dan grades. This was to avoid confusion and add uniformity in

grading students of the arts encompassed by the association headed by Master Church. The

system, called Kamishin Ryu ("Godly Heart" or "Devine Heart" style), was a composite of

Church's various studies. In Japan, Kamishin Ryu was divided into Kamishin Ryu Karate Do,

Kamishin Ryu Ju-Jutsu, Kamishin Ryu Kobudo, and Kamishin Ryu Kempo. His system included

the Nippon Kobudo Rengo-Kai, the American Hapkido Karate Federation, and (according to one

source), a composite form of the original art reflecting the Chinese, Korean, and Japanese

components now known in Japan as Shorinji Tetsu Kempo.

Dr. James Ronald Cherry was chief instructor and examiner for Soke Church in all aspects of

Soke Church's arts from 1975 to 1980. In 1980 Soke Church unfortunately passed away. After

the death of Soke Church, Dr. Cherry, due to personal conflicts, formed the American Kempo-

Karate Association and founded the system known as Shorinji Toraken Do Sogoken Do Kempo

Jutsu. This is a composite art, steeped in the rich history of the oriental arts passed down through

generations, as previously noted. It also includes knowledge gained by Dr. Cherry in his studies

of other arts and systems.


In Charleston, Cherry met Professor Albert C. Church, Jr., Grand Master of a comprehensive

martial arts system inherited from an oriental, Kim C. Whang (Kooh C. Kim). Cherry soon

became Professor Church's personal student. In 1975, he became the Chief Examiner for the 

Nippon Kobudo Rengo-Kai (NKR) and the American Hapkido Karate Federation (AHKF).

During this time in Charleston, Dr. Cherry met and began training B. Chris Couch, who would

later become a senior student of Dr. Cherry’s and open the first school of the original Hapkido

(AHKF) and (NKR) systems. During this time period, Professor Church became ill, thereby

limiting his teaching to private instruction for just a few people. Dr. Cherry was delegated

authority as Chief Instructor and Examiner, as well as acting Technical Advisor for all NKR and

AHKF dojos in the field during Church's period of illness. During his time with Professor

Church, Dr. Cherry taught all facets of the system Church inherited from Master Whang.

Professor Church apparently recovered from his years of illness and began to teach again. To the

dismay of all concerned, Professor Church died the 23rd of June, 1980.

Following the unfortunate death of Professor Church, Dr. Cherry formed the American Kempo-

Karate Association to enable him to continue to improve and pass on the knowledge he was

given by his many instructors. Chris Couch continued his training under Dr. Cherry during this


Tim Rogers began training under Soke Couch as a personal student in 1987, and also began

training with senior Instructors Irwin Carmichael and Skip Sullivan at the Kempo Karate

Academy. Mr. Rogers was trained in Kempo and Kobudo.

The following is a timeline history of the Shorinji Torashinden Ryu system:

* Yang, 1st Soji of System (personal system fist/foot/staff) Sau Lin Szu Chin Chen

* 1377 - Pa Ming Ch'uan (eight ram's head)

* Shaolin Szu Tang Su Dao "Pa Ming Ch'uan" (in association with the 5 animals styles of Tiger,

Leopard, Crane, Snake, Dragon found in the Shaolin Szu)

* Head - 1679 - Yon Ho Chin in Honan (Henan) Province, China. System - now referred to as

Sau Lin Szu Chen Chuan Fa

* Head - 1751 - Lee Ho Chin in Chekaing Province, China. System - same name as above.

* Head - 1814 - Lee Chi Kooh moved system from China to Ingei, Korea. System - now referred

to as So Rim Sa Churl Kwan Do (Tang Soo Dua).

* Head - 1881 -Kin Chi Kooh from Yong Dong Po, Korea to Japan. System - Kooh Ha Shorinji

Tetsuken Ryu of Shorinji Tetsu Kempo

* 1967 - Albert C. Church, Jr. System - Kamishin Ryu, Shorinji Tetsuken Ryu (Shorinji Tetsu

Kempo), (Nippon Kobudo Rengo Kai)

*1973 – B. Chris Couch opens the first school in the Charlotte area associated with AHKF and

NKR on Oak Dr.

* 1981 - Dr. James Ronald Cherry. System - Shorinji Torakendo Sogo Kendo Kempo Jutsu,

American Kempo-Karate Association.

*1985 – B. Chris Couch System – With senior students Irwin Carmichael and W. Skip Sullivan,

started the Kempo Karate Academy.

*1985 – Ray Ferrell continued studying under Soke Cherry.

*1987 – Tim Rogers begins training in the Kempo Karate Academy as a personal student of

Soke Chris Couch and also trained under Irwin Carmichael and W. Skip Sullivan

*199(?) – Soke Couch Split from Irwin Carmichael and started the Kanshinryu Kempo (Divine

heart) system and the Lake Norman Martial Arts school.

* Tim Rogers was promoted to 6 th Dan under both Soke Irwin Carmichael and Soke Chris

Couch’s systems.

*2000 – Ray Ferrell is named Soke of the American Kempo Karate Association and all sub-


*2000 – Tim Rogers started the Ichiban Defense Systems of which

Shorinji Torashinden Ryu Bujutsu is the mother art.

Note: The referenced texts generally agree on dates, other facts, etc., but, there are differences,

including the fact that inheritance years and birth years for each head family do not necessarily

correspond. As more information about the system is learned and validated, the history of the

system will be updated. To appreciate the rich and entangled history of the orient, and how it

relates to this art and others, one should read and study individually.

Sources of information:

Soke Ray Ferrell and Dr. Ron Cherry through verbal dialogue/teaching.

A panorama of 5000 years: Korean History: Nahm, Andrew C., PhD; Hollym International Corp.

Atlas of the World: Fullard, Harold, MSc; Ottenheimer Publishers, Inc.

Chery, Dr. James Ronald, Soke

Comprehensive Asian Fighting Arts: Draeger, Donn F. and Smith, Robert W.; Kodansha


China, A Macro History: Huang, Ray; M. E. Sharpe, Inc.

China, A New History: Fairbank, John King; Belknap Press of Harvard University Press

China Yesterday and Today: Coye, Molly Joel and Livingston, Jon; Bantam

Dictionary of the Martial Arts: Frederic, Louis; Charles E. Tuttle Co., Inc.

Korea, A Handbook of: Korean Overseas Information Service, Ministry of Culture and

Information; Sambawa Printing Co., Ltd.

McKay, John, deceased, verbal history greatly appreciated

Rise and Splendor of the Chinese Empire: Grousset, Rene'; University of California Press

Spirit of Shaolin: Carradine, David; Charles E. Tuttle Co., Inc.