The Kokusai Shorinji Tekken Ryu Renmei (International Shaolin Iron Fist System Federation) was organized in 2018 to promote the art of Shorinji Tekken Ryu as taught by Soke Albert C. Church and Shihan Robert Kelly.
Tekken Ryu’s teachings are a cohesive blend of art influences from China, Korea, Okinawa and Japan as passed down through the inherited art. The art emphasizes self-defense methods that are designed to be efficient and practical while emphasizing powerful strikes coupled with kicking methods, seizing and control, vital point attacks, joint locking, chocking and throws. These spheres of application require that the student learn the principles behind what makes technique work, therefore, mere emulation of physical technique will not allow the student to become an effective martial artist.
A few of this system's principles are briefly listed below...these principals are not listed in any particular order:
Hand method that provides the Tekken Ryu practitioner with the ability to grip the opponent in such a way that they are controlled and manipulated. This often involves pressure point activation as well as muscle and tendon attacks.
Close quarters hand method of controlling the opponent. The “hooking” hand is used to intertwine strategic areas of the opponent’s body to manipulate in such a way that the Tekken Ryu practitioner has the ability to control some aspect of their movement and it also provides a degree of leveraging advantage.
The initial, physical connection between opponent and practitioner. Contact can allow the practitioner the possibility of immediately gaining access to various strategic target areas on the opponent. The importance of this principle goes well beyond simply a physical “touch”. As the practitioner advances in training the initial contact speaks volumes about the opponent’s body condition…are they overly tense, do they favor one side allowing you to feel their balance point, etc.
This system, like many others in martial arts history, shares an ancestry through the Shaolin Temple. And like many others that share that ancestry the path from the temple to their current martial home today took on many twists and turns before settling in as the known system they are today.
Shorinji Tekken Ryu most certainly is no different!
The oral tradition of Tekken Ryu is, again, not unlike countless martial arts systems where system records cannot be verified due to temple burnings from government uprisings, system’s head families moving and losing records during their travels or dying before revealing the whereabouts of pertinent documents…and the list goes on.
Even the most revered martial arts systems today, at one point or another in their history, fall back on accepting historical information on “faith” of its validity and/or accuracy.
What matters most is the current system’s approach at passing on the teachings in a clear, concise manner that will stand the test of time. I have spoken with numerous traditional martial artists that make it very clear that the transmission of the current art, in this day, is what matters most.
They recounted to me about how one could travel to Japan and purchase system scrolls of bygone arts which would mean nothing to the art today…because it’s dead. What matters is how the art of today can survive to be passed on to future generations by accurate, quality teachings. Having a paper trail, though a wonderful element to verify history, means nothing to the future of the art if it is not taught well TODAY!
Soke Church presented aspects of Tekken Ryu throughout the years after his return from Japan. At times, animal styled methods were taught. Other times wide, low stances with powerful, fluid strikes would be shown. And still yet various kicking combinations were taught. Also, Soke Church was extremely effective with vital point attacks and would often filter these methods in throughout the training.
Church continually worked towards blending all his training, including Tekken Ryu, into a singular, cohesive system under the Kamishin Ryu system name. Which he accomplished some years before his death in 1980.
So why resurrect the inherited art that Soke Church blended into the Kamishin system?
A question I’ve asked myself along this journey. There are two statements that Church made concerning Master Koh that has stayed with me all these years. One that Master Koh requested that his art not be blended with Japanese teachings and two that Church promised Master Koh that he would promote the art of Tekken Ryu. Based on those statements my answer simply is that this is my way of honoring Master Koh and Soke Church and allow the “new” Iron Fist system to stand on its own for today’s generation. My presentation of the Tekken Ryu system incorporates past, known system teachings coupled with historic research covering the various known system art influences.
Soke Church stated that “change keeps a system alive.” This is my contribution at keeping the Tekken Ryu system alive.
The Kokusai Shorinji Tekken Ryu Renmei is dedicated to advancing the art of Tekken Ryu, the years of friendship and support of Robert and Linda Kelly, to the memory of Albert C. Church and Master Koh and to the advancement and promotion of "the martial way".