Like many of today's martial arts, the style of Shorinji Kan is one that has resulted from a blending of many other martial arts and the personal experience of several great teachers. Whilst the style is continually evolving, the core art was introduced in the UK in 1967 by a man called Brian Graham.
Graham developed the style of Shorinji Kan primarily from his study of Jiu Jitsu in Australia with a man called Matthew Komp. However Graham of course added his own interpretation to the style, and the influence of a Korean (hapkido) instructor from whom Graham managed to learn some powerful wrist-locking techniques. As well as Jiu Jitsu, Graham also studied Judo under the instruction of Komp as at this time Jiu Jitsu was not a legal form of martial art in Australia. Anyone familiar with the style of Shorinji Kan will undoubtedly recognise the strong influence that Kodokan Judo has had upon the style - or more likely on Komp's style of Jiu Jitsu.
Matthew Komp was a German who had studied martial arts for many years before he moved to Footscray, near Melbourne, in the 1950's. It was here that he began his instruction of Brian Graham in the gentle art. Komp's style of Jiu Jitsu is yet another amalgamation of martial schools and styles, but the most quoted influence on Komp's style is that of 'Shorinji Kempo Jiu Jitsu' as taught by Ryukyu Myura. Komp was also undoubtedly influenced by Judo as well since he readily accepted this as part of his student's teachings in the martial arts.
Ryukyu Myura was famously the head instructor for the Tokyo police unarmed combat training, and had of course studied a range of martial arts. Shorinji Kempo, Judo and an amalgamation of several styles of Jiu Jitsu seem to have been the basis for the Shorinji Kempo Jiu Jitsu martial art taught by Myura. Myura's experiences in the Police will also have had a great deal of influence on the development of the style.
Judo was of course developed by Jigoro Kano from various styles of Jiu Jitsu and Shorinji Kempo by Doshin So (under whom Myura studied) which was derived from Shaolin temple boxing... and so the roots spread deeper and deeper. The modern style cannot accurately be traced much further than this as the records are scarce and more numerous, suffice to say there is a healthy link back to the origins of Jiu Jitsu.
Brian Graham is Shorinji Kan's founding father, but as well as roots, the style continues to branch out as Graham's teachings of the late sixties onwards spread.
One of Graham's first students was a young man called Peter Farrar. After studying with Graham, Farrar began instructing a Jiu Jitsu club at Plymouth polytechnic. His students then went on to open their own clubs teaching Shorinji Kan across the length and breadth of the country. After a few years the administration behind the style grew so much that the National Samurai Jiu Jitsu Association was created.
At the beginning of the 1990's the association evolved into two organisations. The Jitsu Foundation retained the administration of the style, whilst Studio 3 became involved in running non-jitsu courses for things such as violence awareness and non-aversive behaviour management.
Farrar directed The Jitsu Foundation until his untimely death in 1997 when a he lost his fight against cancer. By this time the number of clubs had grown massively throughout the UK and had firm roots in various countries around the globe.
Brian Graham himself sadly died passed away on the 15th of June 2005 but not before he had seen his student's organisation grow to become the largest Jiu Jitsu style (measured by number of students) in the UK.
The style continues to grow and there are well over 100 clubs throughout the world. The clubs continue to grow in size and number year by year.
New styles of martial arts are developing all the time, and the style of Aiuchi Jitsu is one particular style that has strong links to Shorinji Kan as many of its founders were students of Graham and Farrar.