'Budo' is the Japanese term for what has been translated in the West as 'martial art'. However, this term does not fully convey the deeper meaning or purpose of budo. It is composed of two characters. The character of 'bu' depicts two spears and the term 'to stop' i.e. to put an end to conflict, to promote peace. The second character 'do' means 'the Way' or a path to be followed.
As a discipline for the cultivation of character rather than simply a means to acquire martial skill, budo seeks to develop the individual as a whole. It is not a tool for instigating conflict, nor does it pander to the ego as a means for the winning of competitions. The role of budo in society is a moral one and lies in the cultivation of human beings with a social conscience, equipped with the confidence and skill to prevent conflict and foster peace.
Dedicated practice in budo is a process of self-examination and self-discovery. It provides its practitioners with an opportunity to discover, confront and overcome their own faults and weaknesses, thereby enabling them to become co-operative, productive members of society. The reason that budo has deteriorated into mere sports or as a means of inflicting injury on others lies in human beings, not the nature of budo itself. The aims of Shorinji kempo are in keeping with the original meaning of budo; to actively cultivate peace, happiness and harmony amongst its students by making these and other ideals easily accessible in the form of real experience.