Doshin So was born under the name Michiomi Nakano, in 1911 to a customs officer. When his father died, he was sent to live with his grandfather in Manchuria. From his late teens onwards, employed by the occupying Japanese regime, he travelled extensively in China and studied in several schools of Chinese kempo. In Beijing, he met and studied under Wen Laoshi, the 20th Master of the Northern Shorinji Giwamonken School. At a ceremony held at the Shaolin Temple in 1936 Doshin So became Wen-Laoshi's direct successor, the 21st Master.
In August 1945, Doshin So was in Eastern Manchuria when the Russian army broke their treaty with Japan and crossed the border. On the 15th of August, the war ended in Japan's defeat. During the next year, under the occupying Russian army he experienced the misery and suffering of defeat in a foreign land.
In this bitter reality, Doshin So developed the belief that it was neither ideology, religious differences nor national policies which determine the course of events, but rather the character and the way of thinking of the people involved. He characterised this idea in the phrase, "The person! The person! Everything depends on the quality of the person".
Japan's defeat in the war, led to Doshin So returning to his home country in June 1946. He found the Japanese in confusion and lacking any hope or sense of purpose. Doshin So thought that they were lacking in morality and pride, so he set about teaching the kempo he had learnt.
Doshin So's art is not simply a collection of Chinese kempo, but rather a fusion and re-arrangement of all the martial disciplines studied he studied in China and Japan. It is kempo re-examined and amplified by the addition of the philosophy of Kongo zen.
Doshin So established the Japan Hokuha Shorinji Kempo Society in Japan in 1948. It is Doshin So's Shorinji kempo that the BSKF practices and teaches. Doshin So is sometimes known as Kaiso which roughly translates as 'founder'.