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Curtin alumni reaches black belt title at first home grading

[Posted: 19 Sep 2017]

Michelle Lim

Michelle Lim joined the Curtin University Shorinji Kempo club as a white belt in 2013 when she was a student at Curtin University.

Since then Michelle has graduated, but has continued her Shorinji Kempo with the club and recently completed her black belt grading in The Dome at Curtin Stadium.

We caught up with Michelle to talk to her about her martial arts journey.


1. What is Shorinji Kempo?

Shorinji Kempo is a Japanese martial art which combines “hard” techniques, such as strikes and blocks, with “soft” techniques, which include throws, takedowns and pins/pain submission.

2.       How long have you been involved in the sport?

I started Shorinji Kempo at the beginning of 2013 – the same time I started my degree.

3.       What was it like when you first started Shorinji? What level were you?

Prior to joining the Shorinji Kempo club, I had been interested in learning a martial art for some time, primarily for self-defence purposes. It was admittedly a bit nerve wracking walking through the door for my first class. At the time I joined I was the only girl, the only newbie and had zero fighting experience. Despite this, the guys welcomed me in with open arms and made me feel very comfortable. After the first lesson I was hooked and I’ve been there ever since!

4.       What did you study at Curtin University?

I studied a Bachelor of Science in Medical Imaging Science.

5.       What do you like about Shorinji Kempo and the club?

So many things! In terms of the martial art itself, I like the physical and mental challenge. No matter how long you’ve been practicing Shorinji Kempo, there’s always something new to learn or something that can be improved upon.

I walked into the Shorinji Kempo club hoping to learn some basic self-defence. Over the years, I’ve gained so much more that – I’ve gained amazing friends, become more confident and been lucky enough to have the privilege of teaching a women’s self-defence course alongside Sensei and one of our senior black belts, Andrew.

Even though I’ve finished my studies at Curtin, I still continue to train at the club because I love Shorinji Kempo and the people I train with.

6.       What is the highest level/belt, and how do people achieve this?

The Shorinji Kempo grading system goes all the way up to 9th dan black belt. As you progress up the ranks, gradings become increasingly spaced apart, so you would have to be practicing for many years to reach 9th dan!

 7.       What does achieving a Black Belt mean to you?

For me, the black belt represents a significant milestone in my ongoing martial arts journey. Reaching the black belt level means I have a fairly decent grasp of the basic techniques and principles of the martial art. More importantly, it marks a shift in attitude and way of thinking as I gain a better understanding of not only the martial art, but myself as a person. It is by no means the end point of my martial arts journey; quite the opposite in fact – I’m just getting started.

For more information on the Shorinji Kempo Club, please see our Join A Club webpage.