A 'gyo' is a kind of spiritual discipline which helps a person to become a better individual.
Normally, the term 'Shugyo' gives the image of some rigorous discipline like meditating (doing zazen) under a waterfall or punishing the body in such ways. But in reality, 'gyo' need not be something that is enforced on oneself but something which one enjoys doing and at the same time leads to self-development.
On the surface, Shorinji Kempo may appear to some as just another 'martial art' but it is in fact a 'gyo' which helps one to become a better individual. If one watches a Shorinji Kempo practice session, what catches one's attention is that all the kenshis are having a good time and at the same time they are doing their best.
Since Shorinji Kempo is based on 'Kumite Shutai' or 'Mutual Practice', there is a strong sense of co-operation among the practitioners. The attitude is not one of competing with each other, but completing each other. One improves his own technique and helps his partner to do the same. This creates human understanding and sensitivity towards the other person which is very much an aspect of 'gyo'. A 'Gyo' is meant to make the person a better human being.
A 'gyo' is not practiced to punish the body but in fact it leads to a more balanced development of body and mind. As the saying goes 'A sound mind in a sound body'.
Kongo Zen of which, Shorinji Kempo is an expression, does not advocate a kind of blind love. It stresses that one has to be strong to be able to express his love. Love without strength is weakness and strength without love would create a tyrant. Shorinji Kempo teaches us that strength and love go hand in hand and are two sides of the same attribute.